The central fact of the American economy in mid-2021 is that demand for all sorts of goods and services has surged. But supplies are coming back slowly, with the economy acting like a creaky machine that was turned off for a year and has some rusty parts.
The result, as underlined in new government data this week, is shortages and price inflation across many parts of the economy. That is putting the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve in a jam that is only partly of their own making.
Higher prices and the other problems that result from an economy that reboots itself are frustrating, but should be temporary. Still, the longer that the surges in prices continue and the more parts of the economy that they encompass, the greater the chances that Americans’ psychology about prices and inflation could shift in ways that become self-sustaining.
For the last few decades, companies have resisted raising prices or paying higher wages because they felt that doing so would cost them too much business. That put a damper on inflation across the economy. The question is whether current circumstances are evolving in a way that could change that.
shortage of limes, their prices spike and people use more lemons.
after a cyberattack shut down a major pipeline, are truly random events that tell us virtually nothing about underlying supply and demand or future inflation.
Some other sectors seem poised to experience price rises. Restaurants, for example, are complaining of severe labor shortages that are forcing them to curtail service or sharply raise pay for line cooks and dishwashers. If they try to reflect those higher costs in their prices, it will cause the price of food away from home to start rising faster than the (already fairly high) 3.8 percent figure over the last year.
Professional inflation-watchers are on close watch for signs that these forces might be unleashing a form of thinking about price dynamics unseen since the early 1980s, when prices rose in part because everyone expected them to.
The Fed is betting that won’t happen — that even if there are several months of surging prices, it will be at worst a one-time adjustment, and potentially something that reverses as old spending patterns return and workers return to their jobs.
“If past experience is any guide, production will rise to meet the level of goods demand before too long,” the Fed governor Lael Brainard said in a speech this week. “A limited period of pandemic-related price increases is unlikely to durably change inflation dynamics.”
For now, movements in key financial markets mostly align with the Fed view.
Futures contracts for major commodities like oil and copper, for example, suggest that traders expect prices to fall slightly in the years ahead, not rise further.
And in the bond market, even after a surge in longer-term interest rates following the high inflation reading Wednesday, most signs point to future inflation consistent with the 2 percent the Fed aims for.
Still, the level of future inflation implied by those bond prices has risen significantly in the last few weeks, meaning further moves are likely to increase worries that the inflation issues will be not-so-transitory after all. And the pattern could change abruptly if more evidence starts to arrive that the outlook for inflation is becoming unmoored.
“We aren’t obviously on the way to a very high and persistent inflation outcome,” said Brian Sack, director of global economics at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw and a former senior Federal Reserve official. “But we’re at an inflection point, in that the rise in inflation expectations to date has been a policy success, but a rise from here could become a policy problem.”
The Fed may believe that the evidence emerging in various corners of the economy is a one-time occurrence that will fade into memory before too long. The Biden administration is betting its agenda on the same idea.
Ultimately, what matters more than whatever the bond market does is how ordinary Americans who make everyday economic decisions — demanding raises or not, paying more for a car or not — view things. Can they wait for the complex machinery of the American economy to fully crank into gear?
A woman holding an umbrella walks in a street in the Seychelles’ capital Victoria.
Valery Sharifulin | TASS | Getty Images
The Seychelles is causing concern for world health experts after a rise of Covid-19 cases among fully vaccinated individuals.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday that it would review coronavirus data from the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, after the health ministry said more than a third of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to May 8 had been fully vaccinated.
The Seychelles is viewed as having conducted a very successful vaccination rollout so far; it can boast having the highest share of people vaccinated against Covid-19 anywhere in the world, above Israel and the U.K.
The majority of vaccinated people have received China’s Sinopharm vaccine (approved for emergency use by the WHO last Friday) as well as the AstraZeneca shot (known as Covishield locally, a version produced in India). In total, the Seychelles with a population of over 97,000 has recorded just under 8,200 cases and 28 deaths during the pandemic.
On Monday, the Seychelles’ health ministry reported a steep rise in the number of cases. From 120 new cases reported on April 30, a week later over 300 cases per day were recorded on May 7 and May 8, respectively.
