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Seriously? Italy Is Facing a Pizza-Maker Shortage


If there was one thing in Italy that you’d think there wouldn't be a shortage of, it would be pizza-makers, right? According to the stereotype, the country is full of robust, mustachioed, flour-dusted pizza-makers (or pizzaioli), singing opera to themselves as they twirl rounds of dough over their head. But in reality, the amount of Italians becoming pizzaioli is far below the amount needed in order to feed the masses, and, increasingly, immigrants to the country are picking up the pizza peel.

According to the Telegraph, an Italian business federation named FIPE has decreed that an additional 6,000 new pizza-makers are needed to keep up with increasing demand, but most Italians in fact shun the blue-collar profession, and immigrants from places like Egypt are the ones who now run most pizzerias in the country’s major cities.

"We are good at it because we are prepared to work hard," Cairo-born Amadeo Al-Wikel, who runs a pizzeria in Rome, told the newspaper. "Italians, in contrast, want a nice comfortable office job where they can work six hours a day, five days a week, in air-conditioning. They're not prepared to work 10, 12 hours a day."

An Italian pizza-maker in the same city, Alessandro Rossi, agrees with Al-Wikel. "The Italian mindset is that being a pizza-maker is humiliating, it is a manual labor job," he said. "Young Italians want to own 40,000 Euro cars and wear nice clothes but they are not prepared to work for it. So the gap is being filled by the Egyptians, the Filipinos, and the Arabs."

In a country where unemployment among young people is at around 35 percent, it seems like those on the job hunt might want to consider expanding their boundaries.


Is Italy Facing the Stability of the Graveyard?

When he took office in April, few expected Enrico Letta to last until the end of the year. But his position now looks stronger than ever.

Simon Nixon

It is seven months since Enrico Letta was installed as Italian Prime Minister by the country's power brokers in a bid to bring political stability following February's inconclusive election. When he took office in April, few expected him to last until the end of the year, given the animosity between Mr. Letta's Socialist party and his coalition partners, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party.

But last it has—and on the surface, Mr. Letta's position now looks stronger than ever. Next week, the Senate looks certain to vote to expel Mr. Berlusconi following his conviction for tax fraud—a move that has split the PdL, with Deputy Prime Minister Angelino Alfano leading a breakaway faction that pledges to continue supporting the coalition.

Senior ministers now talk confidently of the government holding together until Rome has completed its rotating presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2014. That would mean no new elections until early 2015 at the earliest.

This stability has had the desired effect on markets: Yields on the country's 10-year bonds have fallen to just 4.08%, levels last seen in 2010, while the spread over German government bonds—obsessively watched by Italians as a gauge of the country's standing in the markets—has fallen to just 2.3 percentage points, down from 3.4 after the election.

Yet many leading Italian business people consider the prospect of another 18 months of the Letta government seriously alarming. They believe that the government has only been able to remain in office by attempting little and achieving even less.


Venice, Italy, has been a city of water for centuries, but this is something else

The worst flooding in Venice in more than 50 years prompted calls Wednesday to better protect the historic city from rising sea levels as officials calculated hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Water levels reached 74 inches Tuesday, the second-highest level ever recorded in the city and 2½ inches less than the historic 1966 flood. Another wave of exceptionally high water followed Wednesday.

“Venice is on its knees,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter. “St. Mark’s Basilica has sustained serious damage, like the entire city and its islands.”

One death was blamed on the flooding, on the barrier island of Pellestrina. A man in his 70s was apparently electrocuted when he tried to start a pump in his dwelling, said Danny Carrella, an official on the island of 3,500 inhabitants.

In Venice, the crypt beneath St. Mark’s Basilica was inundated for only the second time in its history, with water entering through the windows and bypassing all defenses. Damage was also reported at the Ca’ Pesaro modern art gallery, where a short circuit set off a fire, and at La Fenice theater, where authorities turned off electricity as a precaution after the control room was flooded.

Tourists floated suitcases through St. Mark’s Square, where officials removed walkways to prevent them from floating away. The water was so high that nothing less than thigh-high boots afforded protection. Water poured through wooden boards that shop and hotel owners have placed in front of doors to hold back water during flooding. Tourists staying on the ground floors of hotels were forced to move to upper floors overnight.

“I have often seen St. Mark’s Square covered with water,” Venice’s Catholic patriarch, Msgr. Francesco Moraglia, told reporters. “Yesterday there were waves that seemed to be the seashore.”

Brugnaro said damage would reach hundreds of millions of dollars, and he called on Rome to declare a state of emergency. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was due to visit the city later Wednesday.

“We are not just talking about calculating the damage, but of the very future of the city,” Brugnaro told reporters. “Because the population drain also is a result of this.”

The flooding was caused by heavy rains coinciding with a full moon that brought high tides that were pushed into Venice by southerly winds. At the same time, rising sea levels due to climate change make the city built among a system of canals even more vulnerable.

Five ferries that serve as water buses, a crucial means of transportation, were damaged.

Photos on social media showed a city ferry, taxi boats and gondolas grounded on walkways flanking canals. At least 60 boats were damaged, according to civil protection authorities.

Pellestrina was one of the worst-hit areas. Facing the sea, water came over the banks of the canal and filled the island like a basin. Carrella said more than 3 feet of water remained Wednesday because of broken pumps.

Brugnaro blamed climate change for the “dramatic situation” and called for a speedy completion of a long-delayed project to construct offshore barriers.

Called Moses, the movable undersea barriers are meant to limit flooding. But the project, which was opposed by environmentalists concerned about damaging the delicate lagoon ecosystem, has been delayed by cost overruns and corruption scandals, with no launch date in sight.

Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, told SkyTG24 that the barriers were almost complete, but it was unclear whether they would work against such flooding.

“Despite 5 billion euros [$5.5 billion] underwater, St. Mark’s Square certainly wouldn’t be secure,” Zaia said, referring to one of Venice’s lowest points, which floods when there is an inundation of 31.5 inches.

Zaia also expressed concern for snowfalls in the mountains above Venice, where up to 47 inches were expected.

Across the Adriatic Sea, a heavy storm and sweeping winds also caused floods in Croatia and Slovenia.

In the Croatian city of Split, authorities on Wednesday said the flooding submerged the basement area of the Roman-era Diocletian’s Palace, where emergency crews battled to pump out the water.

Slovenia’s coastal towns of Piran, Izola and Koper reported that sea levels reached the second-highest point in 50 years.

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George Floyd died in police custody on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis. His death led to the trial and conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin.


Quebec Woman Gets Charged For Allegedly Abducting An Ottawa Mother's Newborn Baby

The woman apparently befriended the baby's mother in a social media group for new moms.

A woman from Shawville, Quebec is facing charges for allegedly abducting an eight-day-old baby boy from his mother's home in the west end of Ottawa on Mother's Day.

Police say the baby was "quickly recovered" and is now safe, while 32-year-old Nicole Shanks is left with nothing but the consequences of eight separate criminal offenses.

According to police, Shanks "had previously engaged with the mother of the child on a social media chat group for new mothers and had brought a gift for the mother and newborn at her home" on Friday, just two days before the alleged abduction.

Shanks is said to have "forcefully entered" the Ottawa home using bear repellent spray and abducted the baby, however, neighbours intervened and were able to "detain" Shanks until police arrived.

The baby was given to Ottawa Paramedics and was unharmed, authorities state — investigators also believe Shanks "may have been in contact with other new mothers" in similar social media groups.


The 14 Best Frozen Pizzas Are Proof That Store-Bought Pizza Can Be Delicious

We taste-tested over 20 grocery store brands to find the best frozen pizzas that are better than delivery.

There are about a million reasons to love pizza &mdash the crispy-yet-doughy crust, tangy tomato sauce and don&rsquot even get us started on the gooey, melty cheese. And while you could learn how to make pizza at home, sometimes you just need to get your &lsquoza fix right. This. Second. There&rsquos no time to wait for the delivery guy to arrive, let alone the yeast to rise on homemade pizza dough. Or, there's a blizzard outside and you can't bring yourself to head to your nearest pizza restaurant for takeout.

Enter the best frozen pizzas. Once considered the least appetizing option in the supermarket freezer section, now there are endless options that actually taste good and fit into every type of diet and preference &mdash great gluten-free recipes, thin-crust, cauliflower-crust, vegan &mdash you name it.

So we fired up our ovens and threw a pizza party in the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen to taste test 20+ frozen pizzas to create the ultimate frozen pizzas brand list. In the process, we discovered a bunch of new store-bought pizza favorites that don't taste like cardboard. From classic frozen pizzas to veggie-packed good-for-you options, we've gathered these top tested brands, so you know exactly what to buy next time you head to the store. Stock your freezer with a few of these frozen pies, and you'll be all set for those pizza (or dinner) emergencies.

