US Business News

Stores, Gas Stations in Puerto Rico Close Down After Hurricane Fiona, Leaving Thousands Struggling to Find Supplies

Businesses in Puerto Rico have been impacted by the island’s struggle to restore power following Hurricane Fiona.

Due to the situation, an increasing number of supermarkets and petrol stations have shut down. In the end, the condition has raised concerns about the scarcity of food and gasoline.

Since there was a great demand for purchasing food and other things when the hurricane hit the country, many customers complained when store owners put up signs of temporary closures.

In addition, nearly a million customers in Puerto Rico are now without electricity.

When Betty Merced, a resident of Salinas City, needed to refuel her generator with diesel, she said it was challenging to find an open gas station. She was unable to locate a retailer that sold it, though.

“There are a lot of people with a lot of needs. If there is no diesel, we’re going to be very much in harm’s way,” Merced said.

Read Also: Skytrax Holds Annual Aviation Awards Spotlighting the Aviation’s Best

She claims that despite searching the entire city for diesel, she had no luck. She will thus travel to other towns like Santa Isabel in search of supplies. If unsuccessful, she would continue to other northern cities in search of a shop selling fuel to customers.

“I didn’t think we were going to be so many days without power,” added Merced.

Salinas residents were forced to scramble to locate supplies as petrol outlets closed. Thousands of people are vying for the supply, including Wanda Rios Colorado, a prominent community member.

Wanda described her experience with Hurricane Marios in 2017 and compared the current state of affairs, adding that everyone is having trouble getting enough fuel and food.

Additionally, it is now difficult to find pharmacies throughout the nation were open to customers. As a result, people who require medicine have grown increasingly apprehensive as a result of this.

 

No shortage of fuels, says the government

Although many residents spoke out about their struggles, the Puerto Rican administration disputes this.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, there is no gasoline supply. Instead, the current situation is just a system disturbance brought on by flooding, landslides, and the statewide blackout.

Officials added that the power outage prevented numerous gas stations from reopening around the country. Additionally, Edan Rivera, the secretary of consumer affairs, asserted that there was no justification for declaring a fuel scarcity in Puerto Rico.

Read Also: McDonald’s Announce its Happy Meal for Adults, Reigniting a New Generation’s Love for its Food

“There’s a peak in demand in the most affected areas, but it has been normalizing as trucks arrive,” he added.

“Some will say they have received less product, but it’s not that they’re getting less. They asked for a lot, and to err on the side of caution; they’re not being given everything they ask for.”

In addition, Rivera mentioned that a container ship was transporting about 300,000 barrels of fuel. It ought to allay many people’s worries about getting fuel for their generators and other uses.

Photo Credit: Andres Kudacki | TIME

Source: NPR

McDonald’s Announce its Happy Meal for Adults, Reigniting a New Generation’s Love for its Food

The leading fast food chain McDonald’s wants to target older customers with its new adult Happy Meal. And its package comes with a free toy.

As the company tries to put some twists on its usual offerings, McDonald’s announced that it would launch products tailored for adults but still retain the playful side of the Happy Meal, which is primarily packaged in red cardboard boxes.

But, of course, McDonald’s is not alone with the initiative.

A famous streetwear company teams up with McDonald’s for the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box package, which will be available to all participating stores this October 3.

“We’re taking one of the most nostalgic McDonald’s experiences and literally repackaging it in a new way that’s hyper-relevant for our adult fans,” said the McDonald’s USA Chief Marketing Officer, Tariq Hassan.

“I can’t wait to give fans a unique piece of art and culture as we dive headfirst into the dynamic world of Cactus Plant Flea Market together next week. With menu favorites like the Big Mac and McNuggets at the center of this collab, this is another way we’re reigniting a new generation’s love for our food and the brand.”

Read Also: Bed Bath & Beyond Should Make its Choice, to Champion Through Crisis or Not

In a press release, McDonald’s said:

The Cactus Plant Flea Market Box, a first-of-its-kind collaboration made exclusively for McDonald’s fans by one of the most important brands in culture. 

It all starts with the box, which has been totally redesigned in Cactus Plant Flea Market’s signature style alongside McD’s iconic Golden Arches. 

The box will be available in-restaurant, in the drive-thru, by delivery or on the McDonald’s App starting October 3, while supplies last.

