Goldman Sachs is in talks with Amazon about providing small-business loans to merchants who sell products on Amazon’s retail platform, according to a person with knowledge of them. The talks were first reported by the Financial Times on Monday.
The partnership would be the second inked by Goldman with a large technology firm that can provide the scale and distribution for Goldman’s products that it can’t get itself.
The partnership, and another one with Apple, is an example of banking-as-a-service, though some insiders have taken to calling it Goldman Sachs-as-a-service.
“If Goldman can pull off an embedded banking deal somewhere else besides Apple Pay … that’s a leading indicator of a fundamental change in retail banking,” according to independent consultant Richard Crone.
Goldman Sachs is close to inking a second high-profile deal to offer banking services in partnership with a large tech company, and it’s a sign of what may be a fundamental change in retail banking.
Goldman is in talks with Amazon to offer small business loans to merchants who sell products on Amazon, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion. The Financial Times first reported the talks on Monday. Goldman’s small business loans may feature the bank’s name and begin as soon as March, the newspaper said.
A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.
If the deal is signed, it would become the second Big Tech partnership for Goldman Sachs after it launched a credit card last year with Apple last year. Goldman CEO David Solomon has called the Apple Card the most successful credit card launch of all time, without providing details to back up the claim.
But it would also be a sign of something much more ambitious: Goldman Sachs moving quickly and aggressively to leverage those characteristics that make it uniquely a bank, with a license that allows it to offer banking products and a balance sheet where it can fund loans cheaply being just two prominent examples.
The company has been sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into building out its technology capabilities, including APIs (application programming interfaces), to make it as easy and seamless to plug such services into the technology platforms of others, whether that’s Apple’s mobile devices, as with the Apple Card, or Amazon’s retail platform.
At an investor day last week, execs referred to it as banking-as-a-service, but some insiders have taken to calling it Goldman Sachs-as-a-service.
Stephanie Cohen, Goldman’s chief strategy officer, appeared on stage last week at the bank’s investor day alongside Marco Argenti, the co-chief information officer who recently joined the bank after several years as a senior exec at Amazon Web Services.
Cohen said the bank is looking for ways to use technology to embed the types of things that Goldman can do well, such as risk management, or loan underwriting.
Cohen cited the Apple Card, which is a Goldman-designed product delivered on Apple’s devices, as one such example.
“That last capability is the consumer version of our platform strategy,” Cohen said. “It allows us to take products and services that we build for our own clients and then give it to other clients so that they can embed financial products into their ecosystem. This strategy will drive top-line growth, and it will create scale efficiencies.”
Goldman isn’t the only large bank that’s working with Big Tech companies. In November, Google announced a partnership with Citigroup to provide checking accounts to the tech firm’s customers.
And yet, Goldman is probably doing it better than anyone because it has developed a suite of APIs that it can take off the shelf and plug into other platforms, according to Richard Crone, an independent consultant.
“Goldman Sachs, when they write the history books, will be noted as the one who invented or perfected embedded banking, where you embed your financial services through the user interface, or at the edge, of someone else’s network,” Crone said. “If Goldman can get this right with Amazon, I would expect them to go to Facebook next or any other online platform of substance that provides them a large distribution channel.”
Goldman is leaning on many of the lessons it learned in its partnership with Apple, known as an incredibly demanding partner, Crone said. Most notably, the ability to offer instant issuance to a set of customers that have already been pre-validated, multi-factor authenticated, Know-Your-Customer credentialed by the large tech firms.
“They already know the customer, but they have met the regulatory requirement in advance before they hand it over,” he said.
The product will likely look similar to what small merchants are getting from Square Cash or PayPal Working Capital.
Goldman has bigger ambitions. At last week’s investor day, the bank presented a slide that showed a product called Marcus Pay, which talked about point-of-sale solutions for merchants based on its digital consumer bank.
This is just another example of how embedded banking is here to stay, which can be hard for a lot of bankers to understand because they want to service customers through their own app, Crone said.
But “no financial institution can reach the scale that’s required to compete electronically” with the large platforms if they only do it through their own app, he said.
“If Goldman can pull off an embedded banking deal somewhere else besides Apple Pay, or if Citigroup can pull off Google Cache, that’s a leading indicator of a fundamental change in retail banking.”
See also: Goldman Sachs just unveiled hundreds of slides laying out the future of the company. Here are the 10 crucial slides that show how it plans to transform into a bank for everyone.
See also: Inside Goldman Sachs’ first investor day, where avocado toast and crab apples were served with tech talk, 3-year plans, and a surprising trading mea culpa
NOW WATCH: WeWork went from a $47 billion valuation to a failed IPO. Here’s how the company makes money.
Ricky Gervais opened the 77th annual Golden Globes with what amounted to a trigger warning, before launching into a ruthless takedown of the Hollywood crowd.
“You’ll be pleased to know this is the last time I’m hosting these awards, so I don’t care anymore,” the British comedian said, noting he had hosted for the four previous years. “I’m joking. I never did.”
In case anyone had missed his point, Gervais added, “Let’s have a laugh at your expense, shall we? Remember, they’re just jokes. We’re all gonna die soon, and there’s no sequel.”
