It will be accompanied by an independent assessment of the fiscal and economic impact of the policies by the Office for Budget Responsibility, a government watchdog.

While markets have cheered the government’s promise to have its policies independently reviewed, questions remain about how the gap in the public finances can be closed. Economists say there is very little room in stretched department budgets to make cuts. That has led to concerns of a return to austerity measures, reminiscent of the spending cuts after the 2008 financial crisis.

There is a danger,” Mr. Chadha said, “that we end up with tighter fiscal policy than actually is appropriate given the shock that many households are suffering.” This could make it harder to support people suffering amid rising food and energy prices. But Mr. Chadha argues that it’s clear what needs to happen next: a complete elimination of unfunded tax cuts and careful planning on how to support vulnerable households.

The chancellor could also end up having a lot more autonomy over fiscal policy than the prime minister, he added.

“The best outcome for markets would be a rapid rallying of the parliamentary Conservative Party around a single candidate” who would validate Mr. Hunt’s approach and the timing of the Oct. 31 report, Trevor Greetham, a portfolio manager at Royal London Asset Management, said in a written comment.

Three days after the fiscal statement, on Nov. 3, Bank of England policymakers will announce their next interest rate decisions.

Bond investors are trying to parse how the central bank will react to the rapidly changing fiscal news. On Thursday, before Ms. Truss’s resignation, Ben Broadbent, a member of the central bank’s rate-setting committee, indicated that policymakers might not need to raise interest rates as much as markets currently expect. Traders are betting that the bank will raise rates above 5 percent next year, from 2.25 percent.

The bank could raise rates less than expected next year partly because the economy is forecast to shrink over the year. The International Monetary Fund predicted that the British economy would go from 3.6 percent growth this year to a 0.3 percent contraction next year.

That’s a mild recession compared with some other forecasts, but it would only compound the longstanding economic problems that Britain faced, including weak investment, low productivity growth and businesses’ inability to find employees with the right skills. These were among the challenges that Ms. Truss said she would resolve by shaking up the status quo and targeting economic growth of 2.5 percent a year.

Most economists didn’t believe that “Trussonomics,” as her policies were called, would deliver this economic growth. Instead, they predicted the policies would prolong the country’s inflation problem.

Despite the change in leadership, analysts don’t expect a big rally in Britain’s financial markets. The nation’s international standing could take a long time to recover.

“It takes years to build a reputation and one day to undo it,” Mr. Bouvet said, adding, “Investors will come progressively back to the U.K.,” but it won’t be quickly.

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How Credit Suisse Became a Meme Stock

“Credit Suisse is probably going bankrupt.”

It was Saturday, Oct. 1, and Jim Lewis, who frequently posts on Twitter under the moniker Wall Street Silver, made that assertion to his more than 300,000 followers. “Markets are saying it’s insolvent and probably bust. 2008 moment soon?”

Mr. Lewis was among hundreds of people — many of them amateur investors — who had been speculating about the fate of Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank. It was in the middle of a restructuring and had become an easy target after decades of scandals, failed attempts at reform and management upheavals.

There seemed to be no immediate provocation for Mr. Lewis’s weekend tweet other than a memo that Ulrich Körner, the chief executive of Credit Suisse, had sent employees the day before, reassuring them that the bank was in good financial health.

But the tweet, which has been liked more than 11,000 times and retweeted more than 3,000 times, was one of many that helped ignite a firestorm on social media forums like Twitter and Reddit. The rumor that Credit Suisse was in trouble ricocheted around the world, stumping bank executives and forcing them to call shareholders, trading partners and analysts to reassure them that everything was fine before markets reopened on Monday.

prop up the shares of GameStop, the video game retailer, determined to outsmart hedge funds that had bet the company’s shares would fall.

But what started as a spontaneous effort to take down Wall Street has since become an established presence in the market. Millions of amateur investors have embraced trading, including more sophisticated strategies such as shorting. As the Credit Suisse incident shows, their actions highlight a new source of peril for troubled companies.

Founded in Switzerland in 1856 to help finance the expansion of railroads in the tiny European nation, Credit Suisse has two main units — a private wealth management business and an investment bank. However, the bank has often struggled to maintain a pristine reputation.