Of all the positive cases, the health ministry said 63% had either not been vaccinated or had only received one dose of SinoPharm or Covishield, but 37% of the new infections were in people who had received both doses.
The ministry noted that, of the patients requiring hospital treatment, 80% had not been vaccinated and tended to be people with co-morbidities. It added that “almost all” of the critical and severe cases requiring intensive care treatment had not been vaccinated either. To date, none of the patients who have died with Covid-19 have been fully vaccinated, it said.
While there was a flattening of new cases on May 7 and May 8 (with 317 new cases reported and then 314 cases, respectively), the health ministry said “the rate of transmission remains high and is of concern.”
The situation has certainly alarmed experts, particularly as 60% of the Seychelles’ total population has been fully vaccinated. What’s more, 86% of the Seychelles’ targeted population for vaccination — 70,000 people — have been fully vaccinated to date, ministry data shows.
What the WHO thinks
On Monday, WHO’s Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr. Kate O’Brien, said in a briefing that the WHO was in direct communication with the Seychelles’ health ministry and that the situation was a “more complicated situation than the top-line messages.”
“As was noted, the vaccines are highly efficacious against severe cases and deaths. Most of the cases which have occurred are mild cases. However, what is also important is that a substantial fraction, over 80% of the population, has been vaccinated. But as we know … some of the cases that are being reported are occurring either soon after a single dose, or soon after a second dose, or between the first and second doses.”
She said in this specific situation, a very detailed assessment was required “of what the situation is, first of all what the strains are that are circulating in the country, secondly when the cases occur relative to when somebody received doses, third what the severity of the cases is.”
“Only by doing that kind of evaluation can we make an assessment of whether or not these are vaccine failures or whether it is more about the kinds of cases that are occurring, the milder end of cases and then the timing of the cases relative to when individuals received doses. That evaluation is ongoing and we’re supporting and engaging with the country to understand the situation.”
CNBC has contacted the WHO for updated comment on the situation in the Seychelles but is yet to receive a reply.
The WHO has repeatedly warned that vaccination alone would not be enough to stop the pandemic in its tracks, but would rather be another weapon in the arsenal to fight the virus.
Restrictions on social contact as well as good personal hygiene are still seen as the basis or preventing the spread. Last week, the Seychelles re-imposed restrictions on some social gatherings and public spaces in a bid to curb the spread.
The situation faced by islanders acts as a reminder that no coronavirus vaccine currently in use has been proven to be 100% effective at preventing Covid-19 infection. Still, all the vaccines currently authorized for use by the WHO have proven to be very, if not extremely, effective at preventing serious Covid infections, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths greatly reduced in countries with advanced vaccination programs, like the U.K.
With a third wave of cases and new virus variants having the potential to cause further loss of life and economic destruction, time is of the essence to approve and distribute life-saving vaccines around the world, with the more available, the better.
On Friday, the WHO granted emergency use authorization to the China’s state-owned pharmaceutical firm SinoPharm, a move which could fast-track the shot’s use in WHO’s COVAX scheme, which aims to provide poorer countries with access to vaccines.
The WHO said the addition of the SinoPharm vaccine had “the potential to rapidly accelerate Covid-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk.”
It noted that the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization had completed a review of the vaccine and, on the basis of all available evidence, recommended it for adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks.
“Vaccine efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalized disease was estimated to be 79%, all age groups combined,” it said. However it noted that “few older adults (over 60 years) were enrolled in clinical trials, so efficacy could not be estimated in this age group.”
In March, AstraZeneca released updated clinical trial date which showed its vaccine was 76% effective at preventing against symptomatic Covid-19 infection. Vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were found to be around 95% effective.
As the only carbon-free energy source that can viably power a modern economy, it’s important that lawmakers and regulators take a smart approach to nuclear power and public policy decisions related to its generation. However, one politically important red state, South Carolina, has gotten it very wrong thus far when it comes to nuclear. Palmetto State lawmakers are now taking steps to rectify a boondoggle in which a state-owned utility racked up nearly $9 billion in debt on two nuclear reactors that were never built. How that debate plays out is worth paying attention to far beyond South Carolina, as it provides a teachable moment and cautionary tale for officials in other states.
