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Elon Musk Fires Over 4,000 Contractual Employees Without Notice: Report



Elon Musk Fires Over 4,000 Contractual Employees Without Notice: Report

The fresh round of layoffs comes just a week after Musk fired50 per cent of Twitter’s staff.

New Delhi:

The bloodbath at Twitter continued over the weekend as new owner Elon Musk fired over 4,000 contractual employees over the weekend without prior notice, a report said. 

According to Platformer, roughly 4,400 contractual employees lost access to their official mail, online services, and also the company’s internal communications. 

“Update: company sources tell me that yesterday Twitter eliminated ~4,400 of its ~5,500 contract employees, with cuts expected to have significant impact to content moderation and the core infrastructure services that keep the site up and running. People inside are stunned,” Platmormer’s Casey Newton tweeted.

The fresh round of layoffs comes just a week after Musk fired 50 per cent of Twitter’s staff, around 3,700 employees, including 90 per cent of its employees in India.

According to the report, the new job cuts were announced across Twitter’s global operations, affecting employees in content moderation, marketing, real estate, engineering, and other departments. 

Since taking over Twitter in a $44 billion deal in October, Musk has fired over half of the company’s staff. Amidst the chaos, Twitter’s key security executives have also resigned from the platform.

“I’ve made the hard decision to leave Twitter,” tweeted chief security officer Lea Kissner last week. 

Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, also resigned from the company just days after staunchly defending Musk’s content moderation policy to advertisers. 

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Heavy Firing On Mumbai Street Amid Fight Between 2 Groups


BBBEE is here to stay: Ramaphosa



With the advent of democracy in 1994, a key priority of the new government was to transform the economy so that everyone could benefit from the country’s wealth.

As a society, we understood that economic transformation could not simply be left to the markets, but would need special interventions to make it happen.

That is why the Bill of Rights in our Constitution says that to promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures may be taken to advance people who had been disadvantaged by unfair discrimination.

The same Constitution provides for both value-for-money and empowerment in public procurement.

It says that when public bodies contract for goods and services, they must do so in a manner that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective. It also says the state must implement a preferential procurement policy that advances people who have been disadvantaged by unfair discrimination. In South Africa, this refers to black people, women and persons with disabilities.

It is in this context that the new Preferential Procurement Regulations published by the National Treasury last week need to be understood. Government remains wholly committed to transformation and empowerment as envisioned in the Constitution.

Some people, for their own reasons, have mischaracterised the purpose and effect of the new regulations. Some commentary has even claimed that this government is back-tracking on its commitment to broad-based black economic empowerment.

This claim is far from the truth.

The new regulations fulfil an order of the Constitutional Court last year declaring that the preferential procurement regulations from 2017 are illegal, and requiring that the Minister of Finance replace them within 12 months.

Some of the commentators on this matter neglect to mention that the crux of the judgment is the scope of Ministerial powers to make preferential procurement regulations.

These regulations now fully comply with Section 217 of the Constitution in that they empower organs of state to develop and implement preferential procurement policies when contracting for goods and services.

These regulations are an interim measure pending the enactment of the Public Procurement Bill, which the National Treasury will soon submit to Cabinet and Parliament. The Public Procurement Bill will maximise both value-for-money and preferential procurement objectives to enable the delivery of services and transformation.

The new regulations have no effect on the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, as all organs of state must fully comply with this Act when developing their procurement policies. This Act remains in force as one of the most transformative pieces of legislation to come out of democratic South Africa.

Government’s policy framework has not changed with the introduction of these regulations, nor has our commitment to service delivery and black economic empowerment.

Empowerment criteria will still be applied in government contracting and organs of state must comply with the BBBEE Act when developing their procurement policies.

What has changed is that organs of state will be able to set and apply specific ‘goals’ when evaluating a tender under a preferential procurement policy.

Despite the provisions of the Constitution, despite the introduction of measures to advance the economic empowerment of black South Africans and women, we are certainly not as far as we had hoped to be with economic transformation.

As I told the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Presidential Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council in July, we need to develop a new vision for black economic empowerment that builds on successes, learns from shortcomings, and that responds to local and global economic realities.

There should be no mistake or misunderstanding: broad-based black economic empowerment is not under threat and is not being reconsidered.

