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NASA"s chili pepper experiment broke 2 world records, including one for feeding the most astronauts from a crop grown on the ISS

The chili pepper experiment was the longest in the history of the International Space Station, which took NASA officials by surprise. Astronauts pictured with the first harvest of chili peppers grown aboard the International Space Station.NASA Astronauts aboard the International Space Station harvested chili peppers for the second time.  The plant-growing experiment concluded recently and set two new records in the process. The crop production team did not expect to achieve the records, NASA's Matt Romeyn told Insider. A NASA plant experiment, which consisted of growing and harvesting chili peppers in space, broke a record for feeding the most astronauts from a crop grown in space.The experiment also made history as the longest one to take place on the International Space Station (ISS). It was the second time chili peppers had been grown in space. Insider's Sinéad Baker reported in November that the first time around, the ISS crew used them in tacos, along with fajita beef and vegetables. Matt Romeyn, chief investigator for the pepper experiment, told Insider on Friday that the crop production team at NASA did not expect to achieve the two records.The chili pepper plants were slightly delayed in their harvest compared with their Earth testings, Romeyn said. This meant the experiment on the station could be extended for another 17 days.The pepper seeds at the center of the Plant Habitat-04 experiment (PH-04) grew for four months before they were harvested in October. The schedule "happened to take us beyond the changing-over from the Crew-2 astronauts to the Crew-3 astronauts, allowing a larger number of astronauts to have the chance to sample the peppers," Romeyn said. Romeyn previously spoke to Insider in May about how growing vegetables in space helped keep astronauts healthy. For the more recent experiment, peppers were originally expected to grow for 120 days, Romeyn added. However, they actually ended up growing for 137 days, making it the longest experiment in space. The previous longest experiment was in 2016 when "zinnia flowers" were grown for 90 days, Romeyn told Insider. In a press release, Romeyn further explained the process: "PH-04 pushed the state-of-the-art in space crop production significantly."The experiment involved taking a field cultivar of a Hatch chile pepper from New Mexico, dwarfing it to fit inside the plant habitat, and figuring out how to productively grow the first generally recognized fruiting crop in space. "This was all done over a span of a couple years," he added.  NASA astronaut Megan McArthur.NASATacos seem to be the most popular meal enjoyed among astronauts in space following the harvest of the chili peppers. Astronaut Kayla Barron posted recently on Facebook and Instagram that the crew ate the fresh peppers as part of a taco night. "Thanks to the [pepper emoji], taco night was a huge success. 10/10 would recommend. Props to Mark for handling the prep work … the spice level was no joke," Barron said. According to Romeyn, the peppers were hot. "All indications are some of the fruit was on the spicier side, which is not unexpected, given the unknown effect microgravity could have on the capsaicin levels of peppers," he said. The agency said that following the success of the PH-04 experiment, the next crop that the team at Kennedy Space Center plans to grow include, dwarf tomatoes and testing new types of leafy greens. "We went into this experiment knowing it wouldn't be easy to grow peppers in microgravity, but this experiment was a wildly successful demonstration that we're on the right path for space crop production," Romeyn said.The goal for these experiments is to enable a viable and sustainable crop production for future long-duration missions to the moon and eventually Mars, he added. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 5th, 2021

January 6: A Legacy Of Troubling Questions

January 6: A Legacy Of Troubling Questions Authored by Joseph Hannemann via The Epoch Times, The hardened-steel baton made the most disturbing sound as it bounced off Victoria White’s skull. It varied between a hollow click and a deeper snap, depending on where on her head the metal weapon made contact. “Please don’t beat her!” a man in the crowd yelled. It was chaos in the West Terrace tunnel entrance of the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021. Outside, thousands who had attended President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally milled about the terrace, while groups of rioters battled police near the tunnel. An almost demonic cacophony emanated from under the tunnel arch. “I didn’t even touch you,” a woman cried. “I need help! I need help,” a man shouted. “Stand up, dammit!” intoned a police officer in riot gear. “Get out!” boomed another. Then a blood-curdling scream, followed by the ear-splitting sound of an emergency siren. Victoria White appears prone or near-collapse in several parts of a five-minute video. (Screen Captures/Joseph McBride) After repeatedly striking White in the head, the officer in white holstered his baton. Then he made a fist with his bare left hand and punched White in the face. “Oh, no-no-no! Please! Please don’t beat her!” someone shouted, to no effect. After three full-force knuckle shots to White’s head, the officer in white paused. Then he went in for two more blows. He grabbed the hair at the back of her head and pulled it hard. White looked dazed and confused. She wore a blank stare. Another officer reached in with his baton in an apparent attempt to prevent more blows. The officer in white grabbed his colleague’s arm and shoved it back at him. The almost unbelievable violence meted out on the unarmed, 5-foot-4-inch White provides a stark contrast to the often-preached narrative that Jan. 6 was strictly an insurrection carried out by mobs of Trump supporters wanting to overthrow the government. White was a victim of brutality. Her lawyer is preparing a civil suit. Hers is one of the hidden stories of Jan. 6, exposed only after a federal judge ordered that three hours of surveillance video held by the U.S. Department of Justice be released to White’s attorney. Political Divide Widens The voluminous media coverage in the weeks leading up to the one-year anniversary of Jan. 6 demonstrates the substantial and growing divide between Americans of differing political stripes. The prevailing narrative is that supporters of Trump, whipped into a frenzy by his Jan. 6 speech at the Ellipse, descended on the U.S. Capitol in a violent attempt to upend democracy. A large crowd of Trump supporters—estimates ranged from 30,000 on the low end to 2 million on the high end—crowded the Ellipse to hear the president rail against the 2020 presidential election. Trump contended, along with millions of supporters, that widespread election fraud in key states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin had robbed him of a second term and placed Democrat Joe Biden in an illegitimate presidency. The speech started approximately an hour later than scheduled. Well before Trump concluded his remarks, a group of protesters breached a lightly guarded barrier on the Capitol’s pedestrian walkway. They quickly headed for the Capitol building. By the time the throngs of rally-goers made the long walk to the Capitol grounds, the perimeter fencing and security signs indicating the site was restricted had been methodically removed. As tens of thousands of protesters surrounded the Capitol, pockets of violence broke out. Windows were broken, and protesters climbed inside, just after 2 p.m. At other entrances, protesters found doors propped open and proceeded inside like tourists. The circumstances of the worst violence are hotly contested, but the results were real. Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby. White and others were beaten by police in or near the West Terrace tunnel, attorneys say. Aaron Babbitt with his wife, Ashli, who was killed at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “She loved life,” he said. (Courtesy of Aaron Babbitt) Some 140 police were injured during battles with rioters. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died on Jan. 7, 2021, although his death was eventually determined to be from natural causes. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood and Washington Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith—both of whom were on duty at the Capitol—took their own lives in the weeks after Jan. 6. President Joe Biden described Jan. 6 as the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” The Associated Press asserted it was “the most sustained attack on the seat of American democracy since the War of 1812.” Steven Sund, former U.S. Capitol Police chief, called it “a coordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists.” Many Americans don’t see those words as hyperbole, insisting Trump-fueled mobs fully intended to disrupt the U.S. Congress and overthrow the federal government. Across the political chasm are those who reject that dominant narrative, and assert that while Jan. 6 was many things, it was no insurrection. They view that characterization as a convenient way to suppress the truth. The real Jan. 6 story, they believe, remains hidden on some 14,000 hours of surveillance video from around the Capitol grounds. Portions of that video will undoubtedly be unsealed as some of the more than 725 people arrested for alleged Jan. 6-related crimes go on trial. Whatever the chaos of that infamous day is called, one thing seems clear. The full Jan. 6 story hasn’t been told. One year later, the legacy of Jan. 6 is a trail of troubling questions—the answers to which could rock American politics and deepen the divide between its citizens. Is There Evidence of Treason or Sedition? In response to the violence at the Capitol, the FBI launched one of the most sweeping investigations in its history. Agents pored over cell phone video, social media postings, surveillance video, and police bodycam footage to identify those who were at the Capitol that day. The FBI opened a national tip line and posted videos and photographs of protesters. Tips came from many sources, including neighbors and family members who turned in their relatives. Of the more than 725 people arrested over the past year, no one was charged with treason or sedition. At least 225 defendants were charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding police, including 75 who allegedly used a deadly or dangerous weapon, or caused serious bodily injury to an officer. Two men climb over other protesters and lunge at police officers guarding the entrance to the West Terrace tunnel at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Screen Capture via The Epoch Times) The most common charge issued by federal prosecutors—involving 640 individuals—was for entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds. About 40 percent of all those arrested were charged with impeding or attempting to impede an official proceeding—the certification of the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election. Of the 165 people who have pleaded guilty to date, nearly 90 percent of the cases involved misdemeanors. The rest were felonies. Are There Any Investigative Conclusions? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 breach and subsequent violence. That group’s work is ongoing. Preliminary findings could be made public by summer. Republican House members are conducting their own probe, but complain that Democrats refuse to cooperate or share records with their GOP colleagues. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Committee on Rules and Administration, issued a report on the Capitol breach that cited a range of intelligence and law enforcement failures that enabled the violence. Among the findings in the Senate report was that neither the FBI nor the Department of Homeland Security issued formal intelligence bulletins about the potential for violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The FBI’s Norfolk field office sent out a situational information report late on Jan. 5, warning of individuals traveling to Washington for “war” at the Capitol, but the agency overall didn’t view as credible online posts calling for violence. Capitol Police didn’t have a department-wide operational plan or staffing plan for the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress, the report said. It faulted a lack of training in civil disturbances and a failure to provide basic protective equipment to rank-and-file officers. Who Incited the Capitol Breach and Violence? Independent media and online sleuths sounded alarms about the presence of unindicted individuals among those who first breached the Capitol at about 12:50 p.m. These men played a central role in the breach, encouraged protesters to go to the Capitol, and directed people into the building. Yet they haven’t been arrested, indicted, or identified by the FBI as among the wanted. Who were they? A man—now known to be Ray Epps of Queen Creek, Arizona—was captured on video on Jan. 5, 2021, attempting to recruit Trump supporters to assault the Capitol the next day. “Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol,” Epps says, as seen in a video clip. “Into the Capitol!” A man near him says, “What?” and others are heard shouting, “No!” Then the crowd breaks into a chant: “Fed! Fed! Fed! Fed!”—accusing Epps of being a federal agent. Ray Epps seen on Jan. 5, 2021, trying to recruit men to attack the Capitol. They accuse him of being a federal agent. (CapitolPunishmentTheMovie.com/Bark at the Hole Productions) Epps gets into verbal sparring with some of the Trump supporters. “You’re counterproductive to our cause,” one young man shouts. Epps shouts back, staying on message: “It doesn’t matter. … That’s not what we’re here for. … You’re getting off the subject. … We’re here for another reason.” Another video shows Epps saying, “Tomorrow—I don’t even like to say it because I’ll be arrested,” prompting a man nearby to reply, “Then let’s not say it.” Epps responds: “I’ll say it. We need to go into the Capitol!” A young man in the crowd, wearing an American flag neck gaiter, replies, “I didn’t see that coming!” On Jan. 6, as crowds milled about the Washington Monument in long lines to get in to watch Trump’s speech, Epps could be heard shouting through a megaphone: “As soon as our president is done speaking, we are going to the Capitol, where our problems are. It’s that direction. Please spread the word!” Epps is seen again in video footage taken at the metal barricades outside the Capitol at 12:50 p.m., as a small crowd chants, “USA! USA!” He whispers something in the ear of a man wearing a backward Make America Great Again cap. A few seconds later, the young man helps push over the barricade as Epps steps back to watch. This first breach of the security perimeter was 20 minutes before Trump finished his speech. Epps is then seen sprinting with the crowd up the steps toward the Capitol. A few days after the Jan. 6 violence, the FBI placed a photo of Epps on a “Seeking Information” poster, asking for the public’s help in identifying those who breached the Capitol. He could be seen in Photograph No. 16. That photo has since been scrubbed from the FBI website. Ray Epps is shown at lower left on an early FBI wanted poster, but his photo has since been scrubbed from the FBI website. (FBI.gov/Wayback Machine) On the current list of 1,559 photographs of people the FBI wants to identify, there is no longer a No. 16. The list skips from Photograph No. 15 to Photograph No. 17. Epps hasn’t been arrested or charged. John Guandolo, a former FBI agent and counter-terrorism expert who was on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, said he saw FBI agents dressed as protesters. “For a good portion of the day, I was with law enforcement, FBI, etcetera,” Guandolo said in an interview for the documentary “Capitol Punishment.” “Guys would walk by, and we’d look at each other and be like, ‘Two more right there. Here comes another. There’s another one.’ They were everywhere.” Revolver, an alternative news outlet, identified others around the Capitol grounds who were active participants in the breach but whose photos weren’t included on the FBI’s wanted list. One man, wearing a grey Bulwark jacket, knit cap, and sunglasses, is seen on video rolling up the green plastic fencing around the security perimeter. He pulls up the stakes and removes the “Area Closed” signs. A man in a blue cap with a blue bullhorn is seen in multiple videos atop the media tower erected for the inauguration. Dubbed “Scaffold Commander” by online researchers, he barks out directives and encouragement for 90 minutes. “Don’t just stand there! Keep moving!” “Move forward! Help somebody over the wall!” Once the crowd filled in around the Capitol, Scaffold Commander switched gears. “We’re in! Come on! We gotta fill up the Capitol! Come now, we need help!” Revolver’s video investigation said that whether or not Epps and Scaffold Commander knew each other, their words and actions worked well together. “So we have Scaffold Commander directing the body of the crowd from the tower above, and Ray Epps directing the vanguard front-liners at the police line below,” the Dec. 18 story read. “Yet neither one of them has been prosecuted, nor is either presently ‘wanted’ by the FBI.” Revolver founder Darren Beattie took to Twitter to ask Epps to expose who his handlers were. “But now, it is time to think for yourself, Ray. Forget about your boat and your ranch and your grill. If you make the right move and tell the truth, you change everything,” Beattie wrote on Dec. 29. Neither Epps, the FBI, nor federal prosecutors have commented on Epps’s actions that day, on whether he worked for the FBI, or on why he hasn’t been indicted. Epps told an Arizona Republic reporter on Jan. 12, 2021, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) asked Attorney General Merrick Garland on Oct. 21 to dispel concerns about the Epps videos, but Garland wouldn’t comment. I just played this video for AG Merrick Garland. He refused to comment on how many agents or assets of the federal government were present in the crowd on Jan 5th and 6th and how many entered the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/lvd9n4mMHK — Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 21, 2021 “You’ve said this was one of the most sweeping investigations in history,” Massie said during a public hearing. “Have you seen that video, those frames from that video?” Garland began talking about a standing practice of not commenting on investigative specifics, before Massie interrupted him: “How many agents or assets of the federal government were present on January 6th, whether they agitated to go into the Capitol, and if any of them did?” Garland’s reply: “I’m not going to comment on an investigation that’s ongoing.” What Is the Significance of Unindicted Actors? Attorneys who represent Jan. 6 defendants say if Epps or other participants were FBI informants or agents, then it blows a hole in the idea that Trump supporters were solely responsible for violence at the Capitol. Participation by government actors could legally invalidate conspiracy charges, they say. Attorney Jonathon Moseley, who represents Jan. 6 defendant Kelly Meggs of Dunnellon, Florida, a member of the Oath Keepers, issued subpoenas to Epps, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, and other men who played visible roles on Jan. 6. As Meggs’s April trial on conspiracy charges approaches, Moseley wants to know why Epps was at the Trump rally and Capitol, and whether he was working for the government. Moseley said Epps was seen at the first breach of a police line at the pedestrian walkway, about 200 yards from the Capitol building. Video shows Epps as he appears to rush the makeshift barricade erected by police, “then stops short,” Moseley said. Ray Epps at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, shortly before pepper gas is shot into the crowd. “Been a long time,” he says after coughing. “Aah, I love it!” (Screen Capture/Rumble) “It’s like he’s head-faking people to rush with him, but then he never touches it,” he said. “A police officer falls—I think it may be a woman—and his immediate instinct is to go help her, and he thinks better of it and steps back. It really looks like he’s undercover.” Moseley said the involvement of government-paid actors in facilitating or inciting the breach of the Capitol complex would create reasonable doubt in just about any of the Jan. 6 cases. “There are legal consultants who keep emphasizing that, legally, you can’t conspire with the government. So if he’s working directly or indirectly for the government, then people are innocent of the conspiracy,” Moseley said. “It’s a legal rule. If there are 10 people conspiring and one of them is with the government, not only could it be entrapment, but it also may invalidate a conspiracy.” That type of legal issue has been raised in a Michigan case in which a group of men stand accused in federal court of a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. Defense attorneys recently filed a motion to dismiss the case, contending that government agents and informants concocted the kidnapping plan and pushed to convince the defendants to participate. Are Jan. 6 Detainees Political Prisoners? Third-world banana republics are notorious for terrible prison conditions and brutal treatment of the accused and convicted alike. Some lawyers, family members, and defendants believe the District of Columbia operates a jail that would be at home in any of those countries. The jail is sometimes called “DC-GITMO,” after the U.S.-run terrorist detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The poor accommodations at the D.C. jail have long been the subject of discussion in the nation’s capital. The Washington Post said conditions there were “deplorable,” an ironic descriptor, considering who the jail’s primary occupants are these days. The issue got national attention in 2021 because of repeated allegations of brutal, abusive treatment of men accused of Jan. 6 crimes. A 28-page report issued in late 2021 by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said treatment of Jan. 6 detainees was “inhumane.” (Document Cover/Marjorie Taylor Greene) “American citizens are being tortured right now within five miles of the White House,” said Joseph McBride, a New York attorney who represents a half-dozen Jan. 6 defendants. “America does not punish its citizens pre-trial,” McBride wrote on Twitter. “Authoritarian regimes do.” McBride said his clients have suffered treatment that should never happen in America, all because they supported Trump by being at the U.S. Capitol on that fateful day. During incarceration, they’ve suffered—among other things—severe beatings by guards; the denial of medical attention, including medications for chemotherapy; and refusal of food, McBride said. Christopher Quaglin, charged with assaulting police officers during the riot, suffers from celiac disease, but the jail feeds him only food with gluten, McBride said. He has been refused medical treatment. “Yes, we are extremely concerned that he will die,” McBride wrote on Twitter on Dec. 27. Ted Hull, the superintendent of Northern Neck Regional Jail, where Quaglin is housed, said McBride’s assertions are wrong. Christopher Quaglin with his wife, Moria, who fears her husband could die without medical attention in federal custody. (Courtesy Quaglin Family) “Regardless of Mr. McBride’s fictitious assertions,” Hull told The Epoch Times, “inmate Quaglin is and has been receiving the appropriate dietitian-designed diet consistent with his specific dietary requirements and the appropriate level of medical services consistent with his diagnosis.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) toured the D.C. jail with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) in November, then issued a 28-page report titled “Unusually Cruel.” The report said the conditions for the Jan. 6 detainees were “inhumane.” Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump who attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally and was on the Capitol grounds, never went inside the Capitol building. He was charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building. He was arrested and jailed, but eventually released while awaiting trial. “I spent the next nine days in that cell in total solitary confinement. No shower, no phone, no attorney,” Griffin said in the film “Capitol Punishment.” The guards, he said, often chanted “F Trump! F Trump!” and called him an “[expletive] white cracker.” He complained about his treatment to the deputy warden, who he said told him, “The only job these guards have is to keep your chest moving up and down.” Richard Barnett of Gravette, Arkansas, faced seven charges for his alleged actions on Jan. 6, including sitting in the office chair of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, captured in a now-iconic news photograph. One day during his four-month detention, Barnett experienced tightness in his chest and arm pain. He called for help, but the guard who responded only mocked and laughed at him. Barnett then called out to a female staff member, who said she would get help. “Richard [lay] there for a significant period of time—certainly enough for him to die,” read McBride’s report on jail conditions, which he sent to Amnesty International. After being given a medical checkup and returned to his cell, Barnett fell asleep. A guard began pounding on the glass door to his cell, jolting him awake so quickly he stood up and then fainted, hitting his head on the sink. Now bleeding from a head wound, Barnett screamed for an hour before help came, the report said. One day, Barnett’s cell door opened, and some nine officers entered, cuffing his wrists and shackling his legs. Guards violently shook him back and forth, lifted him off his feet by the shackles, and slammed him headfirst into the concrete floor, according to McBride’s report, a copy of which was also sent to the American Civil Liberties Union. The U.S. Marshals Service conducted a surprise inspection of the D.C. jail facilities in October and interviewed 300 detainees. Conditions at the jail “do not meet the minimum standards of confinement,” the Marshals report said. As a result, the Marshals Service removed all of its detainees and transferred them to facilities in the federal Bureau of Prisons. This didn’t include the Jan. 6 detainees. Emery Nelson, spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons, said the agency doesn’t comment on “anecdotal allegations” or provide information about individual inmates. “The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is committed to accommodating the needs of federal offenders and ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public,” Nelson said. “The BOP takes seriously our duty to protect the individuals entrusted in our care.” Who Died at the Capitol on Jan. 6? One person was killed at the hands of U.S. Capitol Police, and police action might have contributed to the death of two others, but the four other deaths related to Jan. 6 were either from natural causes or suicides. Ashli Babbitt was shot in the left shoulder and killed as she crawled through a broken window at the entry to the Speaker’s Lobby. Ashli’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, said a careful examination of video footage from the hallway indicates Ashli was upset with rioters who smashed glass in the double doors. He thinks she panicked and sought escape through the window, only to be shot by Lt. Michael Byrd as a result. She was unarmed and presented no threat to anyone, Aaron Babbitt said. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd aims his Glock 22 at the window where Ashli Babbitt was about to appear. (CapitolPunishmentTheMovie/Bark at the Hole Productions) Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Georgia, died in or near the West Terrace tunnel at the Capitol. McBride says surveillance video shows Boyland was beaten by a police officer as she lay on the ground. The D.C. medical examiner ruled the death accidental: intoxication from a prescription medication. Kevin Greeson, 51, of Georgia, died on the Capitol grounds of a heart attack brought on by cardiovascular disease, the medical examiner ruled. Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Pennsylvania, died of atherosclerosis, heart disease characterized by fatty plaques that build up in the arteries, the medical examiner ruled. Of the three police officers who died in the weeks following Jan. 6, Sicknick died from natural causes, and Liebengood and Smith died from suicide. Did Democrats Weaponize Jan. 6? Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), ranking member of the Committee on House Administration, accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democrats of “weaponizing events of January 6th against their political adversaries.” Davis sent a letter to Pelosi on Jan. 3, 2022, complaining that House Democrats repeatedly obstructed attempts by Republican lawmakers to investigate security vulnerabilities at the U.S. Capitol before and during Jan. 6 violence. The obstruction came through denial of House records and ignoring repeated requests for documents, Davis wrote. “Unfortunately, over the past twelve months, House Democrats have been more interested in exploiting the events of January 6th for political purposes than in conducting basic oversight of the security vulnerabilities exposed that day,” Davis wrote. Specifically, lawmakers want to know about a request that former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said he made to then-House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving prior to Jan. 6 for “the assistance of the National Guard,” Davis wrote. Sund reported that Irving was “concerned about the ‘optics’ of a National Guard presence at the Capitol.” During violence on Jan. 6, when Sund asked about getting authorization for the National Guard, Irving responded that he “needed to run it up the chain of command,” the letter said. Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testifies at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Rules and Administration committees joint hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 23, 2021. (Erin Scott/Pool/AFP via Getty Images) In February 2021 testimony before the U.S. Senate, Irving denied Sund’s claims. Republican lawmakers then requested access to Irving’s communications to substantiate that denial. Davis said he wrote to House General Counsel Douglas Letter to request those records, but Letter never replied. “Both the Sergeant at Arms and the chief administration officer failed to produce any documents to Republicans pursuant to our requests,” Davis wrote, “suggesting that these House officers may be providing documents only to Democrats on a partisan basis.” Davis said Republicans want to know why Sund’s Jan. 4, 2021, request for National Guard support on Jan. 6 was denied, and whether Pelosi or her staff ordered the refusal. They also want to know what conversations occurred during Capitol violence on Jan. 6, when Sund again asked for National Guard help. Finally, they want to know why the select committee on Jan. 6, appointed by Pelosi, won’t examine the speaker’s role “in ensuring the proper House security preparations,” the letter said. When asked whether the speaker had responded to Davis, Henry Connelly, Pelosi’s communications director, referred The Epoch Times to a statement issued by House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). “The Ranking Member’s letter is pure revisionist fiction. The Chief Administrative Officer and House Sergeant at Arms have already notified Ranking Member Davis they are complying with preservation requests and will fully cooperate with various law enforcement investigations and bonafide congressional inquiries,” Lofgren said in the statement. From the inception of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Republican leadership discounted its work because Pelosi rejected two of the five Republicans chosen by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the probe. McCarthy then withdrew his picks. Pelosi appointed Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to serve on the nine-member panel. The select committee could issue at least an interim report by mid-2022 and a final report in the fall, committee sources told several media outlets. Committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in December that there was no set schedule for public hearings to release the group’s findings. The Epoch Times asked the Department of Justice for comment on the presence of federal agents on Jan. 6, but didn’t receive a reply by press time. The Epoch Times contacted Epps through his business for comment, but didn’t receive a reply by press time. Tyler Durden Thu, 01/06/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 6th, 2022

Billion-Dollar Loan Officer Shares Path to Success

For the mortgage industry, 2021 was something of a feeding frenzy. Both refinances and new purchase loans broke records as interest rates sat at historic lows. Even under these positive market conditions, however, success was not guaranteed, and it took a sharp, innovative mind and a prescient, futuristic grasp of the loan process to fully […] The post Billion-Dollar Loan Officer Shares Path to Success appeared first on RISMedia. For the mortgage industry, 2021 was something of a feeding frenzy. Both refinances and new purchase loans broke records as interest rates sat at historic lows. Even under these positive market conditions, however, success was not guaranteed, and it took a sharp, innovative mind and a prescient, futuristic grasp of the loan process to fully take advantage of the opportunities. Sitting on a staggering top-line of just over $2 billion in loan originations this year, Shant Banosian of Guaranteed Rate seemingly had the right tools, the right team and the perfect approach to match a year that was rife with both positive conditions for mortgage professionals but also uniquely challenging. “It’s been a great ride,” he tells RISMedia. Doling out enough dollars to rival the GDP of a small country, Banosian’s understated evaluation of his success is a consequence of both his experienced, steady optimism as well as a market that seemingly rewarded those who were able to stay focused on their larger goals. With the industry breaking records and a half dozen other loan officers joining Banosian in the billion-dollar club, this year opened up a whole new world of possibilities as consumers sought loans and demanded more from their lenders. With around 12 years at Guaranteed Rate, Banosian credits both a supportive culture at his company and the ability to anticipate trends and prepare accordingly for his tremendous numbers this year. “We really learned a lot from 2020,” Banosian says. “We staffed up, we implemented systems and put processes in place. 2021 was the payoff for all that. Our service level, our execution, our communication with our clients and just overall delivery, return, brand and reputation grew along with our volume and not at the expense of it, which was great.” Though he describes 2020 as a surprise that “caught some people off guard,” Banosian did not miss the opportunities available last year, either, racking up $1.7 billion in originations. But as technology advances, and against the backdrop of a savagely competitive seller’s market, loan officers were challenged to support clients more, and in new ways. Sacrificing service for speed in order to compete with cash offers and serve time-constrained buyers was simply not an option, Banosian says. To offer the same service and experience while upping their speed, the only answer was to grow, train and innovate, he says. “The No. 1 goal we led with this year was how much business we can do, but also, how happy we can make our clients and, simultaneously, how fast can we manufacture a loan,” he says. “Ultimately, if your clients are extremely happy they’re going to tell everyone about you…I’ve grown my business entirely based on referral.” Accelerating his process to provide a much more detailed and concrete pre-commitment letter instead of a pre-approval or pre-qualifying was one way Banosian says he was able to simultaneously increase the speed of the loan approval process without leaving clients wanting. He decried the lack of innovations around speed in the industry, with the approval process still taking an average of more than a month. Another way is technology, with Banosian lauding how some in the industry have capitalized on the pandemic to revamp tired and slow habits which have remained unchanged for decades. He says he was often able to offer a two-week close on loans, or as little as 10 days, and hopes to be able to offer that consistently and across geographic regions. “That really helped our clients quite a bit and it really helped us get a lot of market share,” he says. “It really grabbed buyers’ attention, as well as REALTOR® referral partners.” That technological focus will especially matter in the long run, according to Banosian. “We’ve always invested in technology and I feel like we pride ourselves in always being an industry leader,” he says. “Loan officers who maximize technology will replace loan officers who don’t.” Underpinning all of this is the platform he works on. Banosian says that his priorities—remaining team focused, well-connected and technologically advanced—are shared by Guaranteed Rate, which has kept him at the company even as his star has risen on a national level. “ is a company that ultimately understands where businesses are going and is constantly looking to improve,” Banosian says. “It’s not just one thing, it’s all of those things.” Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com. The post Billion-Dollar Loan Officer Shares Path to Success appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaDec 21st, 2021

62 thoughtful gifts for him available on Amazon, from a modern turntable to a top-notch espresso machine