Gervais’ first target was Hollywood awards shows themselves. He recalled the scandal over Kevin Hart’s old anti-gay tweets, which led the actor to fire himself from hosting the 2019 Academy Awards.
“Kevin Hart was fired from the Oscars because of some offensive tweets. Lucky for me, the Hollywood Foreign Press can barely speak English, and they’ve no idea what Twitter is,” he said, implicitly acknowledging his own politically incorrect Twitter activity.
Gervais next took aim at Hollywood entitlement in the form of actress Felicity Huffman, who recently spent two weeks in prison for her involvement in a nationwide college entrance exam cheating ring.
“I came here in a limo tonight, and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman,” Gervais said. “It’s her daughter I feel sorry for. That must be the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to her, and her dad was in ‘Wild Hogs.’”
Ricky Gervais shows Hollywood his Golden Globes
After calling “The Irishman” actor Joe Pesci “Baby Yoda,” Gervais warned all the Hollywood executives in the room that they could be the next casualty of the #MeToo movement.
“In this room are some of the important TV and film executives in the world, people from every background. But they all have one thing in common. They’re all terrified of Ronan Farrow,” he said, referring to the investigative journalist who made a name for himself with exposes about sexual harassment and abuse. “He’s coming for you.”
“Talking of you perverts, it was a big year for pedophile movies,” Gervais continued.” “Surviving R Kelly.” “Leaving Neverland.” “The Two Popes.”
Having highlighted Hollywood’s dirty underbelly, Gervais went after its self-conception as a place that promotes equal opportunity for minorities.
“Many talented people of color were snubbed in all major categories. Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about that. The Hollywood Foreign Press are all very, very racist,” he said.
“We were gonna do an en memoriam this year, but when I saw the list of people that had died, it wasn’t diverse enough. It just, no. It was mostly white people, and I thought, no, not on my watch. Maybe next year. Let’s see what happens.”
Continuing to literally and figuratively shrug at himself, Gervais quipped that nobody was watching the Golden Globes anyway, saying, “Everyone’s watching Netflix.
He offhandedly suggested that Jefferey Epstein had not killed himself in prison in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
When the crowd moaned, Gervais added, “I know he’s your friend, but I don’t care.”
Pushing on, Gervais joked that Americans only turn to Hollywood these days for superhero blockbusters, which he said have transformed actors in nothing more than buffed drug addicts.
“All the best actors have jumped to Netflix and HBO. And the actors who just do Hollywood movies do fantasy adventure nonsense,” he said.
“They wear masks and capes, and really tight costumes. Their job isn’t acting anymore. It’s going to the gym twice a day and taking steroids. Have we got an award for most ripped junkie?”
Gervais then called out a few more celebrities by name.
He hit Leonardo DiCaprio for his affinity for young women.
“‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ nearly three hours long. Leonardo DiCaprio attended the premiere, and by the end, his date was too old for him,” he said, before comparing the actor to the British prince disgraced by the Epstein revelations. “Even Prince Andrew’s like, “Come on, Leo, mate. You’re nearly 50, son.”
Gervais wrapped up his monologue with an epic rant about the hypocrisy of liberal elites in Hollywood and Silicon Valley alike.
“Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show,” Gervais said. “A superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China.”
Gervais then turned his attention to all the actors, writers and directors in the room.
“Well, you say you’re woke, but the companies you work for…unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you would call your agent, wouldn’t you?”
As the audience laughed nervously, Gervais, offered some advice to the nominees.
“So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech, right?” he said. “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”
Actor Tom Hanks’ shocked expression subsequently went viral online.
All of Hollywood when Ricky Gervais tells them that no one cares about their political opinions: pic.twitter.com/CQreakKKTg
— Kyle Morris (@RealKyleMorris) January 6, 2020
Despite Gervais’ admonition, though, the evening was filled with liberal politics.
Patricia Arquette, in accepting a supporting actress in a limited series award for her role in Hulu’s “The Act,” pleaded with the audience to consider the threat of another extended conflict in the Middle East.
Michelle Williams, who won best actress in a limited series for the FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” delivered a feminist pro-abortion acceptance speech.
And Sacha Baron Cohen, who appeared onstage as a presenter, took a shot at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly allowing Nazis to run rampant on the platform.
Meanwhile, according to People magazine, the crowd for the first time dined on an entirely vegan dinner in the name of fighting climate change.
Cover image: Ricky Gervais hosts the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Beverley Hills, California, on Jan. 5, 2020. (Twitter)
One of our readers in Clearwater, Florida describes themselves as someone who recently began having doubts about the organization and for a few weeks has been looking around the Internet about Scientology, including this website.
They reached out to us to tell us about something remarkable that happened to them this weekend. On Saturday evening they received a blind copy of a mass email from Scientology spokeswoman Pat Harney that apparently went out to all local members of the church…
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: November 30, 2019 at 6:47 PM EST To: Pat Harney Subject: Please call Pat Harney at the OSA Office
Do you live in Clearwater?
This is very important.
Please call me at the OSA office number at 727-467-6860 for a short survey.