The new regulations are not “a victory for sound business practices” as one interest group has claimed. What is unsound, unsustainable and, above all, immoral, is an economy that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Put plainly, we remain as committed as ever to broad-based black economic empowerment, meeting our localisation objectives and transforming an economy that, despite our best efforts, is still largely controlled by a minority.

As we reflect on 20 years since the passage of the BBBEE Act, as we remedy the shortcomings that exist and chart a new course, we call on business, labour and civil society to join us on this journey.

We have come a long way since the days when only whites were allowed to own businesses and provide goods and services to the state. Where black businesses did exist, they were confined to townships, rural areas and the so-called homelands. We can and must do more to advance economic transformation.

To borrow the words of the National Development Plan, deepening democracy and building a more inclusive society means that we must continuously strive to translate political emancipation into economic wellbeing for all.


Buster Murdaugh living in South Carolina ahead of a father’s murder trial: exclusive pics



EXCLUSIVE: Richard “Buster” Murdaugh Jr.— the lone surviving son of disgraced South Carolina lawyer and accused killer Alex Murdaugh — is living a quiet life with his longtime girlfriend in a resort town ahead of his father’s hotly anticipated murder trial, Fox News Digital has learned. 

“They’re a really nice couple,” said a neighbor, who wasn’t aware of Buster’s identity or tragic family circumstances. “They always smile and say, hi.” 

Buster, and Brooklynn White, both 26, live with their beloved golden retriever, Miller, in a modest one-bedroom Hilton Head Island condominium — a far cry from the sprawling 1,700-acre hunting farm, known as Moselle, where he grew up in Islandton, South Carolina.

Alex, 54, is accused of fatally shooting Buster’s only sibling, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, and their 52-year-old mother, Maggie Murdaugh, June 7, 2021, near the estate’s dog kennels. 


A photo combination showing Richard"Buster" Murdaugh Jr. and his girlfriend, Brooklynn White, walking their golden retriever, Miller, outside their Hilton Head apartment in Georgia. 

A photo combination showing Richard”Buster” Murdaugh Jr. and his girlfriend, Brooklynn White, walking their golden retriever, Miller, outside their Hilton Head apartment in Georgia. 
(Mark Sims for Fox News DIgital)

The fallen patriarch is slated to go to trial Jan. 23 for the shocking double homicide. Buster has continued to support his disbarred and jailed father.

On Tuesday morning, Buster, wearing a downcast expression, pulled up in his gray GMC Yukon outside the Georgia apartment, then carried a basket of laundry inside before leaving. 

The home, which features a blue Marlin decoration on the front porch, is in a complex with a communal pool, a tennis court and a gym. 

Brooklynn White and Buster Murdaugh's home on Hilton Head Island on the coast of Georgia.

Brooklynn White and Buster Murdaugh’s home on Hilton Head Island on the coast of Georgia.
(Marks Sims for Fox News Digital)

It’s unclear when Buster and White began dating — but she accompanied him to the joint funeral of Paul and Maggie, according to a source. 

She was seen comforting her beau as he cried at the service, and she affectionately interacted with his father, the source added.


More than 17 months after the murders, the slain mother and son’s graves in Hampton Cemetery still don’t have headstones and are marked by small plastic plaques.

Brooklynn White, girlfriend of Buster Murdaugh, works at the Olivetti, McCray and Withrow law firm on Hilton Head Island in Georgia.

Brooklynn White, girlfriend of Buster Murdaugh, works at the Olivetti, McCray and Withrow law firm on Hilton Head Island in Georgia.
(Mark Sims for Fox News Digital/ Facebook)

White, who’s from Rock Hill, South Carolina, bought the Hilton Head condo for $180,000 in July 2021 after landing her first job out of law school at Olivetti McCray & Withrow, where she specializes in probate and estate planning, according to the firm’s website.

She declined to answer questions Wednesday morning on her boyfriend’s state or the case against his father, politely responding to several requests for comment with a simple, “No, ma’am.”

The apartment on Hilton Head, a vacation destination known for its pristine beaches and golf courses, is about 70 miles from Buster’s childhood home. 

From left, Buster Murdaugh, 26, his mother Maggie Murdaugh, his brother Paul Murdaugh and his father Alex Murdaugh. Alex is accused of fatally shooting Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, 22, June 7, 2021.

From left, Buster Murdaugh, 26, his mother Maggie Murdaugh, his brother Paul Murdaugh and his father Alex Murdaugh. Alex is accused of fatally shooting Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, 22, June 7, 2021.