It has been the repository of funds from businesspeople who are under sanctions, human rights abusers and intelligence officials. The U.S. government has fined it billions of dollars for its role in helping Americans file false tax returns, marketing mortgage-backed securities tied to the 2008 financial crisis and helping customers in Iran, Sudan and elsewhere breach U.S. sanctions.

In the United States, Credit Suisse built its investment banking business through acquisitions, starting with the 1990 purchase of First Boston. But without a core focus, the bank — whose top bosses sit in Switzerland — has often allowed mavericks to pursue new revenue streams and take outsize risks without adequate supervision.

collapsed. Credit Suisse was one of many Wall Street banks that traded with Archegos, the private investment firm of Bill Hwang, a former star money manager. Yet it lost $5.5 billion, far more than its rivals. The bank later admitted that a “fundamental failure of management and controls” had led to the debacle.

surveillance of Credit Suisse executives under his watch. He left the bank in a stable and profitable condition and invested appropriately across its various divisions, his spokesman, Andy Smith, said.

Credit Suisse replaced Mr. Thiam with Thomas Gottstein, a longtime bank executive. When Archegos collapsed, the bank kept Mr. Gottstein on the job, but he started working with a new chairman, António Horta-Osório, who had been appointed a few months earlier to restructure the bank.

resigned after an inquiry into whether he had broken quarantine rules during the pandemic. But he made swift changes in his short tenure. To reduce risk taking, Mr. Horta-Osório said, the bank would close most of its prime brokerage businesses, which involve lending to big trading firms like Archegos. Credit Suisse also lost a big source of revenue as the market for special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, cooled.

By July, Credit Suisse had announced its third consecutive quarterly loss. Mr. Gottstein was replaced by Mr. Körner, a veteran of the rival Swiss bank UBS.

Mr. Körner and the chairman, Axel Lehmann, who replaced Mr. Horta-Osório, are expected to unveil a new restructuring plan on Oct. 27 in an effort to convince investors of the bank’s long-term viability and profitability. The stock of Credit Suisse has dipped so much in the past year that its market value — which stood around $12 billion — is comparable to that of a regional U.S. bank, smaller than Fifth Third or Citizens Financial Group.

appeared on Reddit.

Mr. Macleod said he had decided that Credit Suisse was in bad shape after looking at what he deemed the best measure of a bank’s value — the price of its stock relative to its “book value,” or assets minus liabilities. Most Wall Street analysts factor in a broader set of measures.

But “bearing in mind that most followers on Twitter and Reddit are not financial professionals,” he said, “it would have been a wake-up call for them.”

The timing puzzled the bank’s analysts, major investors and risk managers. Credit Suisse had longstanding problems, but no sudden crisis or looming bankruptcy.

Some investors said the Sept. 30 memo sent by Mr. Körner, the bank’s chief executive, reassuring staff that Credit Suisse stood on a “strong capital base and liquidity position” despite recent market gyrations had the opposite effect on stock watchers.

Credit Suisse took the matter seriously. Over the weekend of Oct. 1, bank executives called clients to reassure them that the bank had more than the amount of capital required by regulators. The bigger worry was that talk of a liquidity crisis would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, prompting lenders to pull credit lines and depositors to pull cash, which could drain money from the bank quickly — an extreme and even unlikely scenario given the bank’s strong financial position.

“Banks rely on sentiment,” Mr. Scholtz, the Morningstar analyst, said. “If all depositors want their money back tomorrow, the money isn’t there. It’s the reality of banking. These things can snowball.”

What had snowballed was the volume of trading in Credit Suisse’s stock by small investors, which had roughly doubled from Friday to Monday, according to a gauge of retail activity from Nasdaq Data Link.

Amateur traders who gather on social media can’t trade sophisticated products like credit-default swaps — products that protect against companies’ reneging on their debts. But their speculation drove the price of these swaps past levels reached during the 2008 financial crisis.

Some asset managers said they had discussed the fate of the bank at internal meetings after the meme stock mania that was unleashed in early October. While they saw no immediate risk to Credit Suisse’s solvency, some decided to cut trading with the bank anyway until risks subsided.

In another private message on Twitter, Mr. Lewis declined to speak further about why he had predicted that Credit Suisse would collapse.

“The math and evidence is fairly obvious at this point,” he wrote. “If you disagree, the burden is really on you to support that position.”

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Amazon Labor Union, With Renewed Momentum, Faces Next Test

The Amazon Labor Union has built momentum leading up to an election this week at an 800-person warehouse near Albany, N.Y.