Best, Pat Harney Director of Public Relations Office of Special Affairs
When our reader called, they were asked to wait to get Harney herself on the phone. When she did, she asked our reader if they lived in Clearwater. When they said they did, Harney then said that she was reaching out to all local Scientologists to make them aware of an important election coming in March 2020, the election for Clearwater’s mayor and city council.
Three seats are up for election on the council, Harney explained, but they were especially interested in seat two, and that Scientologists should avoid voting for an “SP” — a “suppressive person,” which is Scientology jargon for an enemy of the church.
The reader astutely asked Harney to name the SP so they would know not to vote for them, and Harney then said it was Mark Bunker.
As for who to vote for, our reader tells us that Harney then said that the church couldn’t tell its members who to vote for.
Well, that’s cute. Pat Harney would know quite well that as a tax exempt religious organization, the Church of Scientology cannot get involved with politics or endorse candidates without risking its tax exempt status. But she apparently thinks the church can stay within the lines if it tells its members who not to vote for.
Mark Bunker, of course, has been very open about his opposition to Scientology and his desire to get elected so he can help Clearwater stop being such a doormat to the aggressive, bullying organization. So it’s really not all that surprising that Scientology wouldn’t want its members to vote for him. But we find it entertaining that the church feels compelled to fire up an OSA operation to get the word out.
“I’m not at all surprised that Scientology is getting out the word that I must be stopped. It’s an unlikely job for a PR person, but Pat Harney and her associates have long been used by Scientology as attack dogs,” Bunker told us when we informed him about the Harney email. “The day after I released a video saying I planned to run, Pat Harney was on the phone to downtown business owners asking, ‘What do you think of Mr. Bunker running for city council?’ and adding, ‘We can’t let him do that.’ I’m sure Scientology will do everything in its power to keep me from winning. It’s what they do but I don’t believe they can succeed. Scientology has spent decades cultivating an oppressive, intimidating facade, gleefully letting people know they are not a ‘turn-the-other-cheek religion.’ Well, people are sick of being intimidated. Everyone I speak with on the campaign trail is excited that someone is willing to take on Scientology.”
We called the number on Harney’s email and we were greeted by a sunny “Public Affairs!” from a young woman. We said that we wanted to speak with Pat Harney and we were put on hold. We were then told she was in a meeting, so we left a message for her and asked her to call us back. We also followed up with a detailed email message to her.
We’ll let you know if she gets back to us.
Leaked document of the day
From the Valley Org documents release comes this item.
This is a fun find in the Valley Org documents. It was attached to more recent items, but it’s a great snapshot of 2004, when Scientology’s Criminon front group was more visible than it is today, and was supported by militant Scientologist celebrity Jenna Elfman, as well as actress Catherine Bell.
And the “Greg” who signs this commendation is Greg Capazorio, who happens to be brother-in-law to Top Gun himself, actor Tom Cruise.
“In the final run of it, he gets up to a fairly comprehensive idea of what he’s been and done….He gets himself one Godawful amount of time blocked out. Oh, some terrific amount of time blocked out. He gets up to trillions to the eighth power. Time, you know. Oh man, time, you see. First he gets horrified, you see, at the idea of twelve trillion years ago or something like that. He gets finally, up to a point where trillions to the eighth power take him back to some of the earliest implants. And he’s perfectly happy at this level that there’s an awful lot of track….Now, his track goes sizzling back to trillions to the 200th power. Well that’s, of course, one of these ridiculous figures. That’s trillion written two hundred times. Or one with two hundred times you write all the ciphers of a trillion. That gets to be quite a few ciphers and every one of those things is a year. You’re getting into the sweep of time by this time. Well, I myself have had, I just thought I was doing fine when I was doing some research this last summer. I said, ‘Gee, you know we’re getting clear back here.’ Trillions four, you know. Whew, you know? Dizzying. Concepts of time. Trying to date one of these confounded things, you know. Trying to handle these fantastic periods of time with arithmetic, and trying to dream up other methods of going into all this. Rough! Because it just took the auditor too tall, too long to say anything so you got crude rough approximations like, trillions 4.5, see?” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 3, 1963
“For some weeks late in 1982 I remained conscious, even when my body slept. I found that four hours of that kind of sleep was equal to eight of the usual, unconscious sleep, in terms of resting the body. Anyway, one night I was up late, standing nightwatch at Van Org, working on the word ‘postulate.’ When I figured I had it cleared I thought, ‘I want twenty bucks.’ I walked outside onto the street, walked about half a block, and there on the sidewalk were two ten-dollar bills, neatly folded. I picked up the twenty bucks, went back inside and signed off on the word ‘postulate.’ I’m past-life Clear and don’t know what-all I might have had run on me after going Clear way back then, but it was the early ’50s and research was raging ahead. I’m finally getting my Grades now and intend to complete the Bridge, eventually to regain that mastery over unconsciousness that I attained for a short while in the early ’80s. It’ll come in handy next time I want to leave a body for a new one.”