White attended the University of South Carolina Law School alongside Buster, who was allegedly kicked out in his second semester for plagiarism, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Alex paid an attorney $60,000 to try to get Buster readmitted, according to FitsNews.


The news site also reported that Buster attended the annual South Carolina Association for Justice convention on Hilton Head in August with his attorney uncle, Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh IV.

Buster Murdaugh, the lone surviving son of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, has been living with his girlfriend Brooklynn White, pictured, in her Hilton Head Island apartment. 

Buster Murdaugh, the lone surviving son of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, has been living with his girlfriend Brooklynn White, pictured, in her Hilton Head Island apartment. 

Buster has kept a low profile since igniting a firestorm in October 2021 when he was photographed in public with his uncle, John Marvin Murdaugh, gambling and drinking at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

The latest Buster sighting comes the same week that the federal trial of banker Russell Laffitte kicked off — the first criminal case stemming from the spectacular unraveling of the Murdaugh dynasty to go before a jury.

Laffitte, the former Palmetto State Bank CEO, is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and other crimes for allegedly helping Murdaugh fleece his personal injury clients out of their settlement money.

The South Carolina graves of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh in Hampton Cemetery marked by temporary plastic plaques in November 2022 -- 17 months after their bodies were laid to rest. 

The South Carolina graves of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh in Hampton Cemetery marked by temporary plastic plaques in November 2022 — 17 months after their bodies were laid to rest. 
(Mark Sims for Fox News Digital)

Although a central figure in that federal case, Alex hasn’t been charged. But he has been indicted on more than 80 counts of financial crimes in state court in connection to the alleged theft of $8.5 million from his clients’ settlements.


Prosecutors revealed Tuesday at Laffitte’s trial that Alex was first confronted about financial irregularities at the family’s once illustrious personal injury law firm the same day his wife and son were murdered.

The firm, formerly known as Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Derrick, P.A., accused Alex of misappropriating funds and forced him out. 

The temporary plastic plaque marking Maggie Murdaugh's grave at Hampton Cemetery, in South Carolina, 17 months after her husband, Alex Murdaugh, allegedly shot her and their 22-year-old son, Paul, to death. 

The temporary plastic plaque marking Maggie Murdaugh’s grave at Hampton Cemetery, in South Carolina, 17 months after her husband, Alex Murdaugh, allegedly shot her and their 22-year-old son, Paul, to death. 
(Marks Sims for Fox News Digital)

Days after he lost his job, Alex was shot in the head in a failed assisted-suicide plot allegedly designed to leave Buster a $10 million life insurance policy.

The Murdaughs, a prominent Democratic family, had wielded enormous judicial and political power for over a century. Four generations served as the local prosecutor, known as the solicitor, who oversees the five counties at the southern tip of the state. 

But their dominance began to wane in 2019 after Paul was accused of drunkenly slamming his father’s boat into the pilings of a bridge in Beaufort, killing 19-year-old Mallory Beach, injuring four others and triggering a series of lawsuits that shone a spotlight on Alex’s alleged crooked financial dealings.

Clockwise from left Anthony Cook, Connor, Cook, Miley Altman and Mallory Beach. The friends were in a boat with a drunken Paul Murdaugh when it crashed into a bridge killing Beach, 19, and injuring the other three.

Clockwise from left Anthony Cook, Connor, Cook, Miley Altman and Mallory Beach. The friends were in a boat with a drunken Paul Murdaugh when it crashed into a bridge killing Beach, 19, and injuring the other three.

Buster was also named as a defendant in the Beach suit for allegedly letting Paul, who was underage, use his ID to buy alcohol for the doomed boating trip. The civil case is scheduled to go to trial in January.


Since the double slaying, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) reopened investigations into the mysterious 2015 death of Buster’s classmate Stephen Smith, with whom he was rumored to be having a secret affair. 

Authorities also launched a fresh probe into the 2018 death of the Murdaugh’s long time housekeeper. 

A booking photo of Alex Murdaugh, 54, embedded in an image of the Colleton County Courthouse, where Alex Murdaugh will stand trial on charges that he murdered his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, early next year.

A booking photo of Alex Murdaugh, 54, embedded in an image of the Colleton County Courthouse, where Alex Murdaugh will stand trial on charges that he murdered his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, early next year.
(Mark Sims for Fox News Digital/ Colleton County Detention Center)

A new HBO docuseries “Low Country: the Murdaugh Dynasty” that aired earlier this month features a series of jail calls between Alex and his son, which were recorded at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.  

