Rising home prices and income inequality priced many out of the market, but for strivers who aspired to homeownership, the latest ruptures to the economy hit hard. The release of the new government’s sweeping plan for debt-funded tax cuts led to a big uptick in interest rates this week that roiled the mortgage market. Many homeowners are calculating their potential future mortgage payments with alarm, amid soaring energy and food prices and a general cost-of-living crisis.

Before they were informed they were no longer eligible, the family had been in the final stages of applying for a five-year fixed-rate mortgage on an apartment priced at £519,000, or around $576,000, in the leafy parish of Loughton, a town about 40 minutes north of London by train where the streets fill with students in the afternoon and the properties span from lower-end apartments to million-pound mansions.

according to the Financial Conduct Authority. And more than a third of all mortgages are on fixed rates that expire within the next two years, most likely exposing those borrowers to higher rates, too. By contrast, the vast majority of mortgages in the United States are locked in for 30-year fixed terms.

And the abrupt surge in interest rates could threaten to set off a housing market crisis, analysts at Oxford Economics wrote in a note on Friday, adding that if mortgage rates stayed at the levels now being offered, that would suggest that house prices were around 30 percent overvalued “based on the affordability of mortgage payment.”

“This just adds a significant further strain to finances in the order of hundreds of pounds a month,” said David Sturrock, a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, adding that the squeeze on household budgets will affect the broader economy.

Uncertainty and even panic was clear this week, with many homeowners seeking financial advice. Mortgage brokers said they were receiving a higher volume of inquiries than normal from people stressed about refinancing their loans.

“You can feel the fear in people’s voices,” said Caroline Opie, a mortgage broker working with Ms. Anne who said she had not seen this level of worry in a long time. One couple this week even called her the morning of their wedding, she said, to set an appointment to refinance their mortgage next week.

the war in Ukraine. “Something has got to give,” he said. “Prices are too high anyway.”

To save for the deposit, Mr. Szostek, 37, picked up construction shifts and cleaning jobs when restaurants closed during Covid-19 lockdowns. A £5,000 inheritance from Ms. Anne’s grandfather went into their deposit fund. At a 3.99 percent interest rate, the mortgage repayments were set to be about £2,200 a month.

“I wanted to feel at home for real,” said Ms. Anne, adding she would have been the first in her family to own a property. Mr. Szostek called it “a lifelong dream.”

On Wednesday night, that dream still seemed in reach: The mortgage dealer Ms. Opie had found another loan, which they rushed to apply for.

The higher interest rate — 4.6 percent — will mean their new monthly mortgage payment will be £2,400, the upper limit of what the Szostek family can afford. Still, they felt lucky to secure anything at all, hoping it will mean their promises to their children — of bigger bedrooms, more space, freedom to decorate how they like — will materialize.

They would wait to celebrate, Mr. Szostek said, until they had the keys in hand.

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They Were Entitled to Free Care. Hospitals Hounded Them to Pay.

In 2018, senior executives at one of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital chains, Providence, were frustrated. They were spending hundreds of millions of dollars providing free health care to patients. It was eating into their bottom line.

The executives, led by Providence’s chief financial officer at the time, devised a solution: a program called Rev-Up.

Rev-Up provided Providence’s employees with a detailed playbook for wringing money out of patients — even those who were supposed to receive free care because of their low incomes, a New York Times investigation found.

nonprofits like Providence. They enjoy lucrative tax exemptions; Providence avoids more than $1 billion a year in taxes. In exchange, the Internal Revenue Service requires them to provide services, such as free care for the poor, that benefit the communities in which they operate.

But in recent decades, many of the hospitals have become virtually indistinguishable from for-profit companies, adopting an unrelenting focus on the bottom line and straying from their traditional charitable missions.

focused on investments in rich communities at the expense of poorer ones.

And, as Providence illustrates, some hospital systems have not only reduced their emphasis on providing free care to the poor but also developed elaborate systems to convert needy patients into sources of revenue. The result, in the case of Providence, is that thousands of poor patients were saddled with debts that they never should have owed, The Times found.

provide. That was below the average of 2 percent for nonprofit hospitals nationwide, according to an analysis of hospital financial records by Ge Bai, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Ten states, however, have adopted their own laws that specify which patients, based on their income and family size, qualify for free or discounted care. Among them is Washington, where Providence is based. All hospitals in the state must provide free care for anyone who makes under 300 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that threshold is $83,250 a year.

In February, Bob Ferguson, the state’s attorney general, accused Providence of violating state law, in part by using debt collectors to pursue more than 55,000 patient accounts. The suit alleged that Providence wrongly claimed those patients owed a total of more than $73 million.

Providence, which is fighting the lawsuit, has said it will stop using debt collectors to pursue money from low-income patients who should qualify for free care in Washington.

But The Times found that the problems extend beyond Washington. In interviews, patients in California and Oregon who qualified for free care said they had been charged thousands of dollars and then harassed by collection agents. Many saw their credit scores ruined. Others had to cut back on groceries to pay what Providence claimed they owed. In both states, nonprofit hospitals are required by law to provide low-income patients with free or discounted care.