Regardless of your budget or his interests, there are plenty of cool and useful gifts for him on Amazon. We found options he'll actually want. Whether it's your dad or partner, you don't have to look further than Amazon for gifts for him. Amazon has pretty much everything he could need, from a turntable to a rotating pizza oven. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. When trying to find thoughtful gifts for the men on your shopping list, Amazon is a great place to start. The retail giant is sure to have a gift he'll appreciate with product categories as diverse as home, kitchen, tech, clothing, grooming, and more. Plus, if you have a Prime membership you can take advantage of perks like fast shipping.And don't be fooled into thinking you can't find unique gifts here. In fact, Amazon even has a whole handmade gifts section you can shop for an extra personal touch.From cool new video games to premium espresso machines, we've rounded up 62 of the best gifts for the guys in your life - all available on Amazon. That said, we've also included links to additional retailers for some items to give you extra options.Here are 62 gifts for him that you can find on Amazon: A DIY kit for homemade hot sauce Amazon Men who are always reaching for a bottle of hot sauce will love this DIY kit that allows them to create a custom sauce at home. Whether he wants to keep it more mild with ancho pasilla peppers or turn the heat all the way up with a ghost pepper, this fun and spicy project lets him experiment with ingredients. A turntable for his record collection Amazon For men with a collection of vinyl records, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO ($599) is a top-notch turntable that provides a high-quality audio experience. With a carbon fiber tonearm and carefully designed damping techniques, this player is a great gift for any audiophile. Keep in mind, though, that it doesn't include a built-in preamp.For $250, the  entry-level Fluance RT81 turntable is a more affordable option with an integrated preamp for men who might be just entering the world of vinyl. It's easy to use and still produces good audio. A cool video game on the Nintendo Switch Amazon "Metroid Dread," the newest entry in the classic "Metroid" franchise, is a wildly entertaining game with beautiful visuals that will delight any Nintendo Switch owner. Even if he has not played previous installments in the series, "Metroid Dread" is an accessible entry into the dangerous world of Samus Aran. A chef's knife that's super sharp Amazon Make him feel like a head chef in the kitchen with this 8-inch knife from Japan. The razor-sharp blade is made from stainless steel, and the dimples on the handle provide a comfortable gripping surface. With efficient slicing methods, this knife can help save time when he's making your favorite recipes. A hardcover version of the sci-fi novel 'Dune' Amazon This hardcover edition of the "Dune" novel is a fantastic gift for men who loved the recent movie adaptation, but have not yet read the epic book by Frank Herbert. A virtual cultural experience Amazon With Amazon Explore, he can learn to make Mexican tacos and tortillas with a professional chef or tour the historic city of Naples, Italy, all from the comfort of his own home. You can gift credit to buy live virtual experiences that range from a variety of interactive tours to one-on-on classes. Read our full review of Amazon Explore here.  An earthy-smelling soap scrub Amazon Smooth, clean skin is just a scrub away thanks to this men's exfoliating body soap. It's formulated with passionflower fruit, green tea, and willow bark extracts designed to nourish skin. This bath soap is lightly scented with a blend of oud wood, smoked birch, cardamom, and vanilla, to give him an earthy scent. A Bluetooth key tracker Amazon From keys to bags, the Tile Mate all-purpose finder is helpful for locating a variety of lost items. When outside of Bluetooth range, he can use the Tile app to ring his Tile Mate when it's within 200 feet. He can also use it to find his phone, even when it's on silent. You can learn more about the Tile Mate and how it compares to the AirTag from Apple, here.  An ergonomic chair for the gamer Amazon His back will thank you for this super comfortable, padded gaming chair. There are adjustable support features like the two-directional, adjustable armrests and removable headrest pillow. This chair clearly does more than look the part, which is why we've named it the best budget option in our guide to the best gaming chairs.Gaming Chair (button) A duffel bag for the traveler Amazon For the man in your life who's always jetting out, this duffel bag makes for a useful gift for him. It's functional, but also fashionable, so you know he'll be traveling in style to his next destination.Novel Duffel Bag (button) A rotating oven for the pizza lover Amazon A pizza oven can often take up a lot of space and money, but it doesn't have to. This one from Presto is more affordable, but also more convenient. You can keep it indoors and store it easily. Plus, it has custom heat settings and a built-in timer, so it's not hard to see why we've included it in our guide to the best pizza ovens.Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven (button) A backpack cooler for on-the-go refreshments Amazon Whether he loves to spend time outdoors, lounging at the beach, or you're hoping to go on more picnics with him, this backpack cooler is an easy way to carry food and drink and keep it cold. It even features a leak-proof liner. A personalized belt Amazon Give him a gift he can wear daily with a classic leather belt. This handmade option comes in brown or black and you can opt to have his initials embossed for a truly personal touch. A mini massage gun for sore muscles Amazon Give his sore and tired muscles a nice massage with this lightweight and mini massage gun. It's about the same size as a standard smartphone, so he can even throw it in a bag and easily take it to the gym, on trips, or to the office.  The 'Goldilocks' pillow he'll love sleeping on Casper The support and fluffiness level of this pillow is just right for many sleepers. It owes this perfect balance to a two-layer construction and cotton percale weave casing.  A luxurious men's bathrobe Amazon Who doesn't love lounging in a luxurious and cozy robe? Give him the gift of comfy morning and weekend time with this plush option. A cast-iron skillet holder Amazon/Business Insider This convenient skillet holder will allow for efficient cast-iron cooking without facing burns from the heat. It protects against up to 450 degrees, and it's available in six fun colors. Smooth and soft luxury sheets Amazon It's no secret that we love Brooklinen sheets. Treat him to the luxury of silky and satin-like sateen sheets for a gift he'll appreciate each and every night.Read our full review of Brooklinen sheets here. Amazon's smart speaker Amazon With improved sound quality and a sleek redesign, the fourth generation of the Echo speaker will allow him to easily listen to his favorite music and podcasts at home. Beyond taking song requests, the Echo can tell him the weather and news of the day, help him turn on smart home devices, and more.  A Monopoly board for the rule breaker Amazon Take game night to the next level and indulge his inner rule-breaker with this Monopoly game specifically designed for cheating. There are tons of Monopoly editions out there, but this one might be the most fun for those with a competitive streak. A cult-favorite, acne-banishing solution Amazon/Business Insider Just dab a bit of this lotion on a blemish to dry it out and reduce its appearance overnight.Read our full review of the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion here.  A high-tech electric toothbrush Amazon Oral-B is known for making some of the best electric toothbrushes you can buy. This particular model has a smart pressure sensor that lights up when he brushes too hard. It can also connect to an app to give him other feedback on his brushing habits. A professional-quality teeth whitening kit Amazon He might look a little silly with this appliance in his mouth, but the ultimate result is a brighter, whiter smile. The portable, mess-free process involves a fast-absorbing, minty brightening formula and LED light.  A stretchy, lightweight shirt Amazon Mizzen + Main shirts are known for their comfortable design. The henley is durable yet breathable so it'll keep up with his busy, active day. Comfy joggers Amazon/Business Insider It's vacation every day in these relaxed lounge pants. The joggers from Amazon Essentials come in a variety of colors like olive, charcoal, and navy. A small and super effective soap bar Amazon We swear by this fresh and non-toxic soap bar to take out all the stubborn stains on our clothing. A minimalist watch MVMT In addition to timeless automatic watches, MVMT makes minimalist chronograph watches that match seamlessly with his style. It's not made for intense outdoor use, but it is waterproof up to 50 meters.  A well-designed leather wallet Amazon We love Bellroy's thoughtful approach to wallet design, which is why the Slim Sleeve has remained our favorite slim men's wallet for years. It manages to fit up to 12 cards, with two quick-access slots for his most-used cards and a pull-out section for the rest, while remaining surprisingly compact.  A suspension trainer kit Amazon The system includes everything he needs to train and challenge his body from the comfort of his home, including a free 30-day trial with the TRX app to discover smart and efficient workouts.  A foam roller used by physical therapists and trainers Amazon Foam rolling can change the way his body reacts to workouts. It keeps his muscles loose and speeds up recovery times.  A soft, cloud-like comforter Buffy The fluffy comforter is covered by a soft, cooling eucalyptus fiber that always feels silky smooth against his skin. Read our full review of the Buffy Cloud Comforter here. An organizer to keep his bedtime essentials close at hand Amazon Whether he chooses to wind down at night with a book or TV show, this handy organizer can store those nighttime ritual accessories.  A quiet robot vacuum cleaner Amazon Weekend chore days just got a lot easier thanks to eufy's popular robot vacuum cleaner. At less than three inches tall, it can squeeze into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies to clean up dust and debris. His very own espresso machine Amazon Breville's machine makes delicious espresso and bundles in important accessories so he doesn't need to spend additional money on his coffee habit.  The multi-cooker everyone knows and loves Amazon The Instant Pot is efficient, versatile, and convenient, featuring seven different cooking functions that can help him make anything from a hearty stew to a sweet dessert.Read our full review of the Instant Pot here. A cookbook that gives him recipe inspiration Amazon/Business Insider The recipes are specifically designed for use with the Instant Pot, which means he can avoid any guesswork and uncertainty. A kit to clean his dirty phone screens Amazon/Business Insider The kit isn't the most brag-worthy gift in the list, but it might be the most practical. The alcohol- and ammonia-free formula cleans and polishes his screens with startling effectiveness.  Apple's newest AirPods Apple Give him the latest iteration of Apple's iconic AirPods that have shorter stems and longer battery life. The AirPods (3rd Gen) pair seamlessly with iPhones and come with a MagSafe charger. If he's inside the Apple ecosystem, he'll love a fresh pair of AirPods. A compact battery pack Amazon/Business Insider Don't let him leave the house without a portable charger like this 10,000 mAH pack. It's especially useful for traveling, giving him the peace of mind that he won't lose his phone capabilities when he needs them most.  A long and durable Lightning charging cable Amazon/Business Insider Anker says this Lightning cable is built with durability in mind thanks to its premium braided nylon fiber. And since it's extra-long, he can charge his device far away from the outlet.  A memoir from the bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers Amazon/Business Insider In this book, Flea recounts the tumultuous, hilarious, and inspiring experiences that ultimately brought him to start the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A personal water filter Amazon/Business Insider No outdoors trip or travel adventure should take place without a LifeStraw on hand. The light and compact device removes more than 99.9% of waterborne bacteria and parasites. A soft flannel Amazon You can't go wrong with a classic cotton flannel. Legendary Whitetails style comes in 28 attractive color options. A pack of comfortable boxer briefs Amazon Though they don't come cheap, Tommy John's underwear consistently ranks among the best we've ever tried. The Second Skin fabric in particular — a blend of smooth micro modal and spandex — is a standout that's always breathable and never pills.  A pair of stylish boots Amazon It's boot season and this handsome leather boot will be the star of his shoe lineup. The cork footbed and EVA comfort strip offer unparalleled, all-day comfort.  A 3-month membership to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Hopix Art/Shutterstock The perfect gift for Xbox enthusiasts, a Game Pass Ultimate subscription includes Xbox Live Gold which allows him to connect with friends for online gaming sessions. In addition to unlocking multiplayer gaming, a 3-month membership to Game Pass Ultimate allows him to discover new games to play with the extensive library of titles available with his subscription. A water bottle that he'll never get tired of Hydro Flask He'll always stay hydrated with a Hydro Flask in his bag. There are a variety of bright colors to choose from, as well as smaller sizes if you know he doesn't like carrying heavy bottles. A heavy-duty skillet Amazon The workhorse of the kitchen is the humble cast iron skillet, which lends its strong heat retention to baking, searing, stir-frying, and other cooking tasks. A mouth-watering hot sauce Amazon/Business Insider The savory hot sauce is the recipient of multiple awards. While created from one of the world's hottest peppers, the mild sauce is more smoky than spicy.   Fancy, infused salts Amazon Easily elevate his meals with flavor-infused salts such as Smoked Bacon Chipotle and Garlic Medley. A cream that gives him a comfortable shave Amazon He can lather up with a rich and foamy cream that won't irritate his skin or give him razor burn.  A shaving set that takes care of his skin Amazon Cleanse, protect, moisturize, protect, and repeat with this three-piece set. The products contain natural, effective ingredients such as kaolin clay, macadamia nut oil, and blue algae extract.  A wireless charging pad Simon Hill/Business Insider It's made for any Qi-enabled device (including AirPods!) and delivers speedy wireless charging speeds. It also looks more composed and stylish than a regular charger.  A waterproof ebook reader The Kindle Paperwhite's new, warmer backlight. Amazon The thin and light Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader has a crisp and glare-free display, and it's now waterproof so he can read by the beach or in the tub worry-free. While he can buy ebooks, there are also a few ways to expand his reading collection for free.  An Audible membership Amazon If he prefers to listen to his books while commuting, an Audible membership would be a more suitable gift. Each month, he'll get access to one audiobook and two Audible Originals of his choice, plus 30% off any additional audiobooks. Read our full review of Audible here. A travel pillow with a unique design Amazon Once he's gotten used to the curious stares from his fellow passengers, he can settle into a long and restful nap. The soft and cushioned Trtl Pillow keeps his neck propped up and supported through the flight.  Compression socks that don't look like compression socks Amazon The socks look like ordinary socks, but they actually contain medical-grade compression technology to keep his legs comfortable on flights and after workouts.  A small and portable cocktail making kit Amazon/Business Insider Alcohol's not included, but everything else is: recipe card, spoon/muddler, jigger, syrup, and coasters. Even if he's squished into Basic Economy, he'll feel like he's flying Business Class.  A Lego Y-Wing Starfighter kit Amazon A Star Wars gift he'll spend an afternoon playing around with is this Lego collectible. The details, like the opening cockpit and the accurate mini figures, are what really stand out.  A fun word game Amazon/Business Insider Rather than playing the same old games during game night, bring out Codenames, a challenge to figure out the secret identities of 25 agents.  A streaming stick that gives him access to more than 500,000 movies and TV episodes Steven Cohen/Insider Give him access to high-quality entertainment that streams in up to 4K with HDR on compatible devices. Roku's latest offering, the Streaming Stick 4K, is faster than previous generations and supports Dolby Vision. The streaming stick is easy to install and plugs directly into his TV.Read our full review of the Roku Streaming Stick 4K here. A gift card to inspire future travels Target As more Americans continue to get vaccinated, future trips are looking bright. Give him something to look forward to with an Airbnb gift card. You can choose amounts ranging from $25 to $200. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 10th, 2021

BTFD Arrives: Futures Rebound, Europe Surges While Asia Slumps On Evergrande Fears

BTFD Arrives: Futures Rebound, Europe Surges While Asia Slumps On Evergrande Fears Even though China was closed for a second day, and even though the Evergrande drama is nowhere closer to a resolution with a bond default imminent and with Beijing mute on how it will resolve the potential "Lehman moment" even as rating agency S&P chimed in saying a default is likely and it does not expect China’s government “to provide any direct support” to the privately owned developer, overnight the BTFD crew emerged in full force, and ramped futures amid growing speculation that Beijing will rescue the troubled developer... Algos about to go on a rampage — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 21, 2021 ... pushing spoos almost 100 points higher from their Monday lows, and European stock were solidly in the green - despite Asian stocks hitting a one-month low - as investors tried to shake off fears of contagion from a potential collapse of China’s Evergrande, although gains were capped by concerns the Federal Reserve could set out a timeline to taper its stimulus at its meeting tomorrow. The dollar dropped from a one-month high, Treasury yields rose and cryptos rebounded from yesterday's rout. To be sure, the "this is not a Lehman moment" crowed was out in full force, as indicated by this note from Mizuho analysts who wrote that “while street wisdom is that Evergrande is not a ‘Lehman risk’, it is by no stretch of the imagination any meaningful comfort. It could end up being China’s proverbial house of cards ... with cross-sector headwinds already felt in materials/commodities.” At 7:00 a.m. ET, S&P 500 e-minis were up 34.00 points, or 0.79% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis 110.25 points, or 0.73%, while futures tracking the Dow  jumped 0.97%, a day after the index tumbled 1.8% in its worst day since late-July,  suggesting a rebound in sentiment after concerns about contagion from China Evergrande Group’s upcoming default woes roiled markets Monday. Dip-buyers in the last hour of trading Monday helped the S&P 500 pare some losses, though the index still posted the biggest drop since May. The bounce also came after the S&P 500 dropped substantially below its 50-day moving average - which had served as a resilient floor for the index this year - on Monday, its first major breach in more than six months. Freeport-McMoRan mining stocks higher with a 3% jump, following a 3.2% plunge in the S&P mining index a day earlier as copper prices hit a one-month low. Interest rate-sensitive banking stocks also bounced, tracking a rise in Treasury yields. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: U.S.-listed Chinese stocks start to recover from Monday’s slump in premarket trading as the global selloff moderates. Alibaba (BABA US), Baidu (BIDU US), Nio (NIO US), Tencent Music (TME US)and Bilibili (BILI US) are among the gainers Verrica Pharma (VRCA US) plunges 30% in premarket trading after failing to get FDA approval for VP-102 for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum ReWalk Robotics (RWLK US) shares jump 43% in U.S. premarket trading amid a spike in volume in the stock. Being discussed on StockTwits Aprea Therapeutics gains 21% in U.S. premarket trading after the company reported complete remission in a bladder cancer patient in Phase 1/2 clinical trial of eprenetapopt in combination with pembrolizumab Lennar (LEN US) shares fell 3% in Monday postmarket trading after the homebuilder forecast 4Q new orders below analysts’ consensus hurt by unprecedented supply chain challenges ConocoPhillips (COP US) ticks higher in U.S. premarket trading after it agreed to buy Shell’s  Permian Basin assets for $9.5 billion in cash, accelerating the consolidation of the largest U.S. oil patch SmileDirect (SDC US) slightly higher in premarket trading after it said on Monday that it plans to enter France with an initial location in Paris KAR Global (KAR US) shares fell 4.6% in post-market trading on Monday after the company withdrew is full-year financial outlook citing disruption caused by chip shortage Sportradar (SRAD US) shares jumped 4.5% in Monday postmarket trading, after the company said basketball legend Michael Jordan will serve as a special adviser to its board and also increase his investment in the sports betting and entertainment services provider, effective immediately Orbital Energy Group (OEG US) gained 6% postmarket Monday after a unit won a contract  to construct 1,910 miles of rural broadband network in Virginia. Terms were not disclosed “So much of this information is already known that we don’t think it will necessary set off a wave of problems,” John Bilton, head of global multi-asset strategy at JPMorgan Asset Management, said on Bloomberg TV. “I’m more concerned about knock-on sentiment at a time when investor sentiment is a bit fragile. But when we look at the fundamentals -- the general growth, and direction in the wider economy -- we still feel reasonably confident that the situation will right itself.” Aside from worries over Evergrande’s ability to make good on $300 billion of liabilities, investors are also positioning for the two-day Fed meeting starting Tuesday, where policy makers are expected to start laying the groundwork for paring stimulus.  Europe's Stoxx 600 index climbed more than 1%, rebounding from the biggest slump in two months, with energy companies leading the advance and all industry sectors in the green. Royal Dutch Shell rose after the company offered shareholders a payout from the sale of shale oil fields. Universal Music Group BV shares soared in their stock market debut after being spun off from Vivendi SE. European airlines other travel-related stocks rise for a second day following the U.S. decision to soon allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they’re fully vaccinated against Covid-19; British Airways parent IAG soars as much as 6.9%, extending Monday’s 11% jump. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Stagecoach shares jump as much as 24% after the company confirmed it is in takeover talks with peer National Express. Shell climbs as much as 4.4% after selling its Permian Basin assets to ConocoPhillips for $9.5 billion. Bechtle gains as much as 4.3% after UBS initiated coverage at buy. Husqvarna tumbles as much as 9% after the company said it is suing Briggs & Stratton in the U.S. for failing to deliver sufficient lawn mower engines for the 2022 season. Kingfisher slides as much as 6.4% after the DIY retailer posted 1H results and forecast higher profits this fiscal year. The mood was decidedly more sour earlier in the session, when Asian stocks fell for a second day amid continued concerns over China’s property sector, with Japan leading regional declines as the market reopened after a holiday. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down 0.5%, headed for its lowest close since Aug. 30, with Alibaba and SoftBank the biggest drags. China Evergrande Group slid deeper in equity and credit markets Tuesday after S&P said the developer is on the brink of default. Markets in China, Taiwan and South Korea were closed for holidays. Worries over contagion risk from the Chinese developer’s debt problems and Beijing’s ongoing crackdowns, combined with concern over Federal Reserve tapering, sent global stocks tumbling Monday. The MSCI All-Country World Index fell 1.6%, the most since July 19. Japan’s stocks joined the selloff Tuesday as investor concerns grew over China’s real-estate sector as well as Federal Reserve tapering, with the Nikkei 225 sliding 2.2% - its biggest drop in three months, catching up with losses in global peers after a holiday - after a four-week rally boosted by expectations for favorable economic policies from a new government. Electronics makers were the biggest drag on the Topix, which declined 1.7%. SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing were the largest contributors to a 2.2% loss in the Nikkei 225. Japanese stocks with high China exposure including Toto and Nippon Paint also dropped. “The outsized reaction in global markets may be a function of having too many uncertainties bunched into this period,” Eugene Leow, a macro strategist at DBS Bank Ltd., wrote in a note. “It probably does not help that risk taking (especially in equities) has gone on for an extended period and may be vulnerable to a correction.” “The proportion of Japan’s exports to China is greater than those to the U.S. or Europe, making it sensitive to any slowdown worries in the Chinese economy,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, a senior strategist at Nomura Asset Management in Tokyo. “The stock market has yet to fully price in the possibility of a bankruptcy by Evergrande Group.” The Nikkei 225 has been the best-performing major stock gauge in the world this month, up 6.2%, buoyed by expectations for favorable policies from a new government and an inflow of foreign cash. The Topix is up 5.3% so far in September. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index inched lower and the greenback fell versus most of its Group-of-10 peers as a selloff in global stocks over the past two sessions abated; the euro hovered while commodity currencies led by the Norwegian krone were the best performers amid an advance in crude oil prices. Sweden’s krona was little changed after the Riksbank steered clear of signaling any post-pandemic tightening, as it remains unconvinced that a recent surge in inflation will last. The pound bucked a three-day losing streak as global risk appetite revived, while investors look to Thursday’s Bank of England meeting for policy clues. The yen erased earlier gains as signs that risk appetite is stabilizing damped demand for haven assets. At the same time, losses were capped due to uncertainty over China’s handling of the Evergrande debt crisis. In rates, Treasuries were lower, although off worst levels of the day as U.S. stock futures recover around half of Monday’s losses while European equities trade with a strong bid tone. Yields are cheaper by up to 2.5bp across long-end of the curve, steepening 5s30s spread by 1.2bp; 10-year yields around 1.3226%, cheaper by 1.5bp on the day, lagging bunds and gilts by 1bp-2bp. The long-end of the curve lags ahead of $24b 20-year bond reopening. Treasury will auction $24b 20-year bonds in first reopening at 1pm ET; WI yield ~1.82% is below auction stops since January and ~3bp richer than last month’s new-issue result In commodities, crude futures rose, with the front month WTI up 1.5% near $71.50. Brent stalls near $75. Spot gold trades a narrow range near $1,765/oz. Base metals are mostly in the green with LME aluminum the best performer Looking at the day ahead now, and data releases include US housing starts and building permits for August, along with the UK public finances for September. From central banks, we’ll hear from ECB Vice President de Guindos. Otherwise, the General Debate will begin at the UN General Assembly, and the OECD publishes their Interim Economic Outlook. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1.0% to 4,392.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.1% to 459.10 MXAP down 0.5% to 200.25 MXAPJ up 0.2% to 640.31 Nikkei down 2.2% to 29,839.71 Topix down 1.7% to 2,064.55 Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 24,221.54 Shanghai Composite up 0.2% to 3,613.97 Sensex up 0.4% to 58,751.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 7,273.83 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,140.51 Brent Futures up 1.6% to $75.13/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,761.68 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.19 German 10Y yield fell 5.0 bps to -0.304% Euro little changed at $1.1729 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Lael Brainard is a leading candidate to be the Federal Reserve’s banking watchdog and is also being discussed for more prominent Biden administration appointments, including to replace Fed chairman Jerome Powell and, potentially, for Treasury secretary if Janet Yellen leaves Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will this week face the challenge of convincing investors that plans to scale back asset purchases aren’t a runway to raising interest rates for the first time since 2018 ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos says there is “good news” with respect to the euro-area recovery after a strong development in the second and third quarter The ECB is likely to continue purchasing junk-rated Greek sovereign debt even after the pandemic crisis has passed, according to Governing Council member and Greek central bank chief Yannis Stournaras U.K. government borrowing was well below official forecasts in the first five months of the fiscal year, providing a fillip for Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak as he prepares for a review of tax and spending next month U.K. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warned the next few days will be challenging as the energy crisis deepens, and meat producers struggle with a crunch in carbon dioxide supplies The U.K.’s green bond debut broke demand records for the nation’s debt as investors leaped on the long-anticipated sterling asset. The nation is offering a green bond maturing in 2033 via banks on Tuesday at 7.5 basis points over the June 2032 gilt. It has not given an exact size target for the sale, which has attracted a record of more than 90 billion pounds ($123 billion) in orders Germany cut planned debt sales in the fourth quarter by 4 billion euros ($4.7 billion), suggesting the surge in borrowing triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is receding Contagion from China Evergrande Group has started to engulf even safer debt in Asia, sparking the worst sustained selloff of the securities since April. Premiums on Asian investment-grade dollar bonds widened 2-3 basis points Tuesday, according to credit traders, after a jump of 3.4 basis points on Monday Swiss National Bank policy makers watching the effects of negative interest rates on the economy are worrying about the real-estate bubble that their policy is helping to foster Global central banks need to set out clear strategies for coping with inflation risks as the world economy experiences faster-than-expected cost increases amid an uneven recovery from the pandemic, the OECD said A quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities traded cautiously following the recent downbeat global risk appetite due to Evergrande contagion concerns which resulted in the worst day for Wall Street since May, with the region also contending with holiday-thinned conditions due to the ongoing closures in China, South Korea and Taiwan. ASX 200 (+0.2%) was indecisive with a rebound in the mining-related sectors counterbalanced by underperformance in utilities, financials and tech, while there were also reports that the Byron Bay area in New South Wales will be subject to a seven-day lockdown from this evening. Nikkei 225 (-1.8%) was heavily pressured and relinquished the 30k status as it played catch up to the contagion downturn on return from the extended weekend with recent detrimental currency inflows also contributing to the losses for exporters. Hang Seng (-0.3%) was choppy amid the continued absence of mainland participants with markets second-guessing whether Chinese authorities will intervene in the event of an Evergrande collapse, while shares in the world’s most indebted developer fluctuated and wiped out an early rebound, although affiliate Evergrande Property Services and other property names fared better after Sun Hung Kai disputed reports of China pressuring Hong Kong developers and with Guangzhou R&F Properties boosted by reports major shareholders pledged funds in the Co. which is also selling key assets to Country Garden. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher amid the underperformance in Japanese stocks and with the Japan Securities Dealers Association recently noting that global funds purchased the most ultra-long Japanese bonds since 2014, although upside was limited amid softer demand at the enhanced liquidity auction for 2yr-20yr maturities and with the BoJ kickstarting its two-day policy meeting. Top Asian News Richest Banker Says Evergrande Is China’s ‘Lehman Moment’ Hong Kong Tycoons, Casino Giants Find Respite in Stock Rebound Taliban Add More Male Ministers, Say Will Include Women Later Asian Stocks Drop to Lowest Level This Month; Japan Leads Losses European equities (Stoxx 600 +1.1%) trade on a firmer footing attempting to recoup some of yesterday’s losses with not much in the way of incremental newsflow driving the upside. Despite the attempt to claw back some of the prior session’s lost ground, the Stoxx 600 is still lower by around 1.6% on the week. The Asia-Pac session was one characterised by caution and regional market closures with China remaining away from market. Focus remains on whether Evergrande will meet USD 83mln in interest payments due on Thursday and what actions Chinese authorities could take to limit the contagion from the company in the event of further troubles. Stateside, futures are also on a firmer footing with some slight outperformance in the RTY (+1.2%) vs. peers (ES +0.8%). Again, there is not much in the way of fresh positivity driving the upside and instead gains are likely more a by-product of dip-buying; attention for the US is set to become increasingly geared towards tomorrow’s FOMC policy announcement. Sectors in Europe are firmer across the board with outperformance in Oil & Gas names amid a recovery in the crude complex and gains in Shell (+4.4%) after news that the Co. is to sell its Permian Basin assets to ConocoPhillips (COP) for USD 9.5bln in cash. Other outperforming sectors include Tech, Insurance and Basic Resources. IAG (+4.1%) and Deutsche Lufthansa (+3.8%) both sit at the top of the Stoxx 600 as the Co.’s continue to enjoy the fallout from yesterday’s decision by the US to allow travel from vaccinated EU and UK passengers. Swatch (-0.7%) is lagging in the luxury space following a downgrade at RBC, whilst data showed Swiss watch exports were +11.5% Y/Y in August (prev. 29.1%). Finally, National Express (+7.7%) is reportedly considering a takeover of Stagecoach (+21.4%), which is valued at around GBP 370mln. Top European News U.K. Warns of Challenging Few Days as Energy Crisis Deepens Germany Trims Planned Debt Sales as Pandemic Impact Recedes U.K.’s Green Bond Debut Draws Record Demand of $123 Billion Goldman Plans $1.5 Billion Petershill Partners IPO in London In FX, all the signs are constructive for a classic turnaround Tuesday when it comes to Loonie fortunes as broad risk sentiment improves markedly, WTI consolidates within a firm range around Usd 71/brl compared to yesterday’s sub-Usd 70 low and incoming results from Canada’s general election indicate victory for the incumbent Liberal party that will secure a 3rd term for PM Trudeau. Hence, it’s better the devil you know as such and Usd/Cad retreated further from its stop-induced spike to just pips short of 1.2900 to probe 1.2750 at one stage before bouncing ahead of new house price data for August. Conversely, the Swedish Krona seems somewhat reluctant to get carried away with the much better market mood after the latest Riksbank policy meeting only acknowledged significantly stronger than expected inflation data in passing, and the repo rate path remained rooted to zero percent for the full forecast horizon as a consequence. However, Eur/Sek has slipped back to test 10.1600 bids/support following an initial upturn to almost 10.1800, irrespective of a rise in unemployment. NOK/AUD/NZD - No such qualms for the Norwegian Crown as Brent hovers near the top of a Usd 75.18-74.20/brl band and the Norges Bank is widely, if not universally tipped to become the first major Central Bank to shift into tightening mode on Thursday, with Eur/Nok hugging the base of a 10.1700-10.2430 range. Elsewhere, the Aussie and Kiwi look relieved rather than rejuvenated in their own right given dovish RBA minutes, a deterioration in Westpac’s NZ consumer sentiment and near reversal in credit card spending from 6.9% y/y in July to -6.3% last month. Instead, Aud/Usd and Nzd/Usd have rebounded amidst the recovery in risk appetite that has undermined their US rival to top 0.7380 and 0.7050 respectively at best. GBP/CHF/EUR/JPY/DXY - Sterling is latching on to the ongoing Dollar retracement and more supportive backdrop elsewhere to pare losses under 1.3700, while the Franc continues its revival to 0.9250 or so and almost 1.0850 against the Euro even though the SNB is bound to check its stride at the upcoming policy review, and the single currency is also forming a firmer base above 1.1700 vs the Buck. Indeed, the collective reprieve in all components of the Greenback basket, bar the Yen on diminished safe-haven demand, has pushed the index down to 93.116 from 93.277 at the earlier apex, and Monday’s elevated 93.455 perch, while Usd/Jpy is straddling 109.50 and flanked by decent option expiry interest either side. On that note, 1.4 bn resides at the 109.00 strike and 1.1 bn between 109.60-70, while there is 1.6 bn in Usd/Cad bang on 1.2800. EM - Some respite across the board in wake of yesterday’s mauling at the hands of risk-off positioning in favour of the Usd, while the Czk has also been underpinned by more hawkish CNB commentary as Holub echoes the Governor by advocating a 50 bp hike at the end of September and a further 25-50 bp in November. In commodities, WTI and Brent are firmer in the European morning post gains in excess of 1.0%, though the benchmarks are off highs after an early foray saw Brent Nov’21 eclipse USD 75.00/bbl, for instance. While there has been newsflow for the complex, mainly from various energy ministers, there hasn’t been much explicitly for crude to change the dial; thus, the benchmarks are seemingly moving in tandem with broader risk sentiment (see equities). In terms of the energy commentary, the Qatar minister said they are not thinking of re-joining OPEC+ while the UAE minister spoke on the gas situation. On this, reports in Russian press suggests that Russia might allow Rosneft to supply 10bcm of gas to Europe per year under an agency agreement with Gazprom “as an experiment”, developments to this will be closely eyed for any indication that it could serve to ease the current gas situation. Looking ahead, we have the weekly private inventory report which is expected to post a headline draw of 2.4mln and draws, albeit of a smaller magnitude, are expected for distillate and gasoline as well. Moving to metals, spot gold is marginally firmer while silver outperforms with base-metals picking up across the board from the poor performance seen yesterday that, for instance, saw LME copper below the USD 9k mark. Note, the action is more of a steadying from yesterday’s downside performance than any notable upside, with the likes of copper well within Monday’s parameters. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Aug. Building Permits MoM, est. -1.8%, prior 2.6%, revised 2.3% 8:30am: Aug. Housing Starts MoM, est. 1.0%, prior -7.0% 8:30am: Aug. Building Permits, est. 1.6m, prior 1.64m, revised 1.63m 8:30am: Aug. Housing Starts, est. 1.55m, prior 1.53m 8:30am: 2Q Current Account Balance, est. -$190.8b, prior -$195.7b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Global markets slumped across the board yesterday in what was one of the worst days of the year as an array of concerns about the outlook gathered pace. The crisis at Evergrande and in the Chinese real estate sector was the catalyst most people were talking about, but truth be told, the market rout we’re seeing is reflecting a wider set of risks than just Chinese property, and comes after increasing questions have been asked about whether current valuations could still be justified, with talk of a potential correction picking up. Remember that 68% of respondents to my survey last week (link here) thought they’d be at least a 5% correction in equity markets before year end. So this has been front and centre of people’s mind even if the catalyst hasn’t been clear. We’ve all known about Evergrande’s woes and how big it was for a while but it wasn’t until Friday’s story of the Chinese regulatory crackdown extending into property that crystallised the story into having wider implications. As I noted in my chart of the day yesterday link here Chinese USD HY had been widening aggressively over the last couple of months but IG has been pretty rock solid. There were still no domestic signs of contagion by close of business Friday. However as it stands, there will likely be by the reopening post holidays tomorrow which reflects how quickly the story has evolved even without much new news. Before we get to the latest on this, note that we’ve still got a bumper couple of weeks on the calendar to get through, including the Fed decision tomorrow, which comes just as a potential government shutdown and debt ceiling fight are coming into view, alongside big debates on how much spending the Democrats will actually manage to pass. There has been some respite overnight with S&P 500 futures +0.58% higher and 10y UST yields up +1.5bps to 1.327%. Crude oil prices are also up c. 1%. On Evergrande, S&P Global Ratings has said that the company is on the brink of default and that it’s failure is unlikely to result in a scenario where China will be compelled to step in. The report added that they see China stepping in only if “there is a far-reaching contagion causing multiple major developers to fail and posing systemic risks to the economy.” The Hang Seng (-0.32%) is lower but the Hang Seng Properties index is up (+1.59%) and bouncing off the 5 plus year lows it hit yesterday. Elsewhere the ASX (+0.30%) and India’s Nifty (+0.35%) have also advanced. Chinese and South Korean markets are closed for a holiday but the Nikkei has reopened and is -1.80% and catching down to yesterday’s global move. Looking at yesterday’s moves in more depth, the gathering storm clouds saw the S&P 500 shed -1.70% in its worst day since May 12, with cyclical industries leading the declines and with just 10% of S&P 500 index members gaining. There was a late rally at the end of the US trading session that saw equity indices bounce off their lows, with the S&P 500 (-2.87%) and NASDAQ (-3.42%) both looking like they were going to register their worst days since October 2020 and late-February 2021 respectively. However, yesterday was still the 5th worst day for the S&P 500 in 2021. Reflecting the risk-off tone, small caps suffered in particular with the Russell 2000 falling -2.44%, whilst tech stocks were another underperformer as the NASDAQ lost -2.19% and the FANG+ index of 10 megacap tech firms saw an even bigger -3.16% decline. For Europe it was much the same story, with the STOXX 600 (-1.67%) and other bourses including the DAX (-2.31%) seeing significant losses amidst the cyclical underperformance. It was the STOXX 600’s worst performance since mid-July and the 6th worst day of the year overall. Unsurprisingly, there was also a significant spike in volatility, with the VIX index climbing +4.9pts to 25.7 – its highest closing level since mid-May – after trading above 28.0pts midday. In line with the broader risk-off move, especially sovereign bonds rallied strongly as investors downgraded their assessment of the economic outlook and moved to price out the chances of near-term rate hikes. By the close of trade, yields on 10yr Treasuries had fallen -5.1bps to 1.311%, with lower inflation breakevens (-4.1bps) leading the bulk of the declines. Meanwhile in Europe, yields on 10yr bunds (-4.0bps), OATs (-2.6bps) and BTPs (-0.9bps) similarly fell back, although there was a widening in spreads between core and periphery as investors turned more cautious. Elsewhere, commodities took a hit as concerns grew about the economic outlook, with Bloomberg’s Commodity Spot Index (-1.53%) losing ground for a third consecutive session. That said, European natural gas prices (+15.69%) were the massive exception once again, with the latest surge taking them above the peak from last Wednesday, and thus bringing the price gains since the start of August to +84.80%. Here in the UK, Business Secretary Kwarteng said that he didn’t expect an emergency regarding the energy supply, but also said that the government wouldn’t bail out failed companies. Meanwhile, EU transport and energy ministers are set to meet from tomorrow for an informal meeting, at which the massive spike in prices are likely to be discussed. Overnight, we have the first projections of the Canadian federal election with CBC News projecting that the Liberals will win enough seats to form a government for the third time albeit likely a minority government. With the counting still underway, Liberals are currently projected to win 156 seats while Conservatives are projected to win 120 seats. Both the parties are currently projected to win a seat less than last time. The Canadian dollar is up +0.44% overnight as the results remove some election uncertainty. Turning to the pandemic, the main news yesterday was that the US is set to relax its travel rules for foreign arrivals. President Biden announced the move yesterday, mandating that all adult visitors show proof of vaccination before entering the country. Airline stocks outperformed strongly in response, with the S&P 500 airlines (+1.55%) being one of the few industry groups that actually advanced yesterday. Otherwise, we heard from Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine trials on 5-11 year olds had successfully produced an antibody response among that age group. The dose was just a third of that used in those aged 12 and above, and they said they planned to share the data with regulators “as soon as possible”. Furthermore, they said that trials for the younger cohorts (2-5 and 6m-2) are expected as soon as Q4. In Germany, there are just 5 days left until the election now, and the last Insa poll before the vote showed a slight tightening in the race, with the centre-left SPD down a point to 25%, whilst the CDU/CSU bloc were up 1.5 points to 22%. Noticeably, that would also put the race back within the +/- 2.5% margin of error. The Greens were unchanged in third place on 15%. Staying with politics and shifting back to the US, there was news last night that Congressional Democratic leaders are looking to tie the suspension of the US debt ceiling vote to the spending bill that is due by the end of this month. If the spending bill is not enacted it would trigger a government shutdown, and if the debt ceiling is not raised it would cause defaults on federal payments as soon as October. Senate Majority Leader Schumer said the House will pass a spending bill that will fund the government through December 3rd and that the “legislation to avoid a government shutdown will also include a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022.” Republicans may balk at the second measure, given that it would take the issue off the table until after the 2022 midterm elections in November of that year. There wasn’t a great deal of data out yesterday, though German producer price inflation rose to +12.0% in August (vs. +11.1% expected), marking the fastest pace since December 1974. Separately in the US, the NAHB’s housing market index unexpectedly rose to 76 in September (vs. 75 expected), the first monthly increase since April. To the day ahead now, and data releases include US housing starts and building permits for August, along with the UK public finances for September. From central banks, we’ll hear from ECB Vice President de Guindos. Otherwise, the General Debate will begin at the UN General Assembly, and the OECD will be publishing their Interim Economic Outlook. Tyler Durden Tue, 09/21/2021 - 07:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