In one recording, Alex asks Buster whether “Brooklynn” got his letter. In several of the calls, which the series did not air, Alex speaks directly with White, who addresses him as “sir” and speaks warmly to him.

In another call, Alex encourages Buster to return to the Murdaugh estate where his brother and mother were shot to death.

From left, Buster Murdaugh, 26, his mother, Maggie, 52, his brother, Paul, 22, and his father Alex Murdaugh, 54. Alex Murdaugh is charged with fatally shooting Maggie and Paul June 7, 2021, on the family's sprawling South Carolina estate. 

From left, Buster Murdaugh, 26, his mother, Maggie, 52, his brother, Paul, 22, and his father Alex Murdaugh, 54. Alex Murdaugh is charged with fatally shooting Maggie and Paul June 7, 2021, on the family’s sprawling South Carolina estate. 
(Fox News)

“I think the dam feeders were full over there at Moselle,” Alex says. “If you felt like going back there, I bet with nothing going on, I bet there’s deer all over them things.”

Buster, who sounds unsettled by the proposition, replies, “I’m not going hunting out there.”


One of Alex’s attorneys, Dick Harpootlian, and the family’s spokeswoman, Amanda Loveday, didn’t immediately return requests for comment. 

Haley Chi-Sing contributed to this report.


Biden and Xi are meeting in Bali. Here’s what we know so far : NPR



Left: President Biden takes questions from reporters after the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 9. Right: Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Grand Hall in Beijing on Nov. 4.

Left: Samuel Corum/Getty Images, Right: Kay Nietfeld/Pool/AFP

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Left: Samuel Corum/Getty Images, Right: Kay Nietfeld/Pool/AFP

Left: President Biden takes questions from reporters after the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 9. Right: Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Grand Hall in Beijing on Nov. 4.

Left: Samuel Corum/Getty Images, Right: Kay Nietfeld/Pool/AFP

BALI – President Biden is meeting today with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a conversation the White House hopes will set some guardrails in an increasingly fraught relationship between the two superpowers.

The two leaders agreed to sit down together in Bali, Indonesia just ahead of the G-20 summit. Their meeting was set to begin at 4:30 a.m. Eastern time (5:30 p.m. local time) and the White House said it was expected to last a couple of hours. Afterward, Biden is set to give remarks and take questions at 8:30 a.m. ET (9:30 p.m. local).

The White House has been downplaying expectations for any agreements or joint statements to come out of the meeting given the lack of common ground between the leaders, instead casting it as a chance for some frank talk about the tensions between the two countries.

“He’ll have that opportunity to sit, to be totally straightforward and direct and to hear President Xi be totally straightforward and direct in return,” Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters traveling on Air Force One to Bali.

The White House hopes the leaders “come out of that meeting with a better understanding and a way to responsibly manage this relationship and the competition,” Sullivan said.

The meeting comes on heels of the midterm elections, where Democrats held the Senate and narrowed their losses in the House of Representatives, giving Biden a lift heading into his international travels. Sullivan said leaders who met with Biden at stops in Egypt and Cambodia were keenly aware of the midterm results.

In Beijing, at the recently concluded Party Congress, Xi consolidated his power, securing a third term as head of China’s ruling Communist Party and appointing a slate of his loyalists into top political and military positions. But he also faces a weak domestic economy that has cratered in large part to strict zero-COVID policies and dramatic property regulations championed by Xi.

President Biden was greeted by Balinese dancers upon his arrival to the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Sunday Nov. 13.

Made Nagi/AP

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Made Nagi/AP

President Biden was greeted by Balinese dancers upon his arrival to the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Sunday Nov. 13.

Made Nagi/AP

Xi has indicated he is looking to appease an otherwise-fraught relationship with the U.S. “China stands ready to work with the United States to find the right way to get along with each other,” he said in a congratulatory message during a gala dinner at the U.S. nonprofit, the National Committee on United States-China Relations.

Yet China has been pushing for the U.S. to agree to a litany of political demands the U.S. has either said or indicated are nonnegotiable.

Last year, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi presented a list of three core demands to American diplomats in the Chinese port city of Tianjin. Among them: not to interfere with China’s political system, to not hinder China’s development, and to respect Beijing’s claims over territories like Hong Kong or the democratic island of Taiwan.