The South Carolina Public Service Authority (“Santee Cooper”), an 80-year-old utility company owned by the South Carolina state government, managed to accumulate more than $8 billion in debt attempting to construct two nuclear reactors at the VC Summer power station in Jenkinsville, S.C., located approximately 20 miles northwest of the state capital. Those reactors were never completed even though ratepayers have already paid $2 billion toward the project and nearly $7 billion in debt remains outstanding. Lonnie Carter, the previous Santee Cooper CEO who presided over the VC Summer fiasco, resigned but was still rewarded with retirement benefits valued at $800,000 year.
The Palmetto Promise Institute, a South Carolina-based think tank, has called Santee Cooper’s VC Summer episode the “largest financial disaster in South Carolina history.” Governing Magazine calls it “one of the greatest wastes of money in any state’s history.” South Carolina legislators are now struggling to address the mess that Santee Cooper officials have left behind. Some legislators favor re-opening bids for a sale (the former bids are now a year old and have for all practical purposes expired). Others prefer to reform the utility, but maintain state government ownership. An outright sale of Santee Cooper would relieve ratepayers (and ultimately taxpayers) of the billions of dollars in debt for which they are on the hook.
In late April the South Carolina Senate voted against putting a committee in place to consider new private bids to purchase Santee Cooper. On Tuesday, May 4, however, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to add the provision back into the Santee Cooper reform bill that would set up the process to consider private offers to purchase the utility company, assuming its debts in the process.
Now that members of the South Carolina House have amended the Santee Cooper reform bill in order to reconsider the utility’s sale, it’s up to the six member conference committee to work out the differences between the two chambers. Governor Henry McMaster (R) is encouraging lawmakers to pass legislation that would have the state once again consider offers to purchase the state-owned utility.
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“We simply can’t have an honest debate about what’s best for South Carolinians without considering all available options – including the option to sell it,” Governor McMaster tweeted about Santee Cooper on May 4.
Many see the sale of Santee Cooper as the only way to adequately rectify the problems created by the state-owned enterprise and get South Carolina taxpayers off the hook for the billions of dollars of debt that the corruptly-run utility has rung up with nothing to show for it. NextEra NEE , a Florida-based utility company, was one of the companies that submitted bids to purchase Santee Cooper last year. NextEra officials penned a letter to Senate President Harvey Peeler (R) in April to affirm the company’s willingness to submit a revised offer for purchase.
“If there are prospective buyers who would like to make an updated offer, based on how the world has changed, I would encourage them to do that,” South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R) said in April. “I would encourage them to do that very soon.”
Unfortunately for those who thought NextEra’s $9 billion purchase offer was a good deal, the Florida-based utility company retracted its bid following the South Carolina Senate’s 36-8 vote against the reconsideration of bids for purchase. This is a setback for those who think the best, perhaps only way to fix Santee Cooper in a way that protects ratepayers and South Carolina taxpayers is to sell the utility.
“No rejiggering of debt or misplaced nostalgia for the old days will alleviate the $6.8 billion mountain of debt from the backs of ratepayers,” former Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) wrote in a March op-ed published in the Greenville News. “The world has simply passed Santee Cooper’s outdated business model by. It has been over a year since the opening bid for Santee Cooper was submitted. It is time to drive a hard bargain and sell, for the long-term financial benefit of our state.”
Santee Cooper’s only source of income is its customers, who will be paying off the remaining $7 billion in debt that the state-owned utility owes for the next 45 years if no changes are made. If South Carolina lawmakers adjourn the current legislative session without even reestablishing the process under which Santee Cooper can be sold, it will leave Santee Cooper ratepayers and all South Carolina taxpayers in a financially precarious position. Even if the House language is adopted in the final Santee Cooper reform bill, South Carolina lawmakers have likely squandered the opportunity to sell the utility any time in the near future. The last hope for sale is that the House provision makes it into the final Act, but even that just keeps a sale committee in place, it does not approve it.