Howard Marks January 2022 Memo: Selling Out

Howard Marks memo to Oaktree clients for the month of January 2022, titled, “Selling Out.” Q4 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more As I’m now in my fourth decade of memo writing, I’m sometimes tempted to conclude I should quit, because I’ve covered all the relevant topics. Then a new idea for a memo […] Howard Marks memo to Oaktree clients for the month of January 2022, titled, “Selling Out.” if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Charlie Munger 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); Q4 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more As I’m now in my fourth decade of memo writing, I’m sometimes tempted to conclude I should quit, because I’ve covered all the relevant topics. Then a new idea for a memo pops up, delivering a pleasant surprise. My January 2021 memo Something of Value, which chronicled the time I spent in 2020 living and discussing investing with my son Andrew, recounted a semi-real conversation in which we briefly discussed whether and when to sell appreciated assets. It occurred to me that even though selling is an inescapable part of the investment process, I’ve never devoted an entire memo to it. The Basic Idea Everyone is familiar with the old saw that’s supposed to capture investing’s basic proposition: “buy low, sell high.” It’s a hackneyed caricature of the way most people view investing. But few things that are important can be distilled into just four words; thus, “buy low, sell high” is nothing but a starting point for discussion of a very complex process. Will Rogers, an American film star and humorist of the 1920s and ’30s, provided what he may have thought was a more comprehensive roadmap for success in the pursuit of wealth: Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it. The illogicality of his advice makes clear how simplistic this adage – like many others – really is. However, regardless of the details, people may unquestioningly accept that they should sell appreciated investments. But how helpful is that basic concept? Origins Much of what I’ll write here got its start in a 2015 memo called Liquidity. The hot topic in the investment world at that moment was the concern about a perceived decline in the liquidity provided by the market (when I say “the market,” I’m talking specifically about the U.S. stock market, but the statement has broad applicability). This was commonly attributed to a combination of (a) the licking investment banks had taken in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 and (b) the Volcker Rule, which prohibited risky activities such as proprietary trading on the part of systemically important financial institutions. The latter constrained banks’ ability to “position” securities, or buy them, when clients wanted to sell. Maybe liquidity in 2015 was less than it had previously been, and maybe it wasn’t. However, looking beyond the events of the day, I closed that memo by stating my conviction that (a) most investors trade too much, to their own detriment, and (b) the best solution for illiquidity is to build portfolios for the long term that don’t rely on liquidity for success. Long-term investors have an advantage over those with short timeframes (and I think the latter describes the majority of market participants these days). Patient investors are able to ignore short-term performance, hold for the long run, and avoid excessive trading costs, while everyone else worries about what’s going to happen in the next month or quarter and therefore trades excessively. In addition, long-term investors can take advantage if illiquid assets become available for purchase at bargain prices. Like so many things in investing, however, just holding is easier said than done. Too many people equate activity with adding value. Here’s how I summed up this idea in Liquidity, inspired by something Andrew had said: When you find an investment with the potential to compound over a long period, one of the hardest things is to be patient and maintain your position as long as doing so is warranted based on the prospective return and risk. Investors can easily be moved to sell by news, emotion, the fact that they’ve made a lot of money to date, or the excitement of a new, seemingly more promising idea. When you look at the chart for something that’s gone up and to the right for 20 years, think about all the times a holder would have had to convince himself not to sell. Everyone wishes they’d bought Amazon at $5 on the first day of 1998, since it’s now up 660x at $3,304. But who would have continued to hold when the stock hit $85 in 1999 – up 17x in less than two years? Who among those who held on would have been able to avoid panicking in 2001, as the price fell 93%, to $6? And who wouldn’t have sold by late 2015 when it hit $600 – up 100x from the 2001 low? Yet anyone who sold at $600 captured only the first 18% of the overall rise from that low. This reminds me of the time I once visited Malibu with a friend and mentioned that the Rindge family is said to have bought the entire area – all 13,330 acres – in 1892 for $300,000, or $22.50 per acre. (It’s clearly worth many billions today.) My friend said, “I’d like to have bought all of Malibu for $300,000.” My response was simple: “you would have sold it when it got to $600,000.” The more I’ve thought about it since writing Liquidity, the more convinced I’ve become that there are two main reasons why people sell investments: because they’re up and because they’re down. You may say that sounds nutty, but what’s really nutty is many investors’ behavior. Selling Because It’s Up “Profit-taking” is the intelligent-sounding term in our business for selling things that have appreciated. To understand why people engage in it, you need insight into human behavior, because a lot of investors’ selling is motivated by psychology. In short, a good deal of selling takes place because people like the fact that their assets show gains, and they’re afraid the profits will go away. Most people invest a lot of time and effort trying to avoid unpleasant feelings like regret and embarrassment. What could cause an investor more self-recrimination than watching a big gain evaporate? And what about the professional investor who reports a big winner to clients one quarter and then has to explain why the holding is at or below cost the next? It’s only human to want to realize profits to avoid these outcomes. If you sell an appreciated asset, that puts the gain “in the books,” and it can never be reversed. Thus, some people consider selling winners extremely desirable – they love realized gains. In fact, at a meeting of a non-profit’s investment committee, a member suggested that they should be leery of increasing endowment spending in response to gains because those gains were unrealized. I was quick to point out that it’s usually a mistake to view realized gains as less transient than unrealized ones (assuming there’s no reason to doubt the veracity of the unrealized carrying values). Yes, the former have been made concrete. However, sales proceeds are generally reinvested, meaning the profits – and the principal – are put back at risk. One might argue that appreciated securities are more vulnerable to declines than new investments in assets currently deemed to be attractively priced, but that’s far from a certainty. I’m not saying investors shouldn’t sell appreciated assets and realize profits. But it certainly doesn’t make sense to sell things just because they’re up. Selling Because It’s Down As wrong as it is to sell appreciated assets solely to crystalize gains, it’s even worse to sell them just because they’re down. Nevertheless, I’m sure many people do it. While the rule is “buy low, sell high,” clearly many people become more motivated to sell assets the more they decline. In fact, just as continued buying of appreciated assets can eventually turn a bull market into a bubble, widespread selling of things that are down has the potential to turn market declines into crashes. Bubbles and crashes do occur, proving that investors contribute to excesses in both directions. In a movie that plays in my head, the typical investor buys something at $100. If it goes to $120, he says, “I think I’m onto something – I should add,” and if it reaches $150, he says, “Now I’m highly confident – I’m going to double up.” On the other hand, if it falls to $90, he says, “I’m going to think about increasing my position to reduce my average cost,” but at $75, he concludes he should reconfirm his thesis before averaging down further. At $50, he says, “I’d better wait for the dust to settle before buying more.” And at $20 he says, “It feels like it’s going to zero; get me out!” Just like those who are afraid of surrendering gains, many investors worry about letting losses compound. They might fear their clients will say (or they’ll say to themselves), “What kind of a lame-brain continues to hold a security after it’s gone from $100 to $50? Everyone knows a decline like that can foreshadow further declines. And look – it happened.” Do investors really make behavioral errors such as those I’ve described? There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence. For example, studies have shown that the average mutual fund investor performs worse than the average mutual fund. How can that be? If she merely held her positions, or if her errors were unsystematic, the average fund investor would, by definition, fare the same as the average fund. For the studies’ findings to occur, investors have to on balance reduce the amount of capital they have in funds that subsequently do better and increase their allocation to funds that go on to do worse. Let me put that another way: on average, mutual fund investors tend to sell the funds with the worst recent performance (missing out on their potential recoveries) in order to chase the funds that have done the best (and thus likely participate in their return to earth). We know that “retail investors” tend to be trend-followers, as described above, and their long-term performance often suffers as a result. What about the pros? Here the evidence is even clearer: the powerful shift in recent decades toward indexing and other forms of passive investing has taken place for the simple reason that active investment decisions are so often wrong. Of course, many forms of error contribute to this reality. Whatever the reason, however, we have to conclude that, on average, active professional investors held more of the things that did less well and less of the things that outperformed, and/or that they bought too much at elevated prices and sold too much at depressed prices. Passive investing hasn’t grown to cover the majority of U.S. equity mutual fund capital because passive results have been so good; I think it’s because active management has been so bad. Back when I worked at First National City Bank 50 years ago, prospective clients used to ask, “What kind of return do you think you can make in an equity portfolio?” The standard answer was 12%. Why? “Well,” we said (so simplistically), “the stock market returns about 10% a year. A little effort should enable us to improve on that by at least 20%.” Of course, as time has shown, there’s no truth in that. “A little effort” didn’t add anything. In fact, in most cases, active investing detracted: most equity funds failed to keep up with the indices, especially after fees. What about the ultimate proof? The essential ingredient in Oaktree’s investments in distressed debt – bargain purchases – has emanated from the great opportunities sellers gave us. Negativity reaches a crescendo during economic and market crises, causing many investors to become depressed or fearful and sell in panic. Results like those we target in distressed debt can only be achieved when holders sell to us at irrationally low prices. Superior investing consists largely of taking advantage of mistakes made by others. Clearly, selling things because they’re down is a mistake that can give the buyers great opportunities. When Should Investors Sell? If you shouldn’t sell things because they’re up, and you shouldn’t sell because they’re down, is it ever right to sell? As I previously mentioned, I described the discussions that took place while Andrew and his family lived with Nancy and me in 2020 in Something of Value. That experience truly was of great value – an unexpected silver lining to the pandemic. That memo evoked the strongest reaction from readers of any of my memos to date. This response was probably attributable to (a) the content, which mostly related to value investing; (b) the personal insights provided, and especially my confession regarding my need to grow with the times; or (c) the recreated conversation that I included as an appendix. The last of these went like this, in part: Howard: Hey, I see XYZ is up xx% this year and selling at a p/e ratio of xx. Are you tempted to take some profits? Andrew: Dad, I’ve told you I’m not a seller. Why would I sell? H: Well, you might sell some here because (a) you’re up so much; (b) you want to put some of the gain “in the books” to make sure you don’t give it all back; and (c) at that valuation, it might be overvalued and precarious. And, of course, (d) no one ever went broke taking a profit. A: Yeah, but on the other hand, (a) I’m a long-term investor, and I don’t think of shares as pieces of paper to trade, but as part ownership in a business; (b) the company still has enormous potential; and (c) I can live with a short-term downward fluctuation, the threat of which is part of what creates opportunities in stocks to begin with. Ultimately, it’s only the long term that matters. (There’s a lot of “a-b-c” in our house. I wonder where Andrew got that.) H: But if it’s potentially overvalued in the short term, shouldn’t you trim your holding and pocket some of the gain? Then if it goes down, (a) you’ve limited your regret and (b) you can buy in lower. A: If I owned a stake in a private company with enormous potential, strong momentum and great management, I would never sell part of it just because someone offered me a full price. Great compounders are extremely hard to find, so it’s usually a mistake to let them go. Also, I think it’s much more straightforward to predict the long-term outcome for a company than short-term price movements, and it doesn’t make sense to trade off a decision in an area of high conviction for one about which you’re limited to low conviction. . . . H: Isn’t there any point where you’d begin to sell? A: In theory there is, but it largely depends on (a) whether the fundamentals are playing out as I hope and (b) how this opportunity compares to the others that are available, taking into account my high level of comfort with this one. Aphorisms like “no one ever went broke taking a profit” may be relevant to people who invest part-time for themselves, but they should have no place in professional investing. There certainly are good reasons for selling, but they have nothing to do with the fear of making mistakes, experiencing regret and looking bad. Rather, these reasons should be based on the outlook for the investment – not the psyche of the investor – and they have to be identified through hardheaded financial analysis, rigor and discipline. Stanford University professor Sidney Cottle was the editor of the later versions of Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd’s Security Analysis, “the bible of value investing,” including the edition I read at Wharton 56 years ago. For that reason, I knew the book as “Graham, Dodd and Cottle.” Sid was a consultant to the investment department at First National City Bank in the 1970s, and I’ve never forgotten his description of investing: “the discipline of relative selection.” In other words, most of the portfolio decisions investors make are relative choices. It’s patently clear that relative considerations should play an enormous part in any decision to sell existing holdings. If your investment thesis seems less valid than it did previously and/or the probability that it will prove accurate has declined, selling some or all of the holding is probably appropriate. Likewise, if another investment comes along that appears to have more promise – to offer a superior risk-adjusted prospective return – it’s reasonable to reduce or eliminate existing holdings to make room for it. Selling an asset is a decision that must not be considered in isolation. Cottle’s concept of “relative selection” highlights the fact that every sale results in proceeds. What will you do with them? Do you have something in mind that you think might produce a superior return? What might you miss by switching to the new investment? And what will you give up if you continue to hold the asset in your portfolio rather than making the change? Or perhaps you don’t plan to reinvest the proceeds. In that case, what’s the likelihood that holding the proceeds in cash will make you better off than you would have been if you had held onto the thing you sold? Questions like these relate to the concept of “opportunity cost,” one of the most important ideas in financial decision-making. Switching gears, what about the idea of selling because you think a temporary dip lies ahead that will affect one of your holdings or the whole market? There are real problems with this approach: Why sell something you think has a positive long-term future to prepare for a dip you expect to be temporary? Doing so introduces one more way to be wrong (of which there are so many), since the decline might not occur. Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, points out that selling for market-timing purposes actually gives an investor two ways to be wrong: the decline may or may not occur, and if it does, you’ll have to figure out when the time is right to go back in. Or maybe it’s three ways, because once you sell, you also have to decide what to do with the proceeds while you wait until the dip occurs and the time comes to get back in. People who avoid declines by selling too often may revel in their brilliance and fail to reinstate their positions at the resulting lows. Thus, even sellers who were right can fail to accomplish anything of lasting value. Lastly, what if you’re wrong and there is no dip? In that case, you’ll miss out on the ensuing gains and either never get back in or do so at higher prices. So it’s generally not a good idea to sell for purposes of market timing. There are very few occasions to do so profitably and very few people who possess the skill needed to take advantage of these opportunities. Before I close on this subject, it’s important to note that decisions to sell aren’t always within an investment manager’s control. Clients can withdraw capital from accounts and funds, necessitating sales, and the limited lifespan of closed-end funds can require managers to liquidate holdings even though they’re not ripe for selling. The choice of what to sell under these conditions can still be based on a manager’s expectations regarding future returns, but deciding not to sell isn’t among the manager’s choices. How Much Is Too Much to Hold? Certainly there are times when it’s right to sell one asset in favor of another based on the idea of relative selection. But we mustn’t do this in a mechanical manner. If we did, at the logical extreme, we would put all of our capital into the one investment we consider the best. Virtually all investors – even the best – diversify their portfolios. We may have a sense for which holding is the absolute best, but I’ve never heard of an investor with a one-asset portfolio. They may overweight favorites to take advantage of what they think they know, but they still diversify to protect against what they don’t know. That means they sub-optimize, potentially trading off some of their chance at a maximal return to increase the likelihood of a merely excellent one. Here’s a related question from my reconstructed conversation with Andrew: H: You run a concentrated portfolio. XYZ was a big position when you invested, and it’s even bigger today, given the appreciation. Intelligent investors concentrate portfolios and hold on to take advantage of what they know, but they diversify holdings and sell as things rise to limit the potential damage from what they don’t know. Hasn’t the growth in this position put our portfolio out of whack in that regard? A: Perhaps that’s true, depending on your goals. But trimming would mean selling something I feel immense comfort with based on my bottom-up assessment and moving into something I feel less good about or know less well (or cash). To me, it’s far better to own a small number of things about which I feel strongly. I’ll only have a few good insights over my lifetime, so I have to maximize the few I have. All professional investors want good investment performance for their clients, but they also want financial success for themselves. And amateurs have to invest within the limits of their risk tolerance. For these reasons, most investors – and certainly most investment managers’ clients – aren’t immune to apprehension regarding portfolio concentration and thus susceptibility to untoward developments. These considerations introduce valid reasons for limiting the size of individual asset purchases and trimming positions as they appreciate. Investors sometimes delegate the decision on how to weight assets in portfolios to a process called portfolio optimization. Inputs regarding asset classes’ return potential, risk and correlation are fed into a computer model, and out comes the portfolio with the optimal expected risk-adjusted return. If an asset appreciates relative to the others, the model can be rerun, and it will tell you what to buy and sell. The main problem with these models lies in the fact that all the data we have regarding those three parameters relates to the past, but to arrive at the ideal portfolio, the model needs data that accurately describes the future. Further, the models need a numerical input for risk, and I absolutely insist that no single number can fully describe an asset’s risk. Thus, optimization models can’t successfully dictate portfolio actions. The bottom line: we should base our investment decisions on our estimates of each asset’s potential, we shouldn’t sell just because the price has risen and the position has swelled, there can be legitimate reasons to limit the size of the positions we hold, but there’s no way to scientifically calculate what those limits should be. In other words, the decision to trim positions or to sell out entirely comes down to judgment . . . like everything else that matters in investing. The Final Word on Selling Most investors try to add value by over- and underweighting specific assets and/or through well-timed buying and selling. While few have demonstrated the ability to consistently do these things correctly (see my comments on active management on page 4), everyone’s free to have a go at it. There is, however, a big “but.” What’s clear to me is that simply being invested is by far “the most important thing.” (Someone should write a book with that title!) Most actively managed portfolios won’t outperform the market as a result of manipulation of portfolio weightings or buying and selling for purposes of market timing. You can try to add to returns by engaging in such machinations, but these actions are unlikely to work at best and can get in the way at worst. Most economies and corporations benefit from positive underlying secular trends, and thus most securities markets rise in most years and certainly over long periods. One of the longest-running U.S. equity indices, the S&P 500, has produced an estimated compound average return over the last 90 years of 10.5% per year. That’s startling performance. It means $1 invested in the S&P 500 90 years ago would have grown to roughly $8,000 today. Many people have remarked on the wonders of compounding. For example, Albert Einstein reportedly called compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world.” If $1 could be invested today at the historic compound return of 10.5% per year, it would grow to $147 in 50 years. One might argue that economic growth will be slower in the years ahead than it was in the past, or that bargain stocks were easier to find in previous periods than they are today. Nevertheless, even if it compounds at just 7%, $1 invested today will grow to over $29 in 50 years. Thus, someone entering adulthood today is practically guaranteed to be well fixed by the time they retire if they merely start investing promptly and avoid tampering with the process by trading. I like the way Bill Miller, one of the great investors of our time, put it in his 3Q 2021 Market Letter: In the post-war period the US stock market has gone up in around 70% of the years... Odds much less favorable than that have made casino owners very rich, yet most investors try to guess the 30% of the time stocks decline, or even worse spend time trying to surf, to no avail, the quarterly up and down waves in the market. Most of the returns in stocks are concentrated in sharp bursts beginning in periods of great pessimism or fear, as we saw most recently in the 2020 pandemic decline. We believe time, not timing, is the key to building wealth in the stock market. (October 18, 2021. Emphasis added) What are the “sharp bursts” Miller talks about? On April 11, 2019, The Motley Fool cited data from JP Morgan Asset Management’s 2019 Retirement Guide showing that in the 20-year period between 1999 and 2018, the annual return on the S&P 500 was 5.6%, but your return would only have been 2.0% if you had sat out the 10 best days (or roughly 0.4% of the trading days), and you wouldn’t have made any money at all if you had missed the 20 best days. In the past, returns have often been similarly concentrated in a small number of days. Nevertheless, overactive investors continue to jump in and out of the market, incurring transactions costs and capital gains taxes and running the risk of missing those “sharp bursts.” As mentioned earlier, investors often engage in selling because they believe a decline is imminent and they have the ability to avoid it. The truth, however, is that buying or holding – even at elevated prices – and experiencing a decline is in itself far from fatal. Usually, every market high is followed by a higher one and, after all, only the long-term return matters. Reducing market exposure through ill-conceived selling – and thus failing to participate fully in the markets’ positive long-term trend – is a cardinal sin in investing. That’s even more true of selling without reason things that have fallen, turning negative fluctuations into permanent losses and missing out on the miracle of long-term compounding. * * * When I meet people for the first time and they find out I’m in the investment business, they often ask (especially in Europe) “what do you trade?” That question makes me bristle. To me, “trading” means jumping in and out of individual assets and whole markets on the basis of guesswork as to what prices will do in the next hour, day, month or quarter. We don’t engage in such activity at Oaktree, and few people have demonstrated the ability to do it well. Rather than traders, we consider ourselves investors. In my view, investing means committing capital to assets based on well-reasoned estimates of their potential and benefitting from the results over the long term. Oaktree does employ people called traders, but their job consists of implementing long-term investment decisions made by portfolio managers based on assets’ fundamentals. No one at Oaktree believes they can make money or advance their career by selling now and buying back after an intervening decline, as opposed to holding for years and letting value lift prices if fundamental expectations prove out. When Oaktree was formed in 1995, the five founders – who at that point had worked together for nine years on average – established an investment philosophy based on what we’d successfully done in that time. One of the six tenets expressed our view on trying to time markets when buying and selling: Because we do not believe in the predictive ability required to correctly time markets, we keep portfolios fully invested whenever attractively priced assets can be bought. Concern about the market climate may cause us to tilt toward more defensive investments, increase selectivity or act more deliberately, but we never move to raise cash. Clients hire us to invest in specific market niches, and we must never fail to do our job. Holding investments that decline in price is unpleasant, but missing out on returns because we failed to buy what we were hired to buy is inexcusable. We’ve never changed any of the six tenets of our investment philosophy – including this one – and we have no plans to do so. January 13, 2022 Updated on Jan 14, 2022, 12:38 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: valuewalkJan 14th, 2022

Jeff Bezos turns 58 today. Here are 14 things you might not know about the Amazon founder.

Bezos, who celebrates his birthday on January 12, started his first business when he was in high school. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images You might not know that Jeff Bezos almost named Amazon "Cadabra." He survived a helicopter crash in Texas in 2003. In August 2020, he became the first person to accumulate a fortune of over $200 billion. His mother, Jacklyn Bezos, gave birth to him when she was a teenager.Jeff Bezos in 1997.Paul Souders/Getty ImagesAccording to CNBC, Bezos, then Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen, was barely 17 years old and a junior in high school when she gave birth to her son in 1964. At the time, her high school administrators told her she would not be permitted to finish her education there. After she was allowed to return under strict conditions, Jacklyn Bezos graduated and later divorced from Jeff Bezos' biological father, Ted Jorgensen, after less than a year of marriage. Jeff Bezos was just over a year old at the time. She struggled to make ends meet while working as a secretary and, at one point, didn't even have enough income to afford a phone, CNBC reported.Determined to make life better for her and her son, Bezos enrolled in college classes with professors who permitted her to bring her infant along. It was there she met her future husband, Mike Bezos, a Cuban immigrant who would give Jeff Bezos his last name and step in as his father.Bezos' biological father was once a circus performer.A circus performer on a unicycle.giulia186/Getty ImagesAccording to the 2013 biography of Jeff Bezos by Brad Stone, "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," the now-billionaire's biological father was a unicyclist and circus performer.When Stone tracked down Jorgensen to interview him for his biography, he had reportedly not seen his son in decades and hadn't realized he was his biological father. Jorgensen reached out to his son and the two made amends, with Bezos telling him "he harbored no ill will towards Jorgensen at all," according to Stone.Ted Jorgensen died March 16, 2015, at the age of 71.Bezos was interested in how things work and engineering even as a child.Jeff Bezos.Chris Carroll/Corbis/Getty ImagesWhen Bezos was a toddler, he reportedly felt he was "too old" to sleep in a crib and managed to take it apart with a screwdriver by himself. By the time he entered high school, Bezos had transformed his home garage into a laboratory for his own inventions, Harvard Business School wrote, citing Angela Duckworth's "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance."He started his first business when he was in high school.Jeff Bezos.Chris Carroll/Corbis/Getty ImagesWhile he was in high school, Bezos launched his very first business, an educational summer camp for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders called the Dream Institute. According to Insider, Bezos and his girlfriend at the time both worked on the camp and charged its six attendees $600 per person.Prior to starting the camp, Bezos also worked at McDonald's for a summer.Bezos worked on Wall Street in the early 1990s.Wall Street.Matteo Colombo/Getty ImagesAfter graduating from Princeton University with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering, Bezos worked at several financial firms on Wall Street in New York City, including Fitel and investment firm D.E. Shaw, Insider previously reported.Bezos worked his way up to become D.E. Shaw's youngest vice president in 1990 but left four years later to launch an online bookstore.Bezos founded Amazon in his garage.Jeff Bezos' home where he started Amazon.Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesAfter launching a prototype of the Amazon website and asking 300 friends to beta test it, Bezos and a few early employees began developing software for the site in Bezos' garage. The space was so small that Bezos was forced to hold meetings at a local Barnes & Noble, according to Insider. The small team later expanded its operations and began working out of a two-bedroom house.Jeff Bezos' former wife, MacKenzie Bezos, also played a large role in the founding of Amazon during the company's early years. After the couple divorced in 2019 after 25 years of marriage, MacKenzie Bezos received 25% of the couple's stock in Amazon, which was worth about $38 billion at the time.Jeff Bezos almost named his company "Cadabra" instead of Amazon.An Amazon logistics center.Pascal Rossignol/ReutersJeff Bezos originally wanted to give his company the more magical-sounding name but was warned against doing so by Amazon's first lawyer, Todd Tarbert, according to a previous article by Insider.Tarbert explained that the name "Cadabra" sounded a little too similar to "cadaver," especially over the phone. In the end, the founder and future billionaire went with Amazon, named after the largest river in the world because he was building the largest bookstore in the world.Bezos was a passenger in a helicopter crash in 2003.Jeff Bezos speaks at an event in Washington.REUTERS/Joshua RobertsWhile onboard an Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopter with his attorney, guide Ty Holland, and pilot Charles Bella, Bezos was involved in a serious helicopter crash in west Texas after wind blew the helicopter off course.According to Insider, the helicopter landed upside-down in a creek and partially filled with water. Bella, Bezos, and Holland all escaped the wreck with only minor injuries. However, Bezos' attorney, Elizabeth Korrell, suffered a broken vertebra from the accident."Avoid helicopters whenever possible," Bezos told Fast Company in 2004. "They're not as reliable as fixed-wing aircraft."Bezos had a cameo role in "Star Trek Beyond."Jeff Bezos attends the premiere of "Star Trek Beyond" in 2016.Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesBezos played an alien in the 2016 movie reboot, and he reportedly made quite an impression on set, with movie star Chris Pine saying Bezos arrived to set with three limousines and accompanied by nine bodyguards. "For years, I have been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, to let me be in a 'Star Trek' movie. I was very persistent, and you can imagine the poor director who got the call, you know, 'You have to let Bezos be in your "Star Trek" movie,'" Bezos said at the 2016 Pathfinder Awards at Seattle's Museum of Flight. "It was super fun for me. It was a bucket list item."Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post.The Washington Post headquarters.ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty ImagesBezos purchased the newspaper company in 2013 for $250 million. At the time, Bezos' net worth was estimated to be over $25 billion. Immediately following the purchase, The Post Company shares rose 5.5% in after-hours trading. Under Bezos' ownership, the once-struggling newspaper turned a profit in 2016, 2017, and 2018, according to CNN.The billionaire also runs his own privately funded rocket ship company, Blue Origin.Jeff Bezos at a Blue Origin presentation.Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty ImagesThe aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Kent, Washington, which is also Bezos' home state. "Blue Origin believes that in order to preserve Earth, our home, for our grandchildren's grandchildren, we must go to space to tap its unlimited resources and energy," the company's mission statement reads.On June 20, 2021, Bezos and three companions successfully journeyed to the edge of space before returning back to Earth just minutes later.He became a self-made billionaire in 1999 at 35 years old.Jeff Bezos appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in 1999.NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty ImagesThe same year that Bezos first registered on the Forbes Billionaires list, Amazon's headquarters was on the same street as a pawn shop and an adult film store, according to CNBC.Since, Bezos' net worth has drastically grown ...In August 2020, Bezos became the first person in modern history to accumulate a fortune of over $200 billion.Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, and Jeff Bezos attend the 2019 Met Gala.Kevin Mazur/MG19/Getty ImagesIn February 2021, at the time Amazon announced he would be stepping down as CEO, Bezos was worth $196.2 billion.He is now worth $191.5 billion, according to Forbes.Also that year, he bought a massive Beverly Hills compound for $165 million, in what was the most expensive home sale in California history at the time.A Google Maps satellite view of the Jack Warner Estate.Google MapsIn February 2020, Bezos broke a California record when he bought the Warner estate, which had belonged to billionaire David Geffen. The $165 million sale was the most expensive home sale in state history, Business Insider reported at the time.The estate, which was built by Warner Bros. co-founder Jack Warner in 1937, spans 8 acres and has an eight-bedroom, 13,600-square-foot Georgian-style mansion, as well as two guest houses.The purchase came after Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, had reportedly been house hunting in Los Angeles for a few weeks.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 13th, 2022

Jeff Bezos turns 58 today. Here"s how he built Amazon into a $1.7 trillion company and became one of the world"s richest people.