The latter has been one of the biggest flashpoints in the relationship is the self-governed island of Taiwan. Beijing has long claimed Taiwan as its own, and has said that, while it prefers to unify peacefully, it will use force, if needed. Biden has made a series of provocative statements about whether the U.S. was prepared to defend Taiwan — though the White House has insisted its position has not wavered from long-held policy on the island.

The White House has insisted going into the Xi-Biden meeting that president Biden’s focus was not about finding common ground, but rather ensuring lines of communication remained open in the future.

“I think it’s more, how can we find ways to communicate about those issues where we have deep fundamental differences of perspective or concerns, but we need to be having continued and ongoing conversation,” said a senior administration official briefing reporters before Biden met with Xi.


Suspect at large, authorities say




Half of UK firms given loans by British Business Bank would have gone under in pandemic



Nearly half of the companies supported by a state-owned fund would have gone bust in the pandemic without its support, a new report has found.

The British Business Bank’s £1.14bn support to 1,190 firms helped 48 per cent stave off going bust during uncertainty of coronavirus.

The evaluation from the BBB said more than 60 per cent didn’t think they’d have been able to raise funding independently, while 85 per cent of recipients took on R&D initiatives since.

The project, which had a short term goal of increasing availability of equity finance to firms impacted by covid, was found to have met that goal by the evaluation, conducted by RSM UK consulting.

“COVID-19 presented monumental challenges for British businesses which is why it was so important that the government stepped in during their time of need”, said business secretary Grant Shapps.

“Whether it was supporting firms to stay open or equipping them to access capital and grow, today’s findings highlight the vital role of the Future Fund in keeping our most innovative businesses ticking along during a challenging time.”

The fund gave out loans through schemes to 1,190 firms, which had a total of more than 28,000 employees. These funds had to have at least equal match-funding from investors, and the scheme was deployed in May 2020 until January 2021.

Firms had a reduced risk of closure and long term damage as a result of the dunging according to the report, despite the pandemic forcing the number of equity deals plummeting by 32 per cent by early 2020.

Ken Cooper, managing director, venture solutions, at the British Business Bank said: “The Future Fund was created at a time of great uncertainty in the venture capital markets and when the country was learning new ways of working through a pandemic.”

“Against that backdrop, seeing the positive outcomes reflected in this independent evaluation is fantastic. We supported over a thousand companies many of which have since gone on to gain subsequent investment where they might not otherwise have survived.”


Trump’s picks to oversee elections in key 2024 battlegrounds all lost



The Democratic sweep came after the party devoted significant attention and resources to secretary of state contests. The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State and its affiliates raised $30 million over the election cycle, about 7.5 times what the committee raised in 2018 and 2020 combined. iVote, a long-running outside group focused on battleground secretary of state contests, brought in $15 million, roughly double what it did in 2018. And other liberal groups, including End Citizens United and EMILY’s List, rushed millions more into key contests, alongside candidates who broke fundraising records in their own states.

Democrats used that money to go up on TV well before the election, which is usually not a luxury afforded to candidates in these down-ballot races. Broadly, the candidates ran positive spots boosting themselves, leaving the outside groups to rip into the Republicans as unfit for office.

“That’s what allowed us to define these people … going in early and going big,” said Kim Rogers, the executive director of DASS. She noted that the pre-election window to communicate with voters “is pivotal in these races. We knew we could win if we had the resources to communicate with voters, and not only did we win, we’re outperforming the top of the ticket because of it.”

Indeed, the Democratic secretary of state nominee is running ahead of the party’s candidate for governor in all four states. It is a dramatic shift from past years, when some voters have typically skipped voting in down-ballot contests like these. But this year, the races got more attention than they ever have before.

“My previous name ID was at 10 percent,” said Benson. “The fact that we got to 70 percent, ultimately, at the end of it was really significant to me.”

Benson attributed that, in part, to the spending on the race. But Trump’s focus on these offices — both before and after the 2020 election — has made voters pay more attention to them.

“My profile increased significantly the day Donald Trump tweeted at me in May of 2020,” she said. “That has negative ramifications, very significant ones, but it also boosts the awareness and attention about our race.”

Trump also stumped for three of the four Republican candidates in the closing weeks of the midterms, calling them on stage during campaign rallies. That drew eyeballs to the race, as did former President Barack Obama’s intervention on Democrats’ behalf at the end of the campaign.