“The bidding process for Santee Cooper started well, but ended with a thud,” Dr. Oran Smith, Senior Fellow at Palmetto Promise Institute, said on May 11. “The General Assembly had legitimate problems with the NextEra bid, but never counter-offered or sought a better deal. That’s not much of a negotiation. But it was predictable with a state law that requires 170 to approve a sale [the legislature], not one [the Governor].”
Failure to address the problems that led to the VC Summer debacle would be a bad result for South Carolina ratepayers and taxpayers. It would also prove a nationwide setback to those who view increased utilization of nuclear energy as the optimal way to reduce carbon emissions in a manner that does not inflate utility bills or jeopardize grid reliability.
NBC announced today that it would air Annie Live! during the coming holiday season.
Oscar and Emmy winner, Neil Meron, producer of every musical that has aired on NBC since The Sound of Music Live! premiered in 2013, will executive produce the event with Robert Greenblatt. Lear DeBessonet will direct the show and Alex Rudzinski will act as “live technical director” and executive producer. Chloe Productions will produce the special.
It’s notable that Greenblatt is involved with Annie Live!
Greenblatt is a modern legend in the entertainment industry, having begun his career as one of the key architects of the FOX Network in the 1990s. He went on to run Showtime, NBC and WarnerMedia, with stops along the way, producing (with David Janollari) Six Feet Under, an instant HBO classic, as well as many other beloved film, TV and Broadway titles.
When Greenblatt was recruited to run NBC’s programming as its chairman in 2011, the network was in bad shape. It trailed all three of the other major networks and was due for a major overhaul.
To everyone’s surprise, one of Greenblatt’s early initiatives was to bring back the live musical to broadcast television.
Live theater and musicals had been a staple during the infancy of television, reaching their zenith of popularity in the 1950s and petering out in the 1960s as live, scripted content gave way to other forms of live entertainment: sports, awards shows and the dawn of reality competitions.
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From the 1970s onward, if you were a fan of musicals you’d have to wait for them to be adapted into feature films, which happened very rarely and with mixed box-office success.
Otherwise, your only option would be to travel to New York to catch a Broadway show, or wait until the local community theater produced chestnuts like My Fair Lady, Oklahoma! or other classics from Broadway’s Golden Age.
Greenblatt bet that the right musical production could still work on TV, and he chose The Sound of Music Live! as his experiment.
Everyone was skeptical about a live musical connecting in the modern era, but Greenblatt’s instincts paid off. The special sang to an astounding 18 million-plus viewers on December 5th, 2013 and delivered the highest ratings for NBC on a Thursday night since 2004.
After that success, Greenblatt continued to green-light musicals nearly annually throughout his many years running the network, and as he left NBC, he not only returned the “Peacock” to its number one status, but he had introduced other musically-oriented content as well, chief among them, the mega-hit music competition show, The Voice.
Annie Live! will be Greenblatt’s first production since leaving WarnerMedia’s executive suites last year. Our lightly condensed interview follows:
“From my years at various networks, I know how hard it is to find big, family musicals. There aren’t that many. The show is set in 1932, not long into the Roosevelt administration. The country was rebuilding. People compare the time of the musical to the challenges we’re facing today. It’s a show about optimism and hope and the power of this little girl to change the world. It’s a perfect show for our time.
What’s your relationship with this musical?
I was lucky enough to see Annie not long after it debuted on Broadway in 1978, on my very first trip to NYC. I was 18, coming in from Rockford, Illinois and we bought tickets to see several shows: Annie, Sweeney Todd, Dream Girls, They’re Playing Our Song, Dracula… It was the trip of a lifetime.
How long have you and Neil Meron known each other?
Neil and Craig (Craig Zadan, who passed away in 2018) were very successful, very talented film producers (among many titles, Zadan and Meron produced the Oscar-winning film, Chicago) I was at the FOX network. We’d always been looking for something to do together. We developed the original musical Smash when I was running Showtime, which I ultimately bought and produced at NBC. Smash was a drama series about the making of a Broadway musical, inspired by the life of Marilyn Monroe…which ironically, we’re now developing as a Broadway musical!