 

It is different than the Happy Meal

The classic Happy Meal contained smaller menus for children to consume.

However, since the adult Happy Meal is for older individuals, McDonald’s decided to put in more contents within the box, like a Big Mac or 10-piece McNuggets. Along with the main course are soda and fries.

And, of course, the highlight of every Happy Meal is the collectibles. Inside every Cactus Plant Flea Market Box is one of four figurines lovers will want to collect.

In addition, McDonald’s has included the mascots Hamburglar, Birdie, Grimace, and Cactus Body for this issue.

While McDonald’s is famed for its ambitious and big partnerships, the current collaboration marks the company’s first venture with brands.

Read Also: Job Market Sees Surge in Women Reentering the Labor Force, Economists says it’s a Good Sign

It can be recalled that the company collaborated with the world-renowned KPop Boy group BTS. With the artists, McDonald’s was able to garner billions of dollars for its Famous Orders campaign.

Going back two years ago, McDonald’s also launched a menu inspired by rapper Travis Scott. The package became popular among music lovers, leading to many stores running out of supply.

As part of the collaboration, McDonald’s will also make available shirts and merchandise from its partner, Cactus Plant Flea Market.

Photo Credit: McDonald’s

Source: CNBC

Electric Vehicle Sales Top Expectations, IEA says it Could Hit an All-Time High

Photo Credit: Roger Kisby

Sales of electric vehicles are surging, and they could hit an all-time high if the trend continues. The International Energy Agency is impressed with the development and said more work needs to be done by other sectors to ensure that the planet will reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The IEA updated its Tracking Clean Energy Progress and reported positive responses among several sectors in terms of reducing carbon emissions. However, the agency emphasized that there should be “stronger efforts” from the sectors if the goal is net zero emissions by the middle of the 21st century.

According to IEA, global electric vehicle sales doubled in 2021, representing almost 9% of the total sales in the car market.

“(2022 was) expected to see another all-time high for electric vehicle sales, lifting them to 13% of total light-duty vehicle sales globally,” said the IEA.

The organization reported that in 2021, the total sales of EVs hit 6.6 million. In addition, during the first quarter of 2022, EV sales topped records and recorded sales totaling 2 million which is a 75% increase in total sales from the same quarter in 2021. If this continues, the IEA is confident that the country is well on its way to reaching another milestone by 2030 and possibly hitting the mark by 2050.

“(It is) not yet a global phenomenon. Sales in developing and emerging countries have been slow due to higher purchase costs and a lack of charging infrastructure availability,” said the IEA.

Read Also: UK Government to Cut Taxes from Corporations, Entities to Brace for Recession

More needs to be done

They noted that despite the positive outlook in electric vehicle sales, there are other regions to be considered. Other countries are not yet on track to achieving the target that they have placed.

“Areas not on track include improving the energy efficiency of building designs, developing clean and efficient district heating, phasing out coal-fired power generation, eliminating methane flaring, shifting aviation and shipping to cleaner fuels, and making cement, chemical, and steel production cleaner,” they added.

The 2015 Paris Agreement tried to assure that member-countries of the United Nations were on the same page in combatting climate change, with the goal to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”

The vision could only be possible if human-made carbon emissions were cut.

Read Also: Reimagining Capitalism, Patagonia Founder to Give all Company Revenue to Combat Climate Change

The IEA is positive

Despite the current energy crisis challenges, the IEA is positive that countries will not back down on their commitments. However, while optimistic, IEA executive director, Faith Birol, said he will still practice caution and firmly oppose any backward developments in the campaign for net zero emissions.

“There are more signs than ever that the new global energy economy is advancing strongly. This reaffirms my belief that today’s global energy crisis can be a turning point towards a cleaner, more affordable and more secure energy system,” he said.

“But this new IEA analysis shows the need for greater and sustained efforts across a range of technologies and sectors to ensure the world can meet its energy and climate goals.”

Along with the report from the IEA are debates and discussions related to the climate goals of countries and the energy crises that countries face, especially since Russia has cut off its gas supply in several countries, forcing others to change their dependence on fossil fuels.

In response, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres ruled firmly against using fossil fuels and announced that the agency would work hard to scramble upon nations that will back down from the climate change commitments.