“For former President Obama to come to Michigan, and in his speech to talk about me and my race — just as he did in Nevada for Cisco Aguilar — really made an impact and had people who previously might not have paid attention pay attention,” Benson said.

In the end, operatives working on the races said while Republican candidates’ positions on the 2020 election riled up a segment of the Trump base, it broadly cost them with voters, helping Democratic candidates not only win but run up the score compared with other contests.

“What we found in our research was that people wanted an unbiased, fair — almost boring — election administrator,” said Ellen Kurz, the co-founder and president of iVote. Voters “were totally tired of relitigating 2020. Even people who believed the election was stolen were like, ‘Why are they talking about that still?’”

“It did help us that we were running against people who were out there,” she continued. “I can’t deny that that wasn’t a help to our side.”

Kurz noted that Democrats were unable to beat Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the Republican incumbent, because “people didn’t think that Raffensperger could be bought.” Raffensperger, too, had the distinction of beating a Trump-backed challenger, defeating Rep. Jody Hice in the GOP primary over the summer before dispatching Democratic state lawmaker Bee Nguyen in last week’s general election.

The results across the board mean that none of the biggest battleground states will have a “stolen election” conspiracy theorist overseeing the vote in 2024.

In addition to Raffensperger and the four Democratic secretary of state victors, Pennsylvania Democrat Josh Shapiro’s election as governor means he will appoint the state’s chief election official instead of Republican Doug Mastriano, his defeated opponent who was among the most prominent national figures undermining confidence in elections.

Wisconsin also reelected Democratic Gov. Tony Evers instead of Republican Tim Michels, who was advocating changes to the state’s election oversight and hadn’t ruled out participating in the push to “decertify” the 2020 election results, a position with growing popularity in some quarters of the GOP — but no legal grounding.

Evers’ win — combined with Democrats narrowly stopping Republicans from taking a veto-proof majority in the Legislature — means the state’s bipartisan elections board is much more likely to stay intact now.

“It’s just a sense of relief,” said Jena Griswold, the Colorado secretary of state and chair of DASS, who also won her own reelection last week. “Winning these seats was just paramount this election cycle.”

Even amid the Democratic victories, there was some quiet grumbling among those working on secretary of state races about a lack of support from national Democrats, along with broader resource-spending decisions. And there were setbacks in redder states: Diego Morales — a member of Marchant’s America First Secretary of State Coalition — is the next secretary of state of Indiana, and Chuck Gray, another Trump-endorsed candidate who has spread unfounded accusations of fraud, won the office in Wyoming, for example.

“It was an emergency. We stopped the emergency for the presidential [election], that’s the biggest takeaway,” said Kurz. “That’s good. … There’s still a lot of work to do.”


Across the US, a return to democratic order. Will it last?



WASHINGTON (AP) — There was no violence. Many candidates who denied the legitimacy of previous elections lost and quietly conceded. And few listened when former President Donald Trump tried to stoke baseless allegations of electoral fraud.

For a moment, at least, there’s a sense of normalcy in the U.S. The extremism that has consumed political discourse for much of the last two years has been replaced by something resembling traditional democratic order.

The post-election narrative was instead focused on each party’s electoral fate: Republicans were disappointed that sweeping victories didn’t materialize, while relieved Democrats braced for the possibility of a slim House GOP majority. At least for now, the serious threats that loomed over democracy heading into Election Day — domestic extremist violence, voter intimidation and Republican refusal to respect election outcomes — did not materialize in any pervasive way.

“It was a good day, I think, for democracy,” President Joe Biden said, even as he acknowledged his party might lose one chamber of Congress.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, said midterm voters were concerned about Biden’s leadership but that they had a more urgent message: “Fix policy later, fix crazy now,” he told CNN.

Yet the “crazy” that consumed Sununu’s party this fall still looms.

Even as many GOP leaders blame Trump for elevating weak and extreme candidates who struggled, the former president sought to undermine the midterm results from his low-profile social media platform. Trump posted no fewer than 20 messages since Tuesday afternoon raising the false prospect of electoral fraud in the 2022 election, increasingly focusing on Nevada and Arizona as vote counting there continued into the weekend.

His expected announcement on Tuesday of a third presidential campaign could give Trump another high-profile platform to advance lies about the election.

Of the high-profile candidates on the 2022 ballot, only Arizona’s Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake, has been aggressive in promoting Trump’s unfounded concerns about the extended vote-counting process, which is typical in some states. Lake is locked in a tight race against Democrat Katie Hobbs that hasn’t been called.