Jeff Bezos got his start as a New York hedge-funder before driving across the country to start building Amazon. Jeff Bezos inside Amazon's Spheres in 2018.The Washington Post/Getty Images Jeff Bezos began his career as a hedge-funder in New York before leaving to start Amazon. Amazon struggled to turn a profit at first, but these days, it's worth $1.7 trillion. Its share price has hit new highs during the pandemic. Along the way, Bezos has faced antitrust scrutiny, weathered scandals, traveled to space, and become one of the world's richest people. Jeff Bezos' mom, Jackie, was a teenager when she had him on January 12, 1964. She had recently married Cuban immigrant Miguel Bezos, who adopted Jeff. Jeff didn't learn that Miguel wasn't his real father until he was 10, but says he was more fazed about learning he needed to get glasses than he was about the news.Jeff Bezos with his father, Miguel Bezos.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Statue Of Liberty-Ellis Island FoundationSource: WiredWhen Bezos was 4, his mother told his biological father, who previously had worked as a circus performer, to stay out of their lives. When Brad Stone interviewed Bezos' biological father for Stone's book "The Everything Store," Bezos' dad had no idea who his son had become.Not Jeff Bezos' father.Reuters/Eric GaillardSource: The Everything StoreBezos showed signs of brilliance from an early age. When he was a toddler, he took apart his crib with a screwdriver because he wanted to sleep in a real bed.Fabian Strauch/picture alliance via Getty ImagesSource: The Everything StoreFrom ages 4 to 16, Bezos spent summers on his grandparents' ranch in Texas, doing things like repairing windmills and castrating bulls.AP Photo/Richard DrewSource: The Everything StoreHis grandfather, Preston Gise, was a huge inspiration for Bezos and helped kindle his passion for intellectual pursuits. At a commencement address in 2010, Bezos said Gise taught him "it's harder to be kind than clever."Jeff Bezos.AP ImagesSource: Business InsiderBezos fell in love with reruns of the original "Star Trek" and became a fan of later versions too. Early on, he considered naming Amazon MakeItSo.com, a reference to a line from Captain Jean-Luc Picard.Paramount PicturesSource: The Everything StoreIn school, Bezos told teachers "the future of mankind is not on this planet." As a kid, he wanted to be a space entrepreneur — now, he owns a space-exploration company called Blue Origin.Getty Images / Blue OriginSource: WiredAfter spending a miserable summer working at McDonald's as a teen, Bezos, together with his girlfriend, started the Dream Institute, a 10-day summer camp for kids. They charged $600 a kid and managed to sign up six students. The "Lord of the Rings" series made the required reading list.Kim Kulish/Getty imagesSource: WiredBezos eventually went to college at Princeton University and majored in computer science. Upon graduation, he turned down job offers from Intel and Bell Labs to join a startup called Fitel.Princeton University.John Greim / Getty ImagesSource: The Everything StoreAfter he quit Fitel, Bezos considered partnering with Halsey Minor — who would later found CNET — to launch a startup that would deliver news by fax.Karl Baron/FlickrSource: WiredInstead, he got a job at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw. He became a senior vice president after only four years.The rising graph of the Bombay Stock Index is reflected in the glasses of Senior broker and Assistant Vice President of Motilal Oswal Securities Limited, Jitendra Prasad, as he looks into a computer in his firm in Bombay November 15, 2001. India's key share index finished up more than two percent on Thursday to its highest level since September 11, as investors bet on a recovery in global equity sentiment. The 30-share Bombay Sensitive Index closed up a provisional 2.65 percent at 3,195.52 points. YEAREND PICTURES 2001 Reuters/Arko DattaSource: The Everything StoreMeanwhile, Bezos was taking ballroom dancing classes as part of a scheme to increase his "women flow." Just as Wall Streeters have a process for increasing their "deal flow," Bezos thought analytically about meeting women.Lisi Niesner/ReutersSource: The Everything StoreHe married MacKenzie Tuttle, a D.E. Shaw research associate, in 1993. The couple had four kids together.APSource: The Everything StoreIn 1994, Bezos read that the web had grown 2,300% in one year. This number astounded him, and he decided he needed to find some way to take advantage of its rapid growth. He made a list of 20 possible products to sell online and decided books were the best option.Paul FalardeauSource: The Everything StoreBezos decided to leave D.E. Shaw even though he had a great job. His boss at the firm, David E. Shaw, tried to persuade Bezos to stay. But Bezos was already determined to start his own company — he felt he'd rather try and fail at a startup than never try at all.Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is silhouetted during a presentation of his company's new Fire smartphone at a news conference in Seattle, Washington June 18, 2014.REUTERS/Jason RedmondSource: WiredAnd so Amazon was born. MacKenzie and Jeff flew to Texas to borrow a car from his father, and then they drove to Seattle. Bezos was making revenue projections in the passenger seat the whole way, though the couple did stop to watch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon.Sara Jaye/Getty Images Source: The Everything StoreBezos started Amazon.com in a garage with a potbelly stove. He held most of his meetings at the neighborhood Barnes & Noble.Mike Segar/ReutersSource: WiredIn the early days, a bell would ring in the office every time someone made a purchase, and everyone would gather around to see whether anyone knew the customer. It took only a few weeks before it was ringing so often they had to make it stop.AP Photo/Andy RogersSource: InsiderIn the first month of its launch, Amazon sold books to people in all 50 states and in 45 different countries. And it continued to grow: Amazon went public on May 15, 1997.Frank Micelotta/Getty ImagesSource: InsiderWhen the dot-com crash came, analysts called the company "Amazon.bomb." But it weathered the storm and ended up being one of the few startups that wasn't wiped out by the dot-com bust.Mario Tama/Getty ImagesSource: Barron'sAmazon has now gone beyond selling books to offering almost everything you can imagine, including appliances, clothing, and even cloud computing services.An Amazon warehouse.ShutterstockIn the early days, Bezos was a demanding boss and could explode at employees. Rumor has it he hired a leadership coach to help him tone it down.Amazon's Jeff BezosReutersSource: InsiderBezos is known for banning PowerPoint presentations at Amazon. Instead, he requires his staff to turn in papers of a specific length on their proposals to encourage critical thinking over simplistic bullet points.Pens and paper with an Amazon logo are seen at the logistics center in BrieselangThomson ReutersSource: The Everything StoreBezos is also known for creating a frugal company culture that doesn't offer perks like free food or massages.An Amazon office.Business InsiderIn 1998, Bezos became an early investor in Google. He invested $250,000, which was worth about 3.3 million shares when the company went public in 2004. Those would be worth billions today (Bezos hasn't said whether he kept any of his stock after the initial public offering).APSource: All Things DWhat does Bezos do with all his money? In 2012, he donated $2.5 million to defend gay marriage in Washington. More recently, he's pledged $10 billion to fight climate change, donated $200 million to the Smithsonian, and gave $100 million each to the Obama Foundation, chef Jose Andres, and activist Van Jones.Jeff Bezos.REUTERS/Abhishek N. ChinnappaSource: The Washington Post, Insider, InsiderBezos has also donated $42 million and part of his land in Texas to the construction of The Clock Of The Long Now, an underground timepiece designed to work for 10,000 years.The Long Now Foundation / Facebook Source: InsiderIn August 2013, Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesSource: The Washington PostAnd he also spend money on his space company, Blue Origin. Blue Origin made history in 2015 when it became one of the first commercial companies to successfully launch a reusable rocket.Blue OriginSource: InsiderBezos' interest in flying has gotten him into trouble in the past. In 2003, Bezos almost died in a helicopter crash in Texas while scouting a site for a test-launch facility for Blue Origin.This isn't Bezos' helicopter.NTSBSource: CNNBut in early 2016, he flew his personal jet to Germany to pick up and bring home Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who had been detained by Iran.Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesSource: InsiderBezos is said to own a 5.35-acre estate on Seattle's Lake Washington that includes 200 yards of shoreline.An Amazon-branded Boeing 767 freighter, nicknamed Amazon One, flies over Lake Washington.Stephen Brashear/GettySource: Curbed SeattleHe bought a seven-bedroom, $24.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills in 2007. There's a greenhouse, tennis court, pool, and guest house on the property, and it neighbors Tom Cruise's estate.Bezos' house in Beverly Hills.Dream Homes MagazineSource: ForbesIn January 2017, Bezos purchased the Textile Museum, a pair of mansions in Washington, DC's Kalorama neighborhood. The property sold for $23 million and is the largest in Washington. Bezos' renovation plans for the house cost $12 million.AgnosticPreachersKid/Wikimedia CommonsSource: The Washington Post, InsiderBezos also owns five apartments at 212 Fifth Avenue in New York City. His most recent purchase in the building was last August, when he paid a reported $23 million for a four-bedroom unit, bringing his total real estate holdings in the building to $119 million.Madison Square Park in New York City.ShutterstockSource: InsiderIn February 2020, Bezos became the new owner of the Warner estate, a sprawling compound in Beverly Hills, California, that he reportedly purchased for $165 million. A few months later, Bezos added to the compound with an adjacent house worth $10 million.Los Angeles County/PictometrySource: InsiderIn October 2021, Bezos reportedly added to his real estate portfolio once again with a new home in Hawaii. The home is located in an isolated area on Maui's south shore and is near lava fields, Pacific Business News reported.A home in Maui, Hawaii, although not the one Bezos purchased.ejs9/Getty ImagesSource: Insider, Pacific Business NewsNow, more than 20 years after going public, Amazon has a market cap of nearly $1.7 trillion.Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSource: Markets InsiderIn August 2017, Amazon officially acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The Amazon influence became immediately clear: Customers who are Amazon Prime subscribers can get 10% of sale prices, and you'll see some Amazon branded items offered in stores, including tech products like the popular Amazon Echo line.Kate Taylor/Business InsiderSource: InsiderIn July 2017, Bezos became the world's richest person for the first time, surpassing Microsoft founder Bill Gates. At the time, his net worth was more than $90 billion.Getty ImagesSource: Markets Insider, ForbesDespite his high net worth, Bezos never actually took home a high salary, comparatively speaking: His annual salary while he was CEO came out to $81,840, according to Bloomberg.Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, and John Elkann, chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, walk together during the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesSource: BloombergIn January 2019, Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced they were divorcing. "As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends," the couple wrote in the statement. "If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again."Dia Dipasupil / StaffSource: InsiderShortly after the Bezoses announced their divorce, news broke that Bezos was dating TV host and helicopter pilot Lauren Sanchez. At the time, the National Enquirer said it had obtained texts and explicit photos the couple had sent to each other.Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty ImagesSource: InsiderBezos immediately launched an investigation into who had leaked his personal messages. Soon after, he dropped a bombshell of his own: an explosive blog post accusing National Enquirer publisher AMI of trying to blackmail him. "Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten," Bezos wrote.Jeff Bezos.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesSource: MediumThe Bezoses announced on Twitter they had finalized the term of their divorce in April 2019. MacKenzie retained more than $35 billion in Amazon stock, making her one of the world's richest women.Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos.ReutersSource: InsiderSince then, Bezos and Sanchez have had a whirlwind few years, attending Wimbledon together, yachting with other moguls and celebrities, and vacationing in Saint-Tropez and St. Barths.Reuters/Andrew CouldridgeSource: InsiderDuring the coronavirus outbreak, Amazon saw a surge in demand as more people were forced to shop online. At the same time, the company faced criticism over its treatment of workers and its attention to health and safety at its fulfillment centers nationwide.Former Amazon employee, Christian Smalls, stands with fellow demonstrators during a protest outside of an Amazon warehouses in the Staten Island borough of New York on May 1, 2020.REUTERS/Lucas JacksonSource: InsiderAmazon delivery drivers, who are contractors employed by third-party companies, have also spoken out about the demands of their jobs. Drivers say Amazon's emphasis on metrics has forced them to use their delivery vans as a bathroom or sacrifice safety to deliver packages on time.An Amazon driver carrying packages.Patrick T. FALLON / AFPSource: Insider, InsiderThe company is also facing antitrust concerns, particularly over the company's treatment of third-party sellers on its platform. Bezos and other major tech CEOs were called to testify before Congress in July 2020.Jeff Bezos threw his weight behind the US military.AP/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisSource: InsiderAfter the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed in 2020, Bezos was outspoken about his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, publicly shaming customers who sent racist emails about his and Amazon's support. In an Instagram post, he posted a screenshot of a customer email and described the man as "the kind of customer I'm happy to lose."A person holds a "Black Lives Matter" sign at a protest in Seattle, Washington on June 1, 2020.Lindsey Wasson/ReutersSource: InsiderOn February 2, 2021, Bezos announced he would step down as Amazon's CEO and transition to executive chairman after 27 years at the helm. Bezos said that he planned to spend more time on philanthropy — including the Bezos Earth Fund and his Day 1 Fund — as well as his two other major endeavors: The Washington Post and his rocket company, Blue Origin.Jeff Bezos attends the premiere of "Star Trek Beyond" in 2016.Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesSource: InsiderBezos stepped down in July and embarked on his next adventure: On July 20, he took an 11-minute voyage to the edge of space aboard a Blue Origin spacecraft. He was accompanied by his brother, Mark; a Dutch teenager named Oliver Daemen; and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator who trained to go to space in the '60s but was ultimately denied the opportunity because she was a woman.Isaiah J. Downing/ReutersSource: Insider Allana Akhtar contributed to an earlier version of this story.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 13th, 2022

Delivery Updates From NIO, XPeng (XPEV) and LI Auto (LI)

Fourth-quarter 2021 deliveries NIO, XPENG (XPEV) and Li Auto's (LI) rise 44.3%, 222% and 143.5%, respectively, on a year-over-year basis. Three key China-based smart electric vehicle (EV) companies, namely NIO Inc. NIO, Li Auto LI and XPeng Inc. XPEV recently came up with their yearly and quarterly updates for 2021.Let’s look at the deliveries that each company completed and the records that each broke or set.NIO Inc.’s vehicle delivery went up 49.7% year over year to 10,489 vehicles in December 2021. The deliveries included 2,782 ES8s, NIO’s six- or seven-seater flagship premium smart electric SUVs, 4,939 ES6s, its five-seater high-performance premium smart electric SUV and 2,768 EC6s, its five-seater premium smart electric coupe SUV.NIO delivered a record-breaking 25,034 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2021, to boast a new quarterly delivery benchmark that reflected a 44.3% yearly increase. Its yearly deliveries shot 109.1% to 91,429 vehicles in 2021. The cumulative deliveries of ES8, ES6 and EC6 stood at 167,070 vehicles as of Dec, 31, 2021.On its recently held NIO Day 2021 event in Suzhou, NIO launched ET5, a mid-size premium smart electric sedan. The company has deliveries slated for 2022. The pre-subsidy starting price of ET5 is RMB328,000 or RMB258,000 with the Battery as a Service (BaaS) feature. Additionally, NIO’s delivery of ET7, a flagship premium smart electric sedan, is lined up in March 2022.NIO currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).XPeng Inc. delivered 16,000 Smart EVs in December 2021, surpassing the monthly delivery yardstick of 15,000 units for the second consecutive month, notwithstanding the ongoing global-supply bottlenecks. The deliveries jumped 181% yearly, reflecting on XPEV’s robust business model and execution capability.The deliveries in December covered 7,459 P7 smart sports sedans, 5,030 P5 smart family sedans and 3,511 G3 and G3i smart SUVs, marking a 102% and 75% yearly increase, respectively, for the P7 and G3 series, and a 134% month-over-month increase for P5, which advanced steadily with a solid order backlog.Fourth-quarter 2021 saw deliveries of 41,751 units, including 21,342 P7 deliveries, up 222% year over year. Total vehicle deliveries for the year ended Dec 31, 2021, climbed 263% to 98,155 vehicles. P7 deliveries for the year reached 60,569, cumulatively, representing a 302% annual increase. Deliveries of 29,721 G3 and G3i smart SUVs, marking a 148% yearly increase, and that of 7,865 P5s was completed in 2021. Deliveries in the Smart EV category reached 137,953, cumulatively on Dec 31, 2021.XPEV, as of the end of November 2021, expanded its network in China with 661 branded supercharging stations across 228 cities and 311 physical retail stores in operation across 121 cities.XPEV currently carries a Zacks Rank of 3.Li Auto Inc. saw deliveries of 14,087 Li ONEs in December 2021, representing a 130% yearly jump. This upside takes the fourth-quarter delivery count to 35,221, up 40.2%, sequentially, and 143.5% year over year. Total deliveries in 2021 skyrocketed 177.4% to 90,491 and cumulative deliveries have reached 124,088 since the vehicle’s market debut.In December, LI provided the OTA 3.0 update for all its Li ONE users, which should augment their in-car experience. The update includes Li Auto’s full-stack, self-developed Navigation on ADAS (NOA) feature, which allows more than 60,000 users to enjoy safer and easier driving.As of Dec 31, 2021, LI had 206 retail stores in 102 cities as well as 278 servicing centers and Li Auto-authorized body and paint shops operating in 204 cities.LI currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).Key PickA better-ranked peer in the EV space is Tesla TSLA, carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.With Model 3 being its flagship vehicle, Tesla established itself as a leader in the EV segment. Currently, it is the best-selling premium sedan in the world. Along with rising demand for Model 3, which forms a chunk of the automaker’s overall deliveries, Model Y is boosting Tesla’s prospects.Tesla’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters, missing the mark on one occasion. The company pulled off a last four-quarter earnings surprise of 25.4%, on average. Its shares have also gained 44.8% over a year. Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top picks for the entirety of 2022? From inception in 2012 through November, the Zacks Top 10 Stocks gained an impressive +962.5% versus the S&P 500’s +329.4%. Now our Director of Research is combing through 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank to handpick the best 10 tickers to buy and hold. Don’t miss your chance to get in on these stocks when they’re released on January 3.Be First To New Top 10 Stocks >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Tesla, Inc. (TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report NIO Inc. (NIO): Free Stock Analysis Report Li Auto Inc. Sponsored ADR (LI): Free Stock Analysis Report XPeng Inc. Sponsored ADR (XPEV): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 3rd, 2022

How Digital Twins Are Transforming Manufacturing, Medicine and More

Digital twins—exact digital re-creations of objects or environments—are being used to replicate factory floors, car prototypes and internal organs A version of this article was published in TIME’s newsletter Into the Metaverse. Subscribe for a weekly guide to the future of the Internet. You can find past issues of the newsletter here. There are two versions of a BMW factory in the medieval town of Regensburg, Germany. One is a physical plant that cranks out hundreds of thousands of cars a year. The other is a virtual 3-D replica, accessed by screen or VR headset, in which every surface and every bit of machinery looks exactly the same as in real life. Soon, whatever is happening in the physical factory will be reflected inside the virtual one in real time: frames being dipped in paint; doors being sealed onto hinges; avatars of workers carrying machinery to its next destination. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The latter factory is an example of a “digital twin”: an exact digital re-creation of an object or environment. The concept might at first seem like sci-fi babble or even a frivolous experiment: Why would you spend time and resources to create a digital version of something that already exists in the real world? But digital twins are now proving invaluable across multiple industries, especially those that involve costly or scarce physical objects. Created by feeding video, images, blueprints or other data into advanced 3-D mapping software, digital twins are being used in medicine to replicate and study internal organs. They’ve propelled engineers to devise car and plane prototypes—including Air Force fighter jets—more quickly. They allow architects and urban planners to envision and then build skyscrapers and city blocks with clarity and precision. And this year, digital twins began to break into the mainstream of manufacturing and research. In April, chipmaker Nvidia launched a version of its Omniverse 3-D simulation engine that allows businesses to build 3-D renderings of their own—including digital twins. Amazon Web Services announced a competing service, the IoT TwinMaker, in November. The digital-twin market already generated sales of more than $3 billion in 2020, according to the research firm Research and Markets, and tech executives leading digital-twin efforts say we’re still at the dawn of this technology. Digital twins could have huge implications for training workers, for formulating complicated technical plans without having to waste physical resources—even for improving infrastructure and combatting climate change. “Health care, music, education, taking city kids on safari: it’s hard to imagine where digital twins won’t have an impact,” says Richard Kerris, Nvidia’s vice president of Omniverse development. BMWAn image from the digital twin of BMW’s factory in Regensburg, Bavaria, created in NVIDIA’s Omniverse The need was always there. In the 1960s, NASA created physical replicas of spaceships and connected them to simulators so that if a crisis ensued on the actual vehicle hundreds of thousands of miles away, a team could workshop solutions on the ground. Dave Rhodes, the senior vice president of digital twins at Unity Technologies, a video-game and 3-D-platform company, says that digital-twin technology is only now being widely released because of several confluent factors, including the increased computing power of cloud-based systems, the spread of 5G networks, improvements in 3-D rendering and the remote work demands of COVID-19. Digital twins can replicate real-world objects ranging in size from millimeters to miles. In Poland, a team of doctors and technologists is starting with one of the smallest objects imaginable: the human fetal heart. About 1 in 100 newborns has a congenital heart disease, which can be fatal if not treated. But studies have shown that more than half of those diseases go undetected. Sonography simulators are expensive and bulky, and most medical schools don’t include hands-on training. “Most likely you will encounter a congenital heart defect for the first time when you are already in your clinic,” Marcin Wiechec, an ob-gyn and associate professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, says. So Wiechec and his team created Fetal Heart VR, which allows doctors to guide a probe across a belly-like dome in order to study normal and abnormal beating fetal hearts—re-created identically from real-life scans—through a VR headset. Wiechec has been using the app to train students in Krakow. Jill Beithon, a retired sonographer and educator based in Fergus Falls, Minn., says the app could have enormous benefits for medical workers in areas with less access to resources or cutting-edge education centers. “The fetal heart is very intimidating—and the size of a quarter at 20 weeks, beating at 100 beats per minute. It takes additional training, and it’s not training you can easily find,” she says. “With the VR, you don’t have to go to expensive courses or try to find a mentor. This is going to replace hands-on experience.” Courtesy Marcin WiechecA promo image for Fetal Heart VR. Digital-twin technology is being trialed across the medical landscape, for planning surgical procedures and exploring the heart risks of various drugs. In November, seven medical researchers from around the U.S., writing in the journal Nature Medicine, called for an increase in clinical studies of “cancer patient digital twins” to precisely track a patient’s physical state and adjust treatment accordingly. “[Digital twins] are poised to revolutionize how cancer and a host of other complex diseases are treated and managed,” the researchers wrote. The automotive industry is also being transformed. Back in Regensburg, BMW can now test or tweak parts of the assembly line without having to move around heavy machinery; the company estimates the technology will cut the time it takes to plan out factory operations by at least 25%. A few months ago, factory managers created their first piece of new equipment inside the digital twin: a machine that puts door seals on a car frame. “Under the old-fashioned way, we would have had to draw it and build cardboard simulations, which is very time consuming. With COVID-19, we were very restricted in getting people on site,” says Frank Bachmann, the plant manager. “So with the digital twin we were able to work virtually, test it and have variations of the plan for more or less no money.” The machine was installed over the holidays—but before the break, Bachmann was able to show employees how to navigate their new workstations via the digital twin. In Pittsburgh, Ding Zhao, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, has been working with carmakers to use digital twins to improve the safety of self-driving vehicles. In his lab, he leverages vast quantities of data collected from real tests of self-driving cars to build complex digital-twin simulators. The simulations, he says, help predict how a car’s AI will react in dicey situations that could be dangerous and difficult to re-create IRL: when merging onto a dark snowy highway, for instance, or when jammed in between two trucks. Crucially, digital twins also allow researchers to run crash-test simulations countless times without having to destroy cars or endanger real people. That means digital-twin technology is becoming essential to the development of self-driving cars. “Real-world testing is too expensive and sometimes not even effective,” Zhao says. Digital twins are also being used in other complex and potentially dangerous machines, from nuclear reactors in Idaho to wind turbines in Paris. Others are deploying the technology at an even larger scale, to create digital twins of entire cities or even countries. This year, the Orlando Economic Partnership, a nonprofit community-development organization, announced it was partnering with Unity to build a digital twin of 40 sq. mi. of the Florida city. CEO Tim Giuliani hopes that the twin will eventually be used as a public resource and “backbone infrastructure,” allowing transportation experts to see how a rail system might impact the region, for utility companies to map out 5G networks and for ecologists to study the potential impacts of climate change. He estimates the project will cost $1 million to $2 million. Of course, creating digital replicas at increasingly large scale raises questions about privacy and cybersecurity. Many of these digital twins are made possible by a multitude of sensors that track real-world data and movement. Workers at factories with digital twins may find their every movement followed; the hacker of a digital twin could gain frighteningly precise knowledge about a complex proprietary system. Zhao, at Carnegie Mellon, stresses the need for regulations. “Legislators and companies need to work together on this. You cannot just say, ‘I am a good company, I will never do evil things, just give me your data,’ ” he says. Before the regulations arrive, technology companies are rolling full steam ahead. Many of them believe digital twins will gain importance with the rise of the metaverse, a collection of connected virtual worlds that increasingly impact—or even replace—what happens in the real world. Digital twin humans are coming too: the NFL and Amazon Web Services have created a “digital athlete” that will run infinite scenarios to better understand and treat football injuries. BMW plans to take its digital-twin factory model to the world. The company is in the process of building a new plant in Hungary that is modeled completely in Nvidia’s Omniverse. But BMW could soon implement digital twins at all facilities. Bachmann, the plant director in Regensburg, says that the advantages of digital twins will only be fully realized when every factory is digitized in a standard way. “We need these processes of digital twins everywhere,” he says. Subscribe to Into the Metaverse for a weekly guide to the future of the Internet. Join TIMEPieces on Twitter and Discord.....»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 1st, 2022

A Colossal Theft In Pain Sight

A Colossal Theft In Pain Sight Submitted by Larry McDonald, author of The Bear Traps Report What have we done with the $11 Trillion? We have clients in 23 different countries, but most reside within the continental United States – in recent weeks, we keep hearing countless stories of self-proclaimed 24-hour turnaround testing centers to do a PCR test, then taking more than 80 hours to get the results back. Friends in New Jersey tell us not one pharmacy or walk-in clinic in a 100-mile radius has appointments available in the next week. Home testing has improved but for those traveling overseas – it is a PCR test that is needed. The question that haunts us now is that, almost two years into this crisis and an $11 Trillion U.S. Fiscal and Monetary spending deluge, we still don’t have an adequate testing infrastructure? It blows us away –  we are still dealing with endless waiting lines, no availability of testing appointments, shortages of at-home tests and overwhelmed testing labs scrambling to process vials.  Where did all that money go? State and Federal Debts Add Up In the US, the corona crisis started on January 29, 2020, when the White House initiated its coronavirus task force. Since then, the US has gone from crisis to crisis and the media and our politicians have been obsessed with this epidemic and its consequences ever since. Amidst all the turmoil, the US government has left no stone unturned to throw money at this disaster. The Fed kicked off in early March by lowering interest rates to zero and shortly after began rolled out an alphabet soup of emergency programs. From buying high yield debt to bankrolling bailout checks (PPP loans), nothing was left on the table for our adroit stewards at the Fed. The byzantine maze of fiscal stimuli has left everyone confused. Nevertheless, the total amount of support the Fed has pumped into the economy is best measured by the expansion of its balance sheet. When the Fed finishes its asset tapering program in March of 2022, its balance sheet will have expanded by $5 Trillion. In less than two years the Fed deployed more money than during, and in the 10 years after, the great financial crisis ($3.5TR). This monetary support alone is also more than that of the entire GDP of Japan, the third-largest economy in the world. Not to be outdone, the Federal government opened the floodgates by quickly passing spending bill after spending bill. After less than two years, the total amount of fiscal stimulus, as measured by the fiscal deficit spending, has reached a mind-blowing $6 Trillion. U.S. Federal debt has reached $29 Trillion and $32 Trillion if you add State and Local debt. At this point, US debt is a whopping 134% of GDP, giving the U.S. the dubious honor of being among top ten most indebted countries worldwide. This is a spot the erstwhile creditor to the world shares with the likes of Italy and Venezuela. Where did all the money go? And what did we, the American people, get for this colossal $11 Trillion in a monetary and fiscal deluge? As we find ourselves in the midst of yet another massive outbreak is case count, this seems like a valid question. You would think that the priority for these funds is to bolster essential healthcare needs to address this medical crisis. But even now, the US is still woefully ill-equipped with testing capabilities, almost two years into this crisis.  Our friends in Europe tell us testing is quickly done there. They live in urban areas such as Paris where testing is still readily available. France is also in the midst of another outbreak but seems to have no problem providing its citizens with ample testing facilities. In hospitals, there has apparently been no improvement in available capacity in the critical ICUs, judged by the Johns Hopkins weekly hospitalization trends. Hospitalizations Incredulously, ICU beds-in-use compared to overall availability is almost higher now than it was a year ago. So Where did the Money Go? According to the Congressional Research Service, $25 Billion was appropriated for “selected domestic COVID-19 vaccine-related activities”. That sounds like a lot, but it’s a mere 0.5% of the federal emergency spending in the last two years. It turns out that the department of health and human services wasn’t even the biggest recipient of all the emergency spending. It was fourth on the list, which was topped by the Treasury Department, the small business administration, and the department of labor. Other major recipients were the department of education and the agriculture department. Why farmers needed a $160 Billion windfall during the pandemic is incomprehensible, especially since most crop commodities have been at record highs for a year now. Reasonable people can agree that small businesses needed support during this crisis, especially during the lockdown. But the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed security Loan Facility (TALF), Primary and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities ((P/S) MCCF), and Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) had absolutely nothing to do with small business assistance. These programs, together with the $5 Trillion purchases of Treasuries and agency debt, helped to foster an explosion in debt issuance by big business. Fueling stock buybacks – Investment-grade debt issued in this year and last year was a total of $3.1 Trillion, almost half the size of the total IG market. High yield issuance was even more baffling, setting issuance records two years in a row amidst a debilitating epidemic. Junk Bond Bonanza Fueling Stock Buybacks The effect of all this government largesse has had a profound impact on the stock market. The total market value of all stocks has risen from $34 Trillion to $53 Trillion; a whopping $19 Trillion (50%) increase from pre-pandemic levels. The IPO market has been red hot this year, with 1000 deals for the first time in history. Rock bottom interest rates and epic multiple expansion have driven investors into IPOs, as they clamor for excess returns in the most unsavory deals. U.S. junk bonds, we see new supply to plunge as much as 30% in 2022 as refinancings, the driver for almost 60% of issuance this year, will shrink because companies already capitalized on low yields and lengthened maturities. Likewise, a Fed in a hiking cycle should tighten financial conditions – shrink issuance. Buybacks Driving S&P and Nasdaq Higher – On Leverage Congress wants to tax stock buybacks – the implications are sky-high as a colossal equity market bid comes from Fed-induced corporate bond sales- See above with @SamRo – he notes just 20 companies are responsible for half the stock buybacks – this is one enormous – central bank fueled – leveraged Ponzi is driving stock indexes (S&P 500 and Nasdaq) higher. Of course in Q1 – Q2 2020 when stocks were on sale – few companies were buying back stock. Per Fitch – U.S. dollar-denominated, investment-grade (IG), corporate bond volume, excluding financial institutions, supranationals, sovereigns, and agencies, tallied $705 billion through Dec. 16, 2021. We saw the second-highest issuance through the first 10 months of the year and are up 27% and 13%, from 2018’s and 2019’s respective levels. Volume is down 36% versus the record 2020 amount; though that gap could shrink by year’s end as the final two months of 2020’s issuance was well below 2021’s monthly average. The volume disparity between 2020 and 2021 relates to deal size. Last year, there were double the number of transactions done for $4 billion or more compared with this year (60 in 2020 versus 29 in 2021). Both years featured at least two $20 billion issuances, with AT&T Inc. and The Boeing Company driving 2020 while Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T led 2021. Several prominent companies tapped the IG market in 2021, including Verizon, AT&T, Amazon.com Inc., Oracle Corp., Comcast Corp. and Apple Inc. These six issuers comprised 21% of the year’s total volume, with all completing bond transactions of $15 billion or more. In fact, the 10 largest issuers make up 29% of 2021’s volume, highlighting the market’s concentration. The problem is – central banks are fueling unsustainable inequality. Share of Total Net Worth held by the Top 1% 2021: 32.5% 2010s: 31.2% 2000s: 27.2% 1990s: 26.7% 1980s: 23.2% Source: Zerohedge *Since 2003, the Bottom 50% total net worth held has plunged from 39% to 30%. Federal Reserve data. For 20 years 1990-2010, the top 1% net worth held was range-bound 26-27% – since central bank aggression in balance sheet expansion in 2009, inequality has exploded higher.  The Great Heist at the Taxpayers Expense This is all great if you own stocks, or when you are a Fortune 500 company issuing debt to repurchase your own stock, but neither the deluge in debt nor the record number of buybacks (at a run-rate of $1 Trillion this year) have done anything to bolster our country’s medical care or Americans’ health. More troubling even is reports showing outright theft of funds earmarked for pandemic emergency spending. The Wall Street Journal quoted the U.S. Secret Service who said that “some $100 billion has potentially been stolen from Covid-19 relief programs designed to help individuals and businesses harmed by the pandemic.” The main culprits are worldwide organized crime networks, who defrauded primarily the pandemic unemployment insurance program. On top of that, as much as 15% of the PPP loans ($76 billion out of $800 billion total) may have been fraudulent, according to the New York Times. The Middle Class is in Pain After $11 Trillion of emergency spending and support, the US healthcare system is just as inadequate as it was before the crisis, violent crime is rampant, drug overdoses have never been higher and the economy is showing signs of stagflation, as illustrated by the record spread between Treasury breakevens and TIPS yields¹.  What these bond market metrics suggest is that the potential growth rate of the US economy has structurally declined since the pandemic (it already declined a lot since the “great financial crisis”) and that any growth future growth is coming from price increases. The bond market is telling us – all future GDP growth is coming from price increases, but there is little real growth in the economy, that is why TIPS yields are -1%. Consumers in Pain Since August – we have had THREE sub-80 readings from the University of Michigan Consumer Economic Confidence Data.  Looking back over the last 30 years – it is HIGHLY unusual for the Fed to hike rates with consumers in this kind of pain. Inflation´s taxing powers over the consumer have already hiked rates 100bps for the Fed in our view – colossal demand destruction has taken place. These stagflationary conditions erode people’s real disposable income, making them worse off. Ultimately, most of the $11 Trillion ended up benefiting the top wealthiest Americans, by inflating the prices of assets such as bonds and stocks and lowering interest rates for borrowers with the highest credit rating. For the average citizen, this has been a very raw deal. Loud Covid Narrative Hides Inconvenient Truths      We must look at the big picture. The number one killer of Americans aged 18 to 45 is now fentanyl overdoses, with nearly 79,000 victims in the age range dying to them between 2020 and 2021. Inflation is a Regressive Tax on the Middle Class TIPS: Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities: The principal of a TIPS increases with inflation and decreases with deflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. When a TIPS matures, you are paid the adjusted principal or original principal, whichever is greater. Breakeven yield is calculated by deducting TIPS yields from real yields. Breakeven rates derive the rate of inflation priced in by the bond market for applicable maturity (such as 10-year breakevens express the implied rate of inflation in the next 10 years). Trillions of Fiscal and Monetary Support What is so painful is that not only is there no discernable improvement in the healthcare infrastructure to deal with the corona crisis, but other facets of America’s healthcare are now even worse off. The CDC reported this week that fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among teenagers. These drugs have killed more people between the ages of 18 to 45 than corona, car accidents, and suicides. Data from Families Against Fentanyl suggests that now one person dies from an overdose every 8.5 minutes. The pandemic has pushed drug abuse into overdrive as “the stress of the pandemic has led more people to use these types of drugs, according to experts.”  The Census Bureau this week reported that America’s population grew at the lowest rate in history. In the year that ended July 1, the U.S. recorded only 148,000 more births than deaths, with the balance coming from net immigration. America’s life expectancy last year declined by an unprecedented 1.8 years to 77 years. Besides corona, increases in mortality from drug overdoses, heart disease, homicide and diabetes also decreased life expectancy. Violent crime especially has seen a dramatic increase in the last two years. CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported that homicide rates rose 30% between 2019 and 2020 and they continue to go up this year.  At least 12 major U.S. cities have broken annual homicide records in 2021 — and there’s still three weeks to go in the year. US Annual Population Growth 2021: 0.1% 2011: 0.8% 2001: 1.0% 1991: 1.2% America is dying – and it’s NOT just a Covid narrative. From 1999–2019, nearly 500,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids -CDC data.  Tyler Durden Sun, 12/26/2021 - 19:15.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 26th, 2021