How often do things go straight to Broadway, versus getting a run somewhere else?
Nearly every show goes out of town first because you want to bring the best version to Broadway. That said, during the pandemic, we’ve been trying new and innovative ways to hone productions so that we may not necessarily have to spend the time and money working and reworking shows in various cities, before taking them to New York. I predict once things return to full tilt on Broadway later this year, we’ll look at every way we do business there differently.
The casts of your musicals got more and more star-filled as years went by at NBC. Any cast announcements you’d like to make?
Not yet. We have some big, very exciting ideas to share but it’s too premature to discuss them at the moment. One thing I can say with absolute certainty: we will have a very diverse cast.
The 1982 adaptation was directed by John Huston (of all people) – – how did you pick Lear DeBessonet to direct?
Lear is a tremendous force on the theater scene. She’s been doing amazing work at The Public Theater. It was her original idea to do Annie Live! I was at Warner’s when she originally pitched it. There was no appropriate platform for me to do it with her there, so it sat on Lear’s shelf. After I left Warner’s, Lear contacted me and we decided to take it out to the broadcasters. All four networks wanted to do it, which kind of surprised me, quite frankly.
Why were you surprised?
Even though I know shows like these don’t come along often, they can be very expensive and there is some risk involved…not to mention: they’re three hours long! That’s an entire night of TV. That said, as we were taking it around, one thing was abundantly clear: all of the networks simply love Annie.
Do you have plans to take more musicals to the market soon?
None at the moment. But one never knows…!
What do you think the future is for live musicals on TV?
There’s a big appetite for these things, if you can find the right title. Lear only reconnected with me with the project a few months ago. We secured the rights, set the meetings and took it out. It all came together in a matter of months. I just love that the form is still alive, and that people are still so excited about it.”
The Buffalo Bills will play four primetime games in the 2021 NFL season, including a Sunday Night Football game, two clashes on Monday Night Football and a Thanksgiving Day contest.
The Bills get their first nationally televised game in Week 5 in Kansas City against Patrick Mahomes and the AFC Champion Chiefs. In Week 6, they hit the road on Monday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans.
The Bills will also be on the road to play a Thanksgiving Day game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 12 and then host Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots in Week 13.
Every Bills fan will mark Sunday, Dec. 12. That’s when the Bills travel to Tampa to face Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in Week 14.
The NFL added a game for each team to bump up the season to 17 games with one bye week for each club.
The Bills open their season at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Sept. 12.
The Bills have a bye week in Week 7. Their Week 12 game against the Saints is the late game on Thanksgiving on Nov. 25. It’s the second time in three seasons that the Bills are playing on Thanksgiving. Buffalo beat Dallas on the road 26-15 in Week 13 of the 2019 season.
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The Bills also have three other noteworthy games by playing against the top two picks in this year’s NFL draft. They meet quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars in Week 9 in Jacksonville. They also go up against quarterback Zach Wilson and the Jets in Week 10 in New York and at home in Week 18.
The Bills open the season with three of their first four games at home, where the Bills finished 7-1 last season. The Bills home games this season do not feature a lot of the marquee matchups that some Buffalo fans were hoping for, except for the opener against the Steelers.
The Bills other home games are against the Washington Football Team, the Houston Texans, the Miami Dolphins, the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots, the Carolina Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons and the Jets.
The Dolphins will be the first AFC East rival that Buffalo will meet in 2021 in Week 2. The Bills don’t have their first meeting with the Jets until Week 10 and don’t see the Patriots until Week 13.
The Bills have nine games against teams that finished under .500 last season, including Washington, New England (twice), Carolina, Houston, Jacksonville, the Jets (twice), and Atlanta.
The Bills’ toughest stretch of the schedule will be from Week 11 through Week 14 against Indianapolis, New Orleans, the Patriots and then Tampa.
Buffalo Bills 2021 Regular-Season NFL Schedule
Week 1: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers at 1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 12
Week 2: at Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 19
Week 3: vs. Washington Football Team at 1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 26
Week 4: vs. Houston Texans at 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3.