“The really scary thing to me about Carla Moxon is that there are literally millions of others like her in this world that are seriously mentally deluded due to magical thinking and they are among us doing jobs that could cause the rest of us harm if they just go off a tad too much at the wrong time. Anybody keeping track of all the problems going on with members of the ICBM defense system? And that’s not even due to magical thinking.”
Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!
[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]
We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.
Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!
Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!
Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!
Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?
THE WHOLE TRACK
[ONE year ago] Thar she blows: The ‘whales’ who are keeping Scientology afloat in 2018 [TWO years ago] Scientology loses another outlet for attracting young acting talent in Hollywood [THREE years ago] In Scientology, dancing in a conga line might end up costing you thousands [FOUR years ago] Augustine: How Scientology changes its story to fit what it’s trying to get away with [FIVE years ago] About that Tom Cruise Scientology ‘co-leader’ nonsense spreading in the media [SIX years ago] Our Experts Prepare Us for the Wall of Fire — Scientology’s Operating Thetan Level Three! [EIGHT years ago] Scientology Capsize: Commenters of the Week! [TEN years ago] David Cross Endorses Scientology In a Way Only He Can
Scientology disconnection, a reminder
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,647 days. Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,776 days. Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,280 days Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,800 days. Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 820 days. Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 711 days. Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,018 days. Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,886 days. Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,660 days. Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,434 days. Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,780 days. Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,346 days. Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,265 days. Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,433 days. Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,014 days. Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,275 days. Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,313 days. Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,026 days. Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,552 days. Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,078 days. Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,641 days Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,781 days. Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,101 days. Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,957 days. Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,076 days. Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,431 days. Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,734 days. Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,840 days. Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,242 days. Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,114 days. Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,697 days. Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,192 days. Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,446 days. Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,555 days.
Posted by Tony Ortega on December 3, 2019 at 07:00
E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our new book with Paulette Cooper, is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 14 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…
Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.
Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele
The advent of social media to many is a new trend of the world that has to be followed to the letters, while to some people it is another sure economic diversification that needs to be harnessed.
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There are more money-making opportunities via social media than you may understand, if most of the top business owner can take upon themselves to employ social media mangers to convert their followers to active buyers. Social media actually, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can be very Lucrative.
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Promote Affiliate products.
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The 2020 presidential race could weigh on ‘FANG’ stocks as Democrats attack big tech
As 2020 presidential campaigns accelerate, the dominance of Silicon Valley technology companies is likely to remain a key issue for Democratic candidates, Bank of America analyst Justin Post said in a note to investors on Monday.
“Campaign focus on FANG regulation [is] likely here to stay,” Post said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren last week unveiled a plan to break up the biggest tech companies if she is elected president. The Massachusetts Democrat is especially focused on four of Wall Street’s beloved “FAANG” stocks: Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google-parent Alphabet. The group also includes Netflix.
“The giant tech companies right now are eating up little, tiny businesses, start-ups – and competing unfairly,” Warren told CBS on Sunday.
“We’ve got to break these guys apart,” Warren added. “It’s like in baseball: You can be the umpire or you can own one of the teams, but you don’t get to be the umpire and own the teams.”
Post analyzed the “breakup scenarios” for Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook, which Warren referred to repeatedly in her criticism. While forced spinoffs may largely help the former two tech giants, Post thinks Facebook is the most at risk to seriously losing shareholder value.
Bank of America sees “a partial breakup of Alphabet (including spin of YouTube or Waymo)” as possibly “value enhancing.” With the broad reach of each of Alphabet’s business units, as separate entities, each brand “has enough scale to capture vast advertiser interest,” Post added.
Similarly for Amazon, Post said a breakup “would be somewhat neutral for the stock,” as investors in Jeff Bezos’ empire “are generally comfortable” with how much Amazon’s businesses would be worth on their own.
Breaking up Facebook “could be most concerning for investors,” Post said. He found that if Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp platforms were separated, they “would likely compete directly with Facebook for usage and advertisers, raising concerns on increased competition.”
That overlap in Facebook’s businesses is a key reason Warren believes they should be separated.
“They bought the competition and now they’re sucking the data out of the competition,” Warren said.
While Bank of America did not include Apple in its breakup analysis, Warren confirmed to CNBC that she intends to break up the iPhone maker. In her interview with CBS, Warren argued that she is not against markets, which she said “produce a lot of good,” but instead thinks “markets have to have rules.”
“It is not capitalism to have one giant that comes in and dominates, a monopolist that dominates a market,” Warren said.
Warren said recent talks with technology venture capital firms revealed that the places where Amazon, Facebook and Google compete are known as “kill zones” to entrepreneurs.
“They call it the kill zone because they don’t want to fund businesses in that space because they know Amazon will eat them up, Facebook will eat them up, Google will eat them up,” Warren said.
Budding star of Afro-music, a genre previously unknown to music fans in the United States, is a fast-rising Nigerian songwriter, a record producer known as Akeju. Akeju’s name is fast evolving into a household item in New York City, the city that never sleeps. He is so popular and influential, especially on the entertainment scene, that the entire city had to look forward to the unveiling of his latest single, Akeju, that was released earlier this year. The song has been on top charts since its release. A native of Kwara State, Akeju has lived in New York City for over a decade. He is an artist in every sense of the word. Not just a musical artist but an artist because he is all about expression, from his sense of style to his genre of music even down to working succinctly as an actor and movie producer. The artiste, in this interview, revealed his plans to collaborate with more A-list artists in Africa and more surprisingly his favourite woman crush.