“I felt a little betrayed,” said Bev Kolpin, 57, who had worked as a sonogram technician at a Providence hospital in Oregon. Then she went on unpaid leave to have surgery to remove a cyst. The hospital billed her $8,000 even though she was eligible for discounted care, she said. “I had worked for them and given them so much, and they didn’t give me anything.” (The hospital forgave her debt only after a lawyer contacted Providence on Ms. Kolpin’s behalf.)

was a single room with four beds. The hospital charged patients $1 a day, not including extras like whiskey.

Patients rarely paid in cash, sometimes offering chickens, ducks and blankets in exchange for care.

At the time, hospitals in the United States were set up to do what Providence did — provide inexpensive care to the poor. Wealthier people usually hired doctors to treat them at home.

wrote to the Senate in 2005.

Some hospital executives have embraced the comparison to for-profit companies. Dr. Rod Hochman, Providence’s chief executive, told an industry publication in 2021 that “‘nonprofit health care’ is a misnomer.”

“It is tax-exempt health care,” he said. “It still makes profits.”

Those profits, he added, support the hospital’s mission. “Every dollar we make is going to go right back into Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Alaska and Montana.”

Since Dr. Hochman took over in 2013, Providence has become a financial powerhouse. Last year, it earned $1.2 billion in profits through investments. (So far this year, Providence has lost money.)

Providence also owes some of its wealth to its nonprofit status. In 2019, the latest year available, Providence received roughly $1.2 billion in federal, state and local tax breaks, according to the Lown Institute, a think tank that studies health care.

a speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures.”

Ms. Tizon, the spokeswoman for Providence, said the intent of Rev-Up was “not to target or pressure those in financial distress.” Instead, she said, “it aimed to provide patients with greater pricing transparency.”

“We recognize the tone of the training materials developed by McKinsey was not consistent with our values,” she said, adding that Providence modified the materials “to ensure we are communicating with each patient with compassion and respect.”

But employees who were responsible for collecting money from patients said the aggressive tactics went beyond the scripts provided by McKinsey. In some Providence collection departments, wall-mounted charts shaped like oversize thermometers tracked employees’ progress toward hitting their monthly collection goals, the current and former Providence employees said.

On Halloween at one of Providence’s hospitals, an employee dressed up as a wrestler named Rev-Up Ricky, according to the Washington lawsuit. Another costume featured a giant cardboard dollar sign with “How” printed on top of it, referring to the way the staff was supposed to ask patients how, not whether, they would pay. Ms. Tizon said such costumes were “not the culture we strive for.”

financial assistance policy, his low income qualified him for free care.

In early 2021, Mr. Aguirre said, he received a bill from Providence for $4,394.45. He told Providence that he could not afford to pay.

Providence sent his account to Harris & Harris, a debt collection company. Mr. Aguirre said that Harris & Harris employees had called him repeatedly for weeks and that the ordeal made him wary of going to Providence again.

“I try my best not to go to their emergency room even though my daughters have gotten sick, and I got sick,” Mr. Aguirre said, noting that one of his daughters needed a biopsy and that he had trouble breathing when he had Covid. “I have this big fear in me.”

That is the outcome that hospitals like Providence may be hoping for, said Dean A. Zerbe, who investigated nonprofit hospitals when he worked for the Senate Finance Committee under Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.

“They just want to make sure that they never come back to that hospital and they tell all their friends never to go back to that hospital,” Mr. Zerbe said.

The Everett Daily Herald, Providence forgave her bill and refunded the payments she had made.

In June, she got another letter from Providence. This one asked her to donate money to the hospital: “No gift is too small to make a meaningful impact.”

In 2019, Vanessa Weller, a single mother who is a manager at a Wendy’s restaurant in Anchorage, went to Providence Alaska Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital.

She was 24 weeks pregnant and experiencing severe abdominal pains. “Let this just be cramps,” she recalled telling herself.

Ms. Weller was in labor. She gave birth via cesarean section to a boy who weighed barely a pound. She named him Isaiah. As she was lying in bed, pain radiating across her abdomen, she said, a hospital employee asked how she would like to pay. She replied that she had applied for Medicaid, which she hoped would cover the bill.

After five days in the hospital, Isaiah died.

Then Ms. Weller got caught up in Providence’s new, revenue-boosting policies.

The phone calls began about a month after she left the hospital. Ms. Weller remembers panicking when Providence employees told her what she owed: $125,000, or about four times her annual salary.

She said she had repeatedly told Providence that she was already stretched thin as a single mother with a toddler. Providence’s representatives asked if she could pay half the amount. On later calls, she said, she was offered a payment plan.

“It was like they were following some script,” she said. “Like robots.”

Later that year, a Providence executive questioned why Ms. Weller had a balance, given her low income, according to emails disclosed in Washington’s litigation with Providence. A colleague replied that her debts previously would have been forgiven but that Providence’s new policy meant that “balances after Medicaid are being excluded from presumptive charity process.”

Ms. Weller said she had to change her phone number to make the calls stop. Her credit score plummeted from a decent 650 to a lousy 400. She has not paid any of her bill.

Susan C. Beachy and Beena Raghavendran contributed research.

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Yankees’ Judge Hits Home Run 55, Nears American League Record

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is on pace to hit 65 home runs, which would surpass the record 61 set by fellow Yankee Roger Maris in 1961.

“61 in ’61” is a phrase that’s held up for more than six decades in Major League Baseball. It signifies the American League record 61 home runs hit by New York Yankees great Roger Maris in 1961. 

A record that may soon be replaced at the hands of Aaron Judge.

The Yankees outfielder homered for a fourth straight game Wednesday afternoon, blasting his 55th of the season in the first game of a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. 

The 374-foot bomb is Judge’s sixth over his last eight games and set the franchise record for the most home runs by a right-handed hitter in team history. Alex Rodriguez finished the season with 54 in 2007.

Judge also now holds the record for most home runs by any Yankee through the team’s first 136 games — outpacing Maris (53 in 1961) and Babe Ruth (54 in 1921).

Despite those records, there’s just one — Maris’ “61 in ’61” — that’s keeping baseball fans on the edge of their seats when Judge steps to the plate.

With just 25 games left in the regular season, Judge is on pace to hit 10 more homers, which would put him at 65 and surpass Maris’ longstanding record.

While Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa each recorded seasons with more than 65 home runs, they came at a time that’s widely been coined the “steroid era” of baseball.  Maris’ 61 still stands as what many refer to as the “real” home run record.

The Yankees round out a four-game series against the Twins Thursday night at 7:05 ET. 

Judge is expected to be in the lineup.

Source: newsy.com

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What Makes Nutrition Advice Confusing?

Newsy’s Heath and Science correspondent Lindsey Theis looks into whether nutrition advice is helpful or confusing.

The first lesson in diet and nutrition 101 is to forget everything you think you know about diet and nutrition.  

Because chances are as soon as you’ve got it down, more advice or another diet pops up.  

Take cholesterol and fats, for example: until 2015, the USDA recommended no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily.  

For some perspective, a single egg has 186 milligrams. 

But the government removed the limit in 2015. 

Officials couldn’t prove the link between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood.  

You may remember the food pyramid from your grade school days.

It suggested a diet of six to 11 servings of breads, cereal, rice and pasta, three to five servings of vegetables and even fewer servings of meat, dairy, fruit and fats.  

The USDA scrapped that dietary guide over a decade ago and replaced it with “My Plate” showing a new way of how to section and balance your meals. 

Your food choices add up, and they all matter. So where do you start? 

The USDA recommends fruits and vegetables should now make up half of your plate with less protein, dairy and grains. 

But this year over half of Americans said they’d never seen “My Plate” before, or knew little about it. 

Then there’s calorie confusion: how many calories should we put on our plates?   

“Calories are important outside of weight loss for overall health, especially for longevity. So we want to take care of our body with really good quality calories,”said Grey.  

Some food-tracking apps like “My Fitness Pal” are based on a minimum 1,200 calorie daily diet for the quickest weight loss results. 

Historians trace this number back to one of the first modern diet books ever released in 1918.  

At the time the author Lulu Hunt Peters suggested 1,200 calories a day would keep someone’s weight controlled. It was also unpatriotic to “be fat” while thousands were starving during the WWI era. 

Certified Nutritionist Liana Warner Grey is among a chorus of food experts who say eating 1,200 calories a day is not only unhealthy, it’s the amount a toddler should eat.  

“The 1,200 calories a day is definitely a myth. We need need more fuel, more clean calories to get us through the day,” said Grey. 

Current USDA guidelines say adult women need between 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day, depending on their height, weight and activity level. 

Adult men need 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day.  

And one approach doesn’t fit all.  

A 2019 study found even identical twins don’t react to food the same way, suggesting no single diet exists that works for everyone. 

Doctors say there are many other lesser-known factors like stress. 

“The more stress people that people were experiencing, the more weight they were gaining,” said Dr. Arthur Evans, the CEO of the American Psychological Association.

Out-of-whack hormones like cortisol or leptin also contribute to weight gain.  

Even what type of sugar we eat.  

“The brain responds differently to different sugars. So corn syrup hits very differently in the body than what monk fruit or honey will do because those sugars actually provide nutritional value,” said Grey.  

Researchers say celebrity influence also plays a major role in what we eat.  

A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association this year looked at some of the most followed celebrity accounts on Instagram.   

They found an overwhelming number of posts about food and drinks that were unhealthy by U.S. nutritional standards. 

One of the studies authors says celebrities and social media have the kind of influence that can help sustain eating trends and set norms. 

“This can really contribute to followers’ perception of what is common what is valued in society right now,” said Bradley Turnwald, a behavioral scientist at The University of Chicago.