Week 5: at Kansas City Chiefs at 8:20 p.m., Sunday Oct. 10, Sunday Night Football
Week 6: at Tennessee Titans at 8:15 p.m., Monday, Oct. 18, Monday Night Football
Week 7: BYE WEEK
Week 8: vs. Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 31
Week 9: at Jacksonville Jaguars at 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 7
Week 10: at New York Jets at 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 14
Week 11: vs. Indianapolis Colts at 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 21
Week 12: at New Orleans Saints, Thursday, Nov. 25, Thanksgiving
Week 13: vs. New England Patriots at 8:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6, Monday Night Football
Week 14: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12
Week 15: vs. Carolina Panthers at TBD, Saturday Dec. 18 or Sunday, Dec. 19
Week 16: at Patriots at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 26
Week 17: vs. Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 2
Week 18: vs. New York Jets at 1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 9
GUANGZHOU, China — Hundreds of billions of dollars were wiped off the entire cryptocurrency market after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the electric vehicle maker would suspend car purchases using bitcoin.
At around 6:06 a.m. Singapore time on Thursday when Musk made the announcement, the value of the whole cryptocurrency market stood at around $2.43 trillion, according to data from Coinmarketcap.com.
Around 8:45 a.m., the market capitalization had dropped to around $2.06 trillion, wiping off around $365.85 billion. The market has pared some losses. Since Musk’s tweet, the cryptocurrency market had seen $165.75 billion wiped off its value at around 9:22 a.m. Singapore time.
In February, Tesla announced in a regulatory filing that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and planned to accept the cryptocurrency for payments.
Musk cited environmental concerns on Thursday and said Tesla is “concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”
Bitcoin is not issued by a single entity like a central bank. Instead, it is maintained by a network of so-called “miners.” These miners use purpose-built computers that require a lot of energy to solve complex mathematical puzzles in order for bitcoin transactions to go through. Bitcoin’s energy consumption is larger than some individual countries.
At around 9:34 a.m. Singapore time, bitcoin was down over 12%, dipping below the $50,000 mark for the first time since Apr. 24, according to CoinDesk data. Despite the recent pullback, bitcoin is still up over 400% in the last 12 months.
Other cryptocurrencies ether and XRP were also sharply lower.
Musk has been a big proponent of digital currencies including bitcoin and dogecoin, helping to drive their prices higher in recent months.
The Tesla CEO said the company will not be selling any bitcoin and intends to use it for transactions “as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy.”
Bitcoin has garnered interest in the last year as companies such as Square and Tesla announced bitcoin purchases and large institutional investors entered the cryptocurrency space. Major investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have also sought ways to allow their wealthy clients to get bitcoin exposure.
It was Bill Belichick who was talking about his New England Patriots when he told the assembled media masses that his team was on to Cincinnati.
That was in the 2014 season, but it’s the Minnesota Vikings who will open the 2021 season with a trip to the Queen City to take on second-year quarterback Joe Burrow and the hopeful Bengals.
The Vikings have opened the season for the last four seasons at home, but this year they will start the season with road games against the Bengals and the Arizona Cardinals. The Vikings will be hoping to sweep those two games before opening the home portion of their schedule with a visit from the Seattle Seahawks.
Vikings fans will have to read that line twice, because it seems the Vikings always play the Seahawks in the great Northwest. The Vikings and Seahawks have played in Seattle in each of the past three seasons, and Seattle won all of those meetings.
The Vikings’ schedule was released by the NFL Wednesday night, and the opening six games have a chance to be quite favorable.
In addition to the three opening games, the Vikings also have home games with the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions before a Week 6 road game against the Carolina Panthers.
A 4-2 or 5-1 getaway would give head coach Mike Zimmer a chance go into their Week 7 bye week with confidence. That’s just what they will need because the next five games are against the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. That is the most difficult part of their schedule, and building credibility in the first six games will help the Vikings survive this midseason gauntlet.
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The final six games of this 17-game slate will be heavy with divisional games. The Vikings will face the Bears twice, the Lions and Packers once each in addition to meeting the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams.