A federal labor official recently endorsed the union’s election victory at a Staten Island warehouse in April, which Amazon has challenged, while workers’ frustrations over pay and safety have created an opportunity to add supporters and pressure the company to bargain.

But the union faces questions about whether it can translate such opportunities into lasting gains. For months after its victory at the 8,000-person warehouse on Staten Island, the union appeared to be out of its depths. It nearly buckled under a crush of international media attention and lost a vote at a second Staten Island warehouse in May.

At times, it has neglected organizing inside the original warehouse, known as JFK8, where high turnover means the union must do constant outreach just to maintain support — to say nothing of expanding. Christian Smalls, the union’s president and a former JFK8 employee, seemed distracted as he traveled widely. There was burnout and infighting in the group, and several core members left or were pushed out.

attempt to overturn its victory, which consumed time and resources, as supporters and leaders testified in hearings that dragged across 24 business days beginning in mid-June. The union delayed plans to train more workers as organizers. A national organizing call was put on hold.

a party in Hollywood and decided that the Amazon Labor Union “understood where we were coming from,” she recalled in an interview.

could spend years appealing the election result on Staten Island, and the company still has enormous power over JFK8 workers. After workers protested Amazon’s response to a fire at the site last week, the company suspended more than 60 of them with pay while, it said, it investigated what had occurred. The union filed unfair-labor-practice charges over the suspensions; Amazon said most of the workers had returned to work.

unusually high injury rates, among other safety issues. The facility was evacuated after a cardboard compactor caught fire last week, two days after the JFK8 fire, which was similar.

“The timeline to fix things is before something tragic happens,” Ms. Goodall said.

She accused Amazon of running an aggressive anti-union campaign, including regular meetings with employees in which it questions the union’s credibility and suggests that workers could end up worse off if they unionize.

Mr. Flaningan, the company spokesman, said that while injuries increased as Amazon trained hundreds of thousands of new workers in 2021, the company believed that its safety record surpassed that of other retailers over a broader period.

“Like many other companies, we hold these meetings because it’s important that everyone understands the facts about joining a union and the election process itself,” he said, adding that the decision to unionize is up to employees.

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Moss & Company Finds More Property Owners Choosing to Go Local for Management Needs

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–When it comes to choosing a property management company, the size of a company often becomes a sticking point for many property owners. It’s not hard to understand the many advantages a national property manager can offer to an owner, such as vast resources and economies of scale at a national level. In the past year, however, there’s been a trend of many property owners turning to the regional managers, in some cases at a higher fee, to improve their bottom line. So, what is it that prompts the property owners to leave their national operators and go local? We’ve spoken with a few of these property owners and it turns out bigger isn’t always better when it comes to operating real estate.

Location, location, location!

Property owners often turn to regional property managers for the extensive knowledge of the area. In most cases, the regional companies have the staff, including key decision makers, live and work in the areas where the properties are located. It is not uncommon for a CEO of a regional company to personally stop by the properties they manage and shop the competition. This type of a hands-on approach allows regional operators to make better informed decisions to improve operations, and to adopt to any sub-market changes quickly.

To reduce liability and risk, a property manager must be current and well-versed not only in Federal Fair Housing laws, but also in the local ordinances and regulations. Regional operators are typically very familiar with all the nuances of the local laws, and are often the first to hear and act on any changes that occur in their localities. This enables regional operators to ensure protection of the managed assets while reducing liability and risk for property owners.

A more concentrated regional footprint of a local company can offer better economies of scale when compared to a dispersed footprint of a national company. The local plumber doesn’t care about how many buildings their customer has in other states. Having more properties located near each other gives regional operators greater leverage to negotiate with property vendors. This leverage leads to better service and greater savings for property owners.

Flexibility and Agility.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to property management. Every asset and every owner requires individual attention and strategy, and tailoring to each need can be a challenge for any operator. A national operator may have a steady hand on the pulse of their portfolio at a macro level, but can miss the mark by not adjusting to the unique needs of a property. This is often the case when a national company takes on smaller size properties, and tries to fit them into their national model. National operators usually look for cost-saving models based on streamlined process and limited flexibility, often unwilling to take on properties smaller than 100 units or an owner with a single asset. On the other hand, most regional companies will gladly take on smaller buildings as their models typically allow for more flexibility and agility, which in turn better aligns with the owner’s vision and goals.