The Christmas Baby Born In A Police State: Then & Now

The Christmas Baby Born In A Police State: Then & Now Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart.” ― Howard Thurman The Christmas story of a baby born in a manger is a familiar one. The Roman Empire, a police state in its own right, had ordered that a census be conducted. Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary traveled to the little town of Bethlehem so that they could be counted. There being no room for the couple at any of the inns, they stayed in a stable (a barn), where Mary gave birth to a baby boy, Jesus. Warned that the government planned to kill the baby, Jesus’ family fled with him to Egypt until it was safe to return to their native land. Yet what if Jesus had been born 2,000 years later? What if, instead of being born into the Roman police state, Jesus had been born at this moment in time? What kind of reception would Jesus and his family be given? Would we recognize the Christ child’s humanity, let alone his divinity? Would we treat him any differently than he was treated by the Roman Empire? If his family were forced to flee violence in their native country and sought refuge and asylum within our borders, what sanctuary would we offer them? A singular number of churches across the country have asked those very questions in recent years, and their conclusions were depicted with unnerving accuracy by nativity scenes in which Jesus and his family are separated, segregated and caged in individual chain-link pens, topped by barbed wire fencing. Those nativity scenes were a pointed attempt to remind the modern world that the narrative about the birth of Jesus is one that speaks on multiple fronts to a world that has allowed the life, teachings and crucifixion of Jesus to be drowned out by partisan politics, secularism, materialism and war, all driven by a manipulative shadow government called the Deep State. The modern-day church has largely shied away from applying Jesus’ teachings to modern problems such as war, poverty, immigration, etc., but thankfully there have been individuals throughout history who ask themselves and the world: what would Jesus do? What would Jesus—the baby born in Bethlehem who grew into an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day (namely, the Roman Empire) but spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire—do about the injustices of our  modern age? Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked himself what Jesus would have done about the horrors perpetrated by Hitler and his assassins. The answer: Bonhoeffer was executed by Hitler for attempting to undermine the tyranny at the heart of Nazi Germany. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn asked himself what Jesus would have done about the soul-destroying gulags and labor camps of the Soviet Union. The answer: Solzhenitsyn found his voice and used it to speak out about government oppression and brutality. Martin Luther King Jr. asked himself what Jesus would have done about America’s warmongering. The answer: declaring “my conscience leaves me no other choice,” King risked widespread condemnation as well as his life when he publicly opposed the Vietnam War on moral and economic grounds. Even now, despite the popularity of the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD) in Christian circles, there remains a disconnect in the modern church between the teachings of Christ and the suffering of what Jesus in Matthew 25 refers to as the “least of these.” Yet this is not a theological gray area: Jesus was unequivocal about his views on many things, not the least of which was charity, compassion, war, tyranny and love. After all, Jesus—the revered preacher, teacher, radical and prophet—was born into a police state not unlike the growing menace of the American police state. When he grew up, he had powerful, profound things to say, things that would change how we view people, alter government policies and change the world. “Blessed are the merciful,” “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and “Love your enemies” are just a few examples of his most profound and revolutionary teachings. When confronted by those in authority, Jesus did not shy away from speaking truth to power. Indeed, his teachings undermined the political and religious establishment of his day. It cost him his life. He was eventually crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be. Can you imagine what Jesus’ life would have been like if, instead of being born into the Roman police state, he had been born and raised in the American police state? Consider the following if you will. Had Jesus been born in the era of the America police state, rather than traveling to Bethlehem for a census, Jesus’ parents would have been mailed a 28-page American Community Survey, a mandatory government questionnaire documenting their habits, household inhabitants, work schedule, how many toilets are in your home, etc. The penalty for not responding to this invasive survey can go as high as $5,000. Instead of being born in a manger, Jesus might have been born at home. Rather than wise men and shepherds bringing gifts, however, the baby’s parents might have been forced to ward off visits from state social workers intent on prosecuting them for the home birth. One couple in Washington had all three of their children removed after social services objected to the two youngest being birthed in an unassisted home delivery. Had Jesus been born in a hospital, his blood and DNA would have been taken without his parents’ knowledge or consent and entered into a government biobank. While most states require newborn screening, a growing number are holding onto that genetic material long-term for research, analysis and purposes yet to be disclosed. Then again, had Jesus’ parents been undocumented immigrants, they and the newborn baby might have been shuffled to a profit-driven, private prison for illegals where they first would have been separated from each other, the children detained in make-shift cages, and the parents eventually turned into cheap, forced laborers for corporations such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Walmart, and Victoria’s Secret. There’s quite a lot of money to be made from imprisoning immigrants, especially when taxpayers are footing the bill. From the time he was old enough to attend school, Jesus would have been drilled in lessons of compliance and obedience to government authorities, while learning little about his own rights. Had he been daring enough to speak out against injustice while still in school, he might have found himself tasered or beaten by a school resource officer, or at the very least suspended under a school zero tolerance policy that punishes minor infractions as harshly as more serious offenses. Had Jesus disappeared for a few hours let alone days as a 12-year-old, his parents would have been handcuffed, arrested and jailed for parental negligence. Parents across the country have been arrested for far less “offenses” such as allowing their children to walk to the park unaccompanied and play in their front yard alone. Rather than disappearing from the history books from his early teenaged years to adulthood, Jesus’ movements and personal data—including his biometrics—would have been documented, tracked, monitored and filed by governmental agencies and corporations such as Google and Microsoft. Incredibly, 95 percent of school districts share their student records with outside companies that are contracted to manage data, which they then use to market products to us. From the moment Jesus made contact with an “extremist” such as John the Baptist, he would have been flagged for surveillance because of his association with a prominent activist, peaceful or otherwise. Since 9/11, the FBI has actively carried out surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations on a broad range of activist groups, from animal rights groups to poverty relief, anti-war groups and other such “extremist” organizations. Jesus’ anti-government views would certainly have resulted in him being labeled a domestic extremist. Law enforcement agencies are being trained to recognize signs of anti-government extremism during interactions with potential extremists who share a “belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.” While traveling from community to community, Jesus might have been reported to government officials as “suspicious” under the Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” programs. Many states, including New York, are providing individuals with phone apps that allow them to take photos of suspicious activity and report them to their state Intelligence Center, where they are reviewed and forwarded to law-enforcement agencies. Rather than being permitted to live as an itinerant preacher, Jesus might have found himself threatened with arrest for daring to live off the grid or sleeping outside. In fact, the number of cities that have resorted to criminalizing homelessness by enacting bans on camping, sleeping in vehicles, loitering and begging in public has doubled. Viewed by the government as a dissident and a potential threat to its power, Jesus might have had government spies planted among his followers to monitor his activities, report on his movements, and entrap him into breaking the law. Such Judases today—called informants—often receive hefty paychecks from the government for their treachery. Had Jesus used the internet to spread his radical message of peace and love, he might have found his blog posts infiltrated by government spies attempting to undermine his integrity, discredit him or plant incriminating information online about him. At the very least, he would have had his website hacked and his email monitored. Had Jesus attempted to feed large crowds of people, he would have been threatened with arrest for violating various ordinances prohibiting the distribution of food without a permit. Florida officials arrested a 90-year-old man for feeding the homeless on a public beach. Had Jesus spoken publicly about his 40 days in the desert and his conversations with the devil, he might have been labeled mentally ill and detained in a psych ward against his will for a mandatory involuntary psychiatric hold with no access to family or friends. One Virginia man was arrested, strip searched, handcuffed to a table, diagnosed as having “mental health issues,” and locked up for five days in a mental health facility against his will apparently because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait. Without a doubt, had Jesus attempted to overturn tables in a Jewish temple and rage against the materialism of religious institutions, he would have been charged with a hate crime. Currently, 45 states and the federal government have hate crime laws on the books. Had anyone reported Jesus to the police as being potentially dangerous, he might have found himself confronted—and killed—by police officers for whom any perceived act of non-compliance (a twitch, a question, a frown) can result in them shooting first and asking questions later. Rather than having armed guards capture Jesus in a public place, government officials would have ordered that a SWAT team carry out a raid on Jesus and his followers, complete with flash-bang grenades and military equipment. There are upwards of 80,000 such SWAT team raids carried out every year, many on unsuspecting Americans who have no defense against such government invaders, even when such raids are done in error. Instead of being detained by Roman guards, Jesus might have been made to “disappear” into a secret government detention center where he would have been interrogated, tortured and subjected to all manner of abuses. Chicago police have “disappeared” more than 7,000 people into a secret, off-the-books interrogation warehouse at Homan Square. Charged with treason and labeled a domestic terrorist, Jesus might have been sentenced to a life-term in a private prison where he would have been forced to provide slave labor for corporations or put to death by way of the electric chair or a lethal mixture of drugs. Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, given the nature of government then and now, it is painfully evident that whether Jesus had been born in our modern age or his own, he still would have died at the hands of a police state. Thus, as we draw near to Christmas with its celebration of miracles and promise of salvation, we would do well to remember that what happened in that manger on that starry night in Bethlehem is only the beginning of the story. That baby born in a police state grew up to be a man who did not turn away from the evils of his age but rather spoke out against it. We must do no less. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/25/2021 - 06:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 25th, 2021

How Netflix is changing the global entertainment industry

Netflix has reshaped the market for global storytelling with shows like "Squid Game" and "Money Heist," and transformed its business in the process. Netflix Netflix is writing the playbook for global entertainment. The streaming company reshaped the market for content and transformed its business in the process. It's exploring areas including video games for its next frontier.  See more stories on Insider's business page. Since Netflix began its worldwide expansion in 2016, the streaming service has rewritten the playbook for global entertainment — from TV to film, and, soon, video games.Hollywood used to exports most global hit series and movies. Now, thanks to Netflix's investments in international TV and film, programming like South Korea's "Squid Game," Spain's "Money Heist," and France's "Lupin" are finding massive audiences around the world.Netflix figured out that to thrive on an international stage it needed both US mass-market programming like "Stranger Things," as well as local content that could win over viewers in specific markets (and produce breakout hits).Read more about how Netflix's strategy for buying international TV shows is changing, according to producers who have worked with the streamer and its rivalsThe strategy helped the streaming service grow its customer base to 214 million global paid subscribers, as of September.Its momentum is also reinvigorating production in places like Germany, Mexico, and India, as companies like Amazon, Disney, WarnerMedia, and Apple follow Netflix's lead. Read more about how Netflix's global focus is changing international production marketsNetflix has reoriented its leadership around its new global model.The streaming company, cofounded by tech entrepreneur Reed Hastings, promoted content chief Ted Sarandos to co-CEO in 2020, which cemented the status of content within the organization. Meanwhile, Bela Bajaria, who had been in charge of international non-English TV, took the reins of the overall TV business, and product chief Greg Peters took on additional duties as COO, including streamlining how global teams work together. Peters also hired a new talent chief with international experience, former PepsiCo executive Sergio Ezama, to lead Netflix's global workforce.View our full interactive chart of Netflix's top leadersThe company has also formed an elite team of 23 interdisciplinary execs to help make its biggest decisions. Known internally as the "Lstaff " — the "L" stands for leadership — the group sits between the company's officers and its larger executive staff of vice presidents and above, who are called the "Estaff."Read more about Netflix's elite 'Lstaff' of 23 execs that helps the company make its most important decisionsNetflix's growth has made it a desirable place to work in recent years, as well, despite some of the tests its corporate culture has faced as it's grown. Public US work-visa data shows that Netflix, which says its pays staffers "market value," has offered six-figure annual base salaries for lots of roles in engineering, content, marketing, finance, and more.Netflix salaries revealed: How much engineers, marketers, content execs, and others get paidNetflix is searching for its next frontierStill, Netflix is facing more competition than ever from an influx of rivals that are learning to play its game.Nearly every major media company, from Disney to WarnerMedia, now runs a streaming service. Their platforms are stockpiled with tentpole movies and TV shows that used to only be found in theaters or on linear TV, and their libraries now rival Netflix's.The competition is pushing the streaming giant to keep evolving.Netflix recently expanded into podcasting and even started peddling merchandise for series like "Squid Game" and "The Witcher."The company is also bringing video games into its mobile streaming app.It hired in July Facebook's former head of Reality Labs, Mike Verdu, as its vice president of game development, and has been hiring for other video-game-related jobs.Read more about what Netflix's video-game roles reveal about its strategyThe streamer plans to approach gaming like it did movies and TV shows. It's starting slowly. It's commissioning and licensing mobile games, some of which are based on existing franchises like "Stranger Things." Then, it plans to experiment with other kinds of video-game storytelling, like it did with its original series."Maybe someday we'll see a game that spawns a film or a series," Peters told investors in July. "That would be an amazing place to get to and really see the rich interplay between these sort of different forms of entertainment."Here's a list of our recent coverage of how Netflix is disrupting facets of the entertainment industry: The Netflix effect on global TV: Netflix's 'Squid Game' is part of a robust international TV strategy that's far ahead of rivals, especially in South Korea10 reasons 'Squid Game' became a global phenomenon, according to a Netflix marketing execNetflix's Q3 subscriber growth was fueled by the Asia-Pacific market. Exclusive traffic data shows how hits like 'Squid Game' drove engagement.'Squid Game' and other Netflix hits may have reversed the streamer's growth slump, exclusive app data suggestsInternational TV producers describe how streaming competition is changing their markets, from Netflix's shifting priorities to rising budgets and costsHow Netflix's strategy for buying international TV shows is changingNetflix's Mark Millar plans to build a streaming superhero universe starting with 'Jupiter's Legacy,' after inspiring some of Marvel's biggest storiesData shows how heavily Netflix is leaning into international TV shows, especially in its upcoming projectsHow to sell a show to Netflix with the help of an easily digestible pitch document, according to a workshop by one of the streamer's execsA Netflix slide deck shows how it's trying to fix lofty problems in personalization like over-inflating a show's popularity and how to measure goals like 'joy'On filmmaking:Netflix is courting Hollywood filmmakers like "Tenet" director Christopher NolanHow Zack Snyder fits into Netflix's plans to build franchises to compete with Disney and WarnerMediaOn video gaming: Netflix is hiring for a slew of gaming jobs that shed light on its video-game strategyWhy Netflix's new video-game strategy will live or die by how well it can create mega movie and TV franchisesNetflix's evolving business model and corporate structure:Netflix org chart: We identified the 71 most powerful people at the streamer and who they report toHow top HR execs at Hollywood companies like Netflix and NBCU work to fight pandemic burnout and keep staff from quitting amid the Great ResignationMeet the top data science execs at Netflix, Disney, WarnerMedia, and more Hollywood companies who are masterminding the streaming wars and hiring hundreds of new workersAn internal Netflix meeting meant for senior staffers played a role in the streamer's recent clash with employees. Here's what happens at the quarterly reviews.The 15 most powerful marketing leaders in the streaming-video wars, from Netflix's Bozoma Saint John to the trio of execs driving Disney's strategyNetflix has hired former PepsiCo exec Sergio Ezama as its next chief talent officerNetflix lays out its M&A strategy, and experts weigh in on the kinds of companies it could buy8 top legal execs at Netflix who are helping the streamer navigate complex content deals and international regulations12 deputies under Netflix's product boss Greg Peters, as his responsibilities grow to include new areas like video gamesNetflix's global TV boss Bela Bajaria is shaking up the content division, making new hires and big promotions. Meet her team.Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John is building her marketing team, which includes execs from Spotify and Condé NastNetflix has an elite 'Lstaff' team of 23 execs that helps make the company's biggest decisionsNetflix's growth trajectory:Exclusive web-tracking data from Q2 2020 suggests people are streaming less coming out of lockdowns but are keeping Netflix, for nowWe estimated how much Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and more are making from the subscribers they gained this past yearNetflix has kept churn low despite price hikes and intensifying competition, and it could be a key to success during a tough 2021Netflix's original series dominate the streaming TV landscape, but its 'demand share' shrank in 2020 as rivals emergedWorking at Netflix: Netflix salaries revealed: How much engineers, marketers, content execs, and others get paidHow much Netflix pays engineers in the US in 2021What data chiefs at companies like Netflix and Roku look for when hiring: technical prowess and an appetite for the 'unsolvable, unmeasurable, or unknowable'Netflix shares the inclusion strategy that helped it improve Black representation in its leadership and the areas it needs to do better in like recruiting Latinx staffersRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 24th, 2021

5 secrets of successful teams, from the Pixar animation studios to the Navy Seals

In every industry, the most high-performing teams are close-knit, practice vulnerability, and follow shared guiding principles. Filmmakers and key members of the crew meet with consultants for "Soul" on April 29, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios.Deborah Coleman / Pixar In "The Culture Code," Daniel Coyle studies high-performing teams to analyze what makes them work.  Successful teams feel like family and individually feel safe in their work environment.  To build a stronger team, practice vulnerability and follow guiding principles.  What do the best teams in sports, culture, and business have in common? Talent is certainly part of it, and that was the subject of Daniel Coyle's 2008 bestseller, "The Talent Code." But Coyle realized that individual ability was only part of the story — and that to truly excel, groups need to have a culture that fosters success. In his 2019 follow-up, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups," Coyle goes inside some of the world's most high-performing organizations — like Pixar Animation, the Navy SEALs, and Google — to try to figure out the recipe for a creating a successful, collaborative, and productive culture.1. Successful groups come in all shapes and sizes "The Culture Code's" entire thesis can be explained with 20 dried spaghetti strands, a yard each of Scotch tape and string, and one marshmallow. Those are the components of "The Spaghetti Challenge," an activity designed to test groups' ability to build the tallest-possible freestanding structure out of that odd conglomeration of ingredients.Peter Skillman, a designer and engineer, ran an experiment in which he assembled numerous teams of four people to build these spaghetti-marshmallow structures. The hands-down winners, time and time again? Kindergartners. Groups of kindergartners beat out countless teams of adults, including ones made up of CEOs, lawyers, and business school students."Overly concerned with who's in charge and how to respectfully critique each other's ideas, the MBA students were hindered from getting to work."Business school students, in particular, tended to fare terribly. Groups of MBA students consistently appeared to be doing a great job: They'd examine their materials, they'd talk strategy, they'd respectfully and politely work through ideas. But when it came down to it, they were wasting far too much time sussing out group dynamics in a process psychologists call status management — "Overly concerned with who's in charge and how to respectfully critique each other's ideas, the MBA students were hindered from getting to work."Kindergartners, on the other hand, have none of these concerns. They immediately jump into the task, heads together, working side-by-side and speaking in short, hard-to-follow bursts. Observing them, you'd probably just see chaos, but the final product speaks for itself: The kindergartners wipe the floor with the grown-ups.Neither Skillman nor Coyle claim that kindergartners are smarter than CEOs, attorneys, or MBAs — clearly, they're not (not yet, anyway). But somehow, when they work together, they punch well above their weight. In essence, this is the story of "The Culture Code": Some groups work so well together that they can perform far beyond what seems possible on the individual level. "The Culture Code" is concerned with uncovering why that is.2. Group success starts with group safetyDuring his observations of, conversations with, and research into members of successful groups, Daniel Coyle began to notice a pattern. Members of these organizations didn't call themselves a group, a company, or even a team; they consistently used the word "family." The sense of belonging and closeness in these groups runs deep — so deep that the members consider each other kin."The sense of belonging and closeness in these groups runs deep — so deep that the members consider each other kin.""The Culture Code" posits that this intense closeness hinges not on hours spent in the office, nor on team-building retreats, nor on an open floor plan office, but on a strong feeling of safety. According to Coyle, human connection fosters safety, which in turn fosters even stronger connections, giving way to the intensely close, highly successful teams with which "The Culture Code" is concerned. But why is safety so important?The MIT Human Dynamics Lab may have unearthed the answer to this big question. Their analyses of highly effective groups have revealed an abundance of what they call "belonging cues," subtle behaviors that put group members at ease and create a sense of collective safety.These cues include things like proximity, eye contact, mimicry, vocal pitch, and turn-taking. These cues also possess three key qualities. The first is energy: People displaying these behaviors are genuinely invested in what's happening. The second, individualization: These cues indicate that the members of the group value each other as unique individuals. Finally, there's future orientation: These behaviors demonstrate that group members expect their relationships with on another to persist into the future.All in all, these belonging cues tell group members that they're in a safe place — a place where they can feel free to speak up, make mistakes, give honest feedback, and share their crazy ideas, all without negative repercussions. That's step one of how the world's most tight-knit groups become the world's most successful."Belonging cues tell group members that they're in a safe place — a place where they can feel free to speak up, make mistakes, give honest feedback, and share their crazy ideas, all without negative repercussions."3. Share vulnerability to build cooperationAccording to Dr. Jeff Polzer, a Harvard professor who's spent a large portion of his career studying how small social exchanges can have outsized impacts on group dynamics, vulnerability is the most fundamental ingredient in building cooperation and trust. Dr. Polzer describes the process of sharing vulnerability as a loop, with the following steps: Person A signals vulnerability, person B signals their own vulnerability in return, and closeness and trust both increase as a result.Coyle observes that high-functioning teams tend to intentionally engage in vulnerability-increasing exercises, and often uncomfortable ones. Take the Navy SEALs, for example: One of the most notorious Navy SEAL exercises is a particularly sadistic drill called Log PT. Log PT involves small teams of SEALs performing a series of exercise moves — while collectively holding a 200-pound log.Even within the highly competitive world of Navy SEALs, Log PT is considered the worst, most difficult, and most painful training exercise. So immediately, Log PT creates a state of intense vulnerability: These trainees are nervous — they can't do this alone — and they're going to need each other's help.Log PT demands that the SEAL trainees are in tune with one another's strengths and weaknesses, since they have to make countless tiny maneuvers to ensure the success of the group as a whole. If one group member starts to slip, the others have to immediately notice and shift slightly to carry the extra weight."Person A signals vulnerability, person B signals their own vulnerability in return, and closeness and trust both increase as a result."When Log PT is done well, the SEAL trainees are in near-silent communication, smoothly and elegantly moving through the prescribed exercises. When it's done poorly — when the group members aren't sufficiently in sync — the log bucks, rolls, and threatens to fall.The drill closely mimics the high level of teamwork and trust that Navy SEALs have to exhibit in combat to execute the incredibly dangerous, complex missions for which they're known. Intentionally building vulnerability, trust, and interconnectedness with planned exercises ensures that SEALs will have the bonds they'll need to perform successfully when training gives way to real life.4. Practice teamwork to build a stronger teamSuccessful teams practice, practice, and practice again, breaking down each component of what they're doing to make it better and stronger. While repetitive practice may not seem closely linked to safety, vulnerability, and interconnectedness, Coyle makes the argument that these four elements are actually tightly linked. When team members know they can trust their leaders and their teammates, they don't shut down in the face of criticism, roadblocks, or rote repetition.It's in this step that the power of the group really becomes clear: With safety and vulnerability in place, and with practice under their belts, teams can operate at levels that even their coaches or bosses couldn't predict."With safety and vulnerability in place, and with practice under their belts, teams can operate at levels that even their coaches or bosses couldn't predict."Navy SEAL commanders rarely give commands during actual missions, trusting that their teams will make the right decision in the moment. In the same vein, coaches for the San Antonio Spurs sometimes call a time out… and then leave the team to huddle on their own, confident that the players themselves know better than anyone else what their next move should be.So-called "BrainTrust meetings" at the animation studio Pixar are another great example of the importance of frequent, uncomfortable practice. A BrainTrust meeting is held at the beginning, middle, and end of a film project, and during the meeting the company's leadership watches the work-in-progress and then critiques it mercilessly, without offering any suggestions for improving.Why no suggestions? Because Pixar believes the core team working on a project will be able to come up with an amazing solution on their own. The outside leaders are just there to poke holes, not to plug them up. Exercises like this allow teams to access the brainpower of the entire group while maintaining the core team's autonomy over a project. According to Coyle, that's critical to creating highly successful teams: With all the key elements in place, they just need to be allowed to perform as a unit. 5. Follow a guiding lightOnce safety, vulnerability, and practice are in place, the final ingredient of any great team is a collective vision. Often, this vision is shockingly simple. One great example is Union Square Hospitality Group, the restaurant business founded by Danny Meyer. Worth over a billion dollars, Meyer's restaurants are known for a level of exceptional food, service, and atmosphere that few competitors touch, and never at the scale Meyer has achieved. "A straightforward but meaningful ethos not only informs group action, but also offers group motivation and cohesion."Meyer invests heavily in hiring and training, but he credits much of his success to his group's simple motto: "We take care of people." Researchers who studied the business found that this uncomplicated mission statement led to countless complex, intricate behaviors that benefit customers.Another great example is pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, whose handling of the infamous 1982 Tylenol poisonings is considered history's leading example of corporate crisis management. In the fall of that year, someone laced Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules with cyanide, leading to the deaths of seven people in the Chicago area. At the time, the FBI and FDA advised Johnson & Johnson to recall Tylenol bottles in and around Chicago.But the company's then-president James Burke went much further, issuing a national recall which cost the company an estimated one hundred million dollars and speaking openly to the media about his grief and the company's new safety measures. As a result, Tylenol and Johnson & Johnson made a comeback no one could have predicted. Today, Tylenol is still one of the most trusted name brands in the world.According to Burke, what guided his decisions during that crisis was Johnson & Johnson's 311-word mission statement. The statement begins with, "We believe our first responsibility is to the patients, doctors and nurses, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services." That simple but powerful guiding statement told Burke all he needed to know as he made the decisions that defined his career.According to Coyle, a straightforward but meaningful ethos not only informs group action, but also offers group motivation and cohesion, building a more successful team in every way.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 21st, 2021

32 thoughtful Christmas gifts on Amazon for every person in your life

In the huge sea of products on Amazon, there are plenty of gems to be found. Here are the best Amazon Christmas gifts for everyone on your list. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.The Echo Dot is one of many great gift ideas available on Amazon.Christian de Looper/Business Insider You can get pretty much anything on Amazon, which makes it a convenient site for holiday gifts. From candles to speakers, these Amazon gift ideas will help you check off every person on your shopping list. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Though the 2021 holiday season has been impacted by shipping delays, rising prices, and product shortages, Amazon is still one of the most reliable retailers to shop at, especially with fast delivery for Prime members.That said, it can be difficult to navigate Amazon's massive product catalog to find quality gifts. To help speed up your search, we rounded up recommendations for thoughtful and interesting gifts that are ideal for everyone on your shopping list.From the friend who's obsessed with spicy food to the family member who loves binge-watching new shows, our list includes Amazon gift ideas for all interests. Please keep in mind, however, that some items may arrive after Christmas, so be sure to check the delivery estimates for each product Here are the 32 best Amazon Christmas gifts for every recipient:For the music junkiesAmazonSony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable, $229.99If your gift recipient is a music lover, this turntable can help start them on a new journey with vinyl records. This particular model is Bluetooth enabled, so it can connect to other devices and play wirelessly without adding extra cables to your speaker system. However, it doesn't have speakers built-in, so make sure your gift recipient has some sort of speaker to play it with, even if it's something as simple as an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Nest mini.For relaxing at homeAmazonLuna Weighted Blanket, $79.99A weighted blanket can change the way you approach sleep and relaxing at home. Experts say the swaddled feeling created by the extra weight can help ease anxiety and reduce insomnia. This affordable weighted blanket from Luna is still light and thin enough to take on trips, and it's easier to clean than more expensive options.For the crafty creatorsAmazonMYNT3D Super 3D Pen, $51.97This 3D printing pen lets you turn drawings into plastic sculptures. The MYNT3D pen comes with three different colored ABS plastics to use. Though it uses a heating element for the plastic, the Super 3D Pen is safe for children to use, though younger kids should still have parental supervision.For the puzzle buffAmazonHouseplant Jungle 1,000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle, $16.99This stunning, 1,000 piece project is the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys completing jigsaw puzzles, especially if they have a green thumb. The Houseplant Jungle puzzle features artwork with over 50 plants in beautiful shades of green and measures 20 inches by 27 inches when completed.For the binge-watcherHuluHulu Gift Card, from $25Friends and family members who are always streaming the latest TV shows and movies will appreciate a digital gift card to Hulu. Compatible with new and existing subscriptions, the gift card is sent via email to your recipient and comes in $25, $50, and $100 options.Ad-supported Hulu costs $7 a month and ad-free Hulu costs $13 a month, so a $50 Hulu gift card will provide your recipient with seven months of Hulu Basic or just under four months of Hulu Premium. From critically acclaimed original series like "The Handmaid's Tale" to network shows like "The Bachelorette," there's entertainment for everyone to watch on Hulu.For the spicy food fanaticAmazonDIY Hot Sauce Making Kit, $59.99Any gift recipient who loves spicy foods will enjoy controlling the heat and making a custom concoction with this DIY hot sauce kit. In addition to useful items like a funnel, glass bottles, and a recipe pamphlet, this quality package has all the ingredients needed to make a homemade hot sauce, including apple cider vinegar, ancho pasillas peppers, chipotle peppers, habanero peppers, and even a ghost pepper.For gamers on the goAmazonHard Shell Travel and Storage Case for Nintendo Switch, $32.49As more Americans get vaccinated and feel comfortable traveling, many Nintendo Switch consoles that were purchased during the height of the coronavirus lockdown may be taken outside of the home for the first time. Whether the console is brought on an airplane, a road trip, or just to a friend's apartment, a hard shell case can give your giftee peace of mind.This black case from Amazon Basics has room for the console, dock, cables, Joy-Con controller grip, and a Pro controller.For the hostAmazonSlate Cheese Board Set, $29.42Help them amp up their hosting with this slate cheese board. It features handles for easy transporting and velvet pads underneath so it won't scratch their table. This setting will be a sure standout at their next dinner party. For the photographerAmazonKodak Mini 2 Retro Portable Instant Photo Printer, $109.99Whether they're a photography pro or have never used a camera besides the one on their iPhone, just about anyone will have fun with this portable printer. It quickly connects to any mobile device for fast printing at home or on the go. It's a fun gadget and a great gift for anyone who loves to have tangible photos of their favorite memories. For the wine enthusiastAmazonOster Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener with Foil Cutter, $19.99Forget simple corkscrews and make opening bottles a breeze with this Oster wine bottle opener. It features a sleek design and gives you the ability to effortlessly open bottle after bottle.For the shower singersAmazonHaissky Portable Bluetooth Shower Speaker, $27.99Now they can take their tunes anywhere they go — even in the shower. This speaker is fully waterproof, suctions to shower walls, and pairs with their smartphone, tablet, or computer for easy listening. If they don't feel like taking their shower show tunes to the next level, the portable speaker is also great for using in the car, on a boat, at the beach, out on their patio, or just around the house.For the breakfast fanAmazonDash Mini Waffle Maker, $16.99The Dash Mini Waffle Maker is compact enough to keep for special occasions without cramping up your kitchen storage space. It's affordable, efficient, and likely to bring them a bit of joy.For the skincare enthusiastAztec SecretAztec Secret Healing Clay Mask, $14.95The Aztec Clay Mask has been called "the world's most powerful facial," and it's also under $15. It can be mixed with water, but it works best with a little bit of apple cider vinegar. You can read a full review here.For the coffee loverAmazonBreville Barista Express Espresso Machine, $699.95For the hardcore coffee lover, an instant coffee maker might not cut it. If nothing would make them happier in the morning than sipping on an espresso that tastes like the one from their favorite cafe, they need this Breville espresso machine. If you love the idea, but are looking for something a little more affordable, check out our guide to the best espresso machines you can buy. For the cat ladyAmazonJamber Jewels Sterling Silver Cat Stud Earrings, $26Even if you don't have a cat yourself, you probably understand that owning one isn't just a choice — it's a lifestyle. Show your favorite cat lover you get it with these adorable silver studs. From afar they look like just another simple silver pair of studs, but a look up close reveals they're actually super-cute kittens. For the commuterAmazonAudible Subscription, $15/monthAdd some excitement to their monotonous, everyday commute with an Audible subscription. For $15 a month, they'll get one audiobook and two Audible Originals that they can listen to anytime and anywhere. Plus, when you gift Audible the recipient will get 30% off any additional audiobooks they want to purchase on their own. You can choose to gift memberships for either one, three, six, or 12 months. For the serious home chefAmazonBreville CS20001 Joule Sous Vide, $159.95If they don't have one yet, any home cook needs this sous vide machine that we named the best sous vide machine with an app in our guide. With little effort, they can make juicy, tender meats of restaurant-level quality. They'll impress themselves and their guests alike with how delicious their dishes turn out. For the outdoors enthusiastAmazonEarth Pak Dry Bag, from $19.99Whether they're hiking, fishing, camping, or doing any outdoor activities with unpredictable weather, they'll appreciate this dry bag to keep all of their belongings safe. With sizes from 10 to 40 liters, you can pick one that's right for their needs. It even comes with a clear, waterproof phone case, so they can document their adventures with pictures, without a broken smartphone at the end of the day.For the eco-friendlyAmazonBaggu Duck Tote, $32Being sustainable doesn't mean they have to sacrifice style. This tote from Baggu is roomy, adjustable, comes in plenty of fun patterns, and is made from 100% recycled cotton. If you think they'd like something a little smaller, Baggu's nylon bags are really popular, cute, and just $10. For the artistAmazonArt 101 142-Piece Art Set, $29.99Help them get their creative juices flowing with this set of art supplies that'll let them create everything from pencil sketches to beautiful watercolors. Inside they'll find premium colored pencils, pastels, crayons, mixing palettes, brushes, and more. Everything comes in a nice wooden box with a handle, so they can easily take this with them wherever they go.For the spa regularAmazonPre De Provence Luxury Box of Guest Gift Soap (Set of 5), Rose, $8.99These rose soaps make a thoughtful gift for anyone who loves to indulge in some quality "me time." Plus, anyone will love smelling like a fresh bouquet of roses. For the football fanAmazonThe Northwest Company NFL Handwarmer, $21Football fans are willing to brave the cold for their favorite team, but you can help make game day a little more bearable with this hand warmer. The weatherproof exterior and plush, insulated interior will keep their hands warm and dry, so they can focus on the game — and not the fact that their fingers are freezing. For the 'green thumb'AmazonIndoor Herb Garden Starter Kit, $34.97 Give them the tools to keep up with their gardening habit all year long. Each set comes with five compostable peat pots, five potting soil discs, five custom wood plant markets, and a comprehensive growing guide to get started.For the bookwormAmazonAlice in Wonderland Bookmark, $26.89Add some whimsy to their next read with this Alice in Wonderland bookmark. It's sure to catch their attention, and you can be sure they'll never lose their place again. For the studentAmazonLapGear BamBoard Lap Desk, $29.99You don't even have to be a student to appreciate this lap desk — it works for just about anyone who likes to get work done from the comfort of their own bed. While the top surface is flat and sturdy enough to write on, the bottom is a tapered pillow that's comfortable to hold on your lap. It'll also keep your legs from overheating. For the fitness enthusiastAmazonNextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller, $59.98Anyone who exercises often knows that a foam roller is an essential fitness tool. Not only does it relieve muscle and joint pain, a foam roller can improve flexibility, circulation, and even help speed up injury recovery. This vibrating foam roller lets them choose just the right amount of pressure to soothe sore joints and muscles, plus it feels like a massage (which you can be sure they'll appreciate). For the pet parentAmazonEnchanted Home Pet Dreamcatcher Dog Sofa, $127.49For the pet parent whose furry friend is their world, get them a gift that their pet will find useful and comfy. This classy couch has been miniaturized to fit small dogs and cats. It's also a great gift for pet owners who don't want their pets to perch on their real couch, but still want to give them a place to sit in the living room. For new homeownersAmazonPrimitives by Kathy Striped Throw Pillow, $31.99Getting settled into a new home takes a lot of time, and a lot of decorating. If you know anyone who just moved in, this throw pillow is a thoughtful way to bring them one step closer to making their new place feel like home. For the home decoratorAmazonRivet Modern Geometric Ceramic Planter, $28.59From their statement couch to the art on their walls, their home is impeccably decorated and, frankly, buying them a piece of home decor can be intimidating. If you so choose, go for one of these ceramic planters. They're simple enough to accentuate all kinds of spaces, but the rose color and pattern helps make them unique. For the foodieAmazonSabatino Truffles Pasta Night, $50This set made it into Oprah's exclusive Favorite Things giveaway last year — and if it's one of Oprah's favorite things, you can be sure the foodie in your life will love it too. White truffle oil, truffle zest, and a truffle-infused, gluten-free pasta will make for a deliciously decadent pasta night. For the homebodyAmazonWarm and Cozy Soy Candle, $20Their favorite winter pastime is curling up by a warm fire wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. Their home smells like hot cocoa, freshly baked cookies, and everything else you want on a cold day. This hand-poured soy candle — with notes of pine, orange, cinnamon, cypress, and fir — is just what they need to make their home feel even homier this holiday season. For the techieAmazonEcho Dot (4th Generation) with Sengled Bluetooth Bulb, $44.98While there are many Amazon devices to choose from, the Echo Dot is our favorite for affordability without sacrificing quality. This set even comes with a smart bulb to get them started — or add to their existing collection of smart appliancesRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 20th, 2021

Finding Strength Along A Post-COVID Fury Road

Finding Strength Along A Post-COVID Fury Road Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog, The COVID-9/11 pandemic is over. With the failure of Omicron to capture the imaginations of only the most unimaginative midwits, the question now is how do we move forward from here. While we can rejoice that the threat to life and limb from COVID-9/11 may be effectively over, there is still the threat in its name to our liberty and sanity from those who profit most from the fear of the virus. The aftershocks from COVID-9/11 will be with us for the foreseeable future. An entire generation has been scarred by this manufactured apocalypse and there will be no going back to the way things were. We’d been warned by so many for so long. From investigative journalists, to the rare honest politician to the film-makers and artists who crafted stories for us to contemplate the lurking dangers in our deteriorating society. Conditions were ripe for those in power to take maximal advantage of the fear from COVID-9/11. And they did so, enthusiastically. The warnings were clear. There are toxic people out there who would rather destroy the world to hold onto their power rather than admit defeat. Looking at where we are now reminds me, funnily enough, of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. A brilliant fever dream of a movie that portrayed a world in a post-rational, post-civilizational state. At it’s core Fury Road’s conflict is asking the question, “Who broke the world?” History had been erased to the point where the people living in this hell couldn’t even form the question into an indictment beyond the most base and reductionist caricature of gender roles. Those who think this is the movie’s perspective have read it all wrong, unfortunately. It’s easy to do given the elevation of Furiosa to near leading lady status. Many have remarked that Mad Max is a bystander in his own movie. They, again, are wrong. Max, in all of the sequels to the original, has been this mythic figure who wanders into a deeply disturbed existential crisis for some outpost in the Wasteland. That’s the setup for these films. And in this one he is brought into the most out-of-balance one yet, where every destructive tendency of men and masculinity runs rampant and has strangled the people and the last outpost of life nearly to death. Bear with me, this stuff is really important. Man? Woman? I’m the Guy With the Microphone Back to the ‘real world.’ Thankfully in our post-COVID world we still have some sense of our history, though those in charge have decided to only allow a version of it that is even more cartoonish than the world of Fury Road in an attempt to erase it. Every instance where someone tries to frame a counter-argument to this cartoon is met with ever more strident claims of gender oppression and white supremacy. We’ve reached a point where those with any dissenting point of view are systematically shut down, censored, silenced or worse. Words are violence in the new Woke West, dontcha’ know? But by taking the position that the ‘other side’ isn’t allowed to speak, they speak volumes about the fragility of their grasp on power. Ideas that cannot be challenged, that cannot bear even the slightest scrutiny, are ideas that can’t evolve. It doesn’t matter whether they are right or wrong. They are static, mechanical and ultimately devoid of life itself. This is our world today in the hands of the Woke Left, a world where the destructive and vindictive feminine has been elevated to the point of unimpeachable rightness. But this isn’t any kind of healthy feminine. It’s a Furiosa-like feminine, devoid of nurturing, all implied violence, all sexuality suppressed to the point of masculinity. Look at Furiosa and tell me it isn’t asking another vital question, “In a dying world, is there any room for fertility while clinging like moss for survival?” In our world feminism has robbed women of their greatest attribute, the ability to gestate and nurture life itself. Hollywood has spent two generations giving us female action heroes who are ultimately nothing more than Doods with Boobs. It’s the ultimate power fantasy of Third Wave feminism. It’s not as destructive an archetype as the sluts on Sex in the City, mind you, because at least it can be tied in some ways back to motherhood, i.e. Ripley in James Cameron’s Aliens, but it’s still damaging to the cause of the healthy feminine nonetheless. Furiosa is what happens when gender roles are maximally out of balance. This claiming of the microphone, this flooding the airwaves with anti-white/anti-male propaganda is itself a very dangerous strategy. First, because it’s disgusting and hateful but second, because it will spark a pendulum swing that will shock everyone. By not allowing people to speak and work through what is bad AND good about the state of the world, it robs people of more than their voice. It robs them, ultimately, of their identity. Which brings me back to Fury Road. The Man With No Name Max never refers to himself as Max in Fury Road until the very end. Even in the unfortunate Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome he’s some other persona — “Raggedy Man,” “The Man With No Name,” or the reincarnation of “Captain Walker.” He’s lost everything, including his sense of self. He’s purely a survivor now. There is no Max anymore. The Wasteland has stripped him of this. Multiple times in Fury Road he’s asked his name. Every time he doesn’t answer. This is the key to reading Fury Road as a Mad Max movie, not a Furiosa movie, as the woke propagandists who masquerade as film critics and commentators would have you believe. Furiosa knows what she is, she’s looking for redemption for her sins, which are she abandoned her fertility to serve a literal blood god who farms women for their breast milk and given his Warboys purpose only through their sacrifice to him if only to be ‘witnessed’ doing so. There is no life for the Warboys in this world, since they can’t reproduce, so their initiation into manhood is becoming ‘shiny and chrome,’ worshipping their cars — the only recognizable technology left from the old world, except for guns. They worship the mechanical, the cold, the lifeless. Cars don’t bring life. But all that repressed energy gets turned into the grotesque creations they drive (insanely) across the Wasteland. They are the ultimate symbol of the static masculine. The only things this economy produces is food, guns, and gas. Since Immortan Joe hordes everything, especially the water and the food, he can maintain the stranglehold on life itself, the only women capable of giving birth. Into this nightmare a healthy Max is a resource, a literal blood bank, who gets caught up in Furiosa’s plans to escape with the only symbols of fertility left in this world, the concubines. From here Fury Road is that redemption plot we all know so well. But they don’t find redemption in the Wasteland, only the seeds to rebuilding the world. It is Max who realizes the only life left is back where they came from. And it quite literally says, there is no ‘better world’ out there than the one we live in. To begin unbreaking the world you have to go back to the one you have and fix it. You can’t run away. Clean your room, if I can invoke Dr. Peterson here. It is on this leg of the Fury Road that Max and Furiosa fully work together to bring down the charnal house that Joe built. It’s only then when he freely gives up some of himself, his blood, to save Furiosa at the end that he offers her his name, regaining his identity for the first time since the Toecutter’s gang ran down his wife and daughter when the world was only damaged, not broken. And it is with that simple act of kindness, that Fury Road asserts itself as Max’s movie. But Max still sins that he can’t wash away. He will forever be the gargoyle that guards the gates of the cathedral. It’s not because men aren’t welcome there. Furiosa knows now what good men look like. The balance between men and women can begin again but not with Max. He knows what he is and knows salvation isn’t for men like him. This is why he can’t ascend to the Promised Land at the end of the film, just like each previous film in the series. It has zero to do with the film being woke or dismissive of men in any symbolic sense. Healing the Gender Divide Unfortunately, our divided world has destroyed our ability to recognize any balance in this conversation. As I’ve previously argued about the Disney Star Wars films, the deep divisions between men and women, the inversion of gender roles in our society, clouds our judgment of them because so many are afraid of the answers they offer. YouTube has empowered an entire sub-culture of MGTOW’s, itself the ultimate expression of male weakness in the face of toxic femininity, to obsess about these things and drive ad revenue to them. Their hate has made them powerful. They hold sway over a whole rotten sub-culture wallowing in their hate. We have a toxic femininity problem. Retreating into masculine safe spaces looks attractive, a kind of ‘Going Galt’ until women get less crazy. But it’s the wrong response. Because those same women who say the most hateful things about men, are really pleading for us to step up and be protectors, like Max becomes to Furiosa and the other women. Saying any of that doesn’t mean we didn’t or don’t have a toxic masculinity problem. But the way to female strength is not denying men or white people or binaries or whatever the fuck they’re labeling us with today access to the microphone. That way madness lies. That way leads to Immortan Joe and a broken world where the reality of male physical superiority is left unchecked by the tempering presence of the divine feminine and their ability to bring life into the world. Unfortunately, we live in a world ruled by Communists who spend every waking hour undermining these basic truths about humanity in their Quixotic quest for power and control. The chaos of COVID-9/11 while we’re all anxious about our failing economic system, a creation of rent-seeking oligarchs, erecting this Citadel of Exclusion is now condoned by previously normal people gripped by a madness that is far deeper than we want to admit to ourselves. Friends and family, storeowners and co-workers have been transformed into self-hating monstrosities willing to reduce everything that represents a challenge to their worldview into a symbol of oppression that further proves their loyalty to the nascent medical-industrial complex. COVID-9/11 drove far too many to this state. They reject the basics of virology, immunology and common sense to support their need for order. As the world broke they sunk further into madness, unable to cope anymore with the basic risks of living in the real world. I’d go off on a rant about how destroying risk assessment in capital markets and the creation of new money through debt and financialization feeding the solipsism that we’d conquered the scarcity problem in modern society, but why bring up facts in an era where people have become allergic to them? Getting off the Shining Path This fear of living is what drives people to become cheerleaders for tyranny. To love their muzzles, proudly display their vax cards and fetishize their subservience to an authority just two years ago most would have distrusted to their core. The same people who marched on D.C. in support of ‘gender equality’ in the name of a women’s right to choose to murder their unborn children now want to deny the unvaxxed a seat at the civilizational table. Got news for you, folks, there’s a barbarian in this room, and it ain’t the unvaxxed. Now a false sense of shared purpose to fight the illusion of a pandemic energizes their fear, amplifies it into anger for those that disbelieve this illusion and turns it into self-righteous resentment for lengthening their agony. Just get the clot shot, they argue and come on board for the big win over COVID, they screech from behind their shiny grills. If it wasn’t so despicable and naïve, it would almost be tragic. Because we, like the people of the world of Fury Road, are all in agony, even those that support what little societal order there is left. This is the post-COVID world Davos has planned for us, worshipping the images of ourselves on our screens. Shaking our asses nihilistically on Tik-Tok or OnlyFans, if only to be ‘witnessed’ in our debasement for a few minutes. Trading our dignity for a dopamine hit and our principles for a paycheck. The push now is to take from the heretics to the COVID-9/11 Death Cult all that is left of the old world. The Immortan Joes of Davos will hoard their part of the shrinking pile of assets and send out their diseased and maniacal Warboys (and girls) to enforce this new Utopia. Arguing with conviction the unvaxxed should be left in the cold, unable to leave their homes, take a walk in the sun, share a meal with their loved ones or have access to medical care. Unlike Fury Road we know who broke the world. They did. But they blame those still willing to face the risk of living in the real world from partaking in it, lest we make a mockery of their selfishness and unquenchable envy. That’s what scares them the most. And that’s where we find the strength to stare them down and build our own ways forward. Because if we don’t start doing that now, if we don’t stop pining for the world that was and accept the world that is, there is no hope of fixing anything. *  *  * Join My Patreon if you like fixing things BTC: 3GSkAe8PhENyMWQb7orjtnJK9VX8mMf7Zf BCH: qq9pvwq26d8fjfk0f6k5mmnn09vzkmeh3sffxd6ryt DCR: DsV2x4kJ4gWCPSpHmS4czbLz2fJNqms78oE LTC: MWWdCHbMmn1yuyMSZX55ENJnQo8DXCFg5k DASH: XjWQKXJuxYzaNV6WMC4zhuQ43uBw8mN4Va WAVES: 3PF58yzAghxPJad5rM44ZpH5fUZJug4kBSa ETH: 0x1dd2e6cddb02e3839700b33e9dd45859344c9edc DGB: SXygreEdaAWESbgW6mG15dgfH6qVUE5FSE Tyler Durden Sun, 12/19/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 19th, 2021

San Francisco Mayor Finally Blasts "All The Bulls**t That"s Destroyed" The City, Demands More Money For Cops

San Francisco Mayor Finally Blasts "All The Bulls**t That's Destroyed" The City, Demands More Money For Cops Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, After Black Lives Matter protesters last year demanded that cities “Defund the Police,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed held a press conference to announce that her city would be one of the first to do exactly that. Breed announced $120 million in cuts to the budgets of both San Francisco’s police and sheriff's departments. A spokesperson for the police officers’ union warned the cuts "could impact our ability to respond to emergencies,” but the police chief assured the public that the cuts “will not diminish our ability to provide essential services." Yesterday, Breed reversed herself in dramatic fashion, announcing that she was making an emergency request to the city’s Board of Supervisors for more money for the police to support a crackdown on crime, including open air drug dealing, car break-ins, and retail theft. The plan contains much of what the California Peace Coalition, which Environmental Progress and I cofounded last spring, has been demanding, including in a series of protests by parents of homeless addicts, parents of children killed by fentanyl, and recovering addicts. San Francisco Mayor Breed and other San Francisco politicians have for years promised to crack down on drug dealing and crime, and things have only grown worse over, so skepticism is merited. Already, progressives in San Francisco have denounced Mayor Breed’s plan, which she announced with the support of just two members of the city’s 11 Board of Supervisors, and without the apparent support of the city’s District Attorney. But there’s good reason for hope. Breed's plan lays out big goals and makes very specific promises, including more funding for police. There will be a recall election next June of San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin which many political experts believe will succeed. And the progressive Supervisor who represents the Tenderloin, the neighborhood with most of city’s open drug scene, is running for state assembly, creating a leadership vacuum and opportunity for Breed. More importantly, Breed’s speech has the potential to change the conversation about crime. Breed explicitly embraced “tough love,” which is a very different philosophy from Woke victimology, which divides the world into victims and oppressors and demands that victims, a category that includes street addicts and criminals, only be given things, from cash and clean needles to their own apartment with butler service, and not be held accountable for their actions. "I'm proud this city believes in giving people second chances,” said Breed. “Nevertheless, we also need there to be accountability when someone does break the law...Our compassion cannot be mistaken for weakness or indifference…. I was raised by my grandmother to believe in 'tough love,' in keeping your house in order, and we need that, now more than ever." Breed punctuated her emotional speech with an explitive. “It is time for the reign of criminals to end,” she said. “And it comes to an end when are more aggressive with law enforcement and less tolerant of all the bulls**t that has destroyed our city.” Why is that? What explains Breed’s 180 degree reversal in less than 18 months? And what will determine whether she keeps her promise? SF Mayor @LondonBreed has literally just called bullshit on progressive criminal justice reformers “It is time for the reign of criminals to end. It comes to an end when are more aggressive with law enforcement & less tolerant of all the BULLSHIT that has destroyed our city” pic.twitter.com/ewqheftUun — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 14, 2021 Murder, Looting, and Drug Deaths The main reason for Breed’s turnabout is skyrocketing crime. A report released yesterday by San Francisco’s Public Policy Institute of California concluded that homicides increased in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco by 17% in 2021. Property crimes in those four cities rose 7% between 2020 and 2021, reaching 25,000 total in October. Two-thirds of increase is due to larcenies, mainly car break-ins (by 21%) and vehicle thefts (by 10%). PPIC stresses that property and violent crimes are lower than historic levels, but business leaders and residents have told me for two years that they often do not report many crimes. And the rate of arrest has declined significantly for many crimes. In 2019, 40% of all shoplifting reports resulted in arrest; in 2021, only 19% did. San Francisco’s progressive D.A. charged just 46% of theft arrests, a 16 point decline since he took office in 2020, and charged just 35% of petty theft arrests, a 23 point decline from two years ago. In November, San Francisco was the first of several progressive cities hit by smash-and-grab mobs of thieves, sometimes as many as 80 in a group. Video from the San Francisco looting of Louis Vuitton shows criminals walking casually out of the store, goods in hand. In response, many of San Francisco’s luxury stores in its Union Square shopping district boarded up their windows, making the area resemble a blighted neighborhood in Detroit, and embarrassing city leaders.  Meanwhile, San Francisco’s open drug scene contributed to three times more deaths from illicit drugs than covid last year, and has degraded the low-income historically black Tenderloin neighborhood. San Francisco could shut the open drug scene down like European cities did but has instead refused to mandate proven medical treatment to drug addicts. San Francisco’s progressive leaders have effectively been overseeing a radical social experiment, one that killed more African Americans last year alone than the entire Tuskegee syphilis experiment killed over 40 years. Breed has been personally impacted by addiction and crime. Both Breed’s sister and brother struggled with addiction while growing up in public housing in San Francisco. Her sister died of a drug overdose and her brother is in prison for armed robbery. “I am not for playing games with my life when it comes to politics,” she told an interviewer. “I’ve been in that community, working in the trenches, dealing with the public safety issues, dealing with those things because my people are the ones getting left behind at the end of the day.” But Breed also had to be pushed. In May, I helped Jacqui Berlinn, a mother of a homeless fentanyl addict, organize the first-ever protest of open drug dealing in the Tenderloin, which generated national and local headlines and local TV coverage. A few months later, Berlinn and I co-founded, with parents of children killed by fentanyl, recovering addicts, and community leaders, a new state-wide group, the California Peace Coalition, to demand the enforcement of laws against open drug dealing, mandatory treatment for addicts who break the law, and a state takeover of psychiatric and addiction care. Then, in early November, over 200 mostly poor and working class people in the Tenderloin protested a 161% increase in violence in the neighborhood between 2020 and 2021, and open drug dealing, in a march on City Hall. Part of their motivation was a brutal attack on an 11-year-old girl while she was walking to school. The day before, a 61-year-old man was shot while sitting in a donut shop. Two weeks later, a half a dozen gunmen fired 30 and 40 rounds at each other, sending bystanders running in chaos. Breed put their voices at the heart of her announcement. “Last week, I met with a group of families from the TL [Tenderloin],” she wrote. “I was told about drug dealers threatening grandmothers. About mid-day shootings near a park where a single mother brings her toddler after school. About assaults on the street…. We need to take back our Tenderloin.” The response to Breed’s remarks from parents and residents was overwhelmingly positive. “I can’t express how happy this makes me,” tweeted Berlinn. Tom Wolff, a formerly homeless drug addict who is on the city’s Drug Dealing Task Force, said, "I'm really happy to hear the mayor take a tougher approach on this. We can't arrest our way out of everything, but there needs to be some target specific enforcement." Michelle Tandler, a San Francisco native whose photos of boarded up Union Square stores went viral, said, “I've been observing Mayor Breed for many years now and have to say, I think this was her greatest speech to-date. Mayor Breed took a stand for what is right. I haven't seen her this impassioned since her inauguration a few years back.” Seizing the Momentum Breed’s speech puts pressure on progressive San Francisco supervisors and the District Attorney to shut down the open drug scene in the Tenderloin. When he ran for office in 2018, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin called “open-air drug use and drug sales… technically victimless crimes.” When Boudin announced that he was not going to prosecute street-level drug dealers he said it was because they are “themselves [are] victims of human trafficking.”  But, after the looting of Louis Vuitton, Boudin struck a more tough-on-crime tone. “I'm outraged by the looting in Union Square last night” Boudin tweeted. “We are seeing similar crimes across the country. I have a simple message: don't bring that noise to our City.” Stanford addiction expert @KeithNHumphreys describes the importance, and politics, of the promise by San Francisco Mayor @LondonBreed to shut down the open drug scene in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which kills addicts and is ruining the city. pic.twitter.com/yEhnTbbcpi — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 15, 2021 But standing up for luxury stores is different from shutting down open drug scenes. “Boudin made a very strong statement after the [flash mob] theft of Louis Vuitton,” said Stanford addiction specialist Keith Humphreys. “But I want a DA who is the most worried about the poorest residents and less about Louis Vuitton.” Other politicians are responding to the crime wave. California Attorney General Rob Bonta promised “more resources” for investigating retail theft. And the Mayor of Oakland, which will have its highest homicides in nine years, has demanded more funding for the police, and asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to finally implement technology that would allow police to read license plates on state highways to catch criminals. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he viewed Breed’s announcement as vindication for what he has been advocating. “Californians are tolerant, but we don’t tolerate brazen crime and dangerous streets,” he said. ”It should not even be a question as to whether or not the open drug markets should be shut down — I’ve been saying for years: if you let people live and do drugs on the streets, you’re condemning them to die on the streets. I enforced this as Mayor of San Diego and it must be enforced throughout California.” Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, a former Republican running for California Attorney General as an independent, praised Breed and used her announcement to attack Attorney General Bonta as soft-on-crime. “Bravo to London Breed,” Schubert tweeted, “and her commitment to cracking down on crime and open air drug usage. Breed has laid out common sense strategies that Rob Bonta clearly disagrees with. San Franciscans deserve better than an Attorney General who won’t listen to local officials about common sense public safety measures.” Breed’s announcement come days after former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter attacked progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner for dismissing the city’s record high homicides, and several weeks after Seattle voters, of whom less than 10 percent voted for Donald Trump in 2020, elected a Republican as the city’s State Attorney in response to rising crime. “I don't think we can overestimate the influence of the city of Seattle voting 8% for Donald Trump one year ago and voting 55% for a Republican city attorney who had a law and order platform in this year’s election,” said Humphreys. Here’s former Philly Mayor @Michael_Nutter denouncing “white wokeness” and “white privilege” for resulting in more homicide and crime pic.twitter.com/05bLU1Tdqn — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 14, 2021 In the end, shutting down the city’s open drug scenes is crucial to ending drug deaths and the chaos that plagues the city. “It is an entirely fixable problem,” said Humphreys, “as many cities have shown. There will still be drug use and addiction in San Francisco. But harm reduction requires closing down open air drug scenes. Every city in America has drug problems. They do not all have a drug scene like San Francisco.” Humphreys emphasized, as did the authors of a study of how five European cities closed open drug scenes, that coordination between homeless service providers and police officers is crucial. The head of one of them, Urban Alchemy, Lena Miller, said, in response to Breed’s announcement, “We are relieved. The problem wasn’t created overnight and solving it will take time. But we very happy and looking forward to everyone coming off the sidelines to solve this.” For Humphreys, citing the European model, “Harm reduction is not a fantasy about a drug-free society, which we're never going to have. It's trying to minimize the damage that drugs do. Closing down open drug markets is going to have huge gains for people, particularly in the Tenderloin, but more broadly in the city.” Breed announcement may help change how Americans think about drugs. While it may not be possible to halt drugs from coming into the U.S., it is possible to shut down open drug scenes, and mandate treatment for those who need it. “The public is wanting some action here and she's going to try to deliver it,” said Humphreys. “I think her announcement will resonate in some of these other cities, too, and give courage. I admire the mayor for taking a political risk on behalf of the least powerful people in the city.” *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here Tyler Durden Thu, 12/16/2021 - 21:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 16th, 2021

Transcript: Maureen Farrell

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Maureen Farrell on the Cult of We is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   RITHOLTZ: This… Read More The post Transcript: Maureen Farrell appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Maureen Farrell on the Cult of We is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast, I have a special guest. Her name is Maureen Farrell, and she is the co-author of the book, “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” I read this book a couple of weeks ago and just plowed through it. It’s a lot of fun. Everything you think about WeWork is actually even crazier, and more insane, and more delusional than you would’ve guessed. All the venture capitalists and — and big investors not really doing the appropriate due diligence, relying on each other, and nobody really looking at the numbers, which kind of revealed that this was a giant money-losing, fast-growing startup that really was a real estate play pretending to be a tech play. You know, tech gets one sort of multiple, real estate gets a much lower multiple, and Neumann was able to convince a lot of people that this was a tech startup and, therefore, worthy of, you know, $1 billion and then multibillion-dollar valuation. It’s fascinating the — it’s deeply, deeply reported. There is just an incredible series of vignettes, and stories, and reveals that they’re just shocking what Neumann and company were able to — to fob off on their investors. Everything from ridiculous self-dealing to crazy valuations, to lackluster due diligence, and then just the craziest most egregious golden parachute in the history of corporate America. I found the book to be just fascinating and as well as my conversation with Maureen. So, with no further ado, my conversation with Maureen Farrell, co-author of “The Cult of We.” VOICE-OVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My special guest this week is Maureen Farrell. She is the co-author of a new book, “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” The book has been nominated for a Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. Previously, she worked at the Wall Street Journal since 2013. Currently, she is a reporter, investigative reporter for The New York Times. Maureen Farrell, welcome to Bloomberg. FARRELL: Thank you so much for having me. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s start a little bit with your background and history. You — you covered capital markets and IPOs at the Wall Street Journal. What led you and your co-author Eliot Brown to this story because this was really a venture capital and a startup story for most of the 2010s, right? FARRELL: Exactly. And for me, personally, I was covering the IPO market and — and capital markets the sort of explosion of private capital. So, I was looking at WeWork from both angles, basically, you know, in the small cohort of the most interesting companies that were going to go public, along with Uber, Airbnb, Lyft. And it was also part of this group that had raised more capital than anyone ever before. I was looking at SoftBank and its vision fund a lot. And then — I mean, take within this cohort, there were some pretty interesting companies, but I mean, just along the way kept on hearing, you know, Adam Neumann stood out. That’s like a little bit of a different entrepreneur that the — the stories you would just hear over time just became more and more interesting a little and vain. RITHOLTZ: So when did you decide, hey, this is more than just a recurring series of — of articles? When did you say this is a book? We have to write a book about this? FARRELL: So, we were — around August 2019, by then we were writing more and more about the company as it was clear that it was, you know, made it known that it was going to go public. Suddenly, it’s S-1, the — the regulatory documents you file publicly to go public were out there, and they were completely bonkers. They sort of captivated, I think, the imagination of the business reading public. But then over the next few weeks, WeWork was on its way to finally doing this IPO. And my co-author Eliot and I who had been cover — he had covering the company long before me. He’s a real estate. He had been covering them since 2013, then he was out in San Francisco covering venture capital. And it just became the most insane story either one of us had ever reported, like day by day there’s a playbook for IPOs. And they — you know, things are different, but they sort of follow a formula and nothing was making sense. And it just was getting more and more insane until this IPO was eventually called off. And Adam Neumann, the founder and CEO was pushed out of the company for all sorts of crazy things that were given to. RITHOLTZ: So, we’re going to — we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about that. But you hinted at something I — I have to mention. Your co-author covered real estate. Hey, I was told WeWork was a tech startup, and an A.I. company, and everything else but a real estate arbitrage play. How did they manage to convince so many people that they weren’t a Regis. The CEO of Regis very famously said, “How was what they do any different than what we do?” FARRELL: Well, they tried to convince Eliot Brown, my co-author, of the same thing. He — he had heard about Adam Neumann and his company. He started seeing the valuation. Back then I think it was $1 billion, $1.5 billion, and he was … RITHOLTZ: Right. When that became a unicorn, suddenly it was like, “Wait, this is just a real estate play.” FARRELL: Exactly. And he was covering other commercial real estate companies like Regis. And he had followed them and he was like, “Wait, they only have a couple of locations even still at that point.” So, he went in to meet Adam Neumann for the first time, and he’s got great stories. But as part of it, Adam was like really horrified. He was, you know, very nice, his charming self, but also saying, “Hey, you’re a real estate reporter … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … for the Wall Street Journal. You’re the last person who should be covering this company. Do you have someone who covers like community companies?” RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And Eliot said, “No, and I’ll be following you from here on out.” RITHOLTZ: We’ll — we’ll talk about community-adjusted EBITDA a little later also. But — but let’s talk about the genesis of this because Neumann and his partner McKelvey had a — a legit business Greendesk, the — was the predecessor to WeWork. It was sold. I don’t know what the dollar amount was. Was that ever disclosed? FARRELL: Ah. RITHOLTZ: But — but it was not — nothing. It was real. And the two of them rolled that money plus a third partner who is also — Joel Schreiber is a real estate developer in New York, not coincidently. And in 2010, they launched WeWork with the first site in SoHo. So why is this real estate assign long-term leases and sell shorter-term leases at a significant markup? How is this not possibly a real estate concern? How? What was — what was the argument they were making to people that, “Hey, we’re a tech company and we deserve tech company valuations.” FARRELL: Sure. So exactly as you said, they have this Brooklyn business that was the genesis of WeWork. It was — it had a lot of that business, and it was what they took to make WeWork. It has a lot of innovation to it in terms of architecturally the aesthetic of it. I mean, we probably all have been to WeWork. They’re just — they’re beautiful buildings. RITHOLTZ: Funky, fun … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … open … FARRELL: Light coming through … RITHOLTZ: … with a beer tap and lots of glass. FARRELL: … we had light streaming through the windows. You put — you pack people very close together. So, something they started in Brooklyn, it took off, but then their — the landlord there didn’t want to grow it, so they — they split up, they moved on. Adam and his — his co-founder Miguel McKelvey. And from the very beginning, the idea was something so much bigger. They say they created — they like sketched out something and it was like essentially WeWorld. It would be, you know, schools, and apartments, and this whole universe of we. But basically, as you said, I mean, throughout for the most part, it was this like arbitrage building, arbitrage company in terms of getting long-term leases and splitting it up. RITHOLTZ: All right. So, by 2014, they have a pretty substantial investor list, J.P. Morgan Chase, T. Rowe Price, Wellington, Goldman, Harvard Endowment, Benchmark Capital, Mort Zuckerman. Was this still a rational investment in 2014 or when did things kind of go off the rails? FARRELL: By then it still seemed like the valuation was really getting ahead of itself, and it was very much predicated on this idea that you said being a tech company. And I mean, at Adam Neumann’s genius was in marketing and fund raising. And what he had the ability to do really each step of the way and it’s — it’s masterful was sort of take — take the zeitgeist, like the big business idea of the moment that was captivating investors and put that on top of WeWork. So, he’s very into — a little bit before this like sort of acquainting it to Facebook. You know, Facebook was the social network. This is like a social network in person. RITHOLTZ: In real life, right. FARRELL: In — yeah, real life social network. And he didn’t manage to kind of convince people bit by bit. I mean, it’s interesting, Benchmark, you know, as you know, is like one of the top … RITHOLTZ: Legit — right, top shelf V.C., absolutely. FARRELL: Yeah, that’s been some — behind some of the biggest tech companies. RITHOLTZ: Bill Gurley, Uber, go down the list of just incredible … FARRELL: Snap. RITHOLTZ: … yeah, amazing. FARRELL: eBay. Yeah, they’ve had — through — for decades, they’ve been behind some of the biggest companies. So, they were willing to take a gamble on them, and then they saw red flags, but just decided to jump in anyway. But for Benchmark, I mean, we see and they ultimately — they get in at such a low valuation, it’s … RITHOLTZ: Doesn’t matter. FARRELL: … exactly like — you know, they want their homeruns. And I mean, it’s still — they still ultimately got out at a pretty good — really incredible return, but it’s … RITHOLTZ: Right, $600 million to $10 billion, something like that, something (inaudible). FARRELL: Yeah, something like that. RITHOLTZ: So — so just to clarify because I — I’m — I’m going to be trashing WeWork for the next hour, but this wasn’t a Theranos situation or a Bernie Madoff, this is not an issue of fraud or anything illegal or unlawful. Fees just were insane valuations. Somebody did a great job selling investors on the potential for WeWork, and it didn’t work out. FARRELL: I’m glad you brought that up because a lot of people do ask about the differences and the parallels between Elizabeth Holmes and Adam Neumann. And I — I mean, I almost think the story, in some ways, is more interesting. I mean, the Theranos story is, obviously, the craziest and — and horrifying in so many ways. But with Adam Neumann, on the margins, there are questions about, you know, some of them (inaudible). RITHOLTZ: They’re self-dealing and there’s some — a lot of avarice. And he just cashed out way, way early, so you could criticize his behavior. But, you know, you end up with the VCs and the outside investors either looking the other way or turning a blind eye. It’s not like the stuff wasn’t disclosed or anything, he was very out front. No, I need — I need a private jet because we’re opening up WeWorks in China and in 100 other countries, and I have to join around the world. FARRELL: Yeah, and maybe you (inaudible) thing. RITHOLTZ: Now, you need a $65 million (inaudible) is a different question. But, you know, there — they didn’t hide this. They were like proud of it. FARRELL: No, and I think it is every step of the way, you see. I mean, the investors and these were some of the most sophisticated investors in the world and some of the — you know, they are thought of as the smartest investors. They saw the numbers that WeWork was putting forth and they were real, real numbers. They also saw their projections and the projections were mythical, and they never quite reached them. But you could see, if you are going to invest in any round of WeWork, you could see what their prior projections were, how they failed to hit them. But instead, the thing that we saw time and time again to this point was, very often, Adam Neumann would meet the head of an investment company, whether it’s Benchmark or SoftBank or T. Rowe Price, like the — the main decision-maker totally captivate this person. You know, it’s usually a man. The man would become kind of smitten with Adam and all his ideas and what he was going to do, totally believing it. The underlings would look at the numbers, raise all these red flags, point them out. And then the decision-maker would say … RITHOLTZ: Do it anyway. FARRELL: … yeah, he’s amazing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So I want to talk about the rapid rise of WeWork and their — their really fast growth path, but I have to ask, what sort of access did you have to the main characters in the book? Were people forthcoming? I have to imagine there were some people who had grudges and were happy to speak. What — what about the — some of the original founders, Adam and his wife Rebekah? Who — who did you have access to? FARRELL: Sure. So, you know, in the interest of privacy, I can’t get into specifics. But what I will say, the interesting thing was, I mean, when we really got access for hours and hours to the vast majority of players at every step of the way in this book. And the — one of the funny things was, I mean, the pandemic really started right as Eliot and I took book leave. We started a book leave in late February 2020. And we had both planned to sort of be and all around the world, meeting people in person. Eliot had moved to New York to meet a lot of the players in person. Obviously, the world shut down and, you know, was kind of nervous about what that would mean in terms of conversations. And the funny thing was I think people are home, bored, feeling pretty reflective. So, there are a number of people that said … RITHOLTZ: What the hell. FARRELL: … I didn’t know if I wanted to talk to you and … RITHOLTZ: But what the hell. FARRELL: … these — some of these people I probably had like 10 conversations … RITHOLTZ: Really? FARRELL: … for hours with. RITHOLTZ: And — and there are 40 something pages of endnotes. It’s — I’m not suggesting that this isn’t deeply researched because a lot of these conversations that you report on like you’re fly on the wall. Clearly, it can only be one of two or three people. So, it looks like you had a ton of access to a lot of senior people and I guess, we’ll just leave it at that. So — so let’s talk about that early rise in the beginning. They were really ramping up very rapidly. I mean, you could see how somebody interested in investing in a potential unicorn in 2012, ’13, ’14 coming out of the financial crisis. Hey, the idea of all these startups just leaving a little bit of space and not a long-term lease, it looks very attractive. It looks like, hey, you could put WeWorks wherever there’s a tech community, and they should do really well there. FARRELL: Yeah, there — and it was — the marketing was — it was very viral at that point. It was, you know, people would tell their friends about it, and they would fill up very rapidly. And they were building more and more. I mean — and this is one of the — you know, as part of the genius of Adam Neumann was, you know, he was telling people from day one they were really struggling to even secure the lease on the first building. And he was like, oh, we’re going to be global, we’re going to be international. He would set these goals of how many buildings they would open and people internally, and even investors, would say, “Oh, this is impossible.” RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And he would — and he would hit that. He kept on sort of defying gravity, defying disbelief or questions. So, the growth was incredible and they were filling them up. We could talk about, you know, the lack of the cost of doing so. RITHOLTZ: Right. They — they were paying double to — to real estate agents when everybody else was paying. They were going to competitors and saying, “We’re going to reach out to your tenants, and we’re going to offer them free rent for a year.” I mean, they were really sharp elbowed and very aggressive. FARRELL: Especially as time went on. We did find that there is one year we got all their financials. We — you know, we got our hands on a vast trove of documents, but there was one year — I think it was 2011 — that they, I think, made $2 million in profit. RITHOLTZ: Wow. FARRELL: We were — we were kind of shocked to see that. We don’t think they had ever made a profit. And then from there, they did not, and the billions and billions just added up in terms of losses. RITHOLTZ: So — so the rapid rise, we — we mentioned, they peaked in 2019 at more than $47 billion. Neumann recently did a interview with your fellow Times correspondent Adam (sic) Ross Sorkin, and he was somewhat contrite. He — he had admitted that all the venture money and all the high valuations had — went to his head, quote, “You lose focus on really the core of the business and why the business is meant to be that way. It had a corrosive effect on my thinking.” That’s kind of a surprising admission from him. FARRELL: It was. Yeah, I mean, his mea culpa is very interesting. And I mean, one of the things that people said along the way was, you know, the — the higher the valuation, the more out of touch she became. I mean, he — he had a narcissist. And I don’t know what you want to call it, but … RITHOLTZ: Socio-pathological narcissistic personality disorder? I’m just — I’m not a psychologist, I’m just guessing, or a really successful salesman/CEO. There’s like a thin line between the two sometimes, it seems. FARRELL: And some of it — I mean, it seems insane. It was like, oh, he thought of himself in this like same — like with along with world leaders, but world leaders were really sort of … RITHOLTZ: Tailing him. FARRELL: … really wanted to meet him. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: Yeah. And he was like — we have a scene in the book that he was debating whether or not he was going to cancel on Theresa May because he had promised his wife that he would teach a class on entrepreneurship to their new school, so it was like a few of their kids and a few of their kids’ friends were in the school. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And they’re about five years old, five or six. And he had promised — and his wife … RITHOLTZ: Prime Minister, a five-year-old, that’s it. So, when you talk about losing touch with reality, some of the M&A that the startup did. Wavegarden or wave machine was a — like a surf wave machine, meetup.com, Conductor, they ended up dumping these for a fraction of what they paid for them. But what’s the thought process we’re going to become a technology conglomerate? I don’t — I don’t really follow the thinking other than will it be fun to have a wave machine at our buildings, like what’s the rationale there? FARRELL: OK. So, there were — there were two parts to that, and part of it was like it was the world was Adam Neumann’s playground, and he loves surfing, and he thought that — you know, that he found out this company has wave-making mission. They would make waves. So, him and his team went to Spain to surf on them and test them out, but he could basically convince his board, in general … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … who had to approve these that anything made sense, whether it’s the jet, the wave pool company or friends of his. I mean, Laird Hamilton, the famous surfer … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … was a friend of his. They invested like in his coffee creamer company. But then the second — so it was so many unseen investments that I really didn’t necessarily make any sense. But then on the other side, one of the things that we thought was interesting, he had this deal with Masa who — Masayoshi Son. He’s the CEO of SoftBank, became WeWork’s biggest investor, biggest enabler, you might say. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: And one of the — they were going to do this huge deal that would have actually kept WeWork private forever. It never came to pass, and that’s why it was sort of the beginning of the end when this deal fell apart. But as part of it, a lot of the deal is predicated on growing revenue. So, Adam also became obsessed with acquisitions like whatever they could possibly do to add more revenue to the company. I mean, he was talking about buying Sweet Cream, and he had like got pretty far along in the salad company … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, amazing. FARRELL: … in conversations with them. So, it was this idea of like let’s just throw in anything, we have money, and let’s just grow our top line. Who cares about anything else? RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about Rebekah Neumann. She was Adam Neumann’s wife. What — what what’s her role in WeWork? How important was she? FARRELL: Her role is just so fascinating throughout. So, I mean, he — he met her right as he was starting Greendesk. And I think she just sort of opened his eyes. She’d grown up very wealthy. She’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s cousin. She had always ties to Hollywood. She gave him a loan early on, a high interest loan, I think even after they were married that we report about in the book. But as time went on, she — she really want a career in Hollywood, decides to — at one point, she — she was trying to be an actress and she tells someone that she’s done with Hollywood. She’s producing babies now. They’ve gone on to have six kids. But she sort of always kind of dabbled in the company, and they retroactively made her a co-founder. RITHOLTZ: Right, she wasn’t there from day one. It was only later she got pretty active. FARRELL: Yeah, she told people like giving tours early on that she help pick out the coffee in the — in the early WeWorks. But — so she became more active, but she was sort of jumped in and out. And it was by the — one of the things that she had a big focus on their kids were growing up, she didn’t really like their choices of private or public schools, so she decided to start — she helmed sort of the education initiative that’s something … RITHOLTZ: And she was deeply qualified for this because she — she was a certified yoga instructor, right? FARRELL: Yeah, she had been. RITHOLTZ: And — and I know she went to Cornell, which is certainly a good school. What bona fide does she bring to technology, real estate, education, like I’m trying to figure it out. And in the book, you don’t really go into any details that she’s qualified to do any of these things. FARRELL: I mean, especially with — with education, it’s like she didn’t — she want this — essentially she wanted a school for her children, and she wanted very specific things in that school. And once again, they decided that that would be the next like frontier for WeWork. They’re always adding different things. But no one really — then they let them do this. They started this school in New York in the headquarters, and they were going to teach the next-generation of entrepreneurs. And … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … I mean, they — one of the things — I mean, it was the education arm more than — as much or more than other parts of it is just so tragic because they had a lot of money. She’s — she, like Adam, can just speak like — speak so — like eloquently and with this vision. So, she attracted all these very talented teachers. She sort of wooed them from the schools that they were in before and told them that they were going to start this, you know, new enterprise and change education forever. And it’s just really devolved so quickly. It became very like kind of petty. I mean, if you pull so they have PTSD from her like obsession with like the rugs like … RITHOLTZ: Right, just … FARRELL: … it was a Montessori-type school. And yeah, she obsessed over like the color of white of the rugs and made them like send back 20 rugs. RITHOLTZ: What was the most shocking thing you found out about him or her or both? FARRELL: So, one — one of these was — I mean, there is a lot of the — their personal lives, as we said, whether it was a school or other — other things where their kids are educated in, just the way in which the personal entanglements, you know, small and huge levels, but I’ll give two examples. I mean, one of the things that people said in the school, so within the WeWork headquarters was a whole … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … floor and it’s beautiful if you see pictures of it, like it just this – like really incredible school. RITHOLTZ: Money was no object. FARRELL: Yeah. And they had Bjarke Ingels, this famous architect designed the school. And — but they basically, on Friday nights, would have dinners with their friends there. And according to many people would — the team would come in Monday morning … RITHOLTZ: It’d be a disaster. FARRELL: … it will be a complete … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … disaster. So, it was like really on so many levels like everything was their personal … RITHOLTZ: So, entitled. FARRELL: Yeah. And the second thing that really shocked us was she was very — she had a lot of kind of like phobias around like health and wellness. And she says — I mean, she had a — a real tragedy in her family. Her brother died from cancer, and so she was always — she’s very focused on and she said it as much in podcasts and things. But she was very fixated on 5G. And she’s worried about vaccines for their kids. And — but the 5G of like what that could do for — you know, these signals. She wouldn’t let them have printers on the floor, like any printers on — wireless printers on the floor of the school. But there is a — they bought this … RITHOLTZ: Can you — can you even by 5G printers today? What — what was the … FARRELL: Oh, no, it’s a wireless. RITHOLTZ: … yeah, just Wi-Fi? FARRELL: Yeah, the wireless like freaked her out, so the teachers of that are like run up and downstairs to just print everything. It seems ridiculous. But the 5G towers, there was one, either being built or built right near there, across the Beam Park. RITHOLTZ: (Inaudible) City Park. FARRELL: Yeah, right nearby. So, she was so obsessed with it. She didn’t want to move in there. They had bought like six apartments in this building that she — the CFO — this is around the time they’re preparing for the IPO. I used to work at Time Warner Cable, who is the CFO of Time Warner Cable. So, she said, “Can you, Artie Minson, help us get rid of the 5G tower and have it moved?” And basically, he deputized another aide who used to work for Cuomo and worked for Governor Christie, the — both former governors. And they — like that was something they — they actually worked on. So, the — yeah, that interplay was just kind of insane. RITHOLTZ: Seems rational. There was a Vanity Fair article, “How Rebekah Neumann Put the Woo-Woo in WeWork,” and — and what you’re describing very much is — is along the lines of that. I’ve seen Neumann described as a visionary, as a crackpot, as — as a grifter, but he thinks he’s going to become the world’s first trillionaire, and — and WeWork the first $10 trillion company. Is — is any realistic scenario where that happens or is he just completely delusional? FARRELL: I mean, it seems insane and like he seems completely delusional, but he had a lot of people going along with him, including the man with one of the biggest checkbooks in the world who is Masayoshi Son, the CEO and Founder of SoftBank, who had just — I mean, the timing of the story, it’s like there’s so many things that happened at the first enrollment. RITHOLTZ: Saudi Arabia wanting to diversify, giving a ton of money. You — you call Son the enabler-in-chief. He — he put more than $10 billion of capital showered on — on to WeWork. How much do you blame Son for all of this mayhem at least in the last couple of years of WeWork’s run as a private company? FARRELL: It seems like he was the main — you know, the main person kind of pushing all of this. And when you talk to a lot of people around Adam, they just said they were just such a dicey match like that Adam was crazy to begin with. Everyone thought that. You know, it can go both ways, but … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, but people drank the Kool-Aid. It — it reminded me — you don’t mention Steve Jobs in the book, but very much the reality distortion field that Jobs was famous for, I very much got the sense Neumann was creating something like that. How did he get everybody to drink the Kool-Aid? Was he just that charismatic and that good of a salesman? FARRELL: I think so. And it was just he could talk about things and make you feel like the reality was there, this reality of distortion field. He was — he was masterful in that. Yet the thing that he did was he always found new pots of money … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … all over the world. I mean, it was the time — it was the time when the private capital markets were getting deeper and deeper, the Fidelitys and the T. Rowe that like normally kind of sober mutual funds … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … were jumping into startups. And they — they were — we call one of the chapters FOMO. It was like the … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … fun FOMO. They were fearful of missing out on the next big thing. So that we’re sort of in this climate where there is an appetite to go after, to just take a chance for the chance of getting the next like maybe not trillion-dollar company, maybe no one but him and Masa believe that, the next big thing. RITHOLTZ: But the next 100X — right. And that’s really — you know, it’s always interesting when you see these stayed, old mutual fund companies that have literally no experience in venture capital or tech startups, but happy to plow into it because they — they — they want to be part of it. And maybe that’s how we end up with community-adjusted EBITDA. Can — can you explain to us what that phrase means? I don’t even know what else to call it. FARRELL: Sure. So WeWork was losing every — every step of the way. They were growing revenue more than doubling it. You know, they’re expanding all around the world. And with that, they were losing just as much, if not more every single year than they were taking in. So, they had this brilliant idea, really a lot stemming from the CFO and Adam Neumann love the CFO’s creation. His name is Artie Minson, the CFO. And it was this idea that you essentially strip out a lot of the costs of kind of creating all the — building out all the WeWorks and, you know, marketing and opening up new buildings. You strip it out, and then you’re suddenly a profitable company. It’s like the magic. RITHOLTZ: Wait, let me — let me make sure I understand this. So, if you eliminate the cost of generating that profit, you suddenly become profitable. How come nobody else thought of this sooner? It seems like a genius idea. FARRELL: Oh. RITHOLTZ: Just don’t — it’s profits, expenses. It’s fantastic. FARRELL: And the — the conviction with which certain people inside, especially on the finance team, believe this. I mean, they were saying throughout that like, oh, we will be a profitable company if we — the idea was if we just stop growing, we could be profitable right now. We take in more per building. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) FARRELL: Then we spend on it. But, you know, that never was the case. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stick with the delusion concept. We talked about WeGrow, and we talked about WeLive a little bit, crazy stuff. What made this guy think he can help colonize Mars? Right, you’re laughing. You wrote it yourself, and it’s still funny. FARRELL: It is still … RITHOLTZ: By the way, I found a lot of the book very amusing, like very dry, like you guys didn’t try and crack jokes. But clearly, a lot of the stuff was just so insane. You read it, you start to laugh out loud. FARRELL: I’m — I’m glad to hear that because I think that we would joke that like every day. I mean, we’re in different places writing it. We are on calls constantly, and we would call each other. And it was often multiple times a day we would call each other and say, “You will never ever believe what I just heard.” And we would crack up, and we — we had a lot of fun writing it because it’s just — it was — the truth of the story was like more insane than … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … anything we could have made up ever. RITHOLTZ: That’s the joke that, you know, the difference between truth and — and fiction is fiction has to make sense, and truth is under no such obligation. So, let’s talk about Neumann colonizing Mars. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I mean, was that a serious thing or was he just, you know, on one of his insane (inaudible) and everybody comes along? FARRELL: There — there — speaking of fine lines, I mean, he just — I think he — he started to believe more and more of like these delusions. And so, I think he really did, and yeah, he got this — he secured a meeting with Elon Musk, and he – Elon Musk — he always — Adam was always late to every meeting, would make people wait for hours, like even like the bankers in the IPO would just sit around. There’ll be rooms of like dozens of people waiting for Adam, and he’d show up like two hours late. But Elon Musk made him wait for this meeting. They sat and sat and sat, and then he told Elon Musk that getting — that he thought — like building a community on Mars is what he would do and he would help him with. And he said, you know, “Getting — getting to Mars is the easy part. Building a community is the hard part.” RITHOLTZ: Right. Because, you know, it’s very hard to get those beer taps to work in a … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … low-gravity, zero atmosphere environment. It’s a challenge, only WeWork could accomplish that. FARRELL: The – the fruit water. RITHOLTZ: Right. So — so I want to talk about the IPO, but before I get to that, I — I have to ask about the corporate offsites, the summer camp, which were described as three-day global summits of drinking and drug consumption. It was like a Woodstock event, not like a corporate retreat. How did these come about? FARRELL: So, Adam would say that he never — he grew up in Israel and he moved to the U.S. He lived for a little while the U.S., but move later in life. So, you said he never got to go to American summer camp, so he was going to recreate summer — American summer camp literally. They started at his wife’s family’s had a summer camp in upstate New York. That’s where they started. They just got bigger and bigger, eventually going to England and taking over this like huge like field — this huge estate there and bringing every single member of the company flying them from all over the world. RITHOLTZ: And there were thousands of employees? FARRELL: Thousands upon thousands, and the cost was unbelievable of every piece of it. I mean, every year, they just got bigger and bigger. I mean, the flew at the height of his fame not that he’s far off of it, but Lin-Manuel Miranda like, at the height of Hamilton, they flew him on a private jet. He — he performed on stage. The Roots came, and — and they would pay these people like … RITHOLTZ: Million dollars, right. FARRELL: … a million dollars, yeah. So, the money is no object. RITHOLTZ: That’s a good gig for an afternoon. FARRELL: Yeah, exactly. And they were — you know, especially at the beginning, it was like a younger group of people, in general. And — I mean, these — these were crazy. There’s tons of alcohol sanctioned by the company, handed out by the company. Drugs were in — you know, in supply not handed out by the company, but they were everywhere and … RITHOLTZ: And he talks about drugs. He says, “Well, we — it’s not really drugs, just, you know … FARRELL: He — so yeah, I think it — it got to a point and it was also mandatory to come to these events. So, I mean, the — they were … RITHOLTZ: And they were like meetings where there are shots, everybody has to do shots. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: This — this wasn’t just at these retreats, like hard partying was pretty common throughout the company or anywhere Neumann seemed to have touched. When — when he was there, everybody was expected to step-up and — and party hard. FARRELL: Including the investors. I mean, you’d walk into the office at 10 A.M., according to so many different people. And he’d insist on taking tequila shots with you in the morning in his office. And … RITHOLTZ: You didn’t have a shot before this? You — don’t you … FARRELL: Right. RITHOLTZ: … isn’t that — isn’t how every meeting begins? FARRELL: The breakfast … RITHOLTZ: Right? FARRELL: … of champions. RITHOLTZ: That’s — that’s right. So — so I got the sense from the book that they always seemed to be on the edge of running out of money, and they would always find another source, but it was all leading towards the IPO, but the S-1 one filing, the disclosures that go with an IPO filing, that seemed to be that they’re undoing the — the public just — investing public just torn apart. FARRELL: Exactly. I mean, the interesting piece of that, as you said, it was there’s always a new pool of capital like just when he thought that he was going to have to go public. And the board — and the board — I mean, one of the things we found time and time again was the board would say, you know, he’s really like crazy, things are getting out of hand. But like we won’t say no to him, but eventually he’s going to have to go public. This was back in like 2016-2017. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: We thought he was going to run out of money, the only place to go because they’re burning so much cash with the public markets. And the public markets will take care of it, which — that kind of floored us each step of the way. But yes, as you said, he — he — he knew how to captivate on — in one-on-one or bigger meetings to convince you of this future to tell you we always describe him kind of as a magician and think of him like this, like don’t look here, look here, like the sleight of hand. He could — then this S-1 came out. It was a regulatory document. You have to follow rules. RITHOLTZ: There’s no sleight of hand in S-1 filing. FARRELL: No, like you have to see. And people suddenly saw the — the broad public the revenue, the losses of a lot, not even all of these, you know, the questionable corporate governance, I mean, the — the … RITHOLTZ: The self-dealing. FARRELL: … the self-dealing, only pieces of that were even in it because the jet wasn’t in the S-1. They didn’t have to disclose it. The — and the interesting thing about this, I think there’s always like this distinction that people try to make between like, oh, the smart money and the dumb money. And it’s like the smart money is like the Fidelitys and the T. Rowes, and the SoftBanks. And then the dumb money, you know, it’s like — or the, you know, the average retail investor. And so, it’s just so interesting that like he — he captivated the — the quote-unquote, “smart money.” And then the minute this was all made public, everything was there, the world saw it and just said like what is — like this is insane. RITHOLTZ: I’m nursing a pet theory that it was Twitter that demolished him because people just had a — I remember the day of this filing, Twitter just blew up with — like a — a million people are taking an S-1 apart sentence by sentence and the most outrageous things bubbled up to the top of Twitter. And it was very clear that they were dead in the water. There was going to be no IPO, and the dreams of these crazy valuations seemed to crash and burn with the — the IPO filing, which — which kind of raises a question about, you know, how was all of this corporate governance so amiss. All the self-dealings that were allowed, so my — my favorite one was he personally trademarked the word We and then charged the company $6 million to use it. Again, he — he’s given these sort of crazy disclosure explanations. Hey, I’m only allowed to say this. But it seems he bought a bunch of buildings in order to flip them to WeWork at a profit. I don’t understand how the board — we mentioned Theranos — here’s the parallel. How did the board tolerate just the most egregious, avarice, lack of interest in the company and only enrichment of oneself? How does the board of directors tolerate that? FARRELL: I know that was — I think, if anything, from this whole story that just floored us was exactly that this board, I mean, it was a — it was a real like heavy-hitting board of directors. They’re not — and all financial people as opposed to Theranos, you know, it was like people who didn’t really know … RITHOLTZ: Politics and generals, and … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … secretaries of states, right? It was a — and a lot of elderly men who were smitten with her. I mean, like men in — what was Kissinger on the board? He was 90 something. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So — so with this though, the other thing that’s shocking is, you know, most founders of a successful company, they live a — a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, but the thought process is, hey, one day we’ll go public and my gravy train will come in, and I’ll have a — a high, you know, eight, nine, 10-figure net worth. Early in this time line, he was paying himself cashing out stock worth tens of millions, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars way, way early in — in — the company was five years old and he was worth a couple 100 million liquid, and god knows how much on paper. Again, how — how does the board allow that to take place? FARRELL: Yeah, that was — and a board, investors kind of signing off on this were jumping into it, I mean, seeing that he’s going to sell a lot of stock each round. I mean, now there does seem to be a shift and it’s kind of a scary one that this is like more private companies, the founders are selling more and more. But back then, you didn’t really see this very much. And one of the things I find very interesting is he was very much following the Travis Kalanick that — for Uber CEO’s playbook, and literally like following it that like going after the same investors, going around the world. Travis had raised more money than anyone before. Travis, every step of the way, made a huge point of, “I’m all-in. I’m never selling any stock” … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … until he was kicked out of the company basically. So, Adam followed his playbook, but each step of the way was — said he took money out and was like prepare about it. RITHOLTZ: I mean, he was very wealthy for a — a scrappy startup founder, 14, 15, 16. You would think, hey, he’s — maybe he’s making a decent living, but not hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s kind of amazing. FARRELL: Or like having many, many, many houses. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And they were like he didn’t hide the way in which he was living, having houses all over the world, jet setting all over the world. You know, and, in fact, he almost like, you know, wanted everyone to know that was part of his like a lure. RITHOLTZ: So, when the IPO filing in 2019, when — when that blows up, it seems to have a real impact on Silicon Valley for a while. Suddenly, high-spending, fast-growing, profitless companies looked bad, and now we’re back to we want profit growth and revenue, but that really didn’t last all that long, did it? FARRELL: No, it was unbelievable. I mean, we also — Eliot and I joked that we rewrote the epilogue like five times because, at first, we wrote it saying like this is the fallout. RITHOLTZ: Oh, look at the impact, right. FARRELL: Yeah, and it was — I mean, Masayoshi Son had his own mea culpa like, you know, I believe in Adam, I shouldn’t have, I made mistakes. But also, I want my companies to be profitable now … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … like I’m going to invest in these companies or the companies have invested already, they should be profitable. IPO investors, public market investors were totally spooled by money-losing companies. Then — you know, then came the pandemic, then came the Fed pumping money into the system. And then, you know, now, in some ways, it’s like, wow, WeWork always like made — generated revenue and losses. It’s like now today we have Rivian … RITHOLTZ: Right, Rivian and … FARRELL: … pre-revenue … RITHOLTZ: … Lucid and, you know, it’s all potential. Maybe it works out, maybe Amazon buys 100,000 trucks from them, but that’s kind of — that’s a possibility. And, you know, more — more than just the Fed, you had the CARES Act, you had a ton of money flow into the system, but it doesn’t necessarily flow to venture-funded outfits, it’s just a lot of cash sloshing around. Is that — is that a fair statement? FARRELL: Oh, completely. RITHOLTZ: So how quickly were the lessons of WeWork forgotten? FARRELL: Incredibly quickly. I mean, it felt like it had — it like it changed everything for a few months. I mean, the other part of it was Masayoshi Son had — had raised a $100 billion fund, biggest fund ever to invest in tech companies. He was literally about to close his second fund. It was … RITHOLTZ: $108 billion, right? FARRELL: Yeah, another $100 billion fund to just go and like pour into companies. RITHOLTZ: More, right. FARRELL: And then I mean, we’ve heard from all these people who are out meeting sovereign wealth funds, Saudi Arabia, and they were just like every meeting, it was like what about WeWork. And, you know, one of the things we’ve heard was he was pushing for it to just go public, you know, or to — or not to — to not go public because he didn’t want to take the mark. He didn’t want to make … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … all of this public. And we have a scene in the book about this that Masa tries to tell him to call off the IPO and tried to force his hand, and Adam is kind of like … RITHOLTZ: Confuses. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Right. It’s — it’s — it’s really quite — it’s really quite astounding that we end up with — what did he burn through, $20 billion, $30 billion? FARRELL: More than $10 billion, I think. RITHOLTZ: Wow. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: That — that’s a lot of cash. FARRELL: Towards him essentially. RITHOLTZ: So — so here’s the curveball question to ask you. So, you’re now a business reporter at the Times. WeWork obviously isn’t the only company led by an eccentric leader. What are you reporting on now? What’s the next potential WeWork out there? FARRELL: You know, I’m — I’m just getting started. This is just a couple of weeks in, but — so it’s — I don’t quite know what the next WeWork is. I almost feel like there’s a lot of mini WeWorks out there, whether it’s — you know, the company is in the SPAC market. Some of these unicorns, I mean, there’s so many — so many red flags around these companies like I was saying before like if founders taking money out very early and, you know, investors are not really caring and just wanting to get into them, getting these massive packages — pay packages, compensation. So, I think there’s — there’s so many different places to look. I don’t get the sense that there’s one company now that’s sort of — of size of Adam Neumann. I think there are just a lot of many ones. I mean, he was a pretty like captivating and just insane in so many — larger than life in so many ways. But I have no doubt we’re going to find one of them fairly soon. There’ll be more. RITHOLTZ: And — and what do you think the future holds for Adam Neumann himself? He — we — we have to talk about the golden parachute, so not only does SoftBank refinance a couple hundred million dollars in loans that he has outstanding, they give him $183 million package and essentially purchased $1 billion of his stock, so he leaves WeWork as a billionaire. FARRELL: Yeah, it was — I mean, it was just an incredible thing. And I mean, then he got this pay package that they agreed to as part of the bailout. I mean, WeWork, once the IPO was called off, was on the verge of bankruptcy. They were going to run out of money in a couple of months so they had to do this very quickly. They were laid off thousands upon thousands of people. But basically, as part of the negotiations to get Adam Neumann to give up his super voting shares, these potent shares that would have let him continue to keep control of the company to do that, they struck this pay package. And I mean, it’s kind of interesting when we talk about the power founders right now that it wasn’t a wakeup call for Silicon Valley to be more wary of giving this power to founders, like when you saw the price tag that Adam Neumann extracted the cost of pushing out a founder who’s kind of a disastrous founder at some point. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. I — I remember reading that and thinking Son played it terribly. He could’ve said, “Hey, listen, I got $100 billion worth of other investments. If I take a $10 billion write-down, it’ll hurt, but I still have plenty of other money. If this goes belly up, you’re broke, you’re a disaster except I’ll give you $50 million or else you’re just impoverished. Good luck finding the lawsuits for the rest of your life.” That would have been the play, but he didn’t — I guess, it was the other second fund he didn’t want to put at risk. Why — why didn’t he hardball Neumann because I thought Son had all the leverage in that negotiation? FARRELL: That was one of the — like the enduring mysteries, I think, of this whole story because all the things you said are right, plus Adam had taken out so much money in terms. He had so much lent against his stock at $47 billion. I mean … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … J.P. Morgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, they have lent him hundreds of millions of dollars, and he would have gotten to default. He like didn’t necessarily have the liquidity to pay back everything … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … he had borrowed. So, it was — I mean, it’s kind of amazing in terms of his negotiating skills that Masa and SoftBank. It was led by Marcelo Claure who’s now the WeWork Executive Chairman. They blinked first. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: They gave Adam a lot. And I totally agree with you, one of the things I’ve heard it was just like the interest of time. They just wanted it done $10 billion or whatever. It doesn’t mean that much. They want to just keep on moving, keep on … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … spending, not distract too much and just get this done, but it’s crazy. I mean, the … RITHOLTZ: So … FARRELL: … the time value of money … RITHOLTZ: … could be the greatest golden parachute in the history of corporate America. I mean, I — I’m hard pressed to think of anybody who, on the way out of a — a failing company, and it was a failing company at that moment, squeeze more money out of — out of their board. FARRELL: And just to say, I mean, Andrew Ross Sorkin at — in this first big interview with Adam that he gave was — I mean, Adam defended it in different ways. I mean, Andrew very much pushed him on like why that was okay and … RITHOLTZ: Very aggressively. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: That was early November. And he was sort of contrite and, you know, a little shifty, but for the most part surprisingly transparent. I was — when I was prepping for this, I watched this and, you know, you could see how he constructs that, you know, reality distortion field. But there was definitely more humility than we have seen previously. I don’t want to say humble, but just closer on that spectrum. Clearly, he wants to have a future in — in business, and he needs to offer a few mea culpas of his own. FARRELL: It does feel like this is the first step on the come back toward … RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: … Adam Neumann. RITHOLTZ: I think that’s going to be a pretty big uphill battle. That’s going to be quite the Kilimanjaro to — to — to mount given what a debacle … FARRELL: The interesting thing just so in terms of his next step is I — I agree with you, there’s an uphill battle in terms of maybe getting people to — to give him money, but he now has a lot of money and from … RITHOLTZ: Family office, yeah. FARRELL: Exactly. Anecdotally, it sounds like a lot of people are very happy to take his money. So, to begin, that’s, you know, he’s seeding a lot of things that you — who knows where they’re going to go. RITHOLTZ: Interesting. So, I only have you for a limited amount of time. Let me jump to our favorite questions we ask all of our guests starting with, you spend a lot of time researching and writing during the lockdown. Did you have any time to stream anything on Netflix or Amazon Prime? FARRELL: There — I mean, there’s still a lot of like downtime. I — I probably watched not much. You know, there — there was downtime, and I did have a few shows that were … RITHOLTZ: Give us one or two favorites. FARRELL: … Little Fires Everywhere. I really liked Never Have I Ever. RITHOLTZ: I just started watching the last week, it’s quite charming. FARRELL: Yeah, it’s really good. RITHOLTZ: Anything Mindy Kaling does is quite amusing. FARRELL: She is amazing. Schitt’s Creek, we got through the whole — that was with my favorite pandemic. RITHOLTZ: So, the — the funny thing about that is the first episode, too, were like – it’s like — it’s like succession. You don’t like any of these people. The difference being in Schitt’s Creek, you quickly start to warm up to them and they start to reveal their own path to rehabilitation of — of themselves. FARRELL: It just gets better like ever — and then it’s so devastating at the end. RITHOLTZ: So, it was really great, right? That – that was one of my favorites. Let’s talk about your mentors, who helped shape your career as a business journalist. FARRELL: I guess, my earliest mentor as a journalist, in general, was in college, I’d always thought about journalism, and I got an internship with then, I think, a septuagenarian journalist. He — his name was Gabe Pressman. I grew up in New York. He was an NBC … RITHOLTZ: Sure. FARRELL: … journalist. This is sort of the political head honcho of local journalism. I worked for him for a summer. He was in his, I think, late 70s. And he was just the most energetic, passionate journalist I’ve ever met. He was still like chasing after mayors, grilling them. It was — with the Senate race it was Hillary in the Senate race. And it was like the most fun summer I’ve ever had and seeing his energy. And — and he — he passed away a few years ago, but literally, he started blogging into his 90s. And he would joke. He would say, “You know, my wife really wants me to like take a step back and work and teach at Columbia Journalism School,” where he had gone. And he was like, “I’m just not ready like, at some point, like scale back, and he never really did. So, he — I would say he was my first mentor. Just seeing like that, it is the most fun job in the world. He just was seeing that day in and day out. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. What are some of your favorites and — and what are you reading right now? FARRELL: Sure. I’ll start, you know, I always wish I read more fiction, but it’s like I always get pulled in, especially the business, genre. RITHOLTZ: Sure. FARRELL: So right at this minute, I’m reading “Trillions” by Robbin Wigglesworth. It’s really good. It’s about like index funds, sort of I’m learning a lot from it, the rise of Vanguard. RITHOLTZ: He was my guest last week just so you know … FARRELL: Oh, awesome. RITHOLTZ: … or two weeks ago. FARRELL: I’m midway through, but I’m, yeah, learning … RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. FARRELL: … a ton from it. I just read Anderson Cooper’s book about the Vanderbilts. It’s — I thought it was really great and it’s so interesting. You know, he talks — it starts like the Gilded Age. And you just see so many like eerie and kind of parallels between our age right now and just like the level of like wealth creation and what it leads to. So, I really enjoyed that. I read — this is a little bit dated, but “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe. It’s about the troubles in Northern Ireland. It is — I mean, it’s — it’s very sad, but I — and it’s pretty long, and I just could not put it down. It’s … RITHOLTZ: Really? FARRELL: … so great. Yeah, I can’t recommend that one highly enough. RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite interesting. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who was interested in a career in either journalism or — or business? FARRELL: In terms of journalism, I would just say jump in. I mean, it’s such a — as opposed to business, I felt like when I graduated from college, you know, so many people had jobs that they were going to make, you know, a decent amount of money. And with the journalism, you just have to find your way in and a lot of its internships. And it just — the path is hard. There’s no straight line. So, I would just say for journalism, it really helps to just jump into the first job you can get. Work really hard in it. And you just always have to keep — there’s no straight line, but jump and learn from it, meet people, find your mentors everywhere you go, and just keep going. You learn so much on the job. I went to Journalism School at Columbia. It was a super fun year, but it’s like within two days of working as a journalist, you just learn so much you can never learn in school. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of IPOs, capital market, business journalism today that you didn’t know 15, 20 years ago when you were first starting out? FARRELL: Okay. What I think have learned and probably the most in writing this book is you think people are rational players, and you think that titans of business are supposed to behave in sort of a rational way, and that these, you know, these checkmarks, these — like a T. Rowe Price or something or Fidelity that they’re going to do a certain amount of work looking at things. And I think the level of irrationality in business of just relationships of people, sort of not necessarily making rational decisions and just going with their gut and going with the people they like, I think, are cool like that that overrides a lot of things. I think it’s just so much less rational than you think it would be. And sometimes the things that are on their face seem really crazy and insane, maybe are. RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite fascinating. We have been speaking with Maureen Farrell. She is the co-author of “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” If you enjoyed this conversation, well, be sure to check out any of our previous 400 interviews. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever your podcasts from. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. I would be remiss if I did not thank the team that helps put together these conversations each week. Charlie Vollmer is my Audio Engineer. Atika Valbrun is our Project Manager. Michael Batnick is my Director of Research. Paris Wald is my Producer. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Maureen Farrell appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureDec 15th, 2021