The Vikings may be the most settled team in the NFC North this year as all three of their division opponents have major questions at the quarterback position. The Packers do not know if future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers will report, the Bears will either turn to rookie Justin Fields or retread Andy Dalton, while the Lions traded Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff.
The Vikings once again will look to Kirk Cousins, and while he has put together outstanding statistical performances since joining the Vikings, his ability to come through with his best games on the biggest stages is quite questionable.
He did better in that area in 2020 than he had previously by leading the Vikings to a road win over the archrival Packers and a Monday night win in Chicago, but he is far from a sure thing when the Vikings need a big game. However, if Rodgers gets traded – as he has demanded – and the Vikings don’t see him under center in two games against Green Bay, it is bound to be a positive development for Minnesota.
The Vikings adressed a pair of their defensive weaknesses in the offseason as they signed defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and cornerback Patrick Peterson in free agency, and both moves should help the Vikings regain much of their defensive swagger. However, the only way they can dominate on defense this year is if big-play defensive end Danielle Hunter returns from herniated disc surgery that kept him out of the lineup throughout the 2020 season. Hunter had 14.5 sacks in both 2018 and 2019, and he is capable of ruining any opposing offense.
General manager Rick Spielman is hopeful that Hunter will be back in 2021, referring to an Instagram photo that showed the defensive end looking strong and powerful. However, they don’t have a definitive answer on Hunter’s availability at this point
The schedule makers have given the Vikings a fair slate that will give them a chance to get off to a strong start, test them in the middle and give them a slew of divisional opponents to define their year in the final weeks. They appear to have the weapons to write a winning story in 2021, but they will need the powerful Hunter to return in his previously dominant form if the year will be truly memorable.
AEW Dynamite advertised a major show, one week after Blood and Guts, with three championship matches promoted. In addition to The Pinnacle’s Coronation, Jon Moxley—who now walks out to “Wild Thing,” by The Troggs—defended his NJPW United States Championship against Yuji Nagata, Miro challenged Darby Allin for the TNT Championship and SCU challenged The Young Bucks for the AEW Tag Team Championships.
Last week’s broadcast of AEW Dynamite was No. 1 on cable for its first time ever with 1.090 million views for Blood and Guts.
May 5, 2021—1.090 million
April 28, 2021—889,000
April 21, 2021—1.104 million
April 14, 2021—1.219 million
April 7, 2021—688,000
AEW Dynamite: Key Competition
The Masked Singer
Pro Wrestling Bits—Why a WWE Women’s Wrestling Show would Flop
AEW Dynamite YouTube Viewership Last Wednesday 2,118,670 (Down from 2,958,130)
Most-Viewed: The Shocking Conclusion to Blood and Guts (469,899 views)
Least-Viewed: Dr. Britt Baker is Ready for her Shot at the AEW Women’s World Championship (59,890 views)
Median Viewership: 187,616 views
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AEW Dynamite Results: Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Jon Moxley def. Yuji Nagata—NJPW United States Championship
This was a New Japan Pro Wrestling match inside an AEW ring.
Yuji Nagata was limited at Age 53—especially if you knew what h was at 33—but he and Moxley deftly worked around it.
Watching Jon Moxley walk out to “Wild Thing” gave me goosebumps. It’s one of the most perfect matches between wrestler and song I’ve ever seen. If Jon Moxley ever updates his tired ring gear, he’ll have everything going for him.
The “American Dream” Cody Rhodes Challenges Anthony Agogo
This was Cody’s best promo of his career, and think about how high of a bar that is.
Cody felt like he was practicing for his political career, which will be a promising one if he eventually chooses to go that route.
When’s the last time you heard the word “segregation” on a pro wrestling television show?
One day, Cody very well may become the first sitting president with a neck tattoo.
The Young Bucks def. SCU—AEW World Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks’ accessorizing gets more outrageous with every passing weeks. This week, Matt Jackson had beads hanging form his headband.
The Young Bucks dress like The Hardy Boyz going through a midlife crisis.
SCU has a double-team move called the Celebrity Rehab. This show is just the gift that keeps on giving.
The second Christopher Daniels started to bleed, Don Callis repeatedly insisted the match because he was bleeding all over The Young Bucks’ shoes.
The ring was just as bloody as it was last week, and it was all form Christopher Daniels.
Christopher Daniels botched a BME, and it was either intentional to sell that he was losing blood, or the announce team did a fantastic job covering for him.
Just as AEW finally got its payoff for Kazarian and Daniels breaking up, it cut to Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston tearing up The Elite’s locker room. It was a TNA transition in the worst way.
PAC vs. Orange Cassidy Ends in a No Contest
To my knowledge this is only the second disqualification in AEW history and its was a waste.
The overbooked finish transitioning into a Triple Threat match made this really feel like TNA.
AEW spent a lot of time promoting Orange Cassidy last week only to awkwardly throw PAC into the equation.
The Pinnacle Coronation Ends in a Stadium Stampede Challenge
As expected, MJF took credit for AEW winning the night last week.
MJF hugging FTR after his promo was subtle hilarity.
FTR is dressing like it did during its DGAF days while on their way out of WWE.
As Sammy Zayn doused The Pinnacle in “A Little bit of the Bubbly,” this show took the form of WWE Raw—but from the glory days.
MJF challenged The Inner Circle to a Stadium Stampede, and if The Inner Circle loses they must break up forever. This was already an exciting match due to the Stadium Stampede alone, but the breakup stipulation makes it a potential main event candidate.
Thunder Rosa def. Jazmin Allure
This was a complete squash match by Thunder Rosa to build up the NWA Women’s Championship, which is becoming a de facto Intercontinental Championship for women.
Miro def. Darby Allin—AEW TNT Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts—I consider Miro to be a huge favorite in this match, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a squash.
The commentators immediately launched into Darby Allin’s tough schedule as he was getting pounced by Miro, which further convinced me Miro was going over.
Miro had an emblem of the TNT Championship on his trunks, so he needed to win this match more than most challengers.
Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky are starting to feel like Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets.
Miro is the new TNT champion and he needs it far more than Darby Allin, who managed to become a legit draw while champion.
Three months after Tesla said it would begin accepting the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as payment, the electric carmaker has abruptly reversed course.
In a message posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said Tesla had suspended accepting Bitcoin because of concern about the energy consumed by computers crunching the calculations that underpin the currency.
“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at a great cost to the environment,” Mr. Musk wrote. “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”
Earlier this year, Tesla announced that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and Mr. Musk trumpeted the company’s plan to accept the currency. Tesla later sold about $300 million of its Bitcoin holdings, proceeds that padded its bottom line in the first quarter.
Some estimates put the energy use of Bitcoin at more than the entire country of Argentina.
“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind, and so it’s not a great climate thing,” Bill Gates said in February.
Mr. Musk also said on Wednesday that Tesla was “looking at other cryptocurrencies” that use a fraction of the energy consumed by Bitcoin. Mr. Musk has been a promoter of Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that started as a joke but that has exploded in value. In an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” last week, Mr. Musk referred to Dogecoin as a “hustle.” Dogecoin fell by nearly a third in price on the night of the show.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the agency’s Covid-19 mask guidance policies amid widespread criticism from lawmakers and health officials.
“These issues are complex, the science is evolving, the science is moving, and we are following the science each and every day and our guidance is evolving as the science evolves,” said Walensky during a Wednesday interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.”
Walensky pointed to the nation’s declining Covid cases and increasing vaccine rates. The U.S. positivity rate dropped to 3.1%, the lowest of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 59% of adults have received at least one vaccine, according to the CDC.
The CDC chief also signaled to host Shepard Smith that guidelines will be changing soon, following the agency’s endorsement of administering Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 to 15.
“Today we have vaccines available, now for 12 to 15-year olds, [the agency’s guidelines are] going to have to evolve again, and I’m really enthusiastic about updating them very soon,” Walensky said.
Smith also asked Walensky why, if everyone in his office was vaccinated, they still had to wear masks indoors. She explained that the CDC wants to ensure that the vaccines are working against all of the variants circulating in the U.S., and that “you’re not an asymptomatic carrier if you’re vaccinated” before completely doing away with masks in indoor settings.