Jim Cramer on Virgin Galactic, Amazon-MGM antitrust concerns and Starlink satellites

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CNBC Television 30 June, 2021 - 09:17am 19 views

Why is Virgin Galactic stock going up?

The stock got a major boost when Virgin Galactic won FAA approval to carry paying passengers. ... Management's getting testing back on track, which led to the receipt of a Federal Aviation Administration license to carry paying customers, sent the stock back above $55 less than a week ago. Barron'sVirgin Galactic Stock Falls After Rare Double Downgrade to Sell

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The billionaire space race: egomania and parasitism of cosmic proportions

In Defence of Marxism 30 June, 2021 - 04:02pm

Earlier this month, in the midst of a pandemic that is one of the worst catastrophes since the Second World War, billionaire tycoons Jeff Bezos (owner of Amazon and his own private spaceflight company, Blue Origin) and Richard Branson (owner of Virgin Galactic) announced their intentions to see which of them can be first to travel into space. The two are also in competition with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to become the first company to send paying, super-rich customers into space.

We certainly won’t be sorry to see these parasites leave our planet. Their voyages are only possible thanks to their brutal exploitation of thousands of workers, in addition to leeching off the public purse.

In recent years, the ‘final frontier’ has become an increasingly popular destination for private companies, with all manner of multi-billionaires from Branson, to Bezos, to Tesla’s Elon Musk pushing to expand their respective aerospace companies.

A few weeks ago, Bezos announced that his space travel company ‘Blue Origin’ will be blasting him into orbit on 20 July, claiming that seeing Earth from space “changes you” and that the journey will “be an adventure”. Like the decadent slave-owning class of the late Roman Empire, today’s super-rich have exhausted every earthly pleasure and are now looking to outer space to titillate their senses, while billions live the daily horrors of this system down here on Earth.

But it seems Bezos will be beaten to the punch. A report from Virgin Galactic, which coincidentally ‘leaked’ almost immediately after Bezos’ announcement, stated that Richard Branson will also be journeying to the stars - two weeks earlier - in what the Guardian describes as a ‘Fourth of July Independence Day spectacular’.

Despite the way these figures are celebrated in the capitalist press, the announcements have been widely seen by ordinary people for what they are: cynical stunts by disgustingly rich businessmen, to boost their self-importance at a time when money and resources are desperately needed elsewhere.

Simply launching Tesla’s SpaceX rocket (apparently the cheapest option when it comes to private spaceflight) costs $28m. One intrepid bidder paid £20m for the privilege of joining Bezos on the Blue Origin launch.

With 125 million people driven into extreme poverty within the last year, throwing tens of billions of dollars into these vanity projects is not simply insensitive, it is a crime against the working class and the poor of our planet.

Within days of Bezos’ announcement, a petition was launched on change.org, humorously addressed to ‘the proletariat’, entitled, “Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth”, which (at the time of writing) has already gathered 140,000 signatures. “Billionaires should not exist...on earth, or in space,” the petition reads. “But should they decide the latter, they should stay there.”

Despite its humorous tone, the petition captured the anger of the many ordinary people, which was also captured in the comment section:

“Bezos is a parasite… I cannot imagine a more despicable person. I also feel like him having all of outer space to himself would be his dream come true. Aren’t there loads of alien species he could subjugate, now that he’s done doing that to us?”

Another writes that this one-way voyage idea should be expanded to the entire one percent:

“If they can send a billionaire to Mars why can’t they send them all there?”

Still others express solidarity with Bezos’ exploited employees:

“Stay in space or treat your workers with dignity.”

In the words of another signer:

“He literally has the power and ability to end so much suffering in the world at any moment; he just CHOOSES not to. If he’s gonna spend that money on trying to get to space instead, then fine. Let him go. And then, let him stay there. Earth will be a better place for his absence.”

Indeed, these moguls have sufficient wealth and resources at their disposal to solve many of the world’s problems overnight. Between them, Bezos, Musk and Branson boast a personal wealth of $362bn. Their companies have combined assets amounting to around $500bn.

What could be paid for with the approximate total of $860bn? It could end world hunger almost three times over in the space of 10 years. It could provide universal primary and secondary education to all the world’s children for five years, according to research by the UN in 2015. It could cover three years of the necessary investment required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the levels recommended in the Paris Climate Accords. Vaccinating the whole world against COVID-19 would be a mere drop in the ocean for these gentlemen, at a trifling $66bn.

Wealth enough exists to resolve the most serious challenges facing humanity. But it is in the grip of private profiteers who would rather fritter it away on space tourism for them and their ultra-rich pals.

How are these billionaires able to afford such vanity projects? First and foremost, this immense wealth comes from the sweat and blood of thousands of exploited workers, toiling in intolerable conditions.

Amazon is infamous for its dire treatment of workers, and union-busting practices. Every minute of workers’ time is subjected to scrutiny in Amazon’s 400,000-square-foot warehouses. Workers report being made to work 14-hour shifts with no bathroom breaks.

Injury rates at some Amazon facilities in the United States are three times the national average for warehouse workers. “There are days I say I’m just at the mercy of God,” said one Amazon worker interviewed in the Guardian.

Yet during the pandemic, Amazon’s profits doubled, while the company was investigated by courts in the US for putting workers at “needless risk” by refusing to take safety measures, and illegally firing anyone daring to advocate for better treatment.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s factories have been called “modern day industrial sweatshops” by ex-employees. They describe workers at the Fremont plant in California throwing up from dehydration, working eight or ten days straight without a break, and suffering grievous injuries on the job – including one unfortunate man whose leg was run over and crushed on a production line.

One ex-Fremont worker, Richard Ortiz was fired after trying to unionise the plant. And when the Chinese outlet Pingwest reported on stories at Tesla’s Giga Shanghai plant, the company filed a lawsuit to hush things up.

Added to the wealth squeezed from their workers, these companies also wouldn’t have lasted a day without generous state support. Certainly their efforts to enter the space tourism market would have been completely grounded without this support.

Between 2000 and 2019, private aerospace companies in the US received $7.2 billion in government subsidies, 93 percent of which was for projects that focus on launching rockets.

Earlier this year, the US government gave a multi-billion dollar contract to Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX to take two US astronauts to the moon, having lavished billions on SpaceX as a private sector alternative to piggybacking on Russian rockets.

Following protests from Jeff Bezos, the government passed the “U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act” which includes a $10 billion bailout that will likely go straight into Bezos’ pockets.

The double-standards of the ruling class have rarely been more obvious. Last year, at the height of the pandemic, Elon Musk tweeted that “another government stimulus package is not in the best interests of the people”. The next minute he was readily helping himself to the $600 billion coronavirus fund that former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin offered to “small businesses” during the pandemic.

Similarly, in its first ten years of operation, SpaceX received half of its total funding from the US government. These are only the amounts directly handed over to these billionaires. They are also able to call upon technologies and experts that have been freed up for them thanks to the winding down of the US space programme, which was funded to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of tax money.

Far from being great innovators, these billionaires are simply using state money to market innovations developed by public research and investment. Every one of these supposedly “self-made” billionaires has grown fat on government subsidies, while the working class foots the bill in austerity, taxes, and wage cuts.

Whilst taking all they can get from the public purse, they do everything in their power to hold onto every last cent of their ill-gotten wealth. The fight for space domination comes on the back of a leaked IRS report, showing that billionaires in the USA have been systematically avoiding income taxation for years.

In 2007 and 2011 Jeff Bezos paid no income tax whatsoever, and between 2014 and 2018 he paid just $973 million in tax while his overall wealth grew by almost $100 billion. In the same period, Elon Musk’s wealth grew by just under $14 billion, yet he paid only $455 million in taxes.

While showering aerospace billionaires with subsidies and handouts, the Biden administration was quick to respond to the leaked IRS report… by stating that they will track down and prosecute the whistle-blowers. In the words of one Republican Senator, this tax information represents an “incredible danger to private citizens and the credibility of the federal government if [it] is used for political or other purposes.”

The only ‘danger’ such information poses is to the corrupt and exploitative system, which continues to promote the profits of billionaires over the wellbeing of the masses.

The disgusting behaviour of billionaires like Branson, Musk and Bezos – who flaunt their stupendous wealth before the hundreds of millions of eyes of the world’s poor – will only add petrol to the fire of the burning hatred that millions feel towards this system, which allows such obscenity.

Tempting as it is to consider, even leaving these billionaires in space ultimately wouldn’t get to the root of the problem. Only by expropriating their wealth and using it to meet society’s needs can we stop the exploitative and wasteful vanity projects of the capitalists, and put these much-needed resources to much better use.

Bed Bath & Beyond, Virgin Galactic, WideOpenWest, etc. - Eminetra

Eminetra.com 30 June, 2021 - 03:53pm

The signboard is Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. in Los Angeles, California, USA on Monday, September 19, 2016. It will be displayed outside the store.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

WideOpenWest — US cable operators have seen a 13.4% rise in stock prices after announcing that they will sell five service areas in two separate transactions for a total of $ 1.8 billion to reduce debt. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of the year.

Bed bath & beyond — Retailer share has since surged 11.3% Report better sales than expected We improved our first-quarter results and raised our full-year outlook. Stocks are unusually high, suggesting that some of the rise may have been due to the return of Reddit traders who helped boost stocks earlier this year.

Virgin Galactic — Stocks have since fallen 2.1% Bank of America double downgrade shares Underperform from purchase. According to the company, Virgin Galactic’s soaring share price has already priced many of the final profits the company expects when it embarks on space travel. BofA also noted that the space sector continues to carry risks and volatility.

MongoDB — Database platform company shares fell 5.7% after announcing that they would sell 2.5 million Class A common stock and raise $ 889 million. MongoDB said it plans to use the proceeds of the sale for general corporate purposes.

Advanced Micro Devices — Semiconductor companies’ stock prices rose 4.9% after Bank of America repeatedly rated it as “convincing” and “undervalued.”

Constellation Brands — Spirits and beer maker shares have risen nearly 1.3% since the company’s quarterly report. According to Refinitiv, Constellation Brands reported adjusted quarterly earnings of $ 2.33 per share, consistent with Wall Street’s forecast. Its revenue was slightly higher than expected.

Las Vegas Sands — Casino and resort company stocks traded 2.96% higher after reports of Covid-related restrictions between Hong Kong and Macau, where the company owns and operates five properties, will be relaxed in July. I did. Travelers from Hong Kong to Macau are currently required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

General Mills — Food producers reported a quarterly earnings of 91 cents per share, after which stock prices rose 1.5%, 6 cents above analysts’ estimates. The company also reported revenue of $ 4.52 billion, with an estimated $ 2.02 billion.

Bed Bath & Beyond, Virgin Galactic, WideOpenWest, etc.

Source link Bed Bath & Beyond, Virgin Galactic, WideOpenWest, etc.

Billionaires Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson & Elon Musk Could Save 41M People at Risk of Starvation

Yahoo Finance 30 June, 2021 - 08:23am

Northampton, MA --News Direct-- Global Citizen

By Joe McCarthy

It sounds like a dystopian science fiction novel — as climate change cooks oceans and forests, a pandemic endangers billions of people, and world hunger surges, a handful of mega-wealthy men are pumping billions of dollars into their own personal space travel companies.

But it’s happening right now and David Beasley, the head of the World Food Program, thinks that money could be put to better use.

In a tweet on June 26, Beasley called on Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk to contribute the $6 billion needed to save 41 million people in 43 countries who are at risk of starving this year. It might sound like a big ask, but for these billionaires it’s an amount that’s tantamount to pocket change.

Bezos is worth $192.6 billion, Branson is worth $6.3 billion, and Musk is worth $165.9 billion. Together, that’s $364.8 billion, which could prevent people from starving to death 60 times over, according to Beasley’s estimation.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, world hunger had been rising for years due to ongoing conflicts, regional economic stagnation, and the escalating effects of climate change on agriculture.

But the pandemic greatly accelerated this trend by destabilizing economies, undermining agricultural production, and disrupting humanitarian efforts that deliver food aid to populations in need. As a result, the number of people at risk of starvation doubled to 270 million. In four countries — Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan, and Yemen — more than 600,000 people are already facing famine.

"Global Citizen is supportive of all efforts to get dollars flowing much faster to working charities, particularly as philanthropic endowments experience unparalleled growth and billions of dollars sit idle at a time when charities need it now more than ever to respond to unprecedented health, economic, and hunger crises,” said Michael Sheldrick, global director of policy and advocacy at Global Citizen.

Global Citizen launched the Give While You Live campaign with Forbes in 2020 to encourage billionaires to give 5% of their wealth annually to charitable organizations. In the midst of the pandemic, global inequality has grown more pronounced. While tens of millions experience growing levels of poverty, in the US alone, 56 new billionaires emerged during the first 11 months of the pandemic, and total US billionaire wealth increased by $1.3 trillion to $4.6 trillion.

Organizations like the WFP and UNICEF have been scaling up emergency nutrition programs to help the most vulnerable populations including young children and pregnant women, while also supporting families with food packages and livelihood assistance — but they face enormous funding gaps. Groups like the International Fund for Agricultural Development, meanwhile, are trying to help small farmers recover from the pandemic and curb any losses they may have faced.

Beasley’s tweet came in response to a CNN video that presented the “race to space” as a noble endeavor, something that someone like Bezos has wanted to do his entire life.

via David Beasley twitter:Hey, @RichadBranson, @elonmusk and @JeffBezos, so excited to see you compete on who gets to space first! BUT, I would love to see you TEAM up together to save the 41 million people who are about to starve this year on Earth! It only takes $6 Billion. We can solve this quickly!

He’s even taking his brother with him, CNN reports, and anyone else who wants “the bragging rights” of getting closer to the moon.

Outer space has always enchanted human beings, figuring into cultural and spiritual traditions from the earliest known records. The vast distances between stars, the prospect of slipping past gravity and communing with other life forms — it’s a field of imagination that has inspired the greatest science fiction writers.

But the current “space race” is a perversion of this imaginative potential, critics say.

Already, the Earth’s orbital belt is filled with “space junk,” scraps of broken satellites that regularly collide with one another and rain back down to Earth. If you want a window seat on Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX, you might want to play the lottery first to get that sort of money.

While these rockets will give people an Instagram-friendly view of Earth, they’re also releasing astronomical amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. And the long-term goal of commercial space exploration is not to give everyone their own Star Trek experience, but to exploit the mineral deposits of asteroids and planets, exporting the environmentally destructive form of capitalism that has ravaged our own planet.

In the past, societies often looked to the stars for guidance to the problems that plagued human existence. Now, when the solutions to poverty have never been so readily available and the night sky is shrouded with air pollution, space has become the exclusive playground for the uber-wealthy.

View source version on newsdirect.com: https://newsdirect.com/news/billionaires-jeff-bezos-richard-branson-and-elon-musk-could-save-41m-people-at-risk-of-starvation-272628476

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