Chipotle’s CEO on Fighting the Tide of Quitting Workers: It’s About More Than Higher Pay and Better Benefits

(To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) As chief executive of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Brian Niccol likes to schedule time on his packed calendar to visit the company’s restaurants and see people enjoying the food. “I see some of these burritos and bowls that people build… (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) As chief executive of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Brian Niccol likes to schedule time on his packed calendar to visit the company’s restaurants and see people enjoying the food. “I see some of these burritos and bowls that people build and I’m like, that is enormous,” he laughs. Niccol has led Chipotle since March of 2018, and in that time, the “fast-casual” restaurant chain has grown from 2,441 locations to nearly 3,000. The company’s stock has soared 443%, compared with the S&P 500’s 73% rise over the same period. And between 2018 and 2020, Chipotle has more than doubled its annual net income to $355.8 million. Oddly enough, Chipotle isn’t Niccol’s first stint at a Mexican themed restaurant. Prior to joining Chipotle, he was Taco Bell’s CEO, after serving in a number of executive roles there. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Despite Chipotle’s upward trajectory under his leadership, Niccol’s tenure as chief executive hasn’t been without its challenges, especially during 2021. Like many restaurant chains, Chipotle has found it more difficult to hire and retain workers in a competitive labor market where employees are gaining the upper hand. In October, Chipotle employees in New York staged a strike to speak out against working conditions, a protest that coincided with organized walkouts this fall at companies including American Airlines, General Electric, John Deere, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, and Netflix. Niccol acknowledged in an October earnings call with investors that many Chipotle restaurants have been “missing sales” because they’re not fully staffed. The company raised wages last summer, enhanced benefits and has said it would sharpen its focus on developing talent and helping workers learn skills they need to gain job promotions. At the same time, Chipotle has increased prices across its menu to help manage the higher costs of labor and food supplies. Niccol spoke to TIME in late November about hiring and retention, sustainability and one coming addition to Chipotle’s menu that really excites him. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.) The pandemic has been a brutal time for the restaurant business, and Chipotle has had to confront a lot of major issues that we’ve seen elsewhere in the economy, like hiring challenges, rising prices, and workers quitting and striking over higher wages, more flexible hours and better treatment. Not to mention, customers who are sometimes on-edge and rude. How does all this look from where you sit? And how are you handling it? Yeah, there’s a lot going on right now. And there’s probably more stress or anxiety out in the marketplace than you’ve seen in the past which compounds all those things you just talked about. So the approach that we’ve taken is a simple one: We want to make decisions for our people and for our company that are consistent with our purpose and values. I’ve found that’s worked in good times and tough times. And we’re willing to learn and grow and we’ll take the feedback accordingly. From the pandemic to the tight labor market to the challenging supply chain situation we’re in, we’ve just really relied on clearly communicating the decisions and making sure that those decisions were made consistent with our culture, which is really grounded in values and purpose. What’s the shorthand version of that? What are Chipotle’s values and purpose? Our purpose is stated as cultivating a better world. And then we do that through our ability to source and provide culinary driven food with integrity. And what’s behind that is the idea of doing the right thing for our people. We’re doing the right thing for our customers, and we’re doing the right thing for the planet. That’s shorthand, but when we communicate it consistently that way, it’s a simple thing. So if you just take that approach and people see that, hey, look, your decision was grounded in our company culture and purpose. I think they’re comfortable with us sometimes saying, look, we got it 80%, right. But there’s 20% we have to tweak. And I’m very transparent with that. And one thing the pandemic’s taught me is… I thought we were communicating a lot before the pandemic. Now we’re really, I think communicating at a much better clip all the way down to every single restaurant. How are you communicating differently now? It’s the frequency of it. The good news is we’ve got all this technology that allows us to bring together all of our restaurant managers and above on a video conference or a phone conference. And we allow for Q&A in all those sessions. We were doing that probably once or twice a year. Now we’re doing it monthly. When the COVID pandemic hit, [our core team was] meeting twice a day, every day, and then we were communicating out the next morning. So it was like, we’d make decisions in the morning. We’d evaluate those decisions by the end of the day, if we needed a course correct, or new information came in, we’d make new decisions and then communicate in the morning. How about now? Are you still meeting that often? Now, things aren’t changing that fast anymore. But we still have these flash areas of supply chain staffing, and then [new] regulations around COVID, as well as COVID spikes or pullbacks have caused different operating rules that we continue to have to navigate. It’s a tough job market for employers. How do you retain employees? We’re always trying to figure out how we can ensure that we’re developing our people correctly and rewarding them correctly, both in compensation and additional benefits. One of the biggest things that retains people at our company is the growth of our company. You can join our organization as a crew member and in short order—I think it’s in short order anyway, two to three years—you find yourself as a restaurant manager. In five to seven years, a multi-unit leader, meaning you’re overseeing six to eight restaurants. And that’s a big job if you want to stop and think about it. It’s like each of our restaurants are doing two and a half million dollars [in average annual sales]. You get eight of those, it’s a $15, $20 million business. There’s 30 to 35 employees per restaurant. So you’ve got 250 employees. That’s significant. One of our biggest retention tools is the fact that we’re building over 200 restaurants a year. Opportunity is a very attractive retention tool. The other piece too, is we provide things like debt-free degrees, mental health benefits, English as a second language, not just for you, but your extended family. The bigger we get, the more good we can do. And most recently we’ve been really public about how we’re helping the local farm, the small family farm. That gets people even more committed. And it makes them proud of the ingredients that we serve. There’s also the emissions-based targets that we just put out there to reduce the scope one, two and three greenhouse gas emissions. I mean, that matters to young people. And a lot of our employees are young folks. They’re in their 20s. How do you make sure you’re holding on to people who might be potential store managers and more—because it’s tough for all businesses right now? Yeah, it is tough. We do this exercise where every quarter, we check in from the folks that work directly with me all the way down to the restaurant, which we call a four-by-four. It’s really just asking: “What are the four things you’re focused on for the business?” “What are the four things we’re focused on in developing you?” It’s a powerful tool because you take accountability then in saying how you want to grow. Your manager then is responsible to help you grow, and then you’re also crystal clear on your accountabilities on performance, because I think those things have to go hand in hand. I have found this over and over again. People like to be successful. They like to win. They like to know that they’ve accomplished the objective. I’ve found people really are energized when they know what results they’re accountable for. They can see the impact that they make on those results. And then they get to discuss how they’re doing against it. It’s a powerful exercise. Clearly, it’s important that Chipotle remains a fast growing company. But you have a lot of competitors that are adding more to their menus and adding more to the dining experience. How are you dealing with competitive pressures? Look, if we give a great experience for employees and we give a great experience for our customers, centered on what we do uniquely, which is food with integrity, great culinary, high customization, we’ll keep winning. There aren’t many places where you can go for less than $10 and get the food that we provide. Meaning, it’s clean in our opinion, raised the right way and then prepared with classic culinary techniques so that you get a delicious experience. And the speed at which we do it, the customization at which we do it and then the price at which we provide it, that’s our offense and that’s our best defense. That’s what we stay after. It’s like, I want every person when they have their experience at Chipotle to be like, “God, the guac is just so good.” You mentioned earlier that a lot of your employees are young people. Other CEOs have recently noted that young workers almost require their employers to take a stance and be out front on social and political issues. Are you feeling that kind of pressure from your employees? And if so, what issues has Chipotle chosen to take a stand on? Yeah. The expectations I’ve heard from our folks—and I think it’s the right expectation—is they expect us to have a point of view on food. They expect us to have a point of view on people development or the inclusive aspect of everybody having a chance to succeed at our company. What I have found that resonates really well with our employees are the things that we can be truly authentic with and actually make an impact on. And so that’s where we spend our time. I think we’re a leader on the climate discussion. I think we’re a leader on the idea of doing the right thing for farming around regenerative farming. I think we’re a leader on doing the right thing for the food supply chain. I think we’re a leader on frankly inclusion and the diverse nature of our workforce. How so? I say this to everybody: There aren’t many companies where you can show up and potentially have just a high school degree or still in process of a high school degree and we will support you to get the next capability that you need whether that is some vocation, community college, traditional college, whatever learning you want to enable you to move further along in our company. The good news is if you are passionate about our purpose and you love the idea of the restaurant business and of the culinary experiences that come with it, we can put you on a path to hopefully build your capabilities to match your ambition and that’s where we spend our time. Can you talk a little bit more about the environmental and farming work that you’re doing around sustainability and emissions reduction? So, on the farming side, we buy, I want to say 20 or 30 million pounds of local organic produce. The reason why that’s important? Our bonuses are tied to us growing that every year. A percentage of our bonus is tied to us making progress on this organic local food chain. And I think it’s critical that we do it. One of the biggest things that we do for the small farmer is we give them multi-year contracts so they know that if they create the field to be organic for use growing, let’s say, cilantro, they know they have got a big buyer for years to come. They don’t want to turn a field to be organic cilantro only to find out, now what do I do with this organic cilantro? It’s a big risk for them. So these multi-year contracts, we do the same thing with animals as we do on produce. If you raise the animal correctly or consistent with what we believe are the humane practices, feed them correctly, we will give you a long term contract on the other side. That’s really powerful for a young farmer—meaning they’re new to the industry. It’s also powerful for a farm that’s thinking about generationally transferring the farm. We also support the national young farmers coalition. I think we’ve committed over $5 million to them recently. We do grants. If somebody wants to start a hog farm and they need a sow, and they may not have the ability to get the money to get the sow, that’s where we can support them accordingly and get them started. We support some of the academic programs that a lot of these folks take in order to become successful farmers. And I can’t remember, there’s a bunch of degrees that we do as debt-free that are in the agriculture space, so we really try. The goal here is if we say it’s important, then we need to demonstrate that it’s important. Chipotle recently pledged to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. And that’s not only in the restaurants, but also across the supply chain. How will that work? This is obviously like working all the way back with ranchers on whether there’s a better way to raise cattle. Is there a better way to harvest the produce and transport the produce? Can we put distribution centers closer to farms? There are a lot of things we can be doing through the supply chain. Also, are there different ways to provide energy in our restaurants? And one of things I love about our company is we’ve always been experimenting. We had a restaurant where we literally stuck a windmill on the roof to see if we could use wind power to supply the restaurant. It didn’t work. But somebody was able to try it? Yeah, to see what we can do. It’s easy to say, we’re going to experiment, learn, and frankly be better. I found, if you don’t make a target, you don’t achieve the target. So that’s why we put it out there. We can’t just say, we’re going to be better. We got to have a target for how much better we’re going to be. How are you making sure the entire company is working toward these targets? The climate-based targets are part of the bonus structure as well. Just like the food I was talking about. And then the third thing that’s part of it is equity and pay as well as ensuring that we’ve got an inclusive yield, meaning everybody is growing in our organization. So you go from manager to field leader, field leader to TD. We want it to be representative of the diversity we have as we move up to the organization. So all three of those. So you got people, climate and food are tied to our bonus. How are you setting targets related to diversity? We operate everywhere around the country and the diversity of our work force represents usually the region that we’re in. And so we want to make sure the diversity of that workforce grows with us. So if you add field leaders, team directors, executive team directors, we want that to continue to be representative of the part of the region that we’re operating in. So we monitor that as well. Lately, many American workers have been asking for—and getting—raises. What’s been Chipotle’s experience with that over the last year or so? We’ve always been a leader in compensation, especially at the entry level spot, so we took a look back in, I guess it was like March, April and the [labor] market was really tight. We weren’t getting the hires that we wanted to get. And so we said, benefits are great, the growth opportunity is great. But you know what? They’ve got to have the right wage to get them started. And so we took up our average hourly wage to $15 across the company and for the starting job. It’s something frankly, that we used to look at on a six month cycle and now we’re looking at it on a week to week basis, market by market, because in this inflationary environment, you’ve got to recognize what you’re dealing with. And so luckily we have the pricing power to complement our need if we need to pivot on other cost elements. Whether that’s wages or buying produce. Are there places where you’ve had to look at bringing the starting wages up beyond $15 per hour? Yeah, we already do that. There are parts of the country where the starting wages are $18, $19 an hour. Are there practices that you’ve put in place during the pandemic that you think you’ll keep around, because it just makes more sense and works really well? Yeah. I would say the thing that we’ll probably keep in place is the monthly communication. I hope the market’ll be a little bit more stable where we’re not having to look at so many elements from wages to the cost of chicken on a two to four week basis. But I definitely think one thing I’ve learned is that as a company that’s growing as fast as we are, we can’t communicate enough. And we won’t be doing obviously the twice a day conversations, but this monthly cadence of connecting with all of our restaurant general managers is something that we’re going to stay with. It just works. It’s not working because we’re in a pandemic, it works because it’s a good practice. It’s a really good practice. What are those meetings like? Like, you’re all on one big Zoom and people are chiming in asking questions? The way I think about it is we set aside an hour. We usually have 20 to 35 minutes where we’re speaking. And then we leave the rest of the time for Q&A. Some of it is live and others are… we allow people sending questions ahead of time too. And I’ll tell you, I think the last 20 or 30 minutes where you have the dialogue on the questions at hand is the most valuable piece of this. It seems like you can really get a feel for what’s happening on a local level that way. Totally. I’d like to try and get out every week and get to a certain part of the country to go visit a couple restaurants. But it’s just that. It’s a couple restaurants, and we have 3,000 restaurants versus I have all these folks on the phone or on [video-conference]. And what you find out is one person says it and like a bunch of people in the chat say, yeah, me too. Me too. And then you’re like, OK, we do have something here to address. And that dialogue is invaluable. We’re almost at the end of 2021 and I’m wondering if you have any predictions for the coming year. What are your thoughts about 2022 right now? I believe there’s going to be opportunities that we’re not aware of yet. I think there’s going to be more tailwind than headwind in ’22. And I believe our company’s positioned really well to take advantage of it for the benefit of our employees and our customers. There’s a lot of challenges that we’re going to be dealing with, but I’m optimistic we’re going to get through it and I think we’ve demonstrated just how resilient our company is and just how resilient our people are. On the topic of food, do you have anything new coming to Chipotle’s menu in 2022 that we should be on the lookout for? I’ll tell you, we’ve got this plant-based chorizo that we just finished testing. We haven’t nailed down when we’ll launch it nationally, but it performed well in tests. If you’re a queso con carne person, put some of this plant-based chorizo into that queso. Oh my gosh, man......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 12th, 2021

10 Things in Politics: Part of the right learns to love Putin

And the Senate voted to repeal President Joe Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for private employers. Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Before we get to the news, a quick announcement: Tomorrow will be our last edition before the newsletter goes on hiatus.I'll have more to share Friday (including a new role for me at Insider), but for now please fill out this quick survey to help us improve what we're doing.Now, here's what we're talking about:Tucker Carlson justifying an invasion of Ukraine is where he has been heading all alongSenate votes to repeal Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for private employersHow America's top startup fell from grace after its Zoom layoffs went viralThe Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday.Fox News1. THE BEAR MARKET: Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression toward Ukraine has garnered him some new fans. The Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended Putin's decision to amass troops near the border of the former Soviet republic. Many Republican lawmakers are calling out Putin and urging the White House to dig its heels in, but Carlson's praise underlines an element of the conservative movement that is happy to find common cause with strongmen.Here's some background on the situation:Carlson defended his views by saying there's a good chance of a "hot war": President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the US had no plans to deploy troops. During his show Tuesday night, Carlson also lit into NATO, another frequent Putin target. Ukraine is a partner of the alliance, but it's not a full-fledged member — an important distinction since an attack on Ukraine would not trigger NATO's mutual-defense pact.What is on the table: Biden, per reports, told Putin earlier this week that the US would impose a heavy economic cost in response to an invasion. The White House is said to be considering options including sanctions as well as canceling Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline.Putin wants Ukraine under his thumb: "One way or another, he wants Ukraine neutralized," Fiona Hill, who served as the top Russia advisor on the National Security Council under the Trump administration, recently told Insider.More details: Putin, who is driven by the image of a renewed Russia, has long been the aggressor in the relationship dating back to Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia has also claimed no involvement in the war in eastern Ukraine that has dragged on since that year, but the West and Ukraine point to evidence that Kremlin has sent troops and weapons.Read more about why Tucker Carlson's support of Putin isn't all that surprising.2. Senate votes to repeal Biden's broadest vaccine-or-test mandate: Every Republican and two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana — voted to overturn Biden's mandate for private businesses with more than 100 employees. But the effort is probably doomed, as the measure is unlikely to pass the House and would almost certainly face a presidential veto. In the meantime, a federal appeals court has already halted the policy. More on the growing frustration among some lawmakers to Biden's mandates.3. Mark Meadows is suing Nancy Pelosi and the Capitol riot committee: Meadows, President Donald Trump's final chief of staff, is suing the House select committee investigating the insurrection and the lawmakers serving on it. Meadows' suit came on the same day lawmakers announced they'd go forward with plans to hold him in contempt following his refusal to cooperate with their subpoenas. Meadows' suit describes the committee's subpoenas as "overly broad" and claims a subpoena to Verizon for his phone records violates his First Amendment rights. More on what is now the largest challenge to the House's investigation into the January 6 insurrection.4. Biden is expected to call on world leaders to reverse democracy "recession": Biden is expected to kick off the long-awaited White House Summit for Democracy later today and ask his counterparts to continue to ensure, as one White House representative put it, that "democracies deliver for their people," the Associated Press reports. Not everyone is happy with the gathering. "The ambassadors to the US from China and Russia wrote a joint essay in the National Interest policy journal describing the Biden administration as exhibiting a 'Cold-War mentality,'" the AP noted. As The Washington Post points out, there are also numerous questions about which countries were and weren't invited. Here's what you need to know ahead of the summit.5. Judge sets rough trial date for John Durham's prosecution of a former Clinton campaign lawyer: Michael Sussmann, a onetime lawyer for the Hillary Clinton campaign, will most likely stand trial in late spring 2022 on charges brought by the Trump-era special prosecutor investigating the origins of the Russia investigation, a federal judge said. Sussmann's indictment and coming trial represent some of the first public signs of activity out of the Durham investigation in months. Here's what else we're learning about the case.Niphon Subsri EyeEm/Getty Images6. Better employees reveal turmoil within the once lauded startup: Vishal Garg, the CEO of the digital mortgage company Better, laid off 900 people on Zoom last week. Former employees described the haphazard and sudden way Garg broke the news, saying it was particularly shocking given that recent internal communications had portrayed the business as healthy and growing. Read more about how America's top startup fell from grace.Gov. Gavin Newsom of California.AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File7. Gov. Gavin Newsom says California will become an abortion "sanctuary" if needed: Newsom told the Associated Press he thought out-of-state patients were likely to flock to California if the Supreme Court were to overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision. A majority of Supreme Court justices signaled earlier this month that they would like to change how the nation treats abortion rights, and some conservative justices seem interested in overturning Roe entirely. More on California's response.8. Pfizer says its booster offers protection against Omicron: Pfizer and BioNTech said that their coronavirus vaccine appeared effective against the Omicron variant after three doses but that two doses alone produced a much lesser response. More early data on how the shot holds up against the new variant.9. A person involved with planning Bob Dole's funeral nixed over January 6 ties: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell complained to Dole's family about the involvement of Tim Unes, an event planner, whom the Capitol riot committee has subpoenaed for his work in organizing the pro-Trump rally held the day of the insurrection, The New York Times reports. In response, The Elizabeth Dole Foundation cut ties with Unes. Read more from this only-in-Washington type of story.Later today, Dole will lie in state in the Capitol rotunda.10. Finland's prime minister apologizes for clubbing amid COVID-19 scare: Prime Minister Sanna Marin was out clubbing past 3 a.m. last weekend, hours after an advisor she had contact with tested positive for COVID-19, according to local reports. Marin said she had been instructed not to quarantine, but government officials are told they should isolate themselves in such a circumstance. The prime minister, who is vaccinated, later tested negative. More on the story.Today's trivia question: Where did Bob Dole live in the 1970s while serving as chairman of the Republican National Committee during Richard Nixon's presidency? Incredibly, he was out of town when history happened.Yesterday's answer: The Library of Congress has buildings named after Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison. After the British torched much of Washington during the War of 1812, Congress took Jefferson up on his offer to sell his personal book collection to replenish what was lost in the blaze.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 9th, 2021

Countries around the world have sunk aircraft like the Boeing 747 to boost diving tourism — here are 6 intentionally submerged planes

The first-ever artificial plane wreck in North America is a Boeing 737-200 that was submerged off the coast of Canada. Boeing 737 sunken off the coast of Canada.Sea Proof TV Some countries have intentionally sunken aircraft to promote diving tourism and create coral reefs.  Among the sunken planes are a handful of airliners, like the Boeing 747 and the smaller Convair 240. Aircraft are submerged with an OK by local authorities so all harmful pieces are removed beforehand. Scuba diving is one of the fastest-growing recreational activities in the world, having become a multibillion-dollar industry since its development in 1967.Thompson family scuba diving near Nabucco Island in Borneo, IndonesiaCourtesy of Don ThompsonSource: Future Market InsightsAccording to data from Future Market Insights, diving tourism sales have grown over 6% since 2015 and are expected to rise another 5% in the coming decade.Max Altman scuba diving on reefs effected by climate changeMax AltmanSource: Future Market InsightsScuba enthusiasts will travel thousands of miles to experience the most unique and thrilling dives out there. One type of dive site that has become increasingly popular is sunken aircraft.Snorkler looking at old wrecked airplane near Norman's Cay in the Bahamas.Onne van der Wal/Getty ImagesThere are several crashed airplanes that have been located and used as scuba sites, like a WWII-era Japanese Navy seaplane off the coast of Palau in Micronesia...An Aichi E13A Japanese "Jake" seaplane sitting on a reef in Palau.Eric Lemar/ShutterstockSource: Scuba Diver LifeAnd a Corsair aircraft off the coast of Hawaii.WW-II era Corsair plane off the coast of Hawaii.Mr. James KelleySource: Scuba Diver LifeHowever, there are a handful of large jets that have been intentionally sunk to create artificial coral reefs and give divers a unique experience exploring an aircraft underwater, including airliners and military planes.Scuba divers near the corroded jet engine of an underwater plane wreck.Richard Whitcombe/ShutterstockIn June 2016, one of the largest underwater planes was sunk — an Airbus A300. The aircraft was submerged by the Turkish government off the Aegean coast in Kuşadası and is 177 feet long with an impressive 144-foot wingspan.Airbus A300 being prepared to sink.Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesSource: The GuardianThe huge jet took two and a half hours to sink and was done to draw more diving tourism to the country. At 75-feet deep, the A300 is easily reachable by experienced divers.Airbus A300 being prepared to sink.Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesSource: The Guardian"Our goal is to make Kuşadası a centre of diving tourism," Özlem Çerçioğlu, mayor of Aydin province, said in a video. "Our goal is to protect the underwater life. And with these goals in mind, we have witnessed one of the biggest wrecks in the world."Divers at the A300 dive site.Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesSource: The GuardianThe first-ever artificial plane wreck in North America is a Boeing 737-200 that was submerged off the coast of Canada by Artificial Coral Reefs. The jet was featured on Discovery's Megabuilders series.Boeing 737 sunken off the coast of Canada.Sea Proof TVSource: Artificial Reef Society BCThe plane was donated by Air Canada in 2002 and was placed 90 feet deep at the bottom of the Georgia Strait off Chemainus in 2006, which is a community on Southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.Boeing 737 donated by Air Canada that was sunk off the coast of Canada.Artificial Reef Society BCSource: Artificial Reef Society BCArtificial Coral Reefs President Howard Robins told Insider that the plane did not come with landing gear, and he explained he did not want to put the belly on the seafloor, so the team had to get creative.Boeing 737 sunk off the coast of Canada.Artificial Reef Society BCSource: Artificial Reef Society BCAs a solution, Robins explained the organization designed a unique cradle system mounted on 11-foot stands built with marine-friendly aluminum material. The system was attached to the aircraft and sunk as one unit.Special stands and cradle system used to mount the plane.Artificial Reef Society BCSource: Artificial Reef Society BCThe organization used a specially engineered contraption that it calls a "placement" that involves a barge and a crane."Placement" contraption specially-designed to sink the jet.Artificial Reef Society BCSource: Artificial Reef Society BCAs far as environmental concerns, Robins told Insider that all coatings and parts on the vessel that were considered harmful to the ocean were stripped, and what was left was the bare metal and the overhead bins.Boeing 737 sunken off the coast of Canada.Artificial Reef Society BCSource: Artificial Reef Society BC"This is recycling and repurposing, and those are key words," Robins told Insider. "This is not ocean-dumping or disposal, this is a thoughtful, carefully planned out game plan that requires marine stewardship, permitting, and approvals."Boeing 737 sunken off the coast of Canada.Artificial Reef Society BCSource: Artificial Reef Society BCTwo other notable Boeing aircraft were sunk in the past decade, including a mammoth Boeing 747 jumbo jet off the coast of Bahrain intended to attract divers from around the world.Boeing 747 submerged off the coast of Bahrain.Dive BahrainSource: Dive BahrainThe 747 aircraft is the largest aircraft to be used as an artificial reef and was sunk by Falcon Aircraft Recycling in 2019. The company specially modified the structure of the aircraft, notably the wings, for the project.Falcon Aircraft Recycling specially modified the structure of the plane.Falcon Aircraft RecyclingSource: Dive BahrainToday, it is managed by Dive Bahrain and is part of the company's "underwater theme park," which will span 100,000 meters and include ships and other structures when complete.Boeing 747 sunken off the coast of Bahrain.Dive BahrainSince its debut, the 747 has attracted professional divers from over 50 countries.Boeing 747 sunken off the coast of Bahrain.Dive BahrainSource: Dive Bahrain, The National NewsAnother impressive sunken Boeing aircraft is a 727 submerged in Mermet Springs in Illinois. The plane is a piece of Hollywood memorabilia from 1997's "US Marshals."Mermet Springs Boeing 727 sunken plane.Mermet SpringsSource: Mermet SpringsIn the movie, the 727 "crashed" with actor Wesley Snipes inside and rolled into the Ohio River outside Bay City, Illinois, though Snipes' character got away. After filming, Mermet Springs owner Glen Faith purchased the jet for $1 and moved it 12 miles west to its new home in 1998.Robert Downey Jr in 1997's US Marshalls after the plane crash.Warner Bros.Source: Mermet SpringsThe 22-ton plane is submerged in the hazel-green waters using a barge, two cranes, two low-boys, and two police escorts. The nose sits 50-feet deep while the tail sits at just 15.Boeing 727 sunken in Mermet Springs.Mermet SpringsSource: Mermet SpringsAccording to the company, the plane was cut in half for transport and then resewn before it was submerged. The 120-foot fuselage is hollowed out for divers who can see "charred cockpit controls, missing wings and open hatches throughout."Boeing 727 sunken in Mermet Springs.Mermet SpringsSource: Mermet SpringsSmall airliners have also been internationally sunk to become a reef, including a Convair 240 off the coast of Aruba. The 40-seater plane was sunk to 45 feet but has moved down to 80 feet after being disrupted by Hurricane Lenny in 1999.Convair 240 off the coast of Aruba.ChrisDagSource: Leisure ProThe hurricane also broke the plane into two pieces, but it is still easy to navigate and can be explored by divers.Convair 240 off the coast of Aruba.ChrisDagSource: Leisure ProIn addition to airliners, a WWII-era plane was intentionally sunk in 2009 for diving tourism. The Dakota DC-3 was a former transporter for parachutists in the Turkish air force and was donated after its retirement.Plane wreck of a Douglas DC-3 Dakota in the Mediterranean Sea, Kas, Turkey.Andrey Nekrasov/Getty ImagesSource: Diver AdvisorToday, the aircraft sits on its belly on the seafloor at a depth of 55 feet off the coast of Turkey and acts as an artificial reef and dive site.Dakota DC3 plane wreck in Kas, Turkey.Andrey Nekrasov/Getty ImagesSource: Diver AdvisorAccording to the company, the engines, wings, cockpit, rudder, and landing gear are all intact, and the large door used to jump provides an entrance inside.Dakota DC3 plane wreck in Kas, Turkey.Andrey Nekrasov/Getty ImagesSource: Diver AdvisorInside the main cabin is pretty bare, but the cockpit shows the workspace of the pilot who manned the plane over 85 years ago.Plane wreck of a Douglas DC-3 Dakota in the Mediterranean Sea, Kas, Turkey.Andrey Nekrasov/Getty ImagesSource: Diver AdvisorRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 7th, 2021