Human Connection.

It doesn’t matter how big or technologically advanced the property management company is, if it lacks human connection it is destined to eventually lose customers. So, while national operators become increasingly reliant on automation and tech-heavy reporting, regional operators continue focusing on personal interactions and building relationships.

To understand the importance of human connection in property management, we spoke with Chris Gray, President at Moss & Company Property Management. “Property management companies are only as good as the people that make up the team of employees,” says Mr. Gray. “Good team members want progress and growth in their careers. With 14,000 units in Los Angeles, we are able to offer our employees more opportunities for advancement without having to pack their bags and move their families across the state lines. Our concentrated footprint allows us to build a tight knit culture resulting in employment tenure of 20-30 years. Our clients love the consistency, and our employees love the growth. This along with our local purchasing power, due to size, provides our clients with better results and therefore greater returns.”

About Moss & Company

Moss & Company boasts its reputation of being the regional expert, operating nearly 14,000 residential units and approximately 2 million square feet of commercial space in the Greater Los Angeles area. Founded in 1960 with headquarters in Sherman Oaks, Moss & Company is Southern California’s premier property management firm.

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Embattled Sarver Says He’s Decided To Sell Suns, Mercury

By Associated Press
September 21, 2022

Robert Sarver is the primary owner of NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, he was recently suspended for racist and misogynistic conduct.

Robert Sarver says he has started the process of selling the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, a move that comes only eight days after he was suspended by the NBA over workplace misconduct including racist speech and hostile behavior toward employees.

Sarver made the announcement Wednesday, saying selling “is the best course of action,” although he initially hoped that he would be able to keep control of the franchises — pointing to his record that, he claims, paints a dramatically different picture of who he is and what he stands for.

“But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible — that whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past,” Sarver wrote in a statement. “For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury.”

Sarver bought the teams in July 2004. He is not the lone owner, but the primary one.

Assuming no other team is sold in the interim, it would be the first sale in the NBA since a group led by Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith bought the Utah Jazz in 2021 for about $1.7 billion.

It’s not known if Sarver has established an asking price. Forbes recently estimated the value of the Suns at $1.8 billion.

An independent report that was commissioned by the NBA last November and took about 10 months to complete found that Sarver “repeated or purported to repeat the N-word on at least five occasions spanning his tenure with the Suns,” though added that the investigation “makes no finding that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with the intent to demean or denigrate.”

The study also concluded that Sarver used demeaning language toward female employees, including telling a pregnant employee that she would not be able to do her job after becoming a mother; made off-color comments and jokes about sex and anatomy; and yelled and cursed at employees in ways that would be considered bullying “under workplace standards.”

Once that report was completed, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million — the maximum allowed by league rule.

“Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together — and strengthened the Phoenix area — through the unifying power of professional men’s and women’s basketball,” Sarver wrote. “As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected that the commissioner’s one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love.”

Barely a week later, Sarver evidently realized that would not be possible.

His decision comes after a chorus of voices — from players like Suns guard Chris Paul and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, to longtime team sponsors like PayPal, and even the National Basketball Players Association — said the one-year suspension wasn’t enough.

Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi called last week for Sarver to resign, saying there should be “zero tolerance” for lewd, misogynistic and racist conduct in any workplace. Najafi, in that same statement, also said he did not have designs on becoming the team’s primary owner.

“I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world,” Sarver wrote. “I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the employees, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.”

Sarver, through his attorney, argued to the NBA during the investigative process that his record as an owner shows a “longstanding commitment to social and racial justice” and that it shows he’s had a “commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Among the examples Sarver cited was what he described as a league-best rate of 55% employment of minorities within the Suns’ front office and how more than half of the team’s coaches and general managers in his tenure — including current coach Monty Williams and current GM James Jones — are Black.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Phoenix Suns Owner Fined $10M For Racist, Misogynistic Conduct

Robert Sarver, who also owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was suspended one year and fined the league maximum after a nearly yearlong investigation.

The NBA has suspended Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver for one year, plus fined him $10 million, after an investigation found that he had engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.”

The findings of the league’s report, published Tuesday, came nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents over his nearly two-decade tenure overseeing the franchise.

Sarver said he will “accept the consequences of the league’s decision” and apologized for “words and actions that offended our employees,” though noted he disagreed with some of the report’s findings.