In Pennsylvania, the Trump-backed candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, was soundly defeated. Mastriano’s senior legal adviser, Jenna Ellis, a former Trump aide, stated unequivocally there was no sign of serious voting irregularity.

“There isn’t this kind of concern like we had in 2020,” Ellis said on her podcast. “We can’t just say, ‘Oh, my gosh, everything was stolen.’ I mean, that’s ridiculous for this election.”

And in Michigan, Trump-backed Republican Tudor Dixon, a leading 2020 election denier, quickly conceded to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after The Associated Press called the race.

A leading progressive, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has raised concerns about far-right threats to democracy since before his own 2020 presidential bid, suggested that the GOP has begun to act more rationally.

“I think that a number of Republicans now understand that Trump’s desire to undermine American democracy is not only wrong, but it is bad politics,” Sanders told the AP. “For all of those people who want to maintain the lies that Trump actually won in 2020, Tuesday was a bad day for them and a good day for the rest of the American people.”

Indeed, across the country, so-called election deniers lost some of the nation’s most important races.

Just one of 14 self-described “America First” secretary of state candidates, Indiana’s Diego Morales, won his race. The group of would-be chief election officials, which included candidates in swing states Arizona, Michigan and Nevada, was defined by Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Candidates who embraced such beliefs also lost races for governor in the Midwestern battlegrounds of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and in the Northeastern battleground of Pennsylvania.

Republicans who denied the legitimacy of the last election did prevail in Senate contests in North Carolina and Ohio. In Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp won reelection outright after fighting Trump’s conspiracy theories, but Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who has promoted lies about the last election, proceeded to a runoff election in December.

Before Election Day, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said he was “extremely concerned” that Black people would be disenfranchised by voter intimidation or other voter suppression tactics — especially as hundreds of pro-Trump activists signed up to serve as GOP election watchers across the country.

U.S. intelligence agencies issued a bulletin less than two weeks before the election warning of a heightened threat of domestic violent extremism that might target elected officials, election workers or voting places.

But days after polls closed, Johnson said the voting process largely went well. He noted, however, that it’s impossible to know whether the threat of intimidation or violence may have had a “chilling effect” on voter participation.

“It was frustrating that we have to operate in our democracy from a fear posture,” Johnson said. “We should be making it easier to vote.”

Meanwhile, world leaders noted the relatively smooth election in discussions with Biden during a weekend summit in southeast Asia. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the outcome established “a strong position for him on the international stage.”

“I would say one theme that emerged over the course of the two days was the theme about the strength of American democracy and what this election said about American democracy,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One. “So, the president feels very good about — obviously, about the results.”

On Election Day, Trump tried and failed to sow disorder in multiple states — especially in regions with large minority populations.

Trump posted a message on social media Tuesday afternoon falsely claiming that voters were being refused the right to vote in Detroit. “Protest, Protest, Protest!” the former president wrote.

The message inspired no protests or even visible tension outside the Detroit convention center where votes were being counted. Four years earlier, scores of Trump supporters screamed and beat on the glass during the tabulation process.

At Milwaukee’s central count facility, several election observers heckled election commission members as roughly 250 workers tabulated the city’s absentee ballots Tuesday evening. Republican Commissioner Doug Haag, who stood witness as the flash drives with vote totals were sealed in envelopes, was among those who scolded the hecklers. They quieted down after receiving a final warning and were allowed to stay for the remainder of the process.

In Arizona’s pivotal Maricopa County, there were calls early on from far-right groups, including some known to attract Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and other extremists, for protests in front of the building where the ballots were being counted to demand a hand count of the vote. Police responded with a heavy presence on Election Day, bringing in mounted officers and helicopters. But not even a handful of protesters showed up. Four years earlier, a large group of armed protesters gathered outside the same tabulation center.

And in Nevada, local officials were prepared for disorder, but bad weather more than voter intimidation marked Election Day.

In populous Clark County, a Democratic stronghold, one man walked into a polling place and raised his voice at poll workers, saying the machines were rigged, according to the Clark County School District Police Department. Poll workers told him to quiet down before he walked outside, where he tried to pull down the “vote here” sign.

In the Reno, Nevada, area, where voters braved snow and ice on Election Day, Washoe County interim registrar Jamie Rodriguez said there was only one case of voter intimidation. Two men threatened poll workers and were “aggressive” toward voters, before a poll manager escorted them out. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said it was investigating.