Tell us about your background
My name is A. M Akeju, I was born in Ghana to Nigerian parents. My mom is from Ilorin and my dad is from Abeokuta.
Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Yes. I started out writing songs and listening to a variety of aristes as a child; Nate King Cole, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti to mention but a few.
How did you discover your talent in music?
Some people actually go through life trying to figure out which path they want to take but for me, Music has always been a part of me. I remember growing up, I was influenced by popular singers like Fela Kuti, Nate King Cole, Bob Marley among others. I have always believed that someday I would do music too.
READ ALSO: Let’s see music as a spiritual exercise – Erelu Dosumu Abiola
What inspires your songs?
Many things inspire my songs. Experiences of friends, family, and myself; what is going on at the time in many communities. Many times I want my songs to make people feel good; sometimes people go through so much in their life.
Who are those top artistes you would want to have a collaboration with and why?
There are several, Seal, Youssou Ndour, 2Face Idibia, Nas, Shaggy, Sade, Sting, to name a few. I admire them and I remain true to my philosophy creating a bridge between African culture and other cultures.
Unforgettable performance and why?
My unforgettable performances would be Save Africa Foundation concert with the wonderful Winnie Mandela in the audience and Black Panther under the Stars. I have other unforgettable performances.
Other hobbies aside singing?
Other hobbies are soccer, swimming, and just getting away from time to time. It helps me rejuvenate, get me fired up to record more songs for my fans.
What is the greatest price you have paid for your career?
The greatest price I have paid, I don’t really have one. What I would say is the greatest lesson, having a tight inner circle you trust is important.
What project are you working on at the moment?
I have a few projects, I like to keep those details close and then surprise my fans. My EP “Akeju the EP ft Beenie Man and Lil scrappy (love and hip – hop) ” and also my mixtape with Dj Kaywise was recently released. Outside of music I am in corporate America working on several projects. I am the CEO and President of Aflik TV, an admin for international content at Amazon prime and I also provide content for several platforms, Netflix, Hulu, Best Buy, Walmart, Barnes & Nobles to name a few.
What is your relationship status now?
I am single and available.
You are single and available, so how do you handle your female fans?
I just appreciate them; they are fantastic; you can’t get too caught up. You can’t let it get into your head. You can’t indulge in a lifestyle where you start to slip up because you are single. But I do appreciate them and try to live up to everybody’s expectations.
Who is your female crush and why?
Well to put this straight, every woman out there deserves the best. One woman that has stolen my heart secretly is Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola (Dj Cuppy). I really love what she’s doing and how she has successfully carved a niche for herself in the industry. Hopefully one day we will go out on a date and have more Gelato..
Looking back, any regret so far?
I have no regrets. Before making any decision, I always pray and fast for divine directions. So far, God has really been faithful to me.
Any word for your fans out there?
Be loyal and true to yourself. If you have a dream, stay focused on it. Things don’t happen overnight, remain persistent and keep pushing. Bless up!!!
Pope Francis: Catholic Church mulls 2 big changes on married priests and female deacons
An assembly of Roman Catholic bishops from the Amazon on Saturday proposed that married men in the remote area be allowed to be ordained priests, which could lead to a landmark change in the Church’s centuries-old discipline of celibacy.
The proposal, made in a final document from a three-week assembly, known as a synod, passed by 128 votes in favour to 41 against.
Pope Francis will consider it, along with many other proposals on issues including the environment and the role of women, in a future document of his own, known as an Apostolic Exhortation.
Separately, when he closed the synod’s final working session earlier on Saturday, Francis announced that he would reconvene a commission to study the history of women deacons in the early centuries of the Catholic Church, responding to calls by women that they be allowed to take up the role today.
But the issue of a married priesthood for the Amazon region was by far the most contentious item in the 120-paragraph final document.
The proposal calls for married men who are already deacons in the Church, have a stable family relationship, and are proven leaders in their communities to be ordained as priests.
It said the ordination to the priesthood would have to be preceded by an “adequate formation”.
This solution to the shortage of priests, backed by many South American bishops, would allow Catholics in isolated areas to attend Mass and receive the sacraments more regularly.
At least 85% of Amazon villages cannot attend Mass every week and some cannot do so for years.
Conservatives oppose the change, fearing it would be a slippery slope leading to a married priesthood throughout the 1.3 billion member Church.
They fear that if one part of the Church was allowed to ordain married men as an exception, there would be nothing to stop other areas with a shortage of priests doing the same, even in developed countries.
A CBS News poll last year said nearly 70% of American Catholics favour letting priests marry.
Conservatives are also opposed to women deacons, saying the deaconate is linked with the male priesthood.
Many deacons in the Church around the world today are married men.
Deacons, like priests, are ordained ministers. They may not celebrate Mass, but they may preach, teach in the name of the Church, baptize and conduct wedding, wake and funeral services and even run a parish with the permission of a bishop.
