Posts tagged with "Reuters"

Dying for a better life: South Koreans fake their funerals for life lessons

November 11, 2019

A South Korean healing center is offering free funerals—complete with coffins—but only to the living. The practice is believed to increase participants’ desire to live—and to provide a more optimistic perspective on daily existence. And right at the start, there is good news: The mock-funeral experience is free.

According to a report by Reuters, more than 25,000 people have participated in mass “living funeral” services at the Hyowon Healing Center in Yeongdungpo-gu, Seoul for the past seven years. At the center, the process is described as “heal-dying.”

Dozens take part in each funeral—from teenagers to retirees—donning shrouds, shooting funeral portraits, penning their last testaments, and lying in a closed coffin for around ten minutes.

Hyowon began offering the living funerals to help people appreciate their lives, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with family and friends, said Jeong Yong-mun, who heads the healing center.

Jeong told Reuters that he is heartened when people reconcile at a relative’s funeral, but is saddened they wait that long. “We don’t have forever,” he said. “That’s why I think this experience is so important – we can apologize and reconcile sooner and live the rest of our lives happily.”

“Once you become conscious of death, and experience it, you undertake a new approach to life,” 75-year-old Cho Jae-hee, who participated in a recent living funeral as part of a “dying well” program offered by her own senior welfare center, told the news outlet.

University student Choi Jin-kyu told Reuters that, during his time in the coffin, he realized that too often, he viewed others as competitors. “When I was in the coffin, I wondered what use that is,” said the 28-year-old, adding that he plans to start his own business after graduation rather than attempting to enter a highly competitive job market.

South Korea ranks 33 out of 40 countries surveyed in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index. Many younger South Koreans have high hopes for education and employment, which have been dashed by a cooling economy and rising joblessness.

“It is important to learn and prepare for death even at a young age,” Professor Yu Eun-sil, a colorectal cancer specialist at Asan Medical Center’s Pathology Department, who has written a book about death, the news outlet said..

In 2016, South Korea’s suicide rate was 20.2 per 100,000 residents, almost double the global average of 10.53, according to the World Health Organization.

Occasionally, Jeong Yong-mun says,he has dissuaded those contemplating suicide.

 “I picked out those people who have asked themselves whether … they can actually commit suicide, and I reversed their decision,” Jeong told Reuters.

The message of personal value resounded with Choi.“I want to let people know that they matter, and that someone else would be so sad if they were gone,” he said, wiping away tears. “Happiness is in the present.”

Research contact: @Reuters

Amid U.S. vaping clampdown, Juul enters China, the world’s largest tobacco market

September 13, 2019

Holy smokes! No sooner did U.S. e-cigarette maker Juul Labs come under scrutiny for its flavored products at home than it surfaced in China, Reuters reports—with online storefronts on e-commerce sites owned by Alibaba Group and JD.com, geared to tap into the world’s largest market of smokers.

Following a press conference on September 11, during which President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump voiced concern about the health effects of vaping—noting that their 13-year-old son, Barron, is in the age group most likely to be captivated by the tasty, new smokes—the U.S. government announced plans to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves.

Juul, in which tobacco giant Altria Group owns a 35% stake, has been launching its products in international markets such as South Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Reuters says.

The move comes as U.S. health officials are investigating a handful of deaths and potentially hundreds of lung illnesses tied to contaminants in vaping products—among them, E acetate, THC, cutting agents/diluents, pesticides, opioids and other toxins.

China, which is the world’s largest single market for tobacco consumption with over 300 million smokers, represents a market with both opportunity and risk for the company.

It is already home to dozens of Chinese competitors with names such as Relx, Yooz, and SNOW+ that have taken tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding from high-profile investors.

Research source: @Reuters

Trump intervenes with Netanyahu, blocking Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel

August 19, 2019

“I don’t know why they would,” President Donald Trump said last week, when asked whether he thought that Israel should provide entrance to two U.S. Democratic representatives for a fact-finding visit.

The freshman lawmakers—Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota—are Muslims who have been disparaged, even by many of their fellow Democrats, for their posture on Israel; including their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign designed to press Israel on human rights issues surrounding the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nonetheless, it has been Israel’s position, as a close ally of the United States, to allow members of Congress to freely visit the nation—including the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The visit of the two lawmakers would have followed a visit by the largest-ever U.S. delegation—a group of 41 Congressional Democrats and 31 Congressional Republicans—who traveled to Israel to express solidarity with the Jewish state, following what they characterized as anti-semitic remarks by Tlaib and Omar.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump intervened to urge Israel to block the upcoming admission of the two Muslim observers.

According to a report by The Hill, President Trump “broke new ground [last] Thursday when he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deny two Muslim congresswomen entrance to the country for a fact-finding visit, accusing them of harboring hatred toward “Israel & all Jewish people.”

The move reverberated across Washington, as pro-Israel groups condemned the president for threatening U.S.-Israel relations; foreign policy experts chimed in with warnings of frayed diplomatic ties; and stunned Democrats issued waves of statements denouncing Trump for pressuring a foreign government to deny his American political opponents rights of free passage.

Indeed, in a surprise response on August 16, even BDS condemned the move. The  statement from the opposition organization left no doubt that even the Palestinians object to the U.S. president’s unprecedented intervention.

“The Palestinian-led BDS movement condemns the far-right Israeli government’s McCarthyite decision to prevent Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory over their support for Palestinian freedom. We call for cutting US military aid to Israel,” BDS said in its official release, adding, “Israel’s far-right government, with Trump’s collusion, has again put itself on par with apartheid South Africa in the past, and other rogue regimes in the present.”

The statement ended with kudos for the two Muslim lawmakers. “We salute Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and we call for escalating pressure on Congress to implement the Leahy Law, which conditions U,S, military aid to other governments on their respect for human rights, by cutting U,S, military aid to Israel.”

 “I can’t think of any other president, Democrat or Republican, doing something as outrageous as this,” Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill on August 15 during a phone interview. “If this is just providing cover for Netanyahu, that’s wrong. If this is Donald Trump playing politics, that’s wrong.

“Once again, Donald Trump is denigrating the office of the presidency,” he added.

Some Republicans also broke ranks to criticize the president’s intervention. “Israel is a U.S. ally and a thriving bastion of democracy and hope for freedom-loving people of the world. It would benefit all of us for Reps. Tlaib and Omar to see that firsthand,”  Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said to Reuters’s Patricia Zengerle.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), a staunch ally of Israel who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, called Israel’s decision a “mistake,” while Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) singled out the Trump administration for urging Israel to deny the women entry.

Research contact: @thehill

Apple, Goldman Sachs market virtual Apple Cards to consumers

August 7, 2019

Apple and Goldman Sachs Group rolled out a virtual credit card on August 6, in a deal designed to enable the iPhone maker to diversify from device sales and to build out the Wall Street bank’s new consumer business.

Apple intends to market the card to iPhone owners, Reuters reports—offering 2% cash back on purchases via the Apple Pay service, no fees, and an app to manage related finances.

On the Goldman Sachs side, the new card is intended to help build the new Marcus by Goldman Sachs consumer brand; which the bank started in 2015 to even out volatile results from businesses, such as trading and investment banking.

On Tuesday, Apple shares were up about 1 percent at $195.30 in trading before the bell. According to the Reuters report, the company said a limited number of the people who had expressed interest in the Apple Card would start receiving sign-up invitations immediately.

“The Apple Card doesn’t play in the same league as premium rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or AmEx Platinum,” said Sara Rathner, an expert on credit cards at NerdWallet.

She noted, “Those cards charge ultra-high fees, but in return you get some pretty sweet perks: massive sign-up bonuses, annual statement credits, free Global Entry, and a higher point-earning rate for travel expenses.”

Apple will offer an option for a physical card made of titanium, but with no visible number. Instead, the card’s number is stored on a secure chip inside the iPhone, which will generate virtual numbers for online or over-the-phone purchases that require a number.

Apple said purchase information would be stored on the user’s iPhone and that it cannot see the data. Goldman will not be allowed to use data for marketing purposes, even for selling its other products.

Gene Munster, managing partner with Loup Ventures and a longtime Apple watcher, said the card’s adoption is likely to be low in the first year, but it could generate about $1.4 billion of high-margin revenue by 2023.

That would add about 1.8% to Apple’s overall earnings and complement the much larger Apple Pay business for total payments revenue of $5.38 billion by 2023. Apple has roughly 50 million U.S. Apple Pay users now.

But at Apple’s size—$265.6 billion in sales for fiscal 2018—the revenue matters less than the effect on keeping Apple customers tied to its brand, Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies said for the Reuters story.

“If it works, it’s one more thing that causes you to stay deeply loyal and entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, even if something better comes along,” he said.

Research contact:  @Reuters

Amash renounces Republican party; will not rule out a run against Trump

July 9, 2019

Representative Justin Amash (I-Michigan)—who last week renounced his membership in the Republican party—said on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s personal attacks against critics might intimidate others in the G.O.P. from speaking out against him; but clarified, “It doesn’t scare me,” Reuters reported.

Amash, 39, became the first Republican congressman to speak out in favor of impeaching Trump in mid-May, after the release of the Mueller report. He said the investigation of Russia’s interference into the 2016 U.S. election had found abundant evidence that Trump had obstructed justice—bucking his party and echoing the conclusions of many Democrats.

Indeed, Amash believes that other Republicans would have joined him in denouncing the president’s oppositional and unethical conduct, had they not been afraid of being singled out by their colleagues for personal, nasty attacks.

“It’s a big part of it. They’re afraid they’ll be attacked,” Amash said on CNN’s State of the Union program on July 7.

“I get people sending me text messages, people calling me, saying ‘thank you for what you’re doing,'” Amash told CNN’s Jake Tapper in a wide-ranging interview.. “They’re not saying it publicly. And I think that’s a problem for our country, it’s a problem for the Republican Party, it’s a problem for the Democratic Party when people aren’t allowed to speak out.”

In response to requests for comment, the president has denied any wrongdoing.

Amash told CNN he is running in Michigan for reelection to Congress as an Independent. Asked about possibly running for president as an independent or libertarian, Amash said, “I still wouldn’t rule anything like that out.”

Trump officially began his re-election campaign on June 18 and more than 20 Democrats are campaigning for their party’s nomination to run against Trump in 2020.

When Amash said he was leaving the party, Trump tweeted, “Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress is ‘quitting’ the Party.”

On Sunday, Amash said that “most people understand that’s not how people are supposed to talk about each other and to each other.”

He said Trump “thinks people owe loyalty to him. But people are elected to Congress with an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not an oath to support and defend one person.”

Amash said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is mistaken in holding off fellow Democrats from pursuing impeachment proceedings.

In the same interview, Amash said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should start impeachment proceedings against Trump.

“From a principled, moral position, she’s making a mistake. From a strategic position, she’s making a mistake,” Amash said. “If she believes, as I do, that there’s impeachable conduct in there, then she should say so. She should tell the American people, we’re going to move forward with impeachment hearings and potentially articles of impeachment.”

Research contact: @CNNPolitics

America will run out of avocados in three weeks if Trump shuts southern border

April 3, 2019

President Donald Trump’s has threatened again this week to close the U.S.-Mexico border, continuing his all-out effort to coerce the political leaders of both nations to block South American immigrants from coming across.

However, even a brief shutdown at America’s southern border would strain the economies of both nations by disrupting billions of dollars in trade, about $137 billion of which is in food imports.

Nearly 50% of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40% of imported fruit are grown in Mexico, according to the latest data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

From avocado toast to margaritas, American shoppers—who are heavily reliant on Mexican imports of fruit, vegetables, and alcohol—quickly would become bereft.

Indeed, the stoppage quickly would become “hard to swallow” for U.S. residents—especially those who love avocados, according to a report by Reuters. Those of us north of the border would run out of avocados in three weeks, if imports from Mexico were cut off, according to  Steve Barnard, CEO of Mission Produce, the largest distributor and grower of avocados in the world.

“You couldn’t pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100% of the avocados in the United Stated right now. California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but they’re not relevant right now and won’t be for another month or so,” Barnard said in an interview with Reuters.

In addition to avocados, the majority of imported tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries, and raspberries come from Mexico. While there are other sources of produce globally, opening those trade channels would take time.

And shortages of fruit and vegetables will rack up the already-soaring prices at the cash register.

On the other side of the border, Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. exports of refined fuels like diesel and gasoline, some of which moves by rail. It is unclear if rail terminals would be affected by closures.

Research contact: @Reuters

Travelers ask agents to book other aircraft after Boeing 737 MAX is grounded

March 14, 2019

Travel agents and websites have begun to respond to consumer concerns by rerouting passengers on other aircraft after the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX planes by nations worldwide—including China, Singapore, India, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, and the European Union—Reuters reports (and finally, the USA).

Several news outlets, including MSNBC,  reported that the United States had not grounded its 737 MAX aircraft, following a call received by President Donald Trump from Boeing President Dennis Muilenburg, imploring him to let them fly. (Editor’s note: That was true until late afternoon on March 13, when the president bowed to pressure and grounded the Boeing 737 MAX planes in the United States.)

However, U.S. passengers have the same fears as their global counterparts: Two of the new Boeing aircraft have crashed within the past five months—both just moments after takeoff—including Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10 and Indonesian Lion Air Flight JT610 on October 28.

The pilots of both flights had reported a technical issue when the controls were switched to autopilot after departure. Indeed, according to flight data from the earlier Lion Air incident, the aircraft took a sudden downward turn after the autopilot was switched on and made a sharp nosedive into the sea.

Boeing, itself, has commented, “[We are] deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team. A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”

Among the U.S. carriers that operate the Boeing 737 MAX are Southwest (with 34 of the planes), American Airlines (24), and United (14).

But, whether or not they are ticketing and flying, U.S. travelers do not want to board the aircraft until authorities worldwide have said it is good to go. Therefore, travel agents and websites are moving fast, Reuters says.

Kayak.com, part of the Booking.com stable, was the first big travel search website to say it would modify search filters to allow customers to exclude particular types of planes from queries, Reuters notes.

“We’ve recently received feedback to make Kayak’s filters more granular in order to exclude particular aircraft models from search queries,” a spokesperson for the website told Reuters in an email responding to questions., adding, “We are releasing that enhancement this week and are committed to providing our customers with all the information they need to travel with confidence

Several travel agents said they were dealing with the cancellation of flights due to the grounding of nearly two-thirds of the Boeing 737 MAX planes in most countries outside North America, prompting a wave of re-bookings.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel, which manages travel for big global businesses, said some clients wished to explore the possibility of temporarily restricting travel on Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

U.S. travel firm Expedia, Germany’s Trivago and Indian online travel agents MakeMyTrip and Yatra did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment about the impact the crash is having on bookings.

According to Reuters, the twin crashes have spooked the airline industry and heaped pressure on Boeing, whose shares have plunged, wiping $25 billion off its market value in the space of less than three days.

Research contact: @Morrison1996

Suit yourselves: Goldman Sachs relaxes dress code

March 6, 21019

Goldman Sachs Group —one of the leading investment banking firms worldwide, known for its buttoned-up, bespoke culture—announced on March 5 that it is relaxing the dress code for all of its employees, Reuters reported.