The report said Sarver “repeated or purported to repeat the N-word on at least five occasions spanning his tenure with the Suns,” though added that the investigation “makes no finding that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with the intent to demean or denigrate.”

The study also concluded that Sarver used demeaning language toward female employees, including telling a pregnant employee that she would not be able to do her job after becoming a mother; made off-color comments and jokes about sex and anatomy; and yelled and cursed at employees in ways that would be considered bullying “under workplace standards.”

The $10 million fine is the maximum allowed by NBA rule.

“I take full responsibility for what I have done,” Sarver said. “I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values. … This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate a capacity to learn and grow as we continue to build a working culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.”

Sarver, the league said, cannot be present at any NBA or WNBA team facility, including any office, arena, or practice facility; attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity, including games, practices or business partner activity; represent the Suns or Mercury in any public or private capacity; or have any involvement with the business or basketball operations of the Suns or Mercury.

The league said it would donate the $10 million “to organizations that are committed to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.”

“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We believe the outcome is the right one, taking into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to upholding proper standards in NBA workplaces.”

It’s the second-largest penalty — in terms of total sanctions — ever levied by the NBA against a team owner, behind Donald Sterling being banned for life by Silver in 2014. Sterling was fined $2.5 million, the largest allowable figure at that time, and was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the massive fallout that followed him making racist comments in a recorded conversation.

The allegations against Sarver were reported by ESPN last year, which said it talked to dozens of current and former team employees for its story, including some who detailed inappropriate behavior. He originally denied or disputed most of the allegations through his legal team.

On Tuesday, Sarver’s representatives said the investigation’s findings “confirmed that there was no evidence, whatsoever, to support several of the accusations in ESPN’s reporting from November 2021.”

“While it is difficult to identify with precision what motivated Sarver’s workplace behavior described in this report, certain patterns emerged from witness accounts: Sarver often acted aggressively in an apparent effort to provoke a reaction from his targets; Sarver’s sense of humor was sophomoric and inappropriate for the workplace; and Sarver behaved as though workplace norms and policies did not apply to him,” read the report from the New York-based investigating firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Sarver will have to complete a training program “focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace” during his suspension, the league said.

Among the league’s findings:

— That Sarver engaged in “crude, sexual and vulgar commentary and conduct in the workplace,” including references to sexual acts, condoms and the anatomy, referring to both his own and those of others.

— The investigation also found that Sarver sent a small number of male Suns employees “joking pornographic material and crude emails, including emails containing photos of a nude woman and a video of two people having sex.”

— Sarver, the investigation found, also exposed himself unnecessarily to a male Suns employee during a fitness check, caused another male employee to become uncomfortable by grabbing him and dancing “pelvis to pelvis” at a holiday party, and standing nude in front of a male employee following a shower.

— He also made comments about female employees, the investigation found, including the attractiveness of Suns dancers, and asked a female Suns employee if she had undergone breast augmentation.

The league also will require the Suns and Mercury to engage in a series of workplace improvements, including retaining outside firms that will “focus on fostering a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace.”

Employees of those organizations will be surveyed, anonymously and regularly, to ensure that proper workplace culture is in place. The NBA and WNBA will need to be told immediately of any instances, or even allegations, of significant misconduct by any employees.

All those conditions will be in place for three years.

The league said the results of the investigation were based on interviews with 320 individuals, including current and former employees who worked for the teams during Sarver’s 18 years with the Suns, and from the evaluation of more than 80,000 documents and other materials, including emails, text messages and videos.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Russia Says the Gas Pipeline to Germany Will Remain Closed

Gazprom said on Friday that it would postpone restarting the flow of natural gas through a closely watched pipeline that connects Russia and Germany, an unexpected delay that appeared to be part of a larger struggle between Moscow and the West over energy and the war in Ukraine.

The Russian-owned energy giant had been expected to resume the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Saturday after three days of maintenance. But hours before the pipeline was set to reopen, Gazprom said that problems had been found during inspections, and that the pipeline would be closed until they were eliminated. It did not give a timeline for restarting.

The announcement had the hallmarks of a tit-for-tat move. Earlier on Friday, finance ministers for the Group of 7 countries said that they had agreed to impose a price cap mechanism on Russian oil in a bid to choke off some of the energy revenue Moscow is still collecting from Europe.

Eric Mamer, a spokesman for the European Commission, said that the “fallacious pretenses” for the latest delay were “proof of Russia’s cynicism.”

Russia has, during Mr. Putin’s long tenure, used energy for geopolitical ends, often with the goal of gaining leverage over European policies toward Ukraine. Mr. Putin has taken a keen interest in the oil and natural gas industries, often negotiating deals personally with energy giants in ways that barely hide the political subtext. The Nord Stream pipelines, which are designed to bypass Ukraine by sending gas directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea, have been central to the Kremlin’s political use of energy.

In its statement Friday, Gazprom said it found oil leaks around a turbine used to pressurize the pipeline, forcing it to call off the restart. The German company Siemens Energy, the maker of the turbine, cast doubt on that account. “As the manufacturer of the turbines, we can only state that such a finding is not a technical reason for stopping operation,” the company said late Friday. Siemens also said there were additional turbines available that could be used to keep the pipeline operating.

OPEC Plus group of oil producing countries, headed by Saudi Arabia and Russia, have been hinting that they might pivot away from their gradual post-pandemic production increases and cut output to bolster falling prices. The group is expected to meet on Monday to set oil production levels.

“Putin will endeavor to demonstrate that he has not played his last card and that there are many open windows in his energy war with the West,” Helima Croft, head of commodities at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients on Friday.

The latest action by Gazprom will raise fears of a permanent shutdown of the pipeline, which had been the key conduit for gas to Germany, a country heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. Like other European Union nations, Germany has been rushing to fill storage facilities before winter as insurance against Russian cutoffs.

since late July. Well after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the pipeline was typically transporting around five times that level.

Britain’s energy regulator said that fuel bills for 24 million households would rise by 80 percent beginning in October, putting pressure on the next prime minister, expected to be Liz Truss, to turn immediate attention to coming up with a massive aid package to head off a catastrophic winter.

Britain’s government is not the only one working to mitigate the energy crisis in Europe. Facing dire circumstances, lawmakers and regulators across the continent are increasingly intervening in the energy markets to protect consumers.

At the same time, the European natural gas market has changed substantially over the last year as Russia crimped supplies and Europe turned to other sources. Flows from Russia to Europe have declined sharply.

imports of liquefied natural gas shipped by sea from the United States and elsewhere, and increased pipeline flows from producers including Norway and Azerbaijan. The problem is that the shifts have forced gas prices higher, as Europe vies with Asia for limited supplies of liquefied gas.

Until Friday’s announcement there was increasing optimism about the prospect for navigating the winter with less Russian gas, leading to the fall in natural gas prices in recent days. Wood Mackenzie, an energy research firm, has projected that Russian pipeline gas imports will steadily decline from supplying more than a third of European demand in recent years to around 9 percent in 2023.

Even the importance of Nord Stream has diminished. Analysts say that Gazprom has so constrained Nord Stream volumes this summer that the pipeline’s performance is no longer crucial to the overall fundamentals of the market. But news about the conduit still has a psychological impact, and some analysts expect gas prices to jump when markets open on Monday.

“A complete shutdown will obviously have implications on market sentiment given how tight the market is,” said Massimo Di Odoardo, vice president for global gas at Wood Mackenzie. Such an event, he added, would “increase the risk of further cuts via other pipelines bringing Russian gas to the E.U. via Ukraine and Turkey.”

Andrew E. Kramer contributed.

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Trump Seeks Special Master To Review Mar-a-Lago Documents

The request was included in a federal lawsuit, the first filing by Trump’s legal team in the two weeks since the search.

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump asked a federal judge Monday to halt the FBI’s review of documents recovered from his Florida estate earlier this month until a neutral special master can be appointed to inspect the records.

The request was included in a federal lawsuit, the first filing by Trump’s legal team in the two weeks since the search, that takes broad aim at the FBI investigation into the discovery of classified records at Mar-a-Lago and that foreshadows arguments his lawyers are expected to make as the probe proceeds.

The lawsuit casts the Aug. 8 search, in which the FBI said it recovered 11 sets of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, as a “shockingly aggressive move.” It also attacks the warrant as overly broad, contends that Trump is entitled to a more detailed description of the records seized from the home and argues that the FBI and Justice Department has long treated him “unfairly.”