In his closing comments to the synod, Francis said: “We still have not grasped the significance of women in the Church.”
Scholars have debated the precise role of women deacons in the early Church.
Some say they ministered only to other women, such as at immersion rites at baptism and to inspect the bodies of women in cases where Christian men were accused of domestic violence and brought before Church tribunals.
Others believe women deacons in the early Church were fully ordained and on a par with the male deacons at the time. The Church did away with female deacons altogether in later centuries.
A commission that handed its report to the pope this year was inconclusive. Francis, who ends the synod ceremoniously with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, gave no details on when the new commission would start its work.
Catholic bishops approved a proposal Saturday allowing some married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.
The proposal, which must be approved by Pope Francis, would be a historic change to the church’s centuries-old tradition of unmarried priests.
It passed by a vote of 128-41 and applies only to some churches in the Amazon region that are experiencing a shortage of priests.
The region includes parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
The proposal, known as “viri probati,” refers to older Catholic men, who have stable families, are respected in their communities and who are already ordained as deacons in the church.
Allowing married men to become priests is not the same thing as allowing priests to marry, so the change would not affect the rule of celibacy for Catholic priests, who are not allowed to marry.
Pope Francis must approve the proposal for it go into effect, something he said he hopes to respond to by the end of the year. The pope has previously stated he was open to studying the possibility of allowing married men to be ordained.
Although the Catholic Church currently only ordains unmarried men to the priesthood, some converts, from Anglicanism for example, can become Catholic priests even if they are already married.
The proposal to ordain married men was one of the most contentious recommendations voted on Saturday evening at the conclusion of a three-week long meeting at the Vatican to discuss environmental and religious issues affecting the Amazon region.
The Vatican invited 184 bishops and priest from the Amazon region and around the world for the special meeting known as a synod. Thirty-five women, mostly religious sisters and nuns, were invited but did not have voting rights.
Another proposal recommended continuing to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons.
A commission set up by Francis in 2016 did not result in any conclusive recommendations.
If you qualify for Bank of America Preferred Rewards, the Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card has the potential to be quite a lucrative card to use on everyday spending. For those who prefer other banks, there are better earning travel cards available. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
I’ll be honest. I haven’t always been a fan of Bank of America credit cards. Though affordable with low or nonexistent annual fees, most lacked the perks that I’ve always associated with my favorite cards. However, the more familiar I get with the Preferred Banking Rewards program (and the more useful fixed-value points currencies become), the more I see the benefits of having a Bank of America card.
This card isn’t like other products that have $450 annual fees and a ton of perks; this card has a modest $95 annual fee and a more modest selection of benefits. Still, it offers great flexibility in redeeming points and yields extraordinary earn rates if you can maximize BofA’s Preferred Banking Rewards program.
In This Post
Who is this card for?
The Premium Rewards credit card has wide appeal to both points fans and credit card novices. It might not have the most lucrative points or numerous transfer partners, but what it does offer is flexibility.
I think of it as a stress-free travel card, since points are worth 1 cent apiece no matter what you redeem them for — you don’t have to worry about getting the maximum value out of every point, which can sometimes be time-consuming and frustrating.
If you like the idea of redeeming your points as a statement credit against big purchases that aren’t covered by points — such as new luggage or a TV — then this would be the card to get. You can redeem points for any purchase, whether it’s a flight, a new car or an over-the-top dinner. The points function essentially like cash.
The Premium Rewards card is also a strong option for those who tend to spend in broad bonus categories like travel and dining (2x and up with this card), but who also want solid rewards (1.5x and up) for non-category bonus spend.
The earning rate is even better if you’re already a Bank of America customer and can maximize the Preferred Rewards Program (more on that later).
It’s also a great choice for semi-frequent travelers since it comes with valuable perks like an up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, an up to $100 airline credit, trip delay/cancellation insurance, baggage loss/delay insurance and no foreign transaction fees, so you won’t be hit with any surprise charges when using your card abroad.
With the Premium Rewards card, you’ll receive 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. These points have a fixed value of 1 cent each, meaning that 50,000 points are worth $500. This far from the most lucrative bonus out there, but $500 can go a long way towards airfare, hotel costs or anything in between.
When you consider that BofA is essentially paying you $5 every year (after you redeem the up to $100 airline credit) to have this card, you’re basically getting $500 for free just for signing up and meeting the minimum spend. Use the sign-up bonus to treat yourself to something extravagant, like a helicopter or private jet ride on Blade.
While Bank of America doesn’t have any published restrictions that apply specifically to earning welcome bonuses, remember that it does have a 2/3/4 rule when it comes to card applications. You can only get approved for two Bank of America cards in a two-month period, three cards in a 12-month period and four cards in a 24-month period.
There have also been recent reports of a threshold similar to Chase’s 5/24 rule that limits how many cards across issuers you can get within a year in order to be approved for a new BoA card, though the exact threshold is uncertain and Bank of America has not confirmed the existence of a set policy.
Perks and benefits
While the Premium Rewards card doesn’t hold a candle to top-tier cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, it does come with a nice set of perks for the low annual fee — a lot more than basically any other mid-tier card out there. Here are my favorite perks and their value:
$100 airline incidental credit. This credit works like the Amex airline fee credit in that you can only use it for purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services and lounge fees (though not airfare). You receive the credit every year and if you’re able to use the full amount, you’re essentially getting paid $5 a year to be a cardholder. Unfortunately, it’s not as flexible as the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit or the Citi Prestige’s air travel credit, but it’s still a great benefit for someone who travels a few times a year. It only works on certain domestic airlines but it’s processed automatically, so you don’t have to call in and apply it to a certain purchase.
Global Entry. I love having Global Entry — it’s saved me from standing in countless hours of security and customs lines. Premium Rewards cardmembers get an up to $100 credit (every four years) that can be applied toward purchasing Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. It’s surprising that this card offers a Global Entry credit, as that’s usually only offered by top-tier rewards cards with higher annual fees (although the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another mid-tier card that offers this benefit). And if you’re already part of the program, you can still use the credit for a friend or family member’s application.
Trip insurance. It’s always important to have trip insurance since you never know when your travel plans will go awry. This card provides reimbursement of up to $5,000 per person, per trip, for any unused, prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses including passenger fares, tours and hotels if you have to cancel due to a covered reason. And if your flight is delayed for more than 12 hours, you’re eligible for reimbursement of $500 in expenses per ticket. With many issuers ditching trip insurance, this benefit continues to be a compelling reason to use this card to book travel.
Baggage delay/loss insurance: Similar to trip insurance, you’ll be eligible for protection if your baggage is lost, stolen or damaged. This provides up to $100 per day (up to five days) when your bag is delayed for more than six hours. If your luggage is stolen or lost by a travel provider, you’ll be eligible for reimbursement for the contents of the bag.
Purchase protection. I’ve used purchased protection many times and it’s saved me thousands of dollars over the last year — Amex paid me $1,400 for a broken watch and my Sapphire Reserve reimbursed me $2,600 for a painting that was damaged in transit. You’ll get similar protection with the Premium Rewards card, which will repair, replace or reimburse you up to $10,000 for lost or damaged items purchased on the card. If you want to return an item within 90 days of purchase but the retailer won’t accept the return, you can submit your receipt and be reimbursed up to $250 (up to $1,000 annually).
Rental car insurance. Last, this card will give you secondary coverage when renting a car — meaning it will kick in only after you’ve filed a claim with your personal insurance. While not as good as many of Chase’s cards that offer primary coverage, it’s pretty good for a no-annual fee card (after maximizing the airline credit).
With this card, you’re earning 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x point on everything else. Travel and dining are defined broadly, meaning there are a lot of expenses that can qualify for double points. The real value for me personally is the 1.5x on everyday spending. As a member of the Preferred Rewards program, you can earn up an impressive 2.625x on non-bonus spending. That’s higher than any flat-rate card out there.
The Premium Rewards card doesn’t earn traditional points or miles that can be transferred and redeemed with travel partners but rather acts more like a cash-back card with huge earning potential. I honestly never thought I’d be thinking about cash back, but as airlines have devalued frequent flyer programs, the idea seems more appealing.
Although we value most airline miles at more than 1 cent each, that’s mainly based on being able to find premium cabin saver seats. With it becoming harder and harder to get good value out of points and miles, that’s where this card can come in handy.
As I mentioned earlier, points are flexible with the Premium Rewards card; you can use them on anything — airlines, the gym, etc. — essentially anywhere that accepts Visa. Your points can go toward paying for those purchases (as a statement credit) and the credit posts automatically.
Another thing I like about this card is that it’s zero stress and consumes very little time. You don’t need to jump through hoops to find award availability and you don’t have to go to a specific portal if you want to use your points to pay for your gym. Since points are worth the same no matter what you redeem for, you’re not penalized for redeeming for cash back. You just redeem for whatever you want.
There a few ways to redeem points:
Cash back — You can receive cash back as a statement credit or deposit it into an eligible BofA checking or savings, Merrill or 529 college savings account
Travel purchases — You can book flights directly through the BofA travel portal. This is a good way to redeem points because you’ll still be eligible to earn award miles and elite credits by flying on a paid ticket (although personally I’d recommend buying directly from the carrier because sometimes when buying through a travel portal you’ll get a lower fare class).
Gift cards — A final option allows for converting points into gift cards at popular merchants such as Amazon, Whole Foods and Starbucks. I wouldn’t plan on going this route since it’d be smarter to just purchase the items and redeem your points as a statement credit in case you have to return the item.
I especially love that you can convert points directly into cash that can go straight into a 529 college savings account. Last year, I converted the points from my sign-up bonus and deposited them directly into 529 accounts for my nieces and nephews. From there, I used my points as statement credits against BLADE trips to my office, which saved me hours of time.
And if you’re solely focused on travel rewards, this card can cover travel expenses that you can’t redeem miles for, like offsetting surcharges on an award ticket or amazing experiences on the ground.
Originally when I heard that points were worth only 1 cent each, I was a bit disappointed. But it’s honestly nice that I don’t have to jump through hoops to find award availability and I don’t have to feel bad about redeeming these points for maximum value. I can use them whenever and for whatever I want.