“It was a lot of comments about them not being patriots, not doing the right thing,” Rodriguez said.


Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington, Harm Venhuizen in Milwaukee, Corey Williams in Detroit and Seung Min Kim in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, contributed to this report.


Banks to use Treasury bonds as loan collateral



Capital Markets

Banks to use Treasury bonds as loan collateral


Central Bank of Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Banks will soon be able to borrow from each other using government debt securities as collateral in reforms aimed at boosting liquidity in the industry while freeing the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) from frequent bailing out of cash-starved institutions.

The use of Treasury bonds and bills as security has had minimal success, mainly due to the fact that the ownership of the assets remains with the borrower.

This makes it difficult and protracted for creditors to recover their funds in case of default. The key change in the ongoing reforms is for a borrowing bank to surrender ownership of the securities to the lending institution, which will hold the assets until the loan is settled.

Anthony Musila, East Africa treasurer at Absa Bank Kenya, said the move would provide more certainty to lenders and encourage lending across the industry in what are technically known as horizontal repo transactions.

“The first phase is going to be to allow commercial banks to borrow from each other using government securities,” Mr Musila said.

“What’s going to change now is that they have found a way of making sure that the title to the security that the bank is using will pass to the lender. The lender will stay with the security until the debt is settled while the borrower gets the cash.”

He added that banks are currently signing master repurchase agreements with a December 31, 2022 deadline, meaning that use of the fixed income securities for borrowing could begin immediately thereafter.

The horizontal repo transactions are designed to facilitate short-term borrowing ranging from one to six months. Mr Musila said there are plans to expand the model to allow bank customers to also use their holdings of treasuries as collateral for bank loans.

“Horizontal repo transactions have not been implemented because the title to the security was not passed to the lender,” Mr Musila said.

“It remained with the borrower and as a result, if the borrower went under then you would find that in as much as they have a repo in place, the lender will still be told to join the queue and wait to recover his money.”

Small banks are expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the reforms, which are currently being tested.

Recent bank failures and distress concentrated among small to medium-sized institutions have seen them shunned by the major banks, forcing them to rely on the CBK for access to liquidity.

Implementation of the horizontal repos will guarantee the recovery of creditors’ funds, encouraging lending among banks regardless of size.

Big banks currently borrow from each other without collateral, confident in their balance sheets and potential to access additional funds from their shareholders.

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The FIFA World Cup in numbers | Football News



Who has the most titles, highest average squad age and highest number of goals scored?

World Cup 2022 is taking place in Qatar which becomes the first country in the Middle East to host football’s biggest event.

Brazil is the most successful team in the tournament’s history, having won the event five times.

Here are some more stats and figures on World Cup history:

20: There have been 20 World Cup tournaments held since the inaugural competition in 1930.

32: There are 32 teams competing across eight groups in this year’s event.

80: Qatar will become the 80th team to play in a World Cup.

qtar world cup
Qatar is estimated to have spent $230bn on World Cup preparations [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

8: Only eight countries have ever lifted the trophy. Brazil have won five times, while Germany and Italy have four titles each. Argentina, France and Uruguay have each won the World Cup twice, while England and Spain have each won once.

80,000: The capacity of Lusail Stadium, which will host the final of Qatar 2022.

2.6: Average number of goals per game during the Russia 2018 World Cup.

6: The host country has won the World Cup six times.

27.7: Average age of the Argentina squad, the oldest average at Qatar 2022.

24.5: Average age of the USA squad, the youngest average at Qatar 2022.

5 billion: People, more than half the population of the planet, are expected to tune in to watch this year’s World Cup.

334,000: Population of Iceland, the smallest country to ever qualify for a World Cup (2018).

13: France’s Just Fontaine holds the record for the most goals scored in a single World Cup, with 13 goals in 1958.

56: The number of seconds played before Uruguay’s Jose Batista was sent off in their 1986 match against Scotland for his crunching foul against Gordon Strachan. The fastest sending-off in World Cup history.

16: Most World Cup goals scored by a single player – Germany’s Miroslav Klose, over a span of four tournaments between 2002 and 2014.

11,581: The area, in square kilometres, of Qatar. A similar size to the metropolitan area of New York City, Qatar is the smallest country to ever host the World Cup.

$44m: The prize money for the World Cup winners in Qatar.