“Law enforcement is a shield that protects America. It cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes,” the lawyers wrote Monday. “Therefore, we seek judicial assistance in the aftermath of an unprecedented and unnecessary raid” at Mar-a-Lago.

In a separate statement, Trump said “ALL documents have been previously declassified” — though he has not produced evidence to support that claim — and described the records as having been “illegally seized from my home.” The Justice Department countered in a terse three-sentence statement pointing out that the search had been authorized by a federal judge after the FBI presented probable cause that a crime had been committed.

The filing requests the appointment of a special master not connected the case who would be tasked with inspecting the records recovered from Mar-a-Lago and setting aside those that are covered by executive privilege — a principle that permits presidents to withhold certain communications from public disclosure.

In some other high-profile cases — including investigations involving Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen, two of Trump’s personal attorneys — that role has been filled by a former judge.

“This matter has captured the attention of the American public. Merely ‘adequate’ safeguards are not acceptable when the matter at hand involves not only the constitutional rights of President Trump, but also the presumption of executive privilege,” the attorneys wrote.

The lawsuit argues that the records, created during Trump’s White House tenure, are “presumptively privileged.” But the Supreme Court has never determined whether a former president can assert executive privilege over documents, writing in January that the issue is unprecedented and raises “serious and substantial concerns.”

The high court turned down Trump’s plea to block records held by the National Archives from being turned over to the Jan. 6 committee, saying then that his request would have been denied even if he had been the incumbent president, so there was no need to tackle the thorny issue of a former president’s claims.

The lawsuit paints Trump as “fully cooperative” and compliant with investigators, saying members of his personal and household staff were made available for voluntary interviews and quoting him as telling FBI and Justice Department officials during a June visit to Mar-a-Lago, “Whatever you need, just let us know.”

But the chronology of events makes clear that the search took place only after other options to recover classified documents from the home had been incomplete or unsuccessful. In May, for instance, weeks before the search, the Justice Department issued a subpoena for records bearing classification markings.

The Trump team’s lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who was nominated by Trump in 2020 and confirmed by the Senate 56-21 later that year. She is a former assistant U.S. attorney in Florida, handling mainly criminal appeals.

The months-long investigation, which burst into public view with the Mar-a-Lago search, emerged from a referral from the National Archives, which earlier this year retrieved 15 boxes of documents and other items from the estate that should have been turned over to the agency when Trump left the White House. An initial review of that material concluded that Trump had brought presidential records and several other documents that were marked classified to Mar-a-Lago.

FBI and Justice Department officials visited Mar-a-Lago in June and asked to inspect a storage room. Several weeks later, the Justice Department subpoenaed for video footage from surveillance cameras at the estate. After the meeting at Mar-a-Lago, investigators interviewed another witness who told them that there were likely additional classified documents still at the estate, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Separately Monday, a federal judge acknowledged that redactions to an FBI affidavit spelling out the basis for the search might be so extensive as to make the document “meaningless” if released to the public. But he said he continued to believe it should not remain sealed in its entirety because of the “intense” public interest in the investigation.

A written order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart largely restates what he said in court last week, when he directed the Justice Department to propose redactions about the information in the affidavit that it wants to remain secret. That submission is due Thursday at noon.

Justice Department officials have sought to keep the entire document sealed, saying disclosing any portion of it risks compromising an ongoing criminal investigation, revealing information about witnesses and divulging investigative techniques. They have advised the judge that the necessary redactions to the affidavit would be so numerous that they would strip the document of any substantive information and make it effectively meaningless for the public.

Reinhart acknowledged that possibility in his Monday order, writing, “I cannot say at this point that partial redactions will be so extensive that they will result in a meaningless disclosure, but I may ultimately reach that conclusion after hearing further from the Government.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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CDC Director Announces Shake-Up, Citing COVID Mistakes

The agency has long been criticized as too ponderous, focusing on collection and analysis of data but not acting quickly against new health threats.

The head of the nation’s top public health agency on Wednesday announced a shake-up of the organization, saying it fell short responding to COVID-19 and needs to become more nimble.

The planned changes at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — CDC leaders call it a “reset”— come amid criticism of the agency’s response to COVID-19, monkeypox and other public health threats. The changes include internal staffing moves and steps to speed up data releases.

The CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told the agency’s staff about the changes on Wednesday. It’s a CDC initiative, and was not directed by the White House or other administration officials, she said.

“I feel like it’s my responsibility to lead this agency to a better place after a really challenging three years,” Walensky told The Associated Press.

The Atlanta-based agency, with a $12 billion budget and more than 11,000 employees, is charged with protecting Americans from disease outbreaks and other public health threats. It’s customary for each CDC director to do some reorganizing, but Walensky’s action comes amid a wider demand for change.

The agency has long been criticized as too ponderous, focusing on collection and analysis of data but not acting quickly against new health threats. Public unhappiness with the agency grew dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts said the CDC was slow to recognize how much virus was entering the U.S. from Europe, to recommend people wear masks, to say the virus can spread through the air, and to ramp up systematic testing for new variants.

“We saw during COVID that CDC’s structures, frankly, weren’t designed to take in information, digest it and disseminate it to the public at the speed necessary,” said Jason Schwartz, a health policy researcher at the Yale School of Public Health.

Walensky, who became director in January 2021, has long said the agency has to move faster and communicate better, but stumbles have continued during her tenure. In April, she called for an in-depth review of the agency, which resulted in the announced changes.

“It’s not lost on me that we fell short in many ways” responding to the coronavirus, Walensky said. “We had some pretty public mistakes, and so much of this effort was to hold up the mirror … to understand where and how we could do better.”

Her reorganization proposal must be approved by the Department of Health and Human Services secretary. CDC officials say they hope to have a full package of changes finalized, approved and underway by early next year.

Some changes still are being formulated, but steps announced Wednesday include:

—Increasing use of preprint scientific reports to get out actionable data, instead of waiting for research to go through peer review and publication by the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

—Restructuring the agency’s communications office and further revamping CDC websites to make the agency’s guidance for the public more clear and easier to find.

—Altering the length of time agency leaders are devoted to outbreak responses to a minimum of six months — an effort to address a turnover problem that at times caused knowledge gaps and affected the agency’s communications.

—Creation of a new executive council to help Walensky set strategy and priorities.

—Appointing Mary Wakefield as senior counselor to implement the changes. Wakefield headed the Health Resources and Services Administration during the Obama administration and also served as the No. 2 administrator at HHS. Wakefield, 68, started Monday.

—Altering the agency’s organization chart to undo some changes made during the Trump administration.

—Establishing an office of intergovernmental affairs to smooth partnerships with other agencies, as well as a higher-level office on health equity.

Walensky also said she intends to “get rid of some of the reporting layers that exist, and I’d like to work to break down some of the silos.” She did not say exactly what that may entail, but emphasized that the overall changes are less about redrawing the organization chart than rethinking how the CDC does business and motivates staff.

“This will not be simply moving boxes” on the organization chart, she said.

Schwartz said flaws in the federal response go beyond the CDC, because the White House and other agencies were heavily involved.

A CDC reorganization is a positive step but “I hope it’s not the end of the story,” Schwartz said. He would like to see “a broader accounting” of how the federal government handles health crises.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Trump Says FBI Conducting Search Of Mar-a-Lago Estate

By Associated Press
August 8, 2022

Former President Donald Trump said in a lengthy statement Monday that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Former President Donald Trump said in a lengthy statement Monday that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate and asserted that agents had broken open a safe. A person familiar with the matter said the action was related to a probe of whether Trump had taken classified records from his White House tenure to his Florida residence.

The action, which the FBI and Justice Department did not immediately confirm, marks a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump and comes as he has been laying the groundwork to make another bid for president. Though a search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officials looking to obtain one must demonstrate that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.

“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said in his statement.

He added: “These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”

Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, including about whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized the search.

A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search happened earlier Monday and agents were also looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or any classified documents at the estate.

The Justice Department has been investigating the presence of classified records inside 15 boxes that were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago by the National Archives and Records Administration earlier this year. The Archives then referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Federal law bars the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though it is possible that Trump could try to argue that, as president, he was the ultimate declassification authority.

There are multiple statutes governing classified information, including a law punishable by up to five years in prison that makes it a crime to remove such records and retain them at an unauthorized location. Another statute makes it a crime to mishandle classified records either intentionally or in a grossly negligent manner.

The probe is hardly the only legal headache confronting Trump. A separate investigation related to efforts by Trump and his allies to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol has also been intensifying in Washington.

And a district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia is investigation whether Trump and his close associates sought to interfere in that state’s election, which was won by Democrat Joe Biden.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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