On TikTok, videos tagged “nutrition” have amassed nearly eight billion views, and posts about diet hit over 20 billion views.  

Many contradict one another .  

Dr. Idrees Mughal told the New York Times viewers tag him in 100 to 200 videos every day for help. 

The British doctor, who has a Master’s in nutrition, dedicates his entire TikTok to scientifically debunking hundreds of claims.  

For example someone said on TikTok, “eggs are one of the worst foods you can eat, full of fat and cholesterol.” 

Mughal says “eggs are one of the most nutrient rich foods we could eat, as well as being a well high quality protein and digestible amino acids. Eggs are top of the list.”

TikTok says it has measures to address harmful diet and nutrition advice.  

The company says it removes creators who violate their disordered eating policies and flags potentially harmful searches. 

But even research that experts cite isn’t always cut and dried. And variables or research blindspots can get lost in a catchy headline. 

Nutritionists say the perfect diet study is unachievable. 

They emphasize a “healthy” diet isn’t one size fits everybody. 

And that drowning out the noise and listening your own body is best.

Source: newsy.com

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Fire At Cairo Coptic Church Kills 41, Including 10 Children

Egypt’s health minister blamed the smoke and a stampede as people attempted to flee the fire for causing the fatalities.

A fire ripped through a packed Coptic Orthodox church during morning services in Egypt’s capital on Sunday, quickly filling it with thick black smoke and killing 41 worshippers, including at least 10 children.

Several trapped congregants jumped from upper floors of the Martyr Abu Sefein church to try to escape the intense flames, witnesses said. “Suffocation, suffocation, all of them dead,” said a distraught witness, who only gave a partial name, Abu Bishoy.

Sixteen people were injured, including four policemen involved in the rescue effort.

The cause of the blaze at the church in the working-class neighborhood of Imbaba was not immediately known. An initial investigation pointed to an electrical short-circuit, according to a police statement.

Weeping families waited outside for word on relatives still inside the church and at nearby hospitals where the victims were taken. Footage from the scene circulated online showed burned furniture, including wooden tables and chairs. Firefighters were seen putting out the blaze while others carried victims to ambulances.

Witnesses said there were many children inside the four-story building when the fire broke out.

“There are children, we didn’t know how to get to them,” said Abu Bishoy. “And we don’t know whose son this is, or whose daughter that is. Is this possible?”

A hospital document obtained by The Associated Press said the Imbaba public hospital received 20 bodies, including 10 children. Three were siblings, twins aged 5 and a 3-year-old, it said. The church bishop, Abdul Masih Bakhit, was also among the dead at the hospital morgue.

Twenty-one bodies were taken to other hospitals. It was not immediately known if children were among them.

Mousa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, told the AP that 5-year-old triplets, their mother, grandmother and an aunt were among those killed. He said funerals for the dead would take place at two churches in the nearby Waraq neighborhood.

Witness Emad Hanna said the church includes two places used as a day care and that a church worker managed to get some children out.

“We went upstairs and found people dead. And we started to see from outside that the smoke was getting bigger, and people want to jump from the upper floor,” Hanna said.

“We found the children,” some dead, some alive, he said.

The country’s health minister blamed the smoke and a stampede as people attempted to flee the fire for causing the fatalities. It was one of the worst fire tragedies in Egypt in recent years.

The church is located in a narrow street in one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Cairo. Sunday is the first working day of the week, and traffic jams clog the streets in Imbama and surrounding areas in the morning.

Some relatives criticized what they said were delays in the arrival of ambulance and firefighters. “They came after people died … They came after the church burned down,” shouted one woman standing outside the smoldering church.

Health Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghafar countered that the first ambulance arrived at the site two minutes after the fire was reported.

Fifteen firefighting vehicles were dispatched to the scene to put out the flames while ambulances ferried casualties to nearby hospitals, officials said.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi spoke by phone with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences, the president’s office said. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, and other government officials also offered condolences to the head of the Coptic church.

“I am closely following the developments of the tragic accident,” el-Sissi wrote on Facebook. “I directed all concerned state agencies and institutions to take all necessary measures, and immediately to deal with this accident and its effects.”

Abdel-Ghafar, the health minister, said in a statement that two of the injured were discharged from a hospital while the others were still being treated.

The Interior Ministry said it received a report of the fire at 9 a.m. local time, and first responders found that the blaze had broken out in an air conditioner on the building’s second floor.

The ministry, which oversees police and firefighters, blamed an electrical short-circuit for the fire, which produced huge amounts of smoke. Meanwhile, the country’s chief prosecutor, Hamada el-Sawy, ordered an investigation and a team of prosecutors were dispatched to the church. He said most victims died of smoke inhalation.

Later Sunday, emergency services said they managed to put out the blaze and the prime minister and other senior government officials arrived to inspect the site. Premier Mustafa Madbouly said surviving victims and families of the dead would receive payments as compensation and that the government would rebuild the church.