Using the Preferred Rewards program to your advantage
To get the best value out of your Bank of America cards, you need to understand Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. Those who hold considerable assets in eligible BofA or Merrill accounts — including retirement or investment accounts — are eligible for increased rewards when spending on the Premium Rewards card. To enroll in BofA Preferred Rewards you’ll need:
An eligible Bank of America personal checking account anda3-month average combined balance of $20,000 or more in a Bank of America account and/or Merrill investment accounts.
There are three tiers in Preferred Rewards, and your tier is based on how much money you have in your accounts. This will determine your earning with the Premium Rewards card.
Tier 1 – Gold ($20,000 – $50,000)
Tier 2 – Platinum ($50,000 – $100,000)
Tier 3 – Platinum Honors ($100,000+)
At the base level of 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on everything else, the card is pretty standard. It’s good, but the Citi® Double Cash Card and Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Cardare cash-back cards with higher earning rates on everyday spend and no annual fees (though those cards don’t come with any perks).
But the numbers get pretty spectacular when you’re able to get 2.625x points on everyday spend and 3.5x points if you meet the highest banking threshold. That said, I’ll still probably put most of my travel and dining spend on my Sapphire Reserve because I value Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each — meaning I get 6x points (toward travel per dollar spent). But 3.5x points back on travel and dining and 2.625x points on everything else for those who don’t value travel as much as I do — and want flexibility when redeeming points — is quite strong.
The way I see it is that if you can maximize Preferred Rewards, you’re essentially getting a no-annual-fee card (after using the airline credit) that gives you 3.5x on travel and dining and 2.625x on everything else. If you’re looking for a straight cash-back card, no other card comes close to that.
The moment I heard of this card, I immediately moved $100,000 into a Merrill investment account so I could start qualifying for Platinum Honors. BofA also allows the option to roll over an existing 401(k) account into a Merrill retirement account, so that this could be an easy way to qualify for Preferred Rewards.
In general, this card is about diversifying your stock of points and using them for the purchases that normal airline miles or credit card points can’t cover. It’s great if you want to use your points to splurge on a crazy watch or piece of jewelry. Or you can be generous and use the points to better your family.
It’s also an interesting option for small business owners — I know a lot of doctors and executives, and at a certain point there is mileage overload where they have too many Amex points and physically can’t redeem all of them for travel (because that is the best way to redeem MR points). So if you own your own business, this card can offer 2.625x points on all of your spend and 3.5x points on all travel and dining, which you can easily redeem for cold hard cash.
For those who have been eyeing a straight-up cash-back card, this could be your best option. Simply put, it’ll be improving your bottom line — either for you personally or for your business. You don’t have to waste time figuring out how to get the most value out of your points, as the stress-free redemptions make this an easy card to manage.
BofA is obviously telling customers that they will be rewarded with its Preferred Rewards program if they move their assets to BofA. On top of the earning and redeeming possibilities, it comes with a solid sign-up bonus and some pretty nice perks, which are worth far more than the card’s annual fee. For these reasons, I continue to be excited to have status with Preferred Rewards banking and the Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card in my wallet.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) campaign announced on Tuesday that it had raised $25.3 million in the third quarter of 2019 with an average donation of $18.07.
The massive haul beats out his prior fundraising totals during his second bid for the presidency in which he brought in around $18 million and is, at the moment, the largest single quarter reported of any 2020 candidates throughout the year. Sanders is the first among his rivals to reveal his numbers for this quarter.
That total, from 1.4 million donations, was fueled in part by a record-setting month for the campaign in September and arrived at a moment when the Vermont senator had appeared to be stagnating in some polls.
Bernie is proud to be the only candidate running to defeat Donald Trump who is 100 percent funded by grassroots donationsboth in the primary and in the general, Sanders campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said. Media elites and professional pundits have tried repeatedly to dismiss this campaign, and yet working-class Americans keep saying loudly and clearly that they want a political revolution.
In the second fundraising quarter, both former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg outpaced Sanders in fundraising with $21.5 million and $24.8 million, respectively, though unlike Sanders they relied on high-dollar fundraisers to help fuel the totals.
The Sanders campaign also said the final day of the third quarter was the second biggest fundraising day of the campaign and that teacher was the most common occupation of his donors, with the most common employers being Starbucks, Amazon, and Walmart. Since launching in February, they have raised $61.5 million from 3.3 million individual donations, with more than 99.9 percent not maxed out and still able to continue giving money to the campaign.
And they're immediately putting that money to use in the first caucus state.
On Tuesday afternoon the Sanders campaign announced that they had purchased a $1.3-million ad buy in Iowa and released their first paid TV ad of the cycle thus far.
There will be both 30-second and 60-second versions of the ad that will begin running on Thursday morning and continue, in this initial buy, for two weeks.
The news comes as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who led a recent Iowa poll, announced a $10-million-plus buy in the early voting states. Some $4.7 million of that is devoted to television ad buys in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina during the first two months of next year. Warren's campaign has yet to reveal her third quarter fundraising total.