Calling all crust lovers: DiGiorno's has fantastic dough. "Real pizzeria-quality &mdash seriously!" raved one taster. The crust also wasn't soggy in the slightest, which is surprising given how many toppings come on each slice.


There can only be one Pamela Anderson. I mean. those breasts, the red swimsuit (right), that tape, not to mention the many marriages and her surprising friendship with Julian Assange. Or so I thought, until I saw paparazzi photographs last week of another young Pammy running along a California beach (inset), as if the past 25 years had all been a dream. It's an unlikely casting, but Lily James is playing the role of Pamela Anderson (or CJ Parker to long-time Baywatch fans) in a TV biopic due to be released on the Hulu channel later this year. Yet the thing that's truly set tongues wagging is the epic transformation of demure-looking Lily - more a crinolines and pearls type known for period drama - into a Playboy bombshell who was one of the best-known faces (and bodies) of the 1990s. So what does it take to turn a brunette, hardly blessed-of-bosom English rose into a pneumatic California Pammy in her prime? Quite a lot of hard work, it turns out (left)!


Jet's Pizza Introduces Italian Hero Specialty Pizza

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. , May 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Jet's Pizza is introducing its newest specialty pizza, the Italian Hero. Pizza lovers will be thrilled to get their hands on the newest Jet's Pizza creation available only in May and June.

The Italian Hero is topped with premium mozzarella, salami, ham, tomatoes, and mild peppers, with a side of Italian dressing to drizzle on top. This new specialty pizza is available in small and large Detroit-style deep-dish and hand-tossed round. The limited time offer can be purchased nationwide using the code HERO.

"Inspired by one of our most popular Jet's subs, we introduced our favorite Italian toppings to our Detroit-style pizza and in my opinion, created a real hero to possibly join our specialty lineup," says John Jetts , President of Jet's America, Inc. "These limited time offers are a great way to introduce new flavor combinations and get a feel for what our customers would like to see added to the permanent menu."

Jet's Pizza® is known for its Detroit-style, deep-dish pizzas, and fresh, high-quality ingredients. Every morning the dough is prepared by hand, premium mozzarella is grated, vegetables are hand-cut, and Mama Jetts' sauce is made with fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes then mixed with Jet's proprietary spice and herb blend.

To order online or find a Jet's Pizza near you, visit www.jetspizza.com. Contactless delivery is available upon request and curbside pickup is available at participating locations.

Jet's Pizza, based in Sterling Heights, Michigan was founded as Jetts Party Shoppe and Pizzeria in 1978 by brothers, John and Eugene Jetts . Jet's has now grown to more than 380 stores in 19 states. The company ranked 13 th in Pizza Today's 2019 list of the top 100 pizza companies in the U.S. by gross sales.

Media Contact:
Jet's America, Inc.
(586)268-5870

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Daimler Disagrees With Tesla and VW’s Batteries-or-Bust View

(Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG’s truck chief expects hydrogen-powered big rigs to play an important role in slashing emissions from the transportation sector despite the technological hurdles and skepticism raised by two prominent rivals.Focusing solely on battery-electric vehicles would be risky because of the scarcity of certain raw materials and challenges grids will have supporting wide-ranging charging networks for trucks and buses, Martin Daum, Daimler Truck’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview.“We cannot afford to bank on just one technology to reach the climate goals,” Daum said. “The focus until 2025 will be 100% on battery-electric vehicles. Between 2025 and 2035, we’re going to need both battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles because the massively growing infrastructure requirements require a two-legged approach.”Fuel cells, which generate electricity from hydrogen and therefore eliminate the need to recharge batteries, have been touted for years as a potential alternative to combustion engines. But high costs and sparse fueling infrastructure have stood in the way of broader adoption and left the technology far behind battery-electric powertrains in the passenger-car market.Electrifying commercial vehicles is more complex -- they’re larger, heavier and used for everything from deliveries to supermarkets in urban areas to long-haul transport in remote areas. Daimler recently formed a joint venture with rival Volvo AB to jointly develop fuel cell stacks.Daimler’s DetractorsWhile prominent industry leaders including Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk and Volkswagen AG’s Herbert Diess have repeatedly criticized fuel cells and argued battery power is the only way forward, Daimler and Volvo aren’t alone in seeing long-term potential.“Decarbonization of the energy mix represents the most profound shift in energy since the start of the industrial revolution,” Sanford Bernstein analysts led by Neil Beveridge said in a note to clients. “It is simply impossible to reach net zero by 2050 without hydrogen playing a major role.”Daimler’s truck division is the world’s largest maker of commercial vehicles and on track to be spun off from the Mercedes-Benz luxury-car operations this year. The split reflects the diverging technology trends between passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Both will need enormous investment in new technology to comply with stricter emissions standards.Daum, 61, mapped out more aggressive profitability targets on Thursday and objectives to generate the funds needed to navigate the industry’s transformation.“We want to be a resilient company that can avoid losses even in difficult years,” he said. The unit plans to list at the Frankfurt stock exchange later this year and could enter the country’s blue-chip DAX Index.Global PresenceDaimler boasts a truly global footprint that’s unique among commercial-vehicle manufacturers. While Volvo just trimmed its presence in Asia by selling its UD Trucks business in Japan, VW’s Traton SE unit is finishing its takeover of U.S. truckmaker Navistar International Corp. next quarter.Apart from Mercedes trucks, Daimler’s trucks and buses division comprises Fuso in Japan, BharatBenz in India, Setra in Germany and Freightliner, Thomas Built and Western Star in North America.The company has relied heavily on profits from Freightliner in recent years, as North America tends to generate much of the industry’s earnings. Executives said Thursday that boosting profitability at European operations will be a top priority and pledged to reduce personnel and material costs to become more competitive in the region.Asked whether Daimler may consider an acquisition of CNH Industrial NV’s Italian business Iveco, Daum said his focus is on the company’s own operations. “I don’t see the need for us to add an asset to our European business,” he said. “There are no plans for any structural changes.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Wealth Fund That Quadrupled Profit Now Pivots With Bet on Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for the New Economy Daily newsletter, follow us @economics and subscribe to our podcast.One of Africa’s largest sovereign wealth funds rode the wave of U.S. technology stocks to a banner 2020. Now, it’s betting Europe will play catch-up.The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, fresh off a 51% surge in assets that took the fund above $2 billion, is boosting its exposure to European stocks and will add some Japanese equities, Chief Executive Officer Uche Orji said in an interview. The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumnus sees opportunity as Europe begins to open up from Covid lockdowns.“Last year, Europe underperformed America big time” as investors moved funds to technology companies profiting from the shift to online services at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Orji said. As the global economy reopens, countries with broader industrial bases and services such as Europe “will become more interesting,” he said.The Euro Stoxx 50 equity benchmark has climbed almost 11% this year, buoyed by expectations of a rapid recovery as vaccinations against the coronavirus progress while fiscal and monetary policies across the region remain loose. It’s outperformed both the S&P 500 Index and MSCI All Countries World Index, which have risen 9.6% and 7.5% respectively in the year-to-date.Expanding FootprintThe NSIA has $2.1 billion of assets under management. About a third of that amount is held by its Future Generations Fund, which buys equities in developed and emerging markets. The authority had 25% of the FGF invested in stocks last year, with the “bulk” in the U.S., while European stocks accounted for less than 4%, Orji said.“We are just going to add more capital to expand our footprints in Europe and Japan, but Europe in particular is an area where we have not had a big presence,” he said.Orji, 51, has more than two decades of experience in international banking, with an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to his appointment as CEO of the NSIA in 2012, he’s had stints at Goldman Sachs Asset Management LP, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS Securities.The NSIA reported a four-fold increase in profit last year to 160 billion naira ($390 million). Returns this year will likely trail 2020 as a rally in global equities eases up and as it invests in infrastructure projects that can take longer to generate income, Orji said.The authority plans to establish a $200 million fund that builds health-care facilities to treat diseases including cancer and orthopedics. Africa’s most populous country has for decades lacked adequate investment in health care, prompting citizens including President Muhammadu Buhari to seek treatment abroad.The NSIA plans to finance the health-care projects with co-investors, Orji said, without providing more details.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Trudeau Tightens Up Mortgages After Macklem Sounds Housing Alarm

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian officials escalated efforts to cool the nation’s booming housing market, moving ahead with tighter mortgage qualification rules after the central bank issued a fresh warning against buyers taking on too much debt.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government set a new benchmark interest rate on Thursday afternoon to determine whether people can qualify for mortgages that are insured by Canada’s housing agency. The move matches an April decision by the nation’s banking regulator to do the same for uninsured mortgages.The regulator -- the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions -- announced earlier Thursday it would implement its new rules June 1.Those steps coincided with a stern warning from Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem in the morning cautioning that Canadians should neither assume interest rates will remain at historic lows nor expect recent sharp gains in home prices to continue.“It is vitally important that homeownership remain within reach for Canadians,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.The moves come amid a surge in housing prices that’s raising concern among policy makers and economists. Cheap mortgages and new remote-working conditions have spurred a frenzy of demand for more spacious homes, with house hunters bidding up prices across the country.Canadians are so alarmed by the red-hot housing that nearly half the respondents in a Nanos Research Group poll for Bloomberg News say they’d like to see the Bank of Canada raise borrowing costs to curb demand for real estate and stabilize prices.Still, the measures announced Thursday are seen as incremental steps rather than representing a fundamental shift in policy.With the changes, home buyers will have to show they can afford a minimum rate of 5.25%. The current threshold, based on posted rates of Canada’s six largest lenders, is 4.79%. Economists have been estimating the tighter qualification restrictions would reduce the buying power of households by about 5%.The changes will have little impact on current housing price dynamics, according to Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.“This is not a game changer by any stretch of the imagination and it was highly expected,” Tal said by phone from Toronto.The measures from the government and the regulator came only hours after the Bank of Canada released its annual financial stability report, which highlighted the growing vulnerabilities associated with overleveraged households and speculative housing activity. It flagged three urban markets -- Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal -- as showing excess “exuberance,” with the national capital of Ottawa on the cusp of crossing that threshold.‘Not Normal”At a press conference, Macklem said some people have taken on “significantly” more debt, with many carrying very large mortgages relative to income. Borrowers and lenders need to understand that interest rates won’t always be at historic lows, and home buyers won’t be able to rely on rising values, he said.“It is important to understand that the recent rapid increases in home prices are not normal,” Macklem said. “Counting on ever higher house prices to build home equity that can be used to refinance mortgages in the future is a bad idea.”Outside of the warnings Thursday, it’s not clear how much the central bank can do to cool the market.Growing household vulnerabilities could give policy makers more reason to consider raising borrowing costs, for example, but higher rates would also inflate risks -- such as slow growth or a price correction. Macklem’s next interest-rate decision is due June 9 and the Bank of Canada has said it won’t consider raising its 0.25% benchmark rate until he economy is recovers fully from the Covid-19 pandemic.The Bank of Canada’s financial system review did find that Canada’s lenders could absorb a significant amount of losses in the case of another shock. The central bank said household debt and housing market vulnerabilities probably don’t pose a significant systemic threat to bank solvency, even though they could undermine future growth.“We have to look at the whole economy,” Macklem said at the press conference. “There are important parts of the economy that remain very weak, and the economy needs our support.”(Updates with context throughout.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Crypto Hedge Funds Buy the Dip in Bitcoin’s Week of Reckoning

(Bloomberg) -- Felix Dian is in fighting spirits after this week’s crypto meltdown.Like many pros, the former Morgan Stanley trader says Bitcoin’s volatility actually shows why hedge funds are in the digital-currency game: To ride boom and bust cycles with diversified bets so clients don’t get killed at times like this.Something is working. His $80 million crypto-focused fund at MVPQ Capital is up 14% in May and has more than tripled in value this year. In contrast, Bitcoin has plunged almost 30% this month, cutting the advance for 2021 to 42%.“We had kept dry powder,” he said in an interview from London. He took advantage of Wednesday’s price collapse and bought Bitcoin when it was trading around $35,000.Crypto-Crash Autopsy Shows Billions Erased in Flash LiquidationsNot everyone’s been so lucky. Scores have seen their fortunes dashed this week in a cascade of selling across crypto markets. Investors spent some $410 billion buying up Bitcoin during this bull market, according to data from Chainalysis. When prices sank to $36,000 this week, $300 billion of those positions were at a loss.It’s left money managers wrestling with whether the digital currency, which is coming under new regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and China, still has the makings of a serious asset class or will remain nothing more than a speculative bubble.Bitcoin hovered around $40,000 on Friday, trading up 1% as of 7:15 a.m. in New York. The token has lost 35% since hitting an all-time high of $63,000 in April.Charles Erith, who worked for 24 years in Asian emerging markets before jumping to crypto, said the speculative froth was flushed out this week. He bought Bitcoin as prices were plunging.“At $35,000, we felt it’s a reasonable level at which to be adding,” said Erith, who runs ByteTree Asset Management in London. “It’s obviously not regulated and it’s a very young asset, but I don’t think this is going to be a revisit of 2018.”Data from research firm Chainalysis shows professional investors used the crash as an opportunity to start buying at cheap levels, helping put a floor under the market. Big investors bought 34,000 Bitcoin on Tuesday and Wednesday after reducing holdings by as much as 51,000 bitcoin in the last two weeks, according to data from Chainalysis.“People that were borrowing money to invest, they were wiped from the system,” said Kyle Davies, co-founder at Three Arrows Capital in Singapore. His firm bought more Bitcoin and Ether as prices of the tokens tumbled this week.“Every time we see massive liquidation is a chance to buy,” he added. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Bitcoin and Ethereum retrace the entire drop in a week.”Over in Paris, Loan Venkatapen, founder of Blocklabs Capital Management, blames the recent rout on over-leveraged retail investors but says blockchain and the related technologies “are here to stay.”Unlike Davies, Venkatapen avoided Bitcoin, but bought Ether, Solana and other assets connected with the decentralized finance movement as they sold off.“Bitcoin is not dying, but we expect productive blockchain assets such as Ethereum or Solana to challenge Bitcoin dominance in the coming months,” he said.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Nvidia sets 4-for-1 stock split, shares rise

The company's stock, which was last up at over $600 in premarket trading, has gained nearly 12% this year after its value more than doubled in 2020. Stock splits can potentially attract retail investors who make small trades. Santa Clara, California-based Nvidia said stock holders of record on July 21 would receive dividend of three additional shares after the close of trading on July 19, with the stock trading on a split-adjusted basis beginning July 20.

UPDATE 2-Ford Motor, SK Innovation announce EV battery joint venture in N. America

Ford Motor Co and South Korean battery maker SK Innovation on Thursday announced they will form a battery joint venture in North America to support the No. 2 U.S. automaker's electric vehicle rollout. The companies said they have signed a memorandum of understanding for the formation of the venture, called BlueOvalSK. Reuters on Wednesday reported plans for the joint venture.

Bitcoin Regulation, Corporate Tax, PMIs and Iran Oil - What's Moving Markets

U.S. officialdom could well start taking a more proactive stance on cryptocurrencies, on top of global corporate tax levels. Stock indices on Wall Street are set to continue the recent rebound after the weak start to the week, while the crude market frets over the potential of additional Iranian supply. Forget Elon Musk, Bitcoin needs to start worrying about Janet Yellen.

Billionaire Founder of China Property Giant Dies of Illness

(Bloomberg) -- The billionaire founder of KE Holdings Inc. has died of an unspecified illness, a shocking development for a Chinese property company that pulled off one of the strongest U.S. market debuts of 2020.Zuo Hui, who turned the company known as Beike from a nationwide chain of real estate offices into China’s largest platform for housing transactions and services, died May 20 after an “unexpected worsening of illness,” his company said in a statement without elaborating. KE Holdings’ board will announce follow-up arrangements within two weeks, it added.Zuo, 50, has been the driving force behind the company’s success, headlining the bell-ringing ceremony when it went public and holding 81.1% of voting shares under a dual-class voting structure as of end-February, according to its annual report. The company’s American depositary receipts fell 0.8% to $49.85 in New York on Thursday, paring an earlier decline of almost 10%.Zuo was backed by some of Asia’s most influential startup investors, including Hillhouse Capital Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd., and ranks among SoftBank Group Corp.’s most successful bets. KE Holdings almost doubled on its August U.S. debut, vaulting Zuo into the ranks of the world’s richest entrepreneurs with a fortune in excess of $20 billion at one point, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index.Its shares were up 151% from their New York debut through Wednesday’s close, conferring on the late chairman a net worth of $14.8 billion.In an interview with CCTV aired in April, he downplayed the significance of the IPO and the riches it bestowed.“Why should I feel excited?” he said, dressed in jeans, a dark blue vest and black sneakers. “This makes no difference to me.”Read more: Founder of China Property Site With No Profits Worth $20 BillionBorn in 1971 in Shaanxi province, Zuo graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Beijing University of Chemical Technology in 1992 before getting into sales and establishing an insurance business, where he made his first fortune, according to local media. He then founded Beijing Lianjia Real Estate Brokerage Co. in 2001, when China’s property market was still relatively young, and started Ziroom in 2011 to offer long-term apartment rentals. In 2018, he incorporated KE and launched Beike, becoming one of the country’s most celebrated entrepreneurs.Beike uses artificial intelligence and big data to improve its service and provide market insights, according to its website. As of June, the company boasted 226 million homes on its platform and 39 million monthly active users on mobiles. That’s swelled to more than 48 million mobile monthly active users and half a million agents.The platform also draws in others by allowing decorators, renovators and financial institutions to connect with buyers, creating an ecosystem of property and related offerings.(Updates with closing share price in third paragraph)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Apple App Store profits look ɽisproportionate,' U.S. judge tells CEO Cook

