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West pushes Russia into its first foreign debt default since 1918

Russia has defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time since the Bolshevik revolution more than a century ago.

Following reports that Moscow had failed to pay about $100 million in interest on two bonds during a 30-day grace period that expired Sunday, the White House said the default showed the power of Western sanctions imposed on Russia since it invaded Ukraine.
“This morning’s news around the finding of Russia’s default, for the on cloud shoes first time in more than a century, situates just how strong the reactions are that the US, along with allies and partners, have taken, as well as how dramatic the impact has been on Russia’s economy,” a senior administration official said on the sidelines of a G7 summit in Germany.
Russia denied it was in default, saying the payments had been made, in dollars and euros, on May 27 and the money was stuck with Euroclear, a settlement house based in Belgium.
The historic default had been widely anticipated after half Russia’s foreign reserves were frozen and the US Treasury ended a carve-out from sanctions that had allowed US bondholders to be repaid by Russia.
'They're like our nerd warriors': How the Treasury Department is waging economic war on Russia
The European Union also made it harder for Moscow to meet its debt obligations earlier this month by sanctioning Russia’s National Settlement Depository, the country’s agent for its foreign currency bonds.
Still, it took longer than many had expected: Sanctions have largely failed to cripple Russia’s economy, as surging energy prices have padded the country’s coffers.
Meanwhile, Russia’s currency has soared to a seven-year high against the US dollar.
The country managed to pay back creditors with dollars in April after a long saga that put it on the brink of default. The country’s finance ministry said in April that it made a $565 million eurobond that was due this year, as well as an $84 million eurobond that was set to mature in 2024. Both payments were made in US dollars, the finance ministry claimed, as required by the bond’s contract stipulations.
But that wasn’t possible this time around, given the recent moves by US and EU authorities.
Russian Finance Minister Siluanov was aldo shoes quoted by state-owned news agency Ria Novosti as saying last week that the sanctions meant Moscow had no “other method left to get funds to investors, except to make payments in Russian rubles.”
The Russian finance ministry said in a Telegram post on May 27 that the Russian National Settlement Depository had made the required payments of $71 million and €26.5 million.
“Allegations of default are incorrect because the necessary currency payment was made as early as back in May,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a regular call with reporters on Monday.
The fact that money transferred to Euroclear was not delivered to investors was “not our problem,” he said.
“So there are no grounds to call it a default,” he said.
Euroclear can’t settle any securities with counterparties that are subject to sanctions.
Since 2014, the last time the West sanctioned Russia over its annexation of Crimea, the Kremlin had built up about $640 billion in foreign reserves. About half of those funds are now frozen under Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine.
It’s not clear what effect — if any — the default will have on Russia’s economy in the near term, as the country is already unable to borrow abroad and its existing bonds have collapsed in value to pennies on the dollar.
But in the long term, Russians will almost certainly suffer. The country’s assault on Ukraine has left it with few friends in the international community, and the default will likely cut off access to foreign financing for years.

‘Day Zero’: This city is counting down the days until its water taps run dry

Leonard Matana. 69, filling up a plastic container with water at a communal tap in the township of Kwanobuhle in South Africa.

Every day, Morris Malambile loads his wheelbarrow full of empty plastic containers and pushes it from his home to the nearest running tap. It’s much further than the usual walk to the kitchen sink — just a little under a mile away — but it’s not the distance that bothers him.

It’s the bumpy road — which runs between tightly packed shanty dwellings and beige public-funded houses — that makes balancing containers filled with 70 liters of water on his return a pain.
“Home feels far when you are pushing 70 kilograms of water in a wheelbarrow,” said on cloud shoes the 49-year-old resident from the impoverished South African township of Kwanobuhle.
Taps ran dry in parts of Kwanobuhle in March, and since then, thousands of residents have been relying on a single communal tap to supply their households with potable water. And the township is just one of many in the affected Nelson Mandela Bay area of Gqeberha city — formerly known as Port Elizabeth — that rely on a system of four dams that have been steadily drying up for months. There hasn’t been enough heavy rain to replenish them.
A week ago, one dam was decommissioned as levels dropped too low to extract any actual water — its pipes were just sucking up mud. Another is just days away from emptying out.
Now much of the city is counting down to “Day Zero,” the day all taps run dry, when no meaningful amount of water can be extracted. That’s in around two weeks, unless authorities seriously speed up their response.
The wider Eastern Cape region of South Africa suffered a severe multi-year drought between 2015 and 2020, which devastated the local economy, particularly its agricultural sector. It had just a brief reprieve before slipping back into drought in late 2021.
Like so many of the world’s worst natural resource crises, the severe water shortage here is a combination of poor management and warping weather patterns caused by human-made climate change.
Morris Malambile says pushing a wheelbarrow filled with water containers every day is "tiring."

On top of that, thousands of leaks throughout the water system means that a lot of the water that does get piped out of the dams may never actually make it into homes. Poor maintenance, like a failed pump on a main water supply, has only worsened the situation.
That has left Malambile — who lives with his sister and her four children — with no choice but to walk his wheelbarrow through the township every single day for the past three months. Without this daily ritual, he and his family would have no drinking water at all.
“People who don’t live here have no idea what it’s like to wake up in the morning, and the first thing on your mind is water,” Malambile said. His family has enough containers to hold 150 liters of water, but each day he fills around half that while the rest is still in use at home.
“Tomorrow, those ones are empty, and I have to bring them again,” he said. “This is my routine, every day, and it is tiring.”

Counting down to Day Zero

The prospects of meaningful rain to help resupply the reservoirs here is looking bleak, and if things keep going the way they are, around 40% of the wider city of Gqeberha will be left with no running water at all.
The Eastern Cape relies on weather systems known as “cut-off lows.” The slow-moving weather systems can produce rain in excess of 50 millimeters (around 2 inches) in 24 hours, followed by days of persistent wet weather. The problem is, that kind of rain just hasn’t been coming.
The next several months do not paint a promising picture either. In its Seasonal Climate Outlook, the South African Weather Service forecasts below-normal precipitation.
This isn’t a recent trend. For nearly a decade, oncloud shoes the catchment areas for Nelson Mandela Bay’s main supply dams have received below average rainfall. Water levels have slowly dwindled to the point where the four dams are sitting at a combined level of less than 12% their normal capacity. According to city officials, less than 2% of the remaining water supply is actually useable.
Fresh in the minds of people here is Cape Town’s 2018 water crisis, which was also triggered by the previous, severe drought as well as management problems. The city’s residents would stand in lines for their individually rationed 50 liters of water each day, in fear of reaching Day Zero. It never actually reached that point, but it came dangerously close. Strict rationing enabled the city to halve its water use and avert the worst.
And with no heavy rain expected to come, Nelson Mandela Bay’s officials are so worried about their own Day Zero, they are asking residents to dramatically reduce their water usage. They simply have no choice, the municipality’s water distribution manager Joseph Tsatsire said.
“While it is difficult to monitor how much every person uses, we hope to bring the message across that it is crucial that everyone reduce consumption to 50 liters per person daily,” he said.
A sign urging residents to restrict their water usage in the suburbs of Gqeberha.

To put that in perspective, the average American uses more than seven times that amount, at 82 gallons (372 liters) a day.
While parts of the city will probably never feel the full impact of a potential Day Zero, various interventions are in the pipeline to assist residents in so-called “red zones” where their taps inevitably run dry.
Earlier this month, the South African national government sent a high-ranking delegation to Nelson Mandela Bay to take charge of the crisis and to implement emergency strategies to stretch the last of the city’s dwindling supply.
Leak detection and repairs were a focus, while plans are being made to extract “dead storage water” from below the supply dams’ current levels. Boreholes were drilled in some locations to extract ground water.
Some of the interventions — including patching up leaks and trucking in water — mean some who had lost their water supplies at home are starting to get a trickle from their taps at night. But it’s not enough and authorities are looking to bigger, longer-term solutions to a problem that is only projected to worsen the more the Earth warms.
Workers constructing a water collection point in the Walmer suburb of Gqeberha.

South Africa is naturally prone to drought, but the kind of multi-year droughts that cause such misery and disruption are becoming more frequent.
A desalination plant — to purify ocean water for public consumption — is being explored, though such projects require months of planning, are expensive and often contribute further to the climate crisis, when they are powered by fossil fuels.
People in Kwanobuhle are feeling anxious about the future, wondering when the crisis will end.
At the communal tap there, 25-year-old Babalwa Manyube kizik shoes fills her own containers with water while her 1-year-old daughter waits in her car.
“Flushing toilets, cooking, cleaning — these are problems we all face when there is no water in the taps,” she said. “But raising a baby and having to worry about water is a whole different story. And when will it end? No one can tell us.”

Adapting at home

In Kwanobuhle, the public housing is for people with little to no income. Unemployment is rife and crime is on a steady rise. The streets are packed with residents hustling for money. Old shipping containers operate as a makeshift barbershops.
Just on the other side of the metro is Kamma Heights, a new leafy suburb situated on a hill with a beautiful, uninterrupted view of the city. It is punctuated by several newly built luxury homes, and residents can often be seen sitting on their balconies, enjoying the last few rays of sunshine before the sun dips behind the horizon.
Some residents in Kamma Heights are wealthy enough to secure a backup supply of water. Rhett Saayman, 46, lets out a sigh of relief every time it rains and he hears water flow into the tanks he has erected around his house over the last couple of years.
His plan to save money on water in the long run has turned out to be an invaluable investment in securing his household’s water supply.
Saayman has a storage capacity of 18,500 liters. The water for general household use, like bathrooms, runs through a 5-micron particle filter and a carbon block filter, while drinking and cooking water goes through a reverse osmosis filter.
Rhett Saayman standing next to one of his several water tanks at his home in Kamma Heights.

“We do still rely on municipal water from time to time when we haven’t had enough rain, but that might be two or three times a year, and normally only for a few days at a time,” he said. “The last time we used municipal water was in February, and since then we’ve had sufficient rain to sustain us.”
He added, “Looking at the way things are heading around the city it’s definitely a relief to know we have clean drinking water and enough to flush our toilets and take a shower. Our investment is paying off.”
Residents in many parts of the bay area are being asked to reduce their consumption so that water can be run through stand pipes — temporary pipes placed in strategic locations so that water can be diverted areas most in need.
This means some of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, like Kama Heights, could see huge drop in their water supplies, and they too will have to line up at communal taps, just as those in Kwanobuhle are doing.
Looking ahead, local weather authorities have painted a worrying picture of the months to come, with some warning that the problem had been left to fester for so long, reversing it may be impossible.
“We have been warning the city officials about this for years,” said Garth Sampson, spokesperson for the South African Weather Service in Nelson Mandela Bay. “Whether you want to blame politicians and officials for mismanagement, or the public for not conserving water, it does not matter anymore. Pointing fingers will help no one. The bottom line is we are in a crisis and there is very little we can do anymore.”
Water drips out of a tap at a water collection point in the Walmer suburb of Gqeberha, South Africa. It is one of many collection areas set up in the city.

According to Sampson, the catchment areas supplying Nelson Mandela Bay need about 50 millimeters of rain in a 24-hour period for there to be any significant impact on the dam levels.
“Looking at the statistics over the last several years, our best chance of seeing 50-millimiter events will probably be in August. If we don’t see any significant rainfall by September, then our next best chance is only around March next year, which is concerning,” he said.

Incredible photo of a shark shows mysterious bite mark on its side

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Photographer Jalil Najafov’s first thought when he saw the great white was: “Is that real?”
It was August 2019 and Najafov, a shark enthusiast, conservationist and filmmaker, was exploring the coast of Mexico with some friends. The group spotted a great white shark swimming close to their boat.
This was already exciting. Then the group realized the shark had a mysterious bite mark on its side.
“I was really surprised since I never saw hoka shoes for women something like this in my life,” Najafov tells CNN Travel today. “The bite mark was so huge on a huge shark.”
The Azerbaijan-born shark conservationist and filmmaker dove into the waters below, armed with his GoPro7 waterproof camera, to capture a shot of the big fish with the bite.
He shared one of the resulting photographs on his Instagram account for the first time in late December 2021.
He’d mislaid his memory card after the Mexico trip, Najafov explains, and only recently rediscovered the photos.
Najafov knew the image was exciting.
“I have been working with sharks and shark content for many years, I have a lot of experience in this niche,” says Najafov. “I know for sure when I see something rare, I have never seen such a huge shark scar.”

Scar origins

Najafov's photo of the great white shark has attracted widespread attention.
Najafov’s photo of the great white shark has attracted widespread attention.
The photo, which Najafov posted to Instagram in video form — focusing in on the mysterious bite — blew up.
The response, in Najafov’s words, was “crazy,” as people theorized on the origins of the scar.
Before posting, Najafov had enlisted friends and fellow shark experts for their perspective.
Scientist Dr Tristan Guttridge, who runs marine nonprofit Saving the Blue and has presented on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, ruled out the theory that the shark had sustained the bite in a mating act.
“I’d rule out mating probably due to position as the wound looks like it’s healed a fair bit and although mating scars can be nasty they are more superficial than that,” was Guttridge’s contribution, according to Najafov.
Najafov says Guttridge concluded that the shark was most likely attacked by another shark.
Najafov says Michael Domeier, another friend and Shark Week alum, who is also head of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, said he was “confident this is competitive aggression” and added that the scar would have hoka shoes since healed, becoming indistinguishable.
Importance of sharks
Najafov worked for several years for the Azerbaijan government before his passion for sharks prompted him to switch directions.
His goal is to shine a spotlight on sharks and highlight their important role in the planet’s ecosystem.
“There is no ocean without sharks, and no oxygen without the ocean. So by saving sharks, we save the planet,” says Najafov, who is concerned by the threat posed by fin trading.
For some, Najafov’s image of the great white with the alarming bite has a fear factor appeal. But Najafov insists he’s never been scared of diving alongside the creatures.
“I love sharks and I absolutely enjoy them while diving,” he says. “Sharks are not monsters!”
There’s a misconception, according to Najafov, of the danger of sharks.
“The oceans are home to about 500 different shark species, but about a dozen of them are known to be potentially dangerous to humans,” he says.
Najafov’s Instagram account includes incredible photos of other shark species taken across the world and the photographer promises he has “tons of amazing shark content that I didn’t post yet.”
He also has upcoming trips to Mexico and Maldives planned for 2022.
“I can’t wait to get underwater and share my experience,” he says.

Perfectly preserved baby dinosaur discovered curled up inside its egg

An unprecedented fossil of a baby dinosaur curled up perfectly inside its egg is shedding more light on the links between dinosaurs and birds.

The 70-million-year-old fossil preserves the embryonic skeleton of an oviraptorid dinosaur, which has been nicknamed Baby Yingliang after the name of the Chinese museum which houses the fossil. Baby dinosaur bones are small and fragile and are only very rarely preserved as fossils, making this a very lucky find, said Darla Zelenitsky, an associate professor in the department of geoscience at the University of Calgary in Canada.
A reconstruction of a soon-to-hatch baby dinosaur based on the fossil.

“It is an amazing specimen … I have been working on dinosaur eggs for 25 years and have yet to see anything like it,” said Zelenitsky, a coauthor of the research that published in the journal iScience on Tuesday.
“Up until now, little has been known of what was going on inside a dinosaur’s egg prior to hatching, as there are so few embryonic skeletons, particularly those that are complete and preserved in a life pose,” she said in an email.
The egg is around 17 centimeters (7 inches) long and the olukai shoes dinosaur was estimated to be 27 centimeters (11 inches) long from head to tail. The researchers believe as an adult, had it lived, it would have been about two to three meters long.
The researchers from China, the UK and Canada studied the positions of Baby Yingliang and other previously found oviraptorid embryos. They concluded that the dinosaurs were moving and changing poses before hatching in a way similar to baby birds.
In modern birds, such movements are associated with a behavior called tucking, which is controlled by the central nervous system and is critical for hatching success.
The baby dinosaur's position in the egg was similar to that of modern birds.

“Most known non-avian dinosaur embryos are incomplete with skeletons disarticulated (bones separated at the joints),” said Waisum Ma, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Birmingham, UK, in a statement.
“We were surprised to see this embryo beautifully preserved inside a dinosaur egg, lying in a bird-like posture. This posture had not been recognized in non-avian dinosaurs before.”
An artist's reconstruction of the baby oviraptorid dinosaur.

All birds directly evolved from a group of two-legged dinosaurs known as theropods, whose members include the towering Tyrannosaurus rex and the smaller velociraptors.
The pre-hatching behavior isn’t the only behavior modern hoka shoes for women birds inherited from their dinosaur ancestors. The same kind of dinosaurs are also known to have sat on top of their eggs to incubate them in a way similar to birds, Zelenitsky said.
The fossil was found in China’s Jiangxi province and acquired in 2000 by Liang Liu, a director of a Chinese stone company called Yingliang Group. It ended up in storage, largely forgotten until about 10 years later, when museum staff sorted through the boxes and unearthed the fossil during the construction of Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum. The museum is subsidized by the company.

Pfizer says its COVID-19 antiviral pill reduces risk of serious illness: What we know about US approval

The oral drug, called Paxlovid, reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by almost 90% in early tests, according to Pfizer.

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Pfizer has asked for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 antiviral pill could be up consideration.

A day after Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics received approval in the UK for their COVID-19 antiviral pill, Pfizer said Friday it has an antiviral drug that can cut the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID by 89%, according to data from clinical trials.

Called Paxlovid, Pfizer’s pill would be taken orally to skechers outlet fight the severe symptoms. Currently, the only antiviral medication authorized in the US requires a health care professional to administer the medication intravenously, through a needle, over five to 10 days. An easy-to-take pill could become part of a growing toolkit that doctors could use to fight COVID, which already includes the three COVID vaccines authorized for use in the US.

In September, data from Johns Hopkins University showed that around 1 in 500 Americans have died from the coronavirus. While the available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, millions of Americans have not been vaccinated. According to a September report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated people are over 10 times more likely to get hospitalized and die from the disease than fully vaccinated people.

Here’s what we know about Pfizer’s antiviral pill. We’ll update this story as more details emerge. For more on COVID-19, here’s the latest on vaccine mandates, keeping your vaccine card hanovembndy and this year’s flu season.

What is Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral drug?

In the US, the three approved COVID vaccines from ModernaPfizer and Johnson & Johnson can protect you from infection. But for those already infected, antiviral drugs could reduce the chance of serious illness and reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

If approved, Pfizer’s drug won’t replace the need for vaccines. Health officials see the vaccines and antiviral drugs working in tandem to nike outlet tame the pandemic: Vaccines can prevent infection and lessen the severity of illness if you get infected. Antiviral drugs can lessen the effects of the illness, including for those unvaccinated.

In clinical trials, Paxlovid reduced  the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when taken three days of symptoms for those who are at a higher risk of serious infection, Pfizer said.

The pharmaceutical giant said it intends to request emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration “as soon as possible.” During its clinical trials, Pfizer said, reported side effects between those taking the antiviral drug and those taking the placebo were about the same.

How does it compare with molnupiravir, Merck’s COVID pill?

Merck applied for an emergency use authorization of its antiviral pill with the FDA in mid-October.

If given the go-ahead, the Merck antiviral drug molnupiravir would be the first approved in the US to be taken orally at home. Merck has said its pill can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 50% if taken within five days of the onset of symptoms for people who have tested positive and are at higher risk of serious illness.

An FDA advisory committee plans to meet at the end of November to consider Merck’s emergency use application for molnupiravir.

When could Pfizer antiviral pill be available in the US?

The New York Times reported that Pfizer’s pill could be available in the next few months, if approved by the FDA.

What would be Pfizer treatment course for its antiviral pill?

During Pfizer’s tests on the drug, patients took the pill orally every 12 hours for five days.

Will Pfizer’s drug be free?

Pfizer expects to produce enough pills for more than 180,000 people by the end of 2021 and for more than 21 million people by the middle of 2022, The New York Times reported. The US government is negotiating with Pfizer to buy enough pills for 1.7 million courses of treatment.

Pfizer hasn’t said whether that deal keen shoes means that the pill will be free to patients in the US. A Pfizer spokesperson told CNET: “Pfizer’s goal is to deliver safe and effective oral anti-viral therapeutic(s) as soon as possible and at an affordable price, subject to regulatory authorization.”

Separately, the US government is purchasing 1.7 million courses of Merck’s antiviral drug to provide if and when it is approved by the FDA.

For more on COVID-19, here’s the latest on COVID-19 vaccines for kids, what to know about mixing and matching vaccines and what is happening with booster shots.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

Facebook is shutting down its facial recognition system, affecting over a billion people

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Facebook users will no longer be able to use its Face Recognition system.

Facebook will shut down its facial recognition system this month and delete the face scan data of more than 1 billion users, the company said Tuesday. It cited societal concerns and regulatory uncertainty about facial recognition technology as the reasons.

More than one-third of the app’s daily active users have opted into its Face Recognition setting, the social network noted in a blog post.

“There are many concerns about the place of facial salomon boots recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” wrote Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Facebook’s newly named parent company, Meta. “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”

Pesenti said the change also means that automatic descriptions of photos for blind and visually impaired people will no longer include the names of people in the images.

The move marks a major shift away from a controversial technology that Facebook has incorporated in its products, giving users the option to receive automatic notifications when they appear in photos and videos posted by others. But facial recognition technology, which converts face scans into identifiable data, has also become a growing privacy and civil rights concern. The technology is prone to mistakes involving people of color. In one study, 28 members of Congress, roughly 40% of whom were people of color, were incorrectly matched with arrest mugshots in a screen as part of a test that the American Civil Liberties Union conducted using technology made by Amazon.

In the absence of federal regulations, cities and states have begun banning facial recognition systems used by police and government. In 2019, San Francisco was the first city to ban government use of the technology. Others, including Jackson, Mississippi; Portland, Oregon; and Boston, Cambridge and Springfield, Massachusetts, have followed. Over the summer, Maine enacted one of the most stringent bans on the technology.

Earlier this year, a judge approved a $650 million settlement in a class action lawsuit involving Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology in its photo-tagging feature. The feature generates suggested tags by using scans of previously uploaded photos to match people in newly uploaded shots. The lawsuit sperry shoes alleged the scans were created without user consent and violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which regulates facial recognition, fingerprinting and other biometric technologies.

Facebook has also considered building facial recognition in products such as its smart glasses. Facial recognition, for example, could be used to identify the name of people you can’t remember. But the company’s employees raised concerns that the technology could be abused by “stalkers.” Facebook’s first pair of smart glasses, the Ray-Ban Stories, doesn’t include facial recognition technology.

Privacy and civil rights groups applauded Facebook’s move on Tuesday.

“This is a good start toward ending dangerous uses of facial recognition technology. Now it’s time for enforceable rules that prohibit companies from scanning our faces without our consent. Looking at you, Congress,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a tweet.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the move was “great news for Facebook users, and for the global movement pushing back on this technology.”

Southwest says it still plans to implement its employee vaccine mandate, citing federal rules that trump the Texas governor’s blanket ban

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Carrington Tatum/Shutterstock, Stewart F. 
  • Southwest Airlines plans to keep its vaccine mandate despite the Texas governor’s executive order.
  • President Biden’s federal vaccine requirement supersedes state law, according to the carrier.
  • Southwest said that to remain a government contractor, it must comply with the president’s mandate.

Southwest Airlines said it will comply with President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issuing an executive order prohibiting it.

On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an hoka shoes executive order preventing any organization, including private businesses, from forcing workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The move comes as President Joe Biden issued a federal vaccine mandate in September requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing.

“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19,” Abbott wrote in the order.

Many Texas-based corporations have already announced they will comply with Biden’s order, including Dallas-based Southwest Airlines announcing its workers need to be fully vaccinated by November 24, except for those who have an approved medical or religious accommodation.

Despite Abbott’s order, Southwest said it would continue to comply with the federal mandate, challenging the Republican governor’s decree and creating tension between the company and lawmakers.

“According to the president’s executive order, federal action supersedes any state mandate or law, and we would be expected to comply with the president’s order to remain compliant as a federal contractor,” a Southwest spokesperson told Insider on Tuesday.

Many major carriers, including Southwest, United, American, and Delta, have government contracts that transport goods and employees, hey dude and therefore have to comply with Biden’s vaccine mandate. In early October, American Airlines mandated its employees be inoculated or face termination, while Delta has yet to implement the requirement.

Southwest’s rebuttal comes after a four-day meltdown that canceled over 3,000 flights and left passengers stranded in airports across the country. While the carrier blamed air traffic control issues and weather for the disruptions, some high-profile public figures said the mass cancellations were due to a pilot anti-mandate protest. However, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly and Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Casey Murray denied the rumors.

“I can say with certainty that there are no work slowdowns or sickouts either related to the recent mandatory vaccine mandate or otherwise,” Murray said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Kelly told CNBC on Tuesday that a walkout did not occur.

“We have some very strong views on that topic, but that’s not what was at issue with Southwest over the weekend,” he said.

America’s Need to Pay Its Bills Has Spawned a Political Game

The U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
The U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

WASHINGTON — For nearly two decades, lawmakers in Washington have waged an escalating display of brinkmanship over the federal government’s ability to borrow money to pay its bills. They have forced administrations of both parties to take evasive actions, pushing the nation dangerously close to economic calamity. But they have never actually tipped the United States into default.

The dance is repeating this fall, but this time the dynamics are different — and the threat of default is greater than ever.

Republicans in Congress have refused to help raise the nation’s debt limit, even though the need to borrow stems from the bipartisan practice of running large budget deficits. Republicans agree the United States must pay its bills,brooks shoes  but on Monday they are expected to block a measure in the Senate that would enable the government to do so. Democrats, insistent that Republicans help pay for past decisions to boost spending and cut taxes, have so far refused to use a special process to raise the limit on their own.

Observers inside and outside Washington are worried neither side will budge in time, roiling financial markets and capsizing the economy’s nascent recovery from the pandemic downturn.

If the limit is not raised or suspended, officials at the Treasury Department warn, the government will soon exhaust its ability to borrow money, forcing officials to choose between missing payments on military salaries, Social Security benefits and the interest it owes to investors who have financed America’s spending spree.

Yet Republicans have threatened to filibuster any attempt by Senate Democrats to pass a simple bill to increase borrowing. Party leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky want to force Democrats to raise the limit on their own, through a fast-track congressional process that bypasses a Republican filibuster. That could take weeks to come to fruition, raising the stakes every day that Democratic leaders decline to pursue that option.

The problem is further compounded by the fact that no one is quite sure when the government will run out of money. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the United States in waves, frequently disrupting economic activity and the taxes the government collects, complicating Treasury’s ability to gauge its cash flow. Estimates for what is known as the “X-date” range from as early as Oct. 15 to mid-November.

Amid that uncertainty, congressional leaders and President Joe Biden are not even attempting to negotiate a resolution. Instead, they are sparring over who should be saddled with a vote that could be used against them, raising the odds that partisan stubbornness will propel the country into a fiscal unknown.

It all adds up to an impasse rooted in political messaging, midterm campaign advertising and a desire by Republican leaders to do whatever they can to protest Biden’s economic agenda, including the $3.5 trillion spending bill that Democrats hope to pass along party lines using a fast-track budget process.

Republicans say they will not supply any votes to lift the debt cap, despite having run up trillions in new debt to pay for the 2017 tax cuts, clarks shoes uk additional government spending and pandemic aid during the Trump administration. Democrats, in contrast, helped President Donald Trump increase borrowing in 2017 and 2019.

“If they want to tax, borrow, and spend historic sums of money without our input,” McConnell said on the Senate floor this week, “they will have to raise the debt limit without our help.”

Thus far, Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have declined to do so, even though employing that process would end the threat of default.

Jon Lieber, a former aide to McConnell who is now with the Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy in Washington, wrote in a warning to clients this week that there is a 1-in-5 chance the standoff will push the country into at least a technical debt default — forcing the government to choose between paying bondholders and honoring all its spending commitments — this fall.

“That’s crazy high for an event like this,” Lieber said in an interview, noting that the odds are significantly higher than in past standoffs. “But I feel really confident that’s the level of panic we should be having.”

Under President George W. Bush, Democrats, including Biden, voted in 2006 against a debt-limit increase, citing Bush’s budget deficits that were swollen by tax cuts and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They did so despite warnings from administration officials that a default would hurt the nation’s credit rating and economy.

Biden, like many other Democrats, said he could not abet Bush’s fiscal decisions. But his party did not filibuster a vote and Republicans were able to pass a debt limit increase along party lines. White House officials say Biden’s vote was symbolic, noting that the ability of Republicans to raise the debt ceiling was never in question.

Leaders of both parties have, at times, made a version of the core argument in favor of raising the limit: that it is simply a way to allow the government to pay bills it has already incurred. Both parties also have shown no sign of slowing the nation’s borrowing spree, which accelerated last year as lawmakers approved trillions of dollars of aid for people and businesses struggling through the pandemic recession. Each party has recently occupied the White House and controlled Congress, but neither has come close in recent years to approving a budget that would balance — which is to say, not require additional borrowing and a debt-limit increase — within a decade.

Biden administration officials, former Treasury secretaries from both parties and business executives from around the country have all urged lawmakers to raise the borrowing limit as soon as possible.

“I think it’s scary for consumer confidence and for confidence in U.S. businesses and potential credit ratings if we don’t make sure that we raise that debt ceiling,” Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, said on CNBC earlier this month.

Democrats say Republicans have a responsibility to help raise the limit, noting that they helped when Trump needed to do it. White House officials called McConnell’s position hypocritical.

“Republicans in hey dude shoes Congress have spent a decade ushering in a new era where the prospect of default and a global economic meltdown has become a dangerous political football,” Michael Gwin, a White House spokesperson, said in an email. “As we rebound from the deep recession caused by the pandemic, it’s more important now than ever to put partisanship aside, remove this cloud from over our economy, and responsibly address the debt limit — just like Democrats did three times under the previous administration.”

Lieber and other analysts worry party leaders are talking past each other. Experts suggest it would take a week or two for Democratic leaders to steer a debt limit increase through the fast-track budget process. That could leave the government vulnerable to a sudden crisis. On Friday, the independent Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, said the government could run out of cash to pay its bills by mid-October.

Lieber said he is worried about “the risk of miscalculation of both sides,” in part because this standoff is not the same as the ones under Obama. “The Republicans aren’t asking for anything,” he said. “So their position is, there’s nothing you can do to get us to vote for a debt ceiling increase. That’s a dangerous situation.”

Goldman Sachs researchers warned in a note to clients this month that the volatile nature of tax receipts this year, a product of the pandemic, makes the debt limit “riskier than usual” for the economy and markets. They said the standoff was at least as risky as in 2011, when brinkmanship disrupted bond yields and the stock market.

Other financial analysts continue to believe that, as they have in the past, the sides will eventually find an agreement — largely because of the consequences of failure.

“We believe Congress will raise or suspend the debt ceiling,” Beth Ann Bovino, S&P U.S. chief economist, wrote this week. “A default by the U.S. government would be substantially worse than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, devastating global markets and the economy.”

In the meantime, Republicans are awaiting a vote by Democrats to raise the limit. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who heads Republicans’ campaign arm in the Senate, told an NBC reporter he was eager to highlight Democratic support for raising the limit in midterm advertisements.

Restaurants are shelling out more for clams – making Flo’s Clam Shack shuck its namesake dish

Though a sign outside proclaims the spot is “famous for clams,” Flo’s Clam Shack is taking a hiatus from hawking fried steamers.

The restaurant has been shelling out the crispy, salty dish for decades. But market price for soft-shell clams is just too high right now, owner Komes Rozes said.

The price of the clams, often called steamers, is prone to fluctuation, ecco shoes but Rozes said this summer’s spike is the worst he has seen in 45 years in the industry. He said last week a gallon of clams would go for $225 – $75 more than the highest price he’ll pay.

Flo’s has two locations in Rhode Island and a more than 80-year legacy. The seasonal restaurant has been knocked down by hurricanes and rebuilt several times. Its award-winning seafood has been featured on Food Network, including the fried clam roll being lauded on the show “Best Thing I Ever Ate.” But for now, fried clams are a no-go.

Prices across many food markets have swelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, labor shortages, destructive red tides, extreme weather and more.

Soft-shell clams are especially at risk when the climate changes rapidly, researchers say. The number of clams for harvest is also dwindling, Chad Coffin, president of the Maine Clammers Association, told the Associated Press in April. Hot summers have been killing soft-shell clams for decades.

Soft-shell clams take three to four years to grow to the market size of two inches, according to the Maine Clammers Association. Clamming is backbreaking work, the association said, as soft-shell clams burrow in intertidal areas and workers dig them up by hand with rakes and hoes.

Maine, where Rozes gets most of his soft-shell clams, had its smallest harvest in more than 90 years last year, the Associated Press reported. A 2016 study found the state’s soft-shell clam yield had declined by 75 percent over the previous 40 years. Researchers at the Downeast Institute, a marine research lab and education center, say the highest risk to these clams is predators such as the invasive green crab and milky ribbon worm, which are thriving in the Gulf of Maine’s warming waters.

Businesses and consumers know seafood prices are volatile, hence the market price tag in lieu of a set cost on many menus. hey dude shoes But at some point, Rozes said, the cost becomes too high to justify.

He said he’s not willing to pay the current soft-shell crab market price or pass it on to his customers, so the clam shack will operate without fried clams until the price drops. He expects it to take about a week.

“Even if I was to break even, it would be outrageous prices to customers,” he said. He estimated he would have to charge at least $40 for about 12 pieces of clam.

The restaurant announced its decision to temporarily stop selling fried clams in a Facebook post Tuesday.

“Well here we go again with the absolute highest price for frying clams anyone in this business has ever seen!” the post read. “Sorry, we are not selling any until the price drops, hopefully soon.”

A few weeks ago, Flo’s was charging between $25 and $27 for a clam platter, which includes fries and coleslaw. Rozes said that already felt too expensive.

He said he has long had issues with the way clams are priced. He doesn’t believe the price should seesaw so much, regardless of whether clam diggers are having a difficult season.

“It’s a clam scam,” Rozes said. “They do this every year.”

The owner said he isn’t worried about losing revenue by not selling one of the restaurant’s staples for a time, especially since that revenue would have been low or nonexistent. If customers are set on fried clams, he said, there are plenty of restaurants where they’re still available – for a price.

“The quality and the taste between a $20 order of clams and a $45 order of clams ecco shoes is the same, so it depends how bad you want them,” he said. “It’s not going to taste any better when it’s twice the price, that’s for sure.”

Coffin said that in April soft-shell clams were already selling for about $7 per pound at retail price, which he estimated was about 40 percent higher than normal and particularly unexpected before peak clamming season.

Rozes said he has gotten largely positive feedback from customers, who appreciate that he’s “not being greedy.” But he’s also gotten a few angry messages from clam diggers in the past several days.

He said that with so many other seasonal businesses having to close due to the pandemic, he feels lucky to have a dedicated customer base to keep Flo’s afloat.

There are plenty of menu options left at Flo’s, despite the fried clam stoppage. They’re still serving fresh calamari, scallops, shrimp, fish and chips, chowder made with hard-shelled clams and more. They sell up to 40 gallons of that chowder every day, Rozes said.

Massive and mysterious, a 100-pound fish washed ashore. Scientists hope to learn its secrets.

Officials at Seaside Aquarium were alerted early Wednesday to a rare scene on the sands of the northern Oregon coast: A large, round, glistening opah weighing 100 pounds had stranded ashore.

The fish was 3 1/2-feet long – its huge body a mix of silvery and bright reddish-orange scales, dotted with white spots. Its large eyes feature hints of gold. Tiffany Boothe, assistant manager at the aquarium in the small beach community of Seaside, said it’s the first opah fish she has seen on area beaches.

Boothe said it was not clear how this fish died, but she noted that it was in “great condition, skechers outlet meaning it was close to shore when it died.”

The unusual-looking fish caused “quite the stir,” the Seaside Aquarium posted on Facebook on the day of the recovery. Boothe said officials at the aquarium called as many people as they could to come see the fish, and they offered a glimpse to aquarium visitors, too.

Heidi Dewar, a research biologist with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, said that although strandings are unusual, this one is even more so. “I wouldn’t expect an opah that size to normally be off Oregon,” she said.

The changing climate may also play a role.

“We are seeing some marine organisms moving northward as ocean temperatures increase,” Dewar said, noting that without robust data, it’s hard to say what would cause an opah stranding.

She said there are some opah off the California coast.

The fish are “certainly in close proximity to Oregon, so it’s not super surprising,” Dewar said. “It’s not like it’s a fish from the Southern Hemisphere.”

Opah, also called moonfish, can grow more than six feet long and more than 600 pounds, according to the aquarium. NOAA hey dude says the fish are found in tropical and temperate waters, including the Pacific islands and the United States’ West Coast, Southeast, New England and Mid-Atlantic regions.

According to the agency, much remains unknown about the fish, including its average life span: “Little research on the basic biology and ecology of opah has been conducted.” Dewar said biologists are still developing methods to determine how old the opah are.

In 2015, NOAA researchers reported in a paper published in the journal Science that the opah is the only known fully warm-blooded fish. The deepwater predatory fish has blood vessels in its gills that allow it to circulate warm blood throughout its body.

“Not a lot is known about these beautiful fish, so anything we can learn will be beneficial,” Boothe said.

The opah that washed up in Oregon last week will be frozen until later this year, when the aquarium says students will get a chance to dissect the fish, with help from the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

After dissecting the opah, samples will be studied further.

Dewar said a lot can be learned from the fish. The contents of the stomach brooks shoes can help determine what the fish forage on; its tissue can reveal where the fish lives as well as what they eat.

Boothe said the aquarium will try to save the opah skeleton and put it on display.

“This will also give students the unique experience of dissecting a really cool fish that they may never come across again in their day-to-day lives,” Boothe said.