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Stay-at-home order issued for San Francisco Bay Area, ahead of state mandate

San Francisco Bay Area health officials announced on Friday that they would implement California’s new stay-at-home order early….

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California Street, usually filled with iconic cable cars, is seen mostly empty in San Francisco, California on March 17, 2020.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

San Francisco Bay Area health officials announced on Friday that they would implement California’s new stay-at-home order early, even though they haven’t reached the state’s threshold triggering the new restrictions.

“Today is a really tough day,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said during a press briefing. “Our hospitalization rates are rising locally, especially in our ICU right now. And just as importantly, hospitalizations are rising everywhere, so if we run out of beds, there won’t be another county that can help us.”

On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would be split into five regions — the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. If the remaining ICU capacity in a region falls below 15%, it will trigger a three-week stay-at-home order, Newsom said.

The order would require bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons and barbershops to temporarily close. Personal services are businesses like nail salons, tattoo parlors and body waxing, according to the state’s website.

Schools that meet the state’s health requirements and critical infrastructure would be allowed to remain open. Retail stores could operate at 20% capacity and restaurants would be allowed to offer take-out and delivery, Newsom said

While none of the regions met the ICU threshold to trigger the stay-at-home order on Thursday, Newsom warned that every area was projected to drop below 15% ICU capacity at some point in December. The Bay Area was expected to be the last region to reach that mark, he said.

Health officers for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara as well as the city of Berkeley made the joint announcement on Friday, saying they would implement the order early. The new restrictions will last until Jan. 4, 2021, according to the order.

However, the announcement did not include some counties in the Bay Area region, as defined by the state’s order, including Santa Cruz, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

“It takes several weeks for new restrictions to slow rising hospitalizations and waiting until only 15 percent of a region’s ICU beds are available is just too late,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco health officer, in a statement. “Many heavily impacted parts of our region already have less than 15 percent of ICU beds available, and the time to act is now.”

California is reporting a weekly average of roughly 16,392 Covid-19 cases daily, a more than 21% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

San Francisco public health director Dr. Grant Colfax said based on current trends, San Francisco’s hospitals would run out of ICU beds on Dec. 26.

“Our San Francisco ICU, intensive care unit, bed capacity is quickly decreasing,” Colfax said. “We are in an extremely volatile position for our health-care system.”

Breed in a tweet after Newsom’s announcement on Thursday said that while the order didn’t apply to San Francisco yet, the county was “looking closely at local data and talking to our neighboring counties about next steps.”

“I don’t want do any of this,” Breed said on Friday. “I know this means people’s jobs, their businesses, their livelihoods are at stake. This is going to be painful.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/04/stay-at-home-order-issued-for-san-francisco-bay-area-ahead-of-state-mandate.html

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CNBC

Stitch Fix shares surge as online styling service reports surprise profit

Stitch Fix shares jumped after the online shopping and styling service reported a surprise profit for its fiscal fourth quarter.

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The Stitch Fix application for download in the Apple App Store on a smartphone arranged in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, U.S., on Saturday, June 5, 2021. Stitch Fix Inc. is scheduled to release earning on June 7.

Tiffany Hagler-Geard | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stitch Fix shares jumped 14% in extended trading Tuesday after the online shopping and styling service reported a surprise profit for its fiscal fourth quarter.

Sales for the three-month period ended July 31 also came in higher than analysts were expecting, thanks to outsized growth in Stitch Fix’s women’s and kids’ categories. Menswear has been growing more slowly, the company said.

Consumers have been splurging on new outfits in recent months, as many head back to school and return to social gatherings. Some have also citied the need for new clothes after either gaining or losing weight during the Covid pandemic.

Here’s how Stitch Fix did compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 19 cents vs. a loss of 13 cents expected
  • Revenue: $571.2 million vs. $548 million expected

Net income attributable to shareholders was $28 million, or 19 cents per share, in the latest period. A year ago, it posted a net loss of $44.5 million, or 44 cents a share. Analysts had been looking for the company to book a loss of 13 cents per share.

Revenue grew to $571.2 million from $443.4 million a year earlier. That was better than analysts’ expectations for $548 million.

Stitch Fix reported nearly 4.2 million active clients, up 18% from a year earlier. The company said net revenue per active client was $505, surpassing the $500 threshold for the first time ever. Customers have been purchasing more items to keep at home, Stitch Fix said, as they have more brands and price points to choose from.

Stitch Fix defines active clients as people who either ordered a “Fix” subscription or bought an item directly from its website in the preceding 52 weeks from the final day of the quarter.

The company also said it had its lowest ever churn rate at the end of the period, meaning its customers are sticking around.

Last month, Stitch Fix finally opened up its direct-buy option, which is now known as “Freestyle,” to the public. This allows people to shop Stitch Fix for individual items of clothing, without needing to sign up for a subscription.

CEO Elizabeth Spaulding said this should help Stitch Fix grow its addressable market in the year ahead. The company’s next initiative will be to market and raise broader awareness around the offering, she said. Stitch Fix is preparing to roll out a national advertising campaign on the debut.

Early indications are that “Freestyle” is meaningfully accretive to the company’s revenue per active client metric, Spaulding told analysts on a conference call.

“Clients have agency, flexibility and choice while also experiencing a highly personalized shopping experience,” Spaulding said.

For its fiscal first quarter, Stitch Fix said it sees sales in a range of $560 million to $575 million. That’s below analysts’ expectations for $588 million.

For the upcoming fiscal year, Stitch Fix anticipates sales rising 15% or more from the prior year. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had been looking for an 18% increase.

While the entire retail industry is working through supply chain complications, Stitch Fix said it is seeing a small impact, but nothing that will hurt the business in the fall and winter months. The company said it is less reliant on Vietnam, where manufacturing has largely come to a standstill due to ongoing pandemic lockdowns in the region.

As of Tuesday’s market close, Stitch Fix shares have fallen nearly 39% this year. The company has a market cap of $3.8 billion.

Find the full press release from Stitch Fix here.

Sales for the three-month period ended July 31 also came in higher than analysts were expecting, thanks to outsized growth in Stitch Fix’s women’s and kids’ categories. Menswear has been growing more slowly, the company said.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/21/stitch-fix-sfix-q4-2021-earnings.html

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Techcrunch

South Korean antitrust regulator fines Google $177M for abusing market dominance – TechCrunch

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday it fined Google $177 million for abusing its market dominance in the Android operating system (OS) market. The U.S. tech company has restricted market competition by prohibiting local smartphone makers like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics from customizing their Android OS, through Google’s anti-fragmentation agreements (AFA), […]

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The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday it fined Google $177 million for abusing its market dominance in the Android operating system (OS) market.

The U.S. tech company has restricted market competition by prohibiting local smartphone makers like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics from customizing their Android OS, through Google’s anti-fragmentation agreements (AFA), according to the antitrust regulator statement.

Under the AFA, smartphone developers are not allowed to install or develop “Android forks”, modified versions of Android.

The KFTC banned Google LLC, Google Asia Pacific and Google Korea from imposing local smartphone developers to sign the AFA and make changes on details about the existing version. The new measure in South Korea will be applied to not only mobiles devices but also other Android-powered smart devices including watches and TVs.

Android has spurred innovation among Korean mobile operator owners and software developers and that has led to a better user experience for Korean consumers, Google said in its statement. “The KFTC’s decision released today ignores these benefits, and will undermine the advantages enjoyed by consumers. Google intends to appeal the KFTC’s decision,” a spokesperson at Google said.

The commission has been investigating Google over the anti-competition practice in OS market since July 2016, a spokesperson at KFTC said.

Google’s global mobile OS market share excluding China has been increased to 97.7% in 2019 from 38% in 2010, as per KFTC’s announcement.

Google’s AFA has also limited to launch tech companies’ new devices like smart watches and TVs using the operating system (OS) including Samsung’s smart watch in 2013, LG Electronics’ LTE smart speaker in 2018 as well as Amazon’s smart TV in 2018.

South Korea’s watchdog is probing into three other cases including the Play Store app market, billing system and the advertisement market.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s “anti-Google law”, takes effect on 14 September, based on Korea Communications Commission’s press release.

In late August, South Korea passed a bill to curb global tech companies including Google and Apple from imposing their own proprietary in-app payment service and commissions on app developers.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/14/south-korean-antitrust-regulator-fines-google-177m-for-abusing-market-dominance/

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Cointelegraph

El Salvador’s Bitcoin detractors: Opposition groups gather as crypto law rolls out

While President Bukele enjoys widespread popularity, his law that makes Bitcoin legal tender does not.

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The year 2021 will probably go down the history books as one of Bitcoin’s (BTC) most interesting years, given its recent uptake by billionaires and adoption by mainstream institutions, not to mention El Salvador’s move to make it legal tender.

In El Salvador’s case, it almost seems as if the whole world is watching this experiment to see whether it will be a success or a total failure for the Central American nation.

With Sept. 7 marking the official implementation of Bitcoin as a legal tender in El Salvador, a wave of protests in the country against the move has roused suspicions and uncertainty over how the new law will be enforced.

From the arrest of individuals criticizing the Salvadoran government over the new law, to the wave of citizens across the country protesting Bitcoin’s legal status, the seminal crypto is facing some headwinds.

How Bitcoin became legal tender

It all began in early June after Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele announced in a tweet that the country’s legislative assembly had passed a bill making Bitcoin legal tender. The law was set to be implemented on Sept. 7 and would see the country’s 4.5 million citizens able to make purchases with Bitcoin at stores nationwide.

In his announcement, Bukele said that once an official bill to make Bitcoin legal tender was passed, “Chivo ATMs” — Chivo being the name of the official BTC wallet for El Salvador — would eventually be “everywhere” in the country. This would allow El Salvadorans to withdraw Bitcoin in cash without incurring any commissions on their holdings, as is the case with services such as Western Union.

Moreover, Bukele assured citizens that no one will be forced to use Bitcoin. In a statement, the 40-year-old president said that “someone can always queue up at Western Union and pay a commission.”

“What if someone doesn’t want to use Bitcoin? [Well] don’t download the app and continue living your normal life. Nobody is going to take your dollars,” he said.

The first wave of resistance

Following the announcement, a group of protestors called the Popular Resistance and Rebellion Block (BRRP) block emerged to protest against the Bitcoin law.

“President Nayib Bukele passed the law making the cryptocurrency legal tender in the country without proper consultations with the people,” one activist said.

Although the protest group highlighted complexities such as Bitcoin’s volatility as reasons for caution, their main claim is that the law mainly serves large businesses linked to alleged money laundering to the benefit of corrupt officials.

“Bitcoin only serves some large businessmen, especially those linked to the government, to launder ill-gotten money,” one protestor said.

A letter from the BRRP group said that “entrepreneurs who put their capital in Bitcoin will not pay taxes on their earnings and the government would spend millions worth of taxes to execute the whole campaign.”

Indeed, the bill to make Bitcoin legal tender includes some interesting proposals such as a zero capital gains tax on BTC. The bill also promised investors permanent residency in the country with a three BTC investment in El Salvador.

The arrest of Mario Gómez

As the controversial Bitcoin bill became a law on Sept. 7, both supporters and detractors continue to emerge with the latest in events around the law being the arrest of Mario Gómez.

According to several local news outlets in El Salvador, Mario Gómez — a computer and crypto expert as well as an avid critic of the government — was arrested by local police and held for a few hours before being released.

Gómez has been known to regularly post on social media opposing the government’s move to make Bitcoin legal tender. Observers such as Steve Hanke — an economist from Johns Hopkins University — criticized Gómez’s arrest as an “authoritarian police tactic in action.”

Hector Silva, a counselor of the mayor’s office in San Salvador, said, “the arrest of Mario portrays the fragility of the government in terms of the implementation of the Bitcoin law but confirms something even more dangerous.”

“They are willing to manipulate whatever institutions are necessary to push critical voices out of the way,” added Silva.

Although the police released a statement saying that Gómez was detained as part of a financial fraud investigation, news reports claimed that he was arrested without a warrant and an attempt was made to take possession of his phone and computer.

The citizens’ protest

Right before Gómez’s arrest, some retirees in El Salvador took to the streets to protest, worried about the government using the cryptocurrency to pay their pensions.

While speaking to reporters, one demonstrator from the crowd — which included veterans, disability pensioners, workers and retirees — said, “we know this coin fluctuates drastically. Its value changes from one second to another, and we will have no control over it.”

While Bukele has promised that the use of Bitcoin in the country will be optional and that salaries and pensions will still be paid in United States dollars, the protestors still highlighted a lack of knowledge of the technology.

Citizens have also complained that there has been too little explanation from officials about the pros and cons of Bitcoin. “We don’t know the currency. We don’t know where it comes from. We don’t know if it’s going to bring us profit or loss. We don’t know anything,” one Salvadoran added.

In response, Bukele’s administration has stated that the use of Bitcoin is not mandatory and that necessary training and other alternatives to Bitcoin will be provided.

Mixed opinions

Although President Bukele enjoys incredibly high approval ratings, recent polls concerning the Bitcoin law show a widespread lack of support for the measure. A recent poll conducted by El Salvador’s Universidad Centroamericana José Siméon Cañas shows that up to two-thirds of respondents are inclined toward a move to repeal the law, and more than 70% prefer the U.S dollar over Bitcoin.

International institutions like the International Monetary Fund have also warned about macroeconomic, financial and legal issues brought about by El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin.

Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America Fixed Income Strategy at Amherst Pierpont, said that “the plans for Bitcoin under an increasingly autocratic regime will likely only compound concerns about corruption.”

On the flip side, others remain optimistic that the new law will eventually benefit Salvadorans given that the country’s economy is heavily reliant on remittances sent home by migrants overseas. Last year alone, the country’s remittances totaled $6 billion, accounting for a fifth of gross domestic product.

“El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender by law offers the country some optionality in financial matters and sovereignty,” said Alexander Blum, managing director of Two Prime.

His sentiments were echoed by Alberto Echegaray Guevara — an artist and entrepreneur — who said, “President Bukele’s Bitcoin Law is not only trying to make international money transfer cheaper and easier for 70% of his unbanked population but also creating a new economic hub and new remittances platform in Central America.”

Adrian Pollard from HollaEx told Cointelegraph, “It is typical for new technology rollouts to have bugs and apposition but that’s exactly why it was made voluntary.”

“I suspect there will be more bumps along the road for El Salvador but it will be worth it long term. In fact, I believe other South American nations aren’t far behind and will follow,” added Pollard.

In his announcement, Bukele said that once an official bill to make Bitcoin legal tender was passed, “Chivo ATMs” — Chivo being the name of the official BTC wallet for El Salvador — would eventually be “everywhere” in the country. This would allow El Salvadorans to withdraw Bitcoin in cash without incurring any commissions on their holdings, as is the case with services such as Western Union.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/el-salvador-s-bitcoin-detractors-opposition-mounts-despite-crypto-rollout

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