(Reuters) -A federal judge on Friday grilled Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook over whether the iPhone maker's App Store profits from developers such as "Fortnite" maker Epic Games are justified and whether Apple faces any real competitive pressure to change its ways. Cook testified for more than two hours in Oakland, California, as the closing witness in Apple's defense against Epic's charges that the iPhone maker's App Store controls and commissions have created a monopoly that Apple illegally abuses. At the end of testimony, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers questioned Cook, pressing him to concede that game developers generate most App Store revenue and help subsidize other apps on the store that pay no commission.

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The World is Running Out of Sand

When people picture sand spread across idyllic beaches and endless deserts, they understandably think of it as an infinite resource. But as we discuss in a just-published perspective in the journal Science, over-exploitation of global supplies of sand is damaging the environment, endangering communities, causing shortages and promoting violent conflict.

Skyrocketing demand, combined with unfettered mining to meet it, is creating the perfect recipe for shortages. Plentiful evidence strongly suggests that sand is becoming increasingly scarce in many regions. For example, in Vietnam domestic demand for sand exceeds the country’s total reserves. If this mismatch continues, the country may run out of construction sand by 2020, according to recent statements from the country’s Ministry of Construction.

This problem is rarely mentioned in scientific discussions and has not been systemically studied. Media attention drew us to this issue. While scientists are making a great effort to quantify how infrastructure systems such as roads and buildings affect the habitats that surround them, the impacts of extracting construction minerals such as sand and gravel to build those structures have been overlooked. Two years ago we created a working group designed to provide an integrated perspective on global sand use.

In our view, it is essential to understand what happens at the places where sand is mined, where it is used and many impacted points in between in order to craft workable policies. We are analyzing those questions through a systems integration approach that allows us to better understand socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances and time. Based on what we have already learned, we believe it is time to develop international conventions to regulate sand mining, use and trade.

Sand mining on the west side of the Mabukala bridge in Karnataka, India (Rudolph A. Furtado)

Sand and gravel are now the most-extracted materials in the world, exceeding fossil fuels and biomass (measured by weight). Sand is a key ingredient for concrete, roads, glass and electronics. Massive amounts of sand are mined for land reclamation projects, shale gas extraction and beach renourishment programs. Recent floods in Houston, India, Nepal and Bangladesh will add to growing global demand for sand.

In 2010, nations mined about 11 billion tonnes of sand just for construction. Extraction rates were highest in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by Europe and North America. In the United States alone, production and use of construction sand and gravel was valued at $8.9 billion in 2016, and production has increased by 24 percent in the past five years.

Moreover, we have found that these numbers grossly underestimate global sand extraction and use. According to government agencies, uneven record-keeping in many countries may hide real extraction rates. Official statistics widely underreport sand use and typically do not include nonconstruction purposes such as hydraulic fracturing and beach nourishment.

Dredger pumping sand and water to shore for beach renourishment, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast, Australia, Aug. 20, 2017. (Steve Austin, CC BY-SA)

Sand traditionally has been a local product. However, regional shortages and sand mining bans in some countries are turning it into a globalized commodity. Its international trade value has skyrocketed, increasing almost sixfold in the last 25 years.

Profits from sand mining frequently spur profiteering. In response to rampant violence stemming from competition for sand, the government of Hong Kong established a state monopoly over sand mining and trade in the early 1900s that lasted until 1981.

Today organized crime groups in India, Italy and elsewhere conduct illegal trade in soil and sand. Singapore’s high-volume sand imports have drawn it into disputes with Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia.

The negative consequences of overexploiting sand are felt in poorer regions where sand is mined. Extensive sand extraction physically alters rivers and coastal ecosystems, increases suspended sediments and causes erosion.

Research shows that sand mining operations are affecting numerous animal species, including fish, dolphins, crustaceans and crocodiles. For example, the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) – a critically endangered crocodile found in Asian river systems – is increasingly threatened by sand mining, which destroys or erodes sand banks where the animals bask.

Sand mining also has serious impacts on people’s livelihoods. Beaches and wetlands buffer coastal communities against surging seas. Increased erosion resulting from extensive mining makes these communities more vulnerable to floods and storm surges.

A recent report by the Water Integrity Network found that sand mining exacerbated the impacts of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Sri Lanka. In the Mekong Delta, sand mining is reducing sediment supplies as drastically as dam construction, threatening the sustainability of the delta. It also is probably enhancing saltwater intrusion during the dry season, which threatens local communities’ water and food security.

Potential health impacts from sand mining are poorly characterized but deserve further study. Extraction activities create new standing pools of water that can become breeding sites for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The pools may also play an important role in the spread of emerging diseases such as Buruli ulcer in West Africa, a bacterial skin infection.

Media coverage of this issue is growing, thanks to work by organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme, but the scale of the problem is not widely appreciated. Despite huge demand, sand sustainability is rarely addressed in scientific research and policy forums.

The complexity of this problem is doubtlessly a factor. Sand is a common-pool resource – open to all, easy to get and hard to regulate. As a result, we know little about the true global costs of sand mining and consumption.

Demand will increase further as urban areas continue to expand and sea levels rise. Major international agreements such as the� Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Convention on Biological Diversity promote responsible allocation of natural resources, but there are no international conventions to regulate sand extraction, use and trade.

As long as national regulations are lightly enforced, harmful effects will continue to occur. We believe that the international community needs to develop a global strategy for sand governance, along with global and regional sand budgets. It is time to treat sand like a resource, on a par with clean air, biodiversity and other natural endowments that nations seek to manage for the future.


This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Aurora Torres, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Ecology, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research

Jianguo "Jack" Liu, Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, Michigan State University

Jodi Brandt, Assistant Professor - Human Environment Systems, Boise State University


Solving the Agricultural Water Problem

Government Regulations

Governments need to put strict environmental and waste management laws in place and monitor industries and local farms more regularly to ensure that they comply with the provisions there in. This will keep water levels and soil pollution in check.

Encourage Organic Farming

As much as organic farming is more costly, it produces healthier foods that are free from chemicals. Consumers also should consider buying from small local farms as opposed to larger farms whose pesticide usage is extremely high

Encourage Sustainable Agriculture

Farmers should be encouraged to adopt sustainable agricultural practices that are friendly to the environment. Information on natural ways of pest control need to be provided to farmers and the general public as well. As children grow up, they need to be taught how to take care of the environment. (You can learn more about sustainable home agriculture here.)

Governments must also consider offering tax incentives to small and commercial farms that practice Earth-friendly agricultural approaches, as well as banning toxic pesticides that are contributing to the problem.

Encourage Water Catchment

Governments should consider encouraging people to harvest rain water and include rainwater harvesting infrastructure during construction, as a way of reducing water wastage. Where need be, water catchment areas such as dams should be constructed for purposes of harvesting and storing rain water that can be used for activities such as irrigation, when need arises.

About the author

Mark Boutwell is the CEO and founder of LISM (Less Is More) Inc., the parent company of www.dropsofbalance.com water solutions. Drops Of Balance provides a natural domestic water purification system which involves adding a natural solution of concentrated ionic sulfate minerals to your drinking water, separating and dissolving toxic contaminants. An Aquaponics advisor, Mark also has extensive gardening experience and he is capable of aiding all sorts of gardens from small to commercial size.

The youngest of 6 siblings in a mixed, multicultural family, Mark is a passionate and dedicated person who will always fight for what he believes in. He spent a large portion of his adolescence and early twenties doing wrestling for his high school and college. He later went on to join the military where he was a part of the 212 Para-Rescue in Anchorage, Alaska. He was also a civilian paramedic in New Mexico where he learned many things about society.


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