Egypt’s Christians account for some 10% of the nation’s more than 103 million people and have long complained of discrimination by the nation’s Muslim majority.

Sunday’s blaze was one of the worst fire tragedies in recent years in Egypt, where safety standards and fire regulations are poorly enforced. In March last year, a fire at a garment factory near Cairo killed at least 20 people and injured 24 more.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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U.S. Economy Shows Another Decline, Fanning Recession Fears

A key measure of economic output fell for the second straight quarter, raising fears that the United States could be entering a recession — or perhaps that one had already begun.

Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.2 percent in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That drop followed a decline of 0.4 percent in the first quarter. The estimates for both periods will be revised in coming months as government statisticians get more complete data.

News of the back-to-back contractions heightened a debate in Washington over whether a recession had begun and, if so, whether President Biden was to blame. Economists largely say that conditions do not meet the formal definition of a recession but that the risks of one are rising.

a bid to tame inflation, and the White House has argued that the slowdown is part of an inevitable and necessary transition to sustainable growth after last year’s rapid recovery.

“Coming off of last year’s historic economic growth — and regaining all the private-sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis — it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation,” Mr. Biden said in a statement issued after the release of the G.D.P. report. “But even as we face historic global challenges, we are on the right path, and we will come through this transition stronger and more secure.”

rising consumer prices and declining spending, the American economy is showing clear signs of slowing down, fueling concerns about a potential recession. Here are other eight measures signaling trouble ahead:

“When you’re skating on thin ice, you wonder about what it would take to push you through, and we’re on thin ice right now,” said Diane Swonk, the chief economist for KPMG.

Matthew Martin, 32, is paying more for the butter and eggs that go into the intricately decorated sugar cookies he sells as part of a home business. At the same time, his sales are falling.

“I guess people don’t have as much money to toss at cookies right now,” he said.

Mr. Martin, a single father of two, is trying to cut back on spending, but it isn’t easy. He has replaced trips to the movies with day hikes, but that means spending more on gas. He is hoping to sell his house and move into a less expensive place, but finding a house he can afford to buy has proved difficult, especially as mortgage rates have risen. He has thought about finding a conventional 9-to-5 job to pay the bills, but he would then need to pay for child care for his 4-year-old twins.

“Honestly, I’m not 100 percent sure what I’m going to do,” he said.

defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and lasts more than a few months,” and it bases its decisions on a variety of indicators — usually only months after the fact.

Some forecasters believe a recession can be avoided, if inflation cools enough that the Fed can slow interest rate increases before they take too much of a toll on hiring and spending.

The economy still has important areas of strength. Job growth has remained robust, and, despite a recent uptick in filings for unemployment insurance, there is little sign of a broad increase in job losses.

Households, in the aggregate, are sitting on trillions of dollars in savings built up earlier in the pandemic, which could allow them to weather higher prices and interest rates.

“What drives the U.S. consumer is the healthy labor market, and we should really focus on job growth to capture the turning point in this business cycle,” said Blerina Uruci, an economist at T. Rowe Price. The Labor Department will release data on July’s hiring and unemployment next week.

The lingering effects of the pandemic are making the economy’s signals harder to interpret. Americans bought fewer cars, couches and other goods in the second quarter, but forecasters had long expected spending on goods to fall as consumers shifted back toward prepandemic spending patterns. Indeed, economists argue that a pullback in spending on goods is needed to relieve pressure on overstretched supply chains.

At the same time, spending on services accelerated. That could be a sign of consumers’ resilience in the face of soaring airfares and rental car rates. Or it could merely reflect a temporary willingness to put up with high prices, which will fade along with the summer sun.

“There is going to be this element of, ‘We haven’t had a summer vacation in three years, so we’re just going to take one, no matter how much it costs,’” said Aditya Bhave, a senior economist for Bank of America. “The question is what happens after the summer.”

Avital Ungar is trying to interpret the conflicting signals in real time. Ms. Ungar operates a small business running food tours for tourists and corporate groups in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

When restaurants closed and travel stopped early in the pandemic, Ms. Ungar had no revenue. She made it through by offering virtual happy hours and online cooking classes. When in-person tours came back, business was uneven, shifting with each new coronavirus variant. Ms. Ungar said demand remained hard to predict as prices rise and the economy slows.

“We’re in two different types of uncertainty,” she said. “There was the pandemic uncertainty, and then there’s the economic uncertainty right now.”

In response, Ms. Ungar has shifted her focus to higher-end tours, which she believes will hold up better than those aimed at more price-sensitive customers. And she is trying to avoid long-term commitments that could be difficult to get out of if demand cools.

“Every annual plan I’ve done in the past three years has not happened that way,” she said. “It’s really important to recognize that what worked yesterday isn’t going to work tomorrow.”

Lydia DePillis contributed reporting.

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David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz Takes Center Stage At MLB Hall Inductions

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Minnie Miñoso, Gil Hodges, Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler.

David Ortiz promised to speak from the heart. As usual, Big Papi delivered.

His megawatt smile tinged with a tad of emotion, the former Boston Red Sox slugger was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on Sunday — after his daughter Alexandra sang the national anthem — and was humbled by his surroundings.

“I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to be here today and for giving me the joy of being able to travel this path, this path that has allowed me to be here today and hopefully inspire everyone to believe in yourself,” Ortiz said.

John Minchillo / AP

Ortiz was greeted by a raucous crowd chanting “Papi! Papi!” as many fans made the four-hour drive from the vicinity of Fenway Park to attend the festivities.

When he took the stage, Ortiz pointed skyward as is his wont in special moments, a way of honoring his late mother, who died two decades ago after a car accident.

“I always tried to live my life in a way … so I can make a positive influence in the world,” said the 46-year-old Ortiz, just the 58th player elected in his first year on the ballot. “And if my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone you can change the world, you can change their future, just like so many people believed in me.”

Ortiz, who survived a nightclub shooting in the Dominican Republic three years ago, soaked in the celebration.

Legions of fans crowded onto the field adjacent to Clark Sports Center, sun umbrellas and Dominican Republic flags sprinkled all around. Ortiz’s No. 34 was seemingly everywhere as fans chanted and sang in Spanish. A sign that read ‘I Love U’ summed up the admiration for Big Papi on his special day.

Six Era Committee selections also comprised the Class of 2022 — former Twins teammates Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, the late Minnie Miñoso, former Dodgers star and Mets manager Gil Hodges, and Black pioneers Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler.

In 14 years with the Red Sox, Ortiz hit 500 homers — 17 of them in the postseason.

If there was a blemish, there was a report by The New York Times that said he tested positive during the 2003 survey drug test conducted by MLB and the players’ association. Ortiz was never penalized for performance-enhancing drugs, and MLB and the union never confirmed there was a positive test. The sides said the survey test results never were vetted to the point of the testing with penalties that started in 2004.

That was far from the mind on this day as Ortiz paid tribute to many in both English and Spanish.

“It’s an honor to be on this stage,” Ortiz said. “I can ask for no more.”

The 83-year-old Kaat, now a broadcaster for the Twins, pitched for a quarter of a century, winning a World Series a year before retiring in 1983. He thanked his dad for instilling the discipline needed to succeed, his wife for always being there, and his former minor league manager, 94-year-old Jack McKeon, who was in the audience.

“I am humbled and honored to be included in this fraternity, some of the greatest players to play the game, and I thank you for being part of this wonderful day,” said Kaat, a native of Zeeland, Michigan.

Oliva was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1964, led the league in hits five times, and became the first player in major league history to win batting titles in each of his first two seasons, finishing with a lifetime average of .304 in 15 seasons with the Twins.

Oliva got his chance in part because of Miñoso, the Cuban Comet.

“I’ve been so blessed, so lucky,” said Oliva, who turned 84 four days ago. “I appreciate it very much. I’d like to say thank you to all those friends, all those wonderful friends, all those friends from all over the world. I appreciated it very much, very much.”

Miñoso grew up on a sugar plantation and played ball on weekends as a kid and became a star with the New York Cubans in the Negro Leagues before becoming the first Black Latino player in the major leagues in 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson broke in. To Cuban players, Miñoso was the Jackie Robinson of Latino America and starred for the White Sox in the 1950s. He was a nine-time All-Star and finished his career with 2,110 hits and a .299 batting average. He died in 2015.

“From a humble ranch in Cuba to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, what a way to honor such a remarkable life lived and to service in the sport he loved. He would have been so very proud to be a Hall of Famer,” said his wife, Sharon.

Irene Hodges spoke on behalf of her father, a hard-hitting first baseman who had 370 homers and 1,274 RBIs in 18 major league seasons — all but the last two with the Dodgers. He retired in 1963 and five years later was hired to manage the Mets, leading them in 1969 to their improbable World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles before dying of a heart attack three years later at 47.

“He would be so proud. Today I am especially happy for my mother,” Irene Hodges said. “When the call came from the Hall of Fame … I began sobbing probably as much as I did when I lost my father. I was so beyond happy for him, and even thrilled that my mom at 95 would be able to hear this news. My mom is watching today from our home in Brooklyn.”

O’Neil, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues and was a tireless advocate for the game until his death in 2006, was represented by a niece, Angela Terry.

“He would remind all of us that his playing career was in the Negro Leagues and today he was being inducted into the same class as a Black baseball pioneer, Bud Fowler, and a former Negro League All-Star, Minnie Miñoso,” Terry said. “Man, oh man. Nothing could be better. Thank you for loving our uncle.”

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield paid tribute to Fowler, the first Black player on a White professional team nearly seven decades before Robinson broke the color barrier with the Dodgers. Fowler also is the first person from the Cooperstown area to receive the honor. He was born in nearby Fort Plain but grew up in Cooperstown, where he learned to play the game.

A second baseman who batted just over .300 in 13 seasons, Fowler was signed at age 20 by an all-White professional team in Massachusetts in 1878. It was the start of a 13-year career that saw him play for 18 teams, including four in one year, the constant moves a direct reflection of the racism he had to endure.

“I ask that you remember Bud Fowler in a broad context,” Winfield said. “Remember him as a skilled athlete who endured obstacles that are hard to imagine today. I personally hope that all of you will see him as a man who loved the game of baseball from its beginning.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Jennifer Lopez And Ben Affleck Wed In Las Vegas Drive-Through

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
July 17, 2022

A marriage license filing showed that Lopez plans to take the name Jennifer Affleck.

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were wed Saturday in a late-night Las Vegas drive-through chapel, culminating a relationship that stretched over two decades in two separate romances and headlined countless tabloid covers.

Lopez announced their marriage Sunday in her newsletter for fans with the heading “We did it.” Lopez initially made their engagement public in April on the same newsletter, “On the J Lo.”

“Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,” wrote Lopez in a message signed Jennifer Lynn Affleck.

Lopez wrote that the couple flew to Las Vegas on Saturday, stood in line for their license with four other couples and were wed just after midnight at A Little White Wedding Chapel, a chapel boasting a drive-through “tunnel of love.” Lopez said a Bluetooth speaker played their brief march down the aisle. She called it the best night of their lives.

“Stick around long enough and maybe you’ll find the best moment of your life in a drive through in Las Vegas at 12:30 in the morning in the tunnel of love drive through with your kids and the one you’ll spend forever with,” said Lopez.

News of their nuptials first spread Sunday after the Clark County clerk’s office in Nevada showed that the pair obtained a marriage license that was processed Saturday. The marriage license filing showed that Lopez plans to take the name Jennifer Affleck.

Representatives for Lopez and Affleck declined to comment.

Lopez, 52, and Affleck, 49, famously dated in the early 2000s, spawning the nickname “Bennifer,” before rekindling their romance last year. They earlier starred together in 2003’s “Gigli” and 2004’s “Jersey Girl.” Around that time, they became engaged but never wed.

Affleck married Jennifer Garner in 2005, with whom he shares three children. They divorced in 2018.

Lopez has been married three times before. She was briefly married to Ojani Noa from 1997-1998 and to Cris Judd from 2001-2003. She and singer Marc Anthony were married for a decade after wedding in 2004 and share 14-year-old twins together.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Netflix greenlights a ‘Stranger Things’ spin-off series to help build a franchise

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LOS ANGELES, July 6 (Reuters) – Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) said on Wednesday it is developing a spin-off of science fiction series “Stranger Things” as the streaming service works to build its biggest English-language hit into a broad entertainment franchise.

The new series will be based on an original idea from Matt and Ross Duffer, the twins who created “Stranger Things,” Netflix said in a statement. No details on the story or characters were provided.

Netflix also announced a stage play set in the world of “Stranger Things.”

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The supernatural thriller starring Winona Ryder and David Harbour has set viewing records for Netflix, surpassing the Regency-era drama “Bridgerton” as the company’s most-watched English-language show.

“Stranger Things” reverberated through the cultural zeitgeist when it debuted in 2016 and turned then-12-year-old Millie Bobby Brown into a global star. The most recent season propelled Kate Bush’s song “Running Up That Hill” to the top of the iTunes and Spotify charts 37 years after its original release.

The fourth season concluded with the final two episodes last week, briefly crashing the Netflix app as fans rushed to view it. The series has logged 1.15 billion hours in viewing time on Netflix, behind only South Korean drama “Squid Game.”

“One of the reasons why ‘Stranger Things’ has really broken out in the way that it has is that there’s a universality at the center of it,” said Matthew Thunell, the Netflix vice president who first read the script and advocated for the series. “It really is about the strength of friendship, how friendship triumphs over evil.”

The series is the first that Netflix has sought to develop as a traditional entertainment franchise, whose characters and stories traverse film, television, games and consumer products. Its popularity took Netflix by surprise – “candidly we could never have predicted what ‘Stranger Things’ has become,” said Thunell.

As the show’s audience expanded beyond so-called genre nerds, or science-fiction fans, to include adults captivated by its 1980s pop culture references, Netflix began contemplating ways to extend the story through spin-offs and merchandise.

That resulted in a range of “Stranger Things” tie-ins that include a Surfer Boy pineapple and jalapeno frozen pizza at Walmart and a Magic 8 ball toy from Hasbro. Fans also have been able to participate in mock sleep studies at a Hawkins National Laboratory attraction in New York, San Francisco and London.

“We’re starting from scratch and so it gives us a lot of freedom to be innovative and try new things,” said Josh Simon, Netflix’s vice president of consumer products.

The new series is part of a production deal with the Duffers, who will also develop a live-action TV adaptation of Japanese manga and anime series “Death Note,” among other projects.

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Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski;
Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Richard Chang

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Crypto Firms Quake as Prices Fall

SAN FRANCISCO — No one wanted to miss out on the cryptocurrency mania.

Over the last two years, as the prices of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies surged, crypto start-ups proliferated. Companies that market digital coins to investors flooded the airwaves with TV commercials, newfangled lending operations offered sky-high interest rates on crypto deposits and exchanges like Coinbase that allow investors to trade digital assets went on hiring sprees.

A global industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars rose up practically overnight. Now it is crashing down.

After weeks of plummeting cryptocurrency prices, Coinbase said on Tuesday that it was cutting 18 percent of its employees, after layoffs at other crypto companies like Gemini, BlockFi and Crypto.com. High-profile start-ups like Terraform Labs have imploded, wiping away years of investments. On Sunday, an experimental crypto bank, Celsius, abruptly halted withdrawals.

dropped by about 65 percent since autumn, and analysts predict the sell-off will continue. Stock prices of crypto companies have cratered, retail traders are fleeing and industry executives are predicting a prolonged slump that could put more companies in jeopardy.

stocks crashing, interest rates soaring and inflation high, cryptocurrency prices are also collapsing, showing they have become tied to the overall market. And as people pull back from crypto investments, the outflow is exposing the unstable foundations of many of the industry’s most popular companies.

OpenSea, the largest marketplace for the unique digital images known as nonfungible tokens, reached a staggering $13 billion valuation. And Wall Street banks such as JPMorgan Chase, which previously shunned crypto assets, and Fortune 500 companies like PayPal rolled out crypto offerings.

confidence evaporated in the early 2000s, many of the dot-coms went bust, leaving just the biggest — such as eBay, Amazon and Yahoo — standing.

This time, investors predict there will be more survivors. “You certainly have some overhyped companies that don’t have the fundamentals,” said Mike Jones, an investor at the venture firm Science Inc. “But you also have some really strong companies that are trading way below where they should.”

There have been warning signs that some crypto companies were not sustainable. Skeptics have pointed out that many of the most popular firms offered products underpinned by risky financial engineering.

Terraform Labs, for example, offered TerraUSD, a so-called stablecoin with a fixed value linked to the U.S. dollar. The coin was hyped by its founder, Do Kwon, who raised more than $200 million from major investment firms such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Galaxy Digital, even as critics warned that the project was unstable.

The coin’s price was algorithmically linked to a sister cryptocurrency, Luna. When the price of Luna plummeted in May, TerraUSD fell in tandem — a “death spiral” that destabilized the broader market and plunged some investors into financial ruin.

drew scrutiny from several state regulators. In the end, a drop in crypto prices appeared to put the company under more pressure than it could withstand.

With the price of Bitcoin tumbling, Celsius announced on Sunday that it was freezing withdrawals “due to extreme market conditions.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The market instability has also triggered a crisis at Coinbase, the largest U.S. crypto exchange. Between the end of 2021 and late March, Coinbase lost 2.2 million active customers, or 19 percent of its total, as crypto prices dropped. The company’s net revenue in the first three months of the year shrank 27 percent from a year earlier, to $1.2 billion. Its stock price has plunged 84 percent since it went public last year.

This month, Coinbase said it would rescind job offers and extend a hiring freeze to battle the economic downturn. On Tuesday, it said it would cut about 1,100 workers.

Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s chief executive, informed employees of the layoffs in a note on Tuesday morning, saying the company “grew too quickly” as crypto products became popular.

“It is now clear to me that we over-hired,” he wrote. A Coinbase spokesman declined to comment.

“It had been growth at all costs over the last several years,” said Ryan Coyne, who covers crypto companies and financial technology at the Mizuho Group. “It’s now turned to profitable growth.”

memo to staff, the Winklevoss twins said the industry had entered a “crypto winter.”

commercial starring the actor Matt Damon, who declared that “fortune favors the brave” as he encouraged investors to put their money in the crypto market. Last week, Crypto.com’s chief executive announced that he was laying off 5 percent of the staff, or 260 people. On Monday, BlockFi, a crypto lending operation, said it was reducing its staff by roughly 20 percent.

Gemini and BlockFi declined to comment. A Crypto.com spokesman said the company remains focused on “investing resources into product and engineering capabilities to develop world-class products.”

Cryptocurrencies have long been volatile and prone to boom-and-bust cycles. In 2013, a Chinese ban on Bitcoin sent its price tumbling. In 2017, a proliferation of companies creating and selling their own tokens led to a run-up in crypto prices, which crashed after regulators cracked down on so-called initial coin offerings.

These bubbles are built into the ecosystem, crypto enthusiasts said. They attract talented people to the industry, who go on to build valuable projects. Many of the most vocal cheerleaders encourage investors to “buy the dip,” or invest more when prices are low.

“We have been in these downward spirals before and recovered,” Mr. Jones, the Science Inc. investor, said. “We all believe in the fundamentals.”

Some of the companies have also remained defiant. During Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals on Monday night, Coinbase aired a commercial that alluded to past boom-and-bust cycles.

“Crypto is dead,” it declared. “Long live crypto.”

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