The firm, which has been in business since 1869, told employees to “suit themselves” in an internal memo to its 36,000 employees  outlining the new “firmwide flexible dress code.”

Management said the shift was due to “the changing nature of workplaces generally in favor of a more casual environment.”

The memo was signed by CEO David Solomon, a former investment banker who took the role in October;along with CFO Stephen Scherr and COO John Waldron.

Historically known as a white-shoe investment bank, Goldman Sachs traditionally required formal business attire. But since 2017, the bank began relaxing its dress code for employees in the technology division and other new digital businesses. This created a divide in the workforce as clear as denim versus pinstripes.

Like other Wall Street banks, Goldman has been competing to secure the best employees. Large technology firms and hedge funds often have more relaxed offices and perks. What’s more, over 75% of Goldman employees are members of the Millennial or Gen Z generations—people born after 1981.

“All of us know what is and is not appropriate for the workplace,” the memo reads—also reminding employees to dress “in a manner that is consistent” with clients’ expectations. “Of course, casual dress is not appropriate every day and for every interaction and we trust you will consistently exercise good judgment in this regard.”

Research contact: @eadilts

Martha Stewart signs on with Canopy to ‘cook up’ a new line of CBD products

March 1, 2019

Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart is going to pot, literally. She has signed on as an adviser to Canada-based marijuana producer Canopy Growth—agreeing to help develop and launch a line of pot-based products for both humans and animals, Reuters reported on February 28.

For 77-year-old Stewart—who has worked as a model, a stockbroker, a cookbook developer, a magazine editor, and a television star—this is simply another transition. And it’s one that she welcomes.

She famously has said: “Without an open-minded mind, you can never be a great success.”

The deal between Canopy and Sequential Brands Group, which owns the Martha Stewart brand, will seek to leverage Stewart’s mastery of consumer branding to launch a line of products based on CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.

Sequential’s shares surged 51% to $1.81 in early trading.

“I’m especially looking forward to our first collaboration together, which will offer sensible products for people’s beloved pets,” Stewart commented on the deal.

In Canada, where both pot and CBD are legal for recreational use, cannabis companies have been pouring cash into their businesses—both to fend off competition and develop new products

According to Reuters, Canopy also has announced plans to invest between $100 million and $150 million in a hemp industrial park in New York State. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved edible CBD; nor has New York State.

But word is, both approvals may be coming soon.

Research contact: @MarthaStewart

Trump: Contacts with Russia are just ‘peanut stuff’

December 18, 2018

The president admits that he sees “the elephant in the room”—that is, his campaign associates’ frequent contacts with Russian oligarchs, lawyers, and government officials. However, Donald Trump told Reuters last week during an interview, it was all just “peanut stuff,” despite his earlier blanket denials of any such interactions.

Indeed, during a February 2017 news conference covered by Breitbart, President Trump said, “Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia …. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.”

Now—more than two years after the 2016 election and about 18 months into the Mueller investigation—court filings, public statements, and news reports indicate that at least 16 Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign or transition.

It has been thoroughly demonstrated that the president and his associates reached out to Russia in many ways:  via face-to-face meetings; direct phone calls, text messages, emails, and video chats; and through a host of intermediaries.

However, as CNN reports, all of those who made the contacts—from former White House officials, to his personal lawyer, to his own son and daughter—uniformly deny participating in any “collusion” with the Russians.

The Reuters interview came a day ahead of the sentencing hearing in New York’s Southern District Court for Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen—who was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in hush-money cover-ups during the campaign, as well as for other felonies. What’s more, Cohen’s testimony to Robert Mueller about the president’s involvement with Russia represents a ticking time bomb that could explode within weeks, doing damage to everyone in Trump’s inner circle.

Trump, during the Reuters interview, criticized Cohen for cooperating with prosecutors and called for his former personal lawyer to receive a long sentence.

Research contact: @maeganvaz