“Polluters must pay. And today, I am calling on all developed economies to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies,” he said.

“That includes the banks, private equity, asset managers and other financial institutions that continue to invest and underwrite carbon pollution. Of course, fossil fuels cannot be shut down overnight. A just transition means leaving no person or country behind. But it’s high time to put fossil fuel producers, investors and enablers on notice.”

Source: CNBC

US Vice President Kamala Harris Calls Out Supreme Court Over Roe v. Wade Decision

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin

After the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade three months ago, US Vice President Kamala Harris cleared her position to the public, with the top official saying that the Court is an “activist court.”

“We had an established right for almost half a century, which is the right of women to make decisions about their own body as an extension of what we have decided to be, the privacy rights to which all people are entitled. And this Court took that constitutional right away, and we are suffering as a nation because of it,” said the Vice President in an interview.

The Vice President commented when the White House was being criticized for the landmark case’s outright ban by the Supreme Court. Harris has been outspoken in her criticism of the SC’s verdict. With the court ruling, women’s federally protected right to an abortion was abolished. Harris claims that the ruling hurt a number of interested parties, particularly women who are now denied the freedom to make their own decisions.

Harris has been touring the country ever since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 decision, meeting with organizations and groups to discuss the implications of the recent judgment with various stakeholders.

“[It has caused me] great concern about the integrity of the court overall, especially as someone who my life was inspired by people like Thurgood Marshall, the work on that court of Earl Warren,” Harris added.

Read Also: US Navy Warships are Bound to the Taiwan Straight, China says US Needs to Withdraw Vessels

 

Harris is against the ban on abortion

Harris constantly voiced her support for abortion rights when she was running for vice president. Additionally, Harris’ drive to bring about change in states that have harsh restrictions against abortion rights was a focus of hers when she was selected for the Democratic presidential nomination three years ago.

“We cannot tolerate a perspective that is about going backward and not understanding women have agency,” Harris said then.

Harris previously revealed to the public her mistrust of certain justices appointed by then-president Donald Trump.

 

Roe v. Wade overturned

Many people were concerned about potential attacks against the federal right to abortion when the Supreme Court revived the historic case contesting the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In fact, the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote, sending pro-choice and pro-life activists into a frenzy.

Following the verdict’s announcement, many people protested the SC’s stance on the issue. President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President Kamala Harris were among the officials who objected to the ruling.

“It’s a sad day for the Court and for the country. It was three justices named by one president, Donald Trump, who were the core of today’s decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country. Make no mistake; this decision is a culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law,” the president said in a media address.

“The Court has done what it’s never done before, expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that had already been recognized. The Court’s decision to do so will have real and immediate consequences,” he added.

Read Also: US Strengthens Economic Ties with Taiwan in New Agreements, Talks

According to Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, the decision is “such an insult, a slap in the face to women.”

“There’s no point in saying good morning because it certainly is not one. This morning the radical Supreme Court is eviscerating women’s rights and endangering their health and safety,” she added.

The majority of the Court, however, stuck by their decision and stated: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

Source: CNN

Stock Predictions of TESLA

The surge of coronavirus brought turmoil in the stock market. Tesla rallied around 500% in the first eight months of 2020 but plunged about 30% in the early nine days of September.

 

Should You Buy Tesla (TSLA) Shares?

Tesla’s stock bulls generally claim that the company dominates the emerging global electric vehicle market and that comparing the stock and its valuation with traditional auto stocks is irrelevant. At the same time, Tesla Bears often point out that the stock’s valuation is too high, even when compared to fast-growing technology stocks, and Tesla will face an unprecedented wave of new competition over the next two years.

Doug Kass, chairman of hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management, says he has opposed a short position in Tesla for years. However, with inventories surging more than 800% in the past 52 weeks, Kass says he could no longer sit on the sidelines. Kass finally pulled the trigger by exposing Tesla stock at the end of August for $ 2,014 in late August, representing a post-split price of around $ 403.

“It can now be argued that not only does Tesla’s stock represent a good short term, but at current prices, the stock could represent the largest single bubble – measured by a market cap of nearly $ 400 billion. – history,” Kass said.

But Tesla’s valuation is just one of several concerns he has about stocks.

