DC’s ‘Black Adam’ will likely fizzle at the box office without a China release, as Marvel’s ‘Wakanda Forever’ threatens to halt its momentum

black adam
Dwayne Johnson in “Black Adam.”

  • DC’s “Black Adam” cost nearly $200 million to make and has earned $321 million globally.
  • It will likely soon fizzle at the box office, and is shaping up to a financial disappointment.
  • It doesn’t have a China release yet, and Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opens this weekend.

The Warner Bros. Discovery era of DC movies isn’t off to a great start.

“Black Adam,” starring Dwayne Johnson in the title role of an antihero with god-like magical powers, has grossed $321 million worldwide since debuting on October 21.

It defied initial projections, and poor critic reviews, with a $67 million premiere weekend at the US box office. But its momentum since hasn’t been strong enough to put the movie in a long-term favorable position.

“Black Adam” cost $195 million to make, according to IMDb Pro, not including millions more in marketing expenses. As Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw noted in his latest Screentime newsletter, “Black Adam” likely needs at least $600 million worldwide to break even, when considering theaters typically take around half of a movie’s ticket sales (Warner Bros. did not respond to a request for comment on this estimate).

With Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hitting theaters this weekend, “Black Adam” will likely quickly fizzle at the box office. 

The first “Black Panther” grossed $202 million in its first weekend in the US, more than the $138 million “Black Adam” has earned in three weekends. Early projections indicate that the sequel could open in that range as well.

Box Office Pro chief analyst Shawn Robbins estimated that “Wakanda Forever” could make as much as $205 million this weekend in the US.

And “Black Adam” has also not been approved for release in China yet, according to the box-office analyst Gitesh Pandya, founder of BoxOfficeGuru.com, who said he confirmed that with Warner Bros.

China was an essential market for Hollywood blockbusters before the pandemic, but the country’s film administration has been more selective with the foreign movies that are granted release there as it looks to strengthen the local movie industry.

For instance, none of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies released last year or this year were approved in China.

Johnson himself has been popular in China. His 2018 action movie “Skyscraper” grossed $304 million there worldwide, nearly $100 million of which came from China. Similarly, his monster movie “Rampage” earned $156 million in China. Both movies’ China gross outstripped their US box office.

But it’s unclear if a China release would be enough to save “Black Adam,” considering how much the country’s film priorities have shifted towards local releases in recent years. And Hollywood studios only take about 10% to 20% of ticket sales from China.

Warner Bros. did not respond to a request for confirmation on the movie’s China release.

On its current trajectory, “Black Adam” is on the way to being a box-office disappointment.

It’s one more thing new DC Studios bosses filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran will have to consider when charting the future of DC movies and TV shows.

Warner Bros. Discovery recently hired Gunn and Safran as co-chairs and co-CEOs of the newly created DC Studios as the company looks to implement a 10-year plan for the DC franchise across movies, TV, and animation. Gunn tweeted on Monday that he’s focused on “hammering out the new DCU” and “telling the biggest story ever told.”

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Prime members complain that Amazon Music is ‘unusable’ and in ‘shambles’ after the ability to select individual songs was removed unless they pay $9 a month

The Amazon Music and Spotify app icons on an iPhone, with a user tapping the Amazon icon.
Amazon Music expanded its music catalog in an attempt to beat out rivals like Spotify.

  • Amazon Music recently added 98 million songs to the platform to capitalize on an increase in demand.
  • But Prime members can only play individual songs if they upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited for $9 a month.
  • Some Amazon Music users are posting to Twitter and LinkedIn to criticize the update.

Amazon Music recently added 98 million songs to the streaming platform’s music library free of charge with no ads for Prime members. But some users are not happy. 

Before the music catalog expansion, Amazon Prime members could access up to two million songs to stream through a simple search, and download songs for offline listening with no internet service. But with the new update, the music can only be played in shuffle mode, which means that users cannot play individual songs from artists, albums, or playlists. To do so, users must spend $9 dollars a month extra on Amazon Music Unlimited. 

Such changes are riling up some Amazon music users who are going to Twitter to complain over the loss of certain features.

One user tweeted at Amazon Help asking for a partial refund because she lost all of the music that she purchased prior to the update. “Your music app is now unusable,” she tweeted. “I might as well turn on the radio.”

Another user tweeted that the platform is in “absolute shambles” after his daughter’s Amazon echo smart speaker started playing random songs on shuffle. 

Amazon Music users are also expressing their frustrations over LinkedIn. Some said that their playlists have disappeared and that they cannot replay songs. Others were so frustrated with the update that they said they dropped Amazon Music entirely to stream music on rival platforms like Spotify and Pandora.

An Amazon spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment ahead of publication.

Amazon expanded its music catalog to capitalize on an increased demand for a wider music selection among current members, Jamil Ghani, vice president of Amazon Prime, told the Wall Street Journal. Launched in 2007, Amazon Music jumped from 2 million to more than 68 million users globally, which is 10% of the total music streaming market, according to data from Earthweb.

Still, the number of Amazon Music users fall behind its rivals. Apple Music, in comparison, has 88 million users and Spotify has 433 million.

 

 

 

 

 

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I tested six-figure electric cars from Porsche and Mercedes. I’d buy one for its stunning quickness and the other for its opulent interior.

The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 (top) and Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 (top) and Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

  • You don’t need to buy a Tesla if you want a fancy, electric four-door. 
  • Porsche sells the $86,700 Taycan and Mercedes sells the $102,000 EQS. 
  • I drove fully-loaded versions of both cars to see how they stack up. 

So you want to buy a luxurious electric car but can’t decide between the Porsche Taycan and the Mercedes-Benz EQS?

First off: Congratulations on being rich. 

Testing out the German cars showed me that both are fantastic options for getting around in fancy, zero-emission fashion. But each is great in its own way.

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

This comparison isn’t exactly apples-to-apples. The $209,000 Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo Porsche lent me is the highest-performance Taycan available and the hatchback edition. The $141,000 EQS 580 Mercedes provided is also the top-of-the-line model, but there is another, speedier version, the AMG-EQS, which is more comparable to the sporty Taycan.

Still, this showdown gave me a solid idea of what these cars bring to the table and how they stack up. 

How much do they cost?

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.

The Taycan starts at $86,700. The EQS comes in at around $102,000. 

What about range?

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

The Mercedes earns an impressive EPA rating of 350 miles in the base EQS 450+ configuration while the all-wheel-drive EQS 580 clocks in at 340 miles. The sedan’s blob-like shape may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does cut down on drag, which helps with range. 

The Taycan’s range looks so-so on paper; the 2021 model I tested was rated for only 202 miles. (The 2023 Taycan maxes out at 246 miles, according to the EPA.)

But EPA estimates don’t always tell the full story. I observed a range closer to 250 miles, and Edmunds drove a 2020 Taycan 323 miles on a single charge. It pushed an EQS 450+ 422 miles. 

How do they drive?

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.

The Taycan is without a doubt the more entertaining car to drive. The 750-horsepower Turbo S is breathtakingly, incomprehensibly quick, promising to rocket to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. Its steering is precise and it handles impeccably. The tradeoff is that it rides on the stiff side. 

The EQS delights in a whole different way by gliding ever so smoothly and quietly down the road. While the EQS 580 I drove lacks the brutal acceleration of the Taycan, it’s still pretty quick. 

How fast do they charge?

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

The Taycan promises some of the quickest charging times in the biz. When connected to a sufficiently powerful fast-charging station (270 kilowatts and up), the Taycan can recharge from 5-80% in 22.5 minutes. 

The EQS maxes out at 200 kilowatts and promises to recharge from 10-80% in 31 minutes. 

However, since the Mercedes has a bigger battery and more range, charging times in terms of mileage added in a given time period are similar. 

How do they stack up inside?

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.

The Mercedes smacks you right in the face with a plush, spacious interior filled with leather and high-end materials. High points include options for massaging seats all around and a 56-inch “Hyperscreen” display for folks who simply can’t get enough tech.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580.

The Porsche also has a long list of luxurious options, but it gives off a sportier vibe. You have to climb down into its tight driver’s seat, which hugs you and keeps you in place around turns. Its back seats are more cramped than the EQS’s ample back row. My test car also came with several touchscreens, but I found Mercedes’s tech easier to use. 

Verdict

The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.
The 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo.

The Taycan Turbo S blew me away with its ridiculous quickness and fantastic handling. It’s a driver’s car for people who care about having fun while they get from A to B. The EQS is equally awesome, but it’s all about cocooning passengers in a quiet, rolling business lounge. 

To sum things up: The Porsche is a car to drive; the Mercedes is a car to be driven in. 

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Howard Stern warns of ‘another Civil War’ ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections as he bashes Georgia GOP senate hopeful Herschel Walker

Howard Stern; Herschel Walker.
Howard Stern; Herschel Walker.

  • Howard Stern warned of “another Civil War” ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.
  • The radio icon made the comments as he bashed Georgia Republican US Senate hopeful Herschel Walker.
  • “I mean, how the fuck could you elect that guy?” Stern said.

Radio icon Howard Stern warned of “another Civil War” ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections as he bashed Georgia Republican US Senate hopeful Herschel Walker and questioned how anyone could vote for him. 

“Some of these candidates that people are actually — fucking Herschel Walker. Holy fuck. They’re saying he’s going to win in Georgia. Are you fucking dummies?” Stern said Monday on his Sirius XM radio show

The shock jock added: “They always talk about another Civil War. I think there is going to be one. I mean, how the fuck could you elect that guy? You got to be outta your fucking skull.”

“I don’t care what party, what you believe, what you think would be good for America. Would you really vote for this fucking — I don’t know what the fuck he is,” Stern said of Walker. “I was going to say mental case but I don’t even know if that’s fair to mental cases.”

Walker, who has been backed by former President Donald Trump, is seeking to unseat Democratic rival Sen. Raphael Warnock in the tight Georgia Senate race in the midterm elections. 

Recently, Walker’s campaign has been rocked by controversies involving two women who have said the pro-life candidate previously pressured them to have abortions. 

Walker, a former University of Georgia football legend, has denied the allegations. 

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Live updates: Voters head to the polls for the US midterm elections with the balance of the House and Senate at stake

2022 General Embeds
  • America is heading to the polls Tuesday to vote in the 2022 midterm elections. 
  • The outcome of the election will determine the balance of power in both the House and the Senate. 
  • Insider will have real-time live election results on thousands of races across the country. 
Trump aides scrambled to stop him announcing his presidential candidacy on the eve of the midterms and upending the election: Report

Trump
Former president Donald Trump at a campaign event at Sioux Gateway Airport on November 3, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Aides to former President Donald Trump persuaded him not to announce his 2024 presidential campaign on Monday, fearing it could upend the midterm elections, The Washington Post reported.

According to three sources who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity, Trump had touted the idea of formally announcing his bid for the 2024 presidency at a rally for GOP Senate candidate JD Vance in Ohio on Monday night. 

The suggestion prompted a scramble by top Republicans and Trump some aides to stop any announcement, two of the sources told the publication. Other aides, it reported, wanted Trump to go ahead.

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What to watch for on Election Day 2022

voting 43
“I Voted” stickers are displayed at a polling place in Cheyenne, Wyo. on Aug. 16, 2022.

Today America will vote on the midterm elections, with the consequences of results poised to reverberate across the government for years to come.

Insider will have real-time live election results on thousands of races across the country, including every House, Senate, Governor, and State Legislative election happening in the United States.

The most significant story is unfolding in dozens of House races across the country, as the Democrats’ tenuous control of the chamber is being challenged by the GOP. Midterms tend to be disastrous for the incumbent president’s party, and this election has control of the House very much up for grabs. Insider is tracking close to 90 of the most consequential races. 

The Senate is currently split 50-50, and each party wants to get control of the upper chamber. Senators serve for six years, which means the impacts of this election will reverberate through at least 2028. The contest for control of the Senate might not be decided on election night, as it’ll likely come down to just a few individual races and counting could continue for several days.

There are also dozens of gubernatorial elections. These races are full of potential contenders for 2024, and, more consequentially, whoever wins the governor’s race in a number of key swing states will have control over the levers of power around elections. 

Lastly, with the Dobbs decision at the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, a number of gubernatorial races will end up functionally deciding the legality and availability of abortion in any number of states.

This is why this cycle has a number of critically important state legislative races. As power to regulate the right to choose has been turned over to individual states, the battles over legislative chambers are of significant importance this cycle.

Lastly, many states will have ballot referenda for their citizens to consider. These run the gamut, with some potentially legalizing marijuana, others establishing or stripping citizens’  right to abortion access, and others opening up multi-billion dollar gambling markets.

Insider will be closely monitoring the coverage on all of this today, tonight, and through the final calls of the races. The first polls close at 6 p.m. EST, come along and follow all the critical races of this election here.

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Why tech layoffs are happening all at once — and why the next few weeks could be the worst of them

Man with blue umbrella with back against Meta logo.
Meta is expected to announce big job cuts sometime soon, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal.

  • Layoffs season is underway, with Meta expected to conduct widespread cuts. 
  • The layoffs are the result of multiple factors, including economic conditions and budget-planning for next year.
  • Industry experts say the next few weeks are critical, as holiday layoffs could hurt morale and future hiring.

Layoffs season has arrived. 

Meta is reportedly planning widespread layoffs. Lyft cut nearly 700 staffers. Fintech giant Stripe laid off 14% of its workforce. Those are just headlines in the last week — and it’s likely only the beginning, industry experts say. 

Earnings across tech are weakening at the same time that companies are beginning to plan for the coming year. And with economic forecasts looking dire, tech firms are starting to tighten the belt — starting with cutting their workforces to shave salary costs.

Which means that in the weeks ahead, thousands of tech workers may be out of a job.

How did we get here

As Big Tech companies reported less-then-stellar earnings over the past few weeks, they also also flashed warning signs about the months ahead. The looming threat of a recession was causing customers to scale back spending, companies said — with few signs of a rebound on the horizon. 

That means in the weeks and months to come, those companies are going to be looking to trim costs where they can, said Dan Wang, an associate professor at the Columbia Business School.

“When they cut costs, the first thing to go is typically labor costs and also advertising and marketing,” Wang told Insider. “So when it comes to forecast what their numbers will look like, it’ll depend on how they have seen the trend in advertising spending on their platforms. When that doesn’t look good, then they have to accommodate those expectations by adjusting the workforces.” 

Tech companies are coming off a period of outsized growth, spurred on by the pandemic. What’s happening now is something of a correction, he said, as the tech world recalibrates to a time when people aren’t stuck at home, glued to their devices. 

And even though in many cases layoffs began earlier this year — both at startups and big tech firms — sometimes, they didn’t go far enough, Menlo Ventures partner Matt Murphy previously told Insider

“It always happens in cycles like this that sometimes companies don’t do layoffs significantly enough, but rather slow down on hiring and hope that normal churn might rightsize them,” Murphy said. “Coming out of Q3, which was much more difficult than Q2, it became much more obvious how many headwinds there were, and startups realized they can’t grow out of this with the staff they have and actually have to lay people off.”

What’s happening now

For some companies, these economic challenges are coming at the same time that they’re planning for the next fiscal year.

Amazon, Meta, and Google, for example, have fiscal years that end at the end of 2022 or in early 2023. They may be looking to get costs off their balance sheets now — before their fiscal years close. For example, if an employee is laid off now and given six weeks of severance, that reduces costs for the first quarter. Even if workers are given a longer severance, like three months, their salaries would be off the books before the end of the first quarter. 

While budget-planning doesn’t apply to every company — Microsoft, for example, just conducted layoffs and its fiscal year ends in June — there is an element of planning ahead at play, said J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, a market research company.

“That’s sort of unfortunate because it means that a certain number of folks are going to lose their jobs before the holidays and before the turn of the year,” he told Insider. 

But in other ways, some companies may just be playing follow the leader: assessing economic conditions based in part on what other companies are doing, Gownder said. 

“Watching other firms that are peers, not necessarily competitors, but similar firms to yours in the tech sector, could lead you to say, ‘Ah, this is the time,'” he said. “There is a bit of group-think in Silicon Valley.” 

What happens next

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the next two weeks are critical. That’s because companies may not want to cut jobs during the holidays — it could tank company morale, paralyze the employees who did keep their jobs, and affect future hiring, Gownder said.

“The best talent don’t want to work for the companies that kind of indiscriminately and without any empathy lay people off at the first sign of trouble,” he said. 

Which means that if tech firms want to conduct layoffs, the next two weeks are the time to rip the bandage off or risk not only keeping those costs on their profit and loss statements headed into the next quarter, but piling on these secondary effects.

Some planning could mitigate that — severance would help soften the blow, as would helping laid-off workers get new jobs, like Airbnb did back in 2020 — but the timing still comes down to how individual companies are going to make their planning decisions.

“There is a process at work here, and unfortunately, I don’t know that that process is much focused on not disappointing people at Christmas,” Gownder said. 

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I run the first Chick-fil-A to offer a 3-day workweek. We received 400 job applications for a single job despite the 14-hour shifts.

Chick-fil-A Kendall local operator Justin Lindsey (left) and staff members (right).
Chick-fil-A Kendall local operator Justin Lindsey (left) and staff members (right).

  • 41-year-old Justin Lindsey is the local operator of Chick-fil-A Kendall in Florida. 
  • He designed a schedule that allows employees to work consistent, full-time hours in three days.
  • He says the program has improved employee work-life balance, burnout, career growth, and retention. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Justin Lindsey, the owner-operator of Chick-fil-A Kendall in Miami-Dade County, Florida. His words have been edited for length and clarity.

One of the things I really set out to do when we opened this restaurant in June of 2021 was what I called “leading with generosity.” 

For me, that has two main parts: One is pay, making sure we paid a really competitive wage. And the second is time, to provide my teams with more of a balanced approach to the job. 

Traditionally, we had used the term “the gift of time” to refer to serving our guests in a quick and timely fashion. But we had always left employees out of that equation. My idea was to provide staff with this gift of time by creating a scheduling system where they would know exactly what days they worked for as long as they work here. 

From one week to the next, employees’ days off changed pretty dramatically, so I set out on a mission to see if I could create a more consistent schedule. What came out of it was the existing three-day workweek that we use now.

Now employees can look at the calendar six months in advance and know these are the three days that they work on any given week. Traditionally, at least at Chick-fil-A, that was never a possibility before. 

I split the team into two “pods” that rotate between three-day blocks of 13- to 14-hour shifts

Chick-fil-A restaurant
Chick-fil-A is famously closed on Sundays.

Even before the restaurant actually opened, I started mapping out a couple different things: one, how can I take the guesswork out of their schedules? And then tied to that was from a business side, how do we get more consistent?

Normally at Chick-fil-A, it’s a revolving door all day long. Somebody comes in and opens and then they leave at one or two o’clock in the afternoon, and then a whole new group comes in and closes up. Employees didn’t like the schedule because they never really knew what day they were going to have off, and we didn’t like it either from a business perspective.

So I started playing with the numbers and thinking, “what would it look like to combine some of these shifts?” Instead of doing 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., what would it look like to do like 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. as an example, and have somebody who’s there for multiple days, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? 

Then I started looking at what would happen if we took our team leaders and cut the team in half, splitting the team into what’s known as the two “pods.” 

I realized I couldn’t schedule those really long shifts and do a normal five-day workweek. That’s why I created three-day segments, where they’d be working with the same group of people day in and day out. This would also allow them to get really comfortable and good at working with one another.

We officially started the pod program in February. It’s primarily for full-time staff who work 40-hours a week, split between three days. As of today, we have 25 team members and 18 team leaders doing it and it continues to grow.

I incorporated feedback from managers into the program’s design

When we first announced the idea of the 3-day workweek, some managers were under the impression that they would have to be on-call during the days they weren’t working. They asked me, “do I need to be available if we’re short somebody or something like that?” I told them absolutely not. If you’re off, do whatever it is that you want to do. It’s your time, your time doesn’t belong to me.

The other initial feedback was, how are we going to communicate between the two groups if they don’t interact with one another? One of the cool things that we worked through was creating this communication script that we use every week for every pod. 

The employees go through and list out every single thing that occurred during the last three days they were in the restaurant — everything from broken equipment to attendance issues. So when the second pod shows up, they can read this mini rundown newsletter of exactly what’s been going on in the restaurant. 

That came about because of questions from managers before we implemented the pod system. It was really good feedback. It makes them be very intentional about communicating and from what we’ve seen, it’s worked really well.

We received 429 job applications for the program in one week

Chick-fil-A Kendall staff.
Chick-fil-A Kendall staff now only have to work two Saturdays a month.

We posted a job for a full-time team member on the three-day workweek, and in a period of a week, we had 429 applications. We conducted 40 interviews in one day. It just shows there’s people who really want to work in this industry.

Retention has also been strong. What I don’t see — in terms of the way we measure retention at the restaurant level — is what I’ve previously seen during my 12 years serving as the Chick-fil-A owner-operator. It had always become a struggle if another restaurant or another business opened around us and they were paying a little bit more than we would, we’d occasionally see people leave. Now we don’t experience that. 

There’s been people that we’ve had to remove from the program. The three-day workweek, in a lot of ways, exposes the really good and the really bad and in terms of performance, because you’re there for such a long period of the day.

It’s also allowed us to uncover up-and-coming talent that otherwise could have slipped through the cracks. Before we did this system, you just had so many managers coming and going throughout the day that it was kind of hard to gauge talent and really develop talent. 

What we’ve found with this system in particular is we’ve been able to really spot talent a lot faster than we previously could and be a little bit more agile, move a little bit quicker, and promote people faster. 

I think that’s so powerful because when you look at retention and you look at why people have traditionally left, based just from my experience, a lack of career growth and development was a big reason why. 

This system opened up that growth. On the other side, it also exposes when somebody is struggling and allows us to put them back through that development process that we have. 

One of the biggest strengths of the program itself is when I look in the dining room and I see three or four tables with my leaders out there doing development meetings. I see that almost on a day-to-day basis when I come in and I never saw that before. Because the truth was, they just didn’t have time to do it with how the traditional schedule was structured. 

Staff say the schedule has improved their life outside of work — from graduating college to traveling

Chick-fil-A Kendall staff

I always say the three-day workweek doesn’t work for everyone, but for those that it does, it’s really powerful to see the impact that it has on their lives.

Recently, I was talking to one of our managers who just graduated from the University of Central Florida. Now she’s going to be pursuing a master’s degree. She just poured her heart out and told me point blank that there’s no way she would have been able to graduate if she was working the traditional five-day schedule. 

That opened my eyes to thinking “wow, what if we had not done this? Would she actually still be one of my key managers?” She’s a core part of our management team and I know how important school is to her and for her future, so when I hear things like that, I’m like, okay, this is pretty powerful stuff. 

Another employee told me they took a road trip on their seven days off to go to New York City because they wanted to see the leaves change. She literally used zero hours of PTO and she took a road trip to New York City. 

Our team, they love this industry, they love Chick-fil-A, and they love doing their jobs. They just wanted some things to change, and they just wanted some options. I think that’s all we did — just met them where they’re at and said, hey, this may not work for all of you. But if you want this, it’s out there for you. We can make it work. 

It probably would have been a whole lot easier on myself, especially as a restaurant owner, to just keep doing things the old way. It definitely would have been a lot easier, a lot less conversations, a lot less planning, and things like that. But I’m so incredibly happy and grateful that Chick-fil-A has given me the opportunity to do this. Because the impact that I’m able to have on my team, honestly, I mean, it’s incredible. 

Will this work for everybody? I don’t know. All I know is our team is happy, they’re motivated, they’re energized, and they’re eager to serve people. Hopefully other people see that and try it out and maybe it helps other people as well.

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Russia’s liquefied natural gas exports are near a record high, as the realities of a harsh winter eat away at countries’ promises to curb their dependence on Moscow

Vladimir Putin smiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • Russia’s LNG exports rose 1.1% on-year to a record high of nearly 4.3 billion cubic meters in October.
  • The EU is replacing piped Russian gas with imported LNG cargoes, which could pose a political risk.
  • LNG shipments from Russia to the EU rose by 46% in the first nine months of 2022 from 2021, per Politico.

Europe has vowed to wean itself off energy from Russia and aims to replace piped natural gas from the country with liquefied natural gas, or LNG. By doing this, it can hamstring Russia’s energy coffers, as the war in Ukraine drags on.

There’s just one problem — Moscow is also a major exporter of LNG, meaning the EU might end up replacing piped Russian gas with imported Russian LNG cargoes — the very thing it was hoping to avoid.

Exports of Russian LNG — the supercooled version of natural gas that can be transported by ships — rose 1.1% year-on-year to 4.3 billion cubic meters in October, marking their highest level since March, according to a Bloomberg compilation of ship-tracking data from 2016 onwards. Top importing countries were France, China, and Japan, according to Bloomberg’s data.

Some of the supply likely made it to other EU countries, as European demand for natural gas typically surges as the bloc heads into winter. 

In the first nine months of 2022, LNG shipments from Russia to the EU rose by 46% from a year ago to about about 16.5 billion cubic meters, Politico reported on Sunday, citing data from the Europe Commission.

This was in the aftermath of Russia slowing gas supply to the EU via the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline, due to the war in Ukraine. This gas supply has ceased indefinitely after an ‘unprecedented sabotage’ of the pipelines that transport natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Admittedly, the imported LNG is only a fraction of the EU’s piped gas imports, so the LNG is not serving as a total replacement. The EU imported 54.2 billion cubic meters of Russian piped gas in the first nine months of 2022 and 105.7 billion cubic meters in the same period of 2021, per Politico.

But the EU snapping up Russian LNG still still leaves it vulnerable potential political ramifications from the Russia-Ukraine war. 

Russia could now use LNG as a weapon, canceling contracts should relationships with importing countries deteriorate, wrote Anne-Sophie Corbeau and Diego Rivera Rivota, researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy on September 27.

“Continued dependency on Russian LNG comes with the risk of energy supplies being used as a political tool of blackmail in the current geopolitical environment,” they added.

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Interest rate rise of 0.75% announced

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Bank of England announce interest rate rise to 3%.

The Bank of England has announced the largest increase to interest rates since 1989. The cost of borrowing has reached 3%, a total rise of 0.75 percentage points. This comes after predictions that higher interest rates would push the country into the longest recession since the 1930s.  

Today, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted for the increase. This is in an attempt to combat rampant inflation, which hit 10.1% in September. This was voted by a 7-2 majority. 

But why has this happened yet again? Well, the MPC has cited high energy prices and a tight labour market as reasons for this hike in rates. These rises now match those made last week by the US Federal Reserve as well as the European Central Bank. 

Inflation is also expected to continue to rise, with a peak of 11% expected by the end of this year. Then, says the Bank of England, it will fall “quite sharply” from the middle of 2023. However, we are likely to continue to feel the affects of both high inflation and large interest rates well into 2025.

These changes do not take into account Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s forthcoming budget, which will be announced November 17th. This budget is expected to consist of cuts to government spending, which could worsen the outlook for the growth of the economy. 

Inflation has soared this year in many developed countries, with the war in Ukraine reducing gas supplies. This has increased prices at a staggering rate. The severity and length of the recession the UK economy now faces will likely hit businesses hard. 

What are your thoughts on the announcement of another interest rate rise?

 

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Top European Union court rules that member nations must legally recognize same-sex parents and their children

An activist carries the rainbow flag during the gay pride rally in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, Sept. 21, 2013. A ruling by the European Union's top court on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 has given a boost to the rights of same-sex parents and their children in the 27-nation bloc.
An activist carries the rainbow flag during the gay pride rally in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, Sept. 21, 2013. A ruling by the European Union’s top court on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 has given a boost to the rights of same-sex parents and their children in the 27-nation bloc.

  • The case was brought by two same-sex parents who could not obtain legal documents for their baby.
  • Bulgaria, which does not recognize same-sex marriage, denied the couple a birth certificate.
  • The court ruled that Bulagria restricted the baby’s free movement between countries as an EU citizen.

On Tuesday, the European Union’s top court ruled that each of its 27 member states must legally recognize same-sex parents and their children as a family.

A case was brought by Bulgarian citizen Kalina Ivanova and Gibraltar-born British citizen Jane Jones after they were denied a Bulgarian birth certificate for their newborn daughter, Sara, because the EU member state does not recognize same-sex marriages, according to The Hill.

Because Sara was born in Spain, an EU member state where same-sex marriage is legal, both women were registered by Spanish authorities as her mothers on her birth certificate, LGBTQ advocacy group ILGA-Europe told The Hill. However, the couple had no other choice but to apply for Bulgarian citizenship for their daughter, according to ILGA-Europe.

“Under current Spanish law, the child could not acquire Spanish citizenship because neither Kalina or Jane is a Spanish citizen. The child was also denied British citizenship because Jane was born in Gibraltar of British descent, and under the British Nationality Act (1981), cannot transfer citizenship to her daughter,” ILGA-Europe said in a press release.

Still, Bulgaria denied Sara citizenship because her parents are of the same sex, which deprived her of personal documents and the ability to travel outside of Spain, as well as restricted her access to education, health care, and Social Security, according to ILGA-Europe.

In its ruling, the European Court of Justice stated that EU citizens have a legal guarantee of free movement between countries and consequently must acknowledge the relationship between parents and their childen.

“That refusal could make it more difficult for a Bulgarian identity document to be issued and, therefore, hinder the child’s exercise of the right of free movement and thus full enjoyment of her rights as a Union citizen,” a press release from the court said.

The court also determined that recognizing families with same-sex parents “does not undermine the national identity or pose a threat to the public policy” of another member state where same-sex marriage is not legal, such as Bulgaria, according to a press release.

“We are thrilled about the decision and cannot wait to get Sara her documentation and finally be able to see our families after more than two years,” Ivanova and Jones said in a statement to ILGA-Europe.

“It is important for us to be a family, not only in Spain but in any country in Europe and finally it might happen. This is a long-awaited step ahead for us but also a huge step for all LGBT families in Bulgaria and Europe.”

Read the original article on Business Insider