 

Tesla’s Unproven Model

Tesla made another profit in the second quarter of 2020, but short-sellers like Kass are taking exception to how Tesla is generating income. Tesla reported a net income of $ 104 million for the quarter based on generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP. However, it also reported $ 428 million in regulatory credit sales in the quarter.

Tesla collects these legal credits to sell electric vehicles and sells many of these credits to other car manufacturers. These traditional automakers need the credits to avoid legal fines until they release their EV models. For now, Tesla can sell these credits for a 100% profit, but analysts say Tesla’s window of regulated credit sales window is closing.

Kass says that without regulatory credit sales, car sales are unprofitable.

“Adjusted for the sale of emission credits, Tesla has never been profitable in its 17 years of existence,” despite having no competition and no need for advertising, Kass says.

He is skeptical of Tesla’s valuation until it can prove that its automotive business can be significantly and consistently profitable.

 

Competition Is Tight

Another red flag for Tesla is that the company will face its first real wave of competition in electric vehicles in the next couple of years. In the first half of 2020, Tesla represented around 80% of the United States. Sales of electric cars, according to Loup Ventures. However, only 16 EV models are available in the United States, including five Tesla. By the end of 2021, competitors are expected to introduce another 20 EV models to challenge Tesla’s market share.

Kass says the first batch of new competitors comes from fresh, highly rated models from Polestar, Audi, and Volkswagen (VLKAF). Tesla was the first company to capture the electric vehicle market. But Kass says Tesla has a shallow competitive divide and no significant proprietary EV technology to set it apart from its competition, many of whom have a century of experience manufacturing and high-end marketing cars.

 

Priced for Perfection

Finally, Kass and many other Tesla short sellers are questioning of the stock’s valuation. Even after selling off nearly 30% in September from recent highs, Tesla stock is trading at an expected earnings multiple of 121 and a price-to-sell ratio of around 13.8. This valuation represents a substantial premium over former auto stocks Ford Motor Co. (F), General Motors Co. (GM), and Toyota Motor Corp. (TM), which on average, have a prepaid profit multiple of 10.3 and a price/sales ratio of 0.51.

“Faced with an onslaught of competition, Tesla’s market capitalization is now almost four times that of Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) combined – despite selling only about (400,000) cars per year, against 17 million in sales for the big three units,” Kass says.

Tesla’s earnings fell nearly 5% in the last quarter, but many Tesla bulls say the automaker looks more like a high-growth technology stock than a car company. Unfortunately, valuation comparisons with large-cap tech stocks Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is still considered overvalued. Tesla’s predicted earnings multiple is more than double the average of these technology giants, and the price-to-sell ratio is more than 50% higher.

While there is no doubt that Tesla has shaken up the global auto industry, its spiking share price has already resulted in significant long-term success. Tesla bears like Kass are skeptical that the company will ever be able to meet, let alone exceed, these sky-high expectations.

Pope Francis to Act Swift and Just Against Cases of Abuse by Priests, Clergy

Photo Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis, the highest official of the Roman Catholic Church, stated that he is intent on wholly curtailing the abuse cases that plague members of the faith.

The Pope went on to say that he is personally responsible for this mission because he leads the Church, which does not readily penalize abusers. The Pope’s new goal is “zero tolerance” for violence. “A priest cannot remain a priest if he is an abuser,” Francis said.

Since he was elected Pope of the world’s largest religion, sex abuse by church officials and how the Roman Catholic Church reacts to it has been a point of debate for many. According to Francis, every case he comes across ‘hurts’ him because he wonders how a person taking the veil of service to the people and God could undertake such terrible crimes.

Since Francis assumed the papacy in 2013, there have been countless instances and reports of sexual abuse by priests. However, it is accompanied by systemic failures, negligence, and coverups that not only help foster fear among Catholics but also tarnish Francis’ noble work as Pope of the Church.

Read Also: World Trade Will be Adversely Impacted by China’s Energy Crisis Management as Country Struggles to Find Alternative Resources

 

Eliminating the systemic abuse committed by church officials

Francis has already been chastised several times for his handling of cases of sexual abuse. In 2018, for example, a Chilean bishop purportedly obscured a sex scandal, which alerted many people. Pope Francis defended the accused, upsetting many who have long despised the institutionalized protection of abusers within a powerful institution.

However, Francis later apologized to the public for his “grave error” and implemented system reforms to ensure it did not happen again. Following that, the Pope scrapped the Vatican secrecy rules for sexual abuse cases and enhanced the system, allowing for more direct and swifter responses to sexual abuse cases.

Two years after declaring the revision, Francis made another brave move — something no high church leader had done in 40 years. Francis has directed bishops to take quick and just action against clerics or Church officials who victimize minors or adults. Francis also emphasized the penalization of cases of fraud and ordaining women.

“I don’t deny the abuse. Even if it was only one [case], it is monstrous. Because you, priest, you, nun, have to take that boy, that girl to God, and with this, you destroy their lives. It’s monstrous. It is destroying lives. And then they come to you with questions. Could it be that celibacy is to blame]? It’s not about celibacy,” stated Pope Francis.

“This is one thing about abuse; it is a destructive thing, humanly diabolical.”

“In families, there is no celibacy and all that, and, sometimes, it happens. So, it is simply the monstrosity of a man or woman of the Church who is psychologically ill or evil and uses their position for their personal satisfaction.”

Read Also: A Megaflood Could Soon Hit California, Damage to Businesses, Properties Unlike Anything Seen Before

 

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine

The Pope stated in a media interview that Russia and Ukraine contacted him. According to Francis, he spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, withholding the things they discussed.

“I had a dialogue with both of them. They both visited me here before the war. And I always believe that in dialogue, we always move forward,” Francis claimed. “You know who doesn’t know how to talk? Animals. They are pure instinct.”

The Pope’s statements are held in high regard around the world, which is why Kyiv was appalled when he referred to the death of Darya Dugina, a Russian political pundit, as one of the “innocent” victims of warfare.

The Foreign Ministry contacted Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, to express their dissatisfaction with Francis’ statement, which they described as “equating the aggressor and the victim.”

The Pope indicated that he might travel to Kyiv and Moscow to advise the officials on a peaceful settlement of their conflict. If all goes well, Francis will be the first Pope to visit Moscow. And the first to go back to Kyiv in more than 20 years.

Source: CNN

Ecovocado, the Ecologically Healthy Alternative of Avocado

Photo Credit: Arina Shokouhi

Avocado has become one of the most traded foods in the world today and is more commonly known on the international market as “green gold.” Due to the many uses of its constituent parts, it has grown in popularity. Over eleven billion pounds of avocados are purchased annually by consumers, according to the World Economic Forum.

This is a reliable sign that the avocado business is booming. However, while the market for avocados is booming, the environment is suffering. This is one drawback of cultivating avocados. Growers must use a minimum of 2,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of avocados. In parallel, businesses must remove forests as demand rises to create room for avocado farms. These two reasons have persuaded a London researcher to develop a novel strategy for reducing the requirement to grow avocados.

Researcher and designer Arina Shokouhi created an eco-friendly avocado. By introducing her novel product, which she named the “Ecovocado,” Shokouhi seeks to persuade customers to purchase fewer “actual avocadoes” in the market, taking into account their production’s damaging effects on the environment.

“It can be actually a positive solution, and we should just embrace it because we know that we can’t carry on living like this,” stated Shokouhi.

What is the Ecovocado

At first sight, consumers have difficulty telling the Ecovocado from a genuine avocado. Beeswax and natural food coloring created from spinach and charcoal powders are used to produce the product, which resembles the appearance of avocado skin.

In order to closely resemble the flavor and appearance of an authentic avocado, the meat for the Ecovocado is carefully chosen. The Ecovocado meat is made up of wide beans, apples, cold-pressed rapeseed oil, and a hazelnut garnish claims the product’s manufacturer. Shokouhi utilized a whole hazelnut or chestnut as the pit.

The end result of Shokouhi’s Material Futures master’s degree program at Central Saint Martins is the product. At the University of Nottingham, she worked with Jack Wallman, a food scientist. After researching the molecular characteristics of avocados, Wallman accompanied Shokouhi in completing the Ecovocado. The procedure, according to the researchers, was laborious and took them close to eight months to accomplish.

“(The) choice of ingredients was very limited, to begin with, because I want it to be 100% local. That was my first priority,” Shokouhi added.

In earlier recipes, ingredients like broccoli and garden peas were taken into account. However, she had to dismiss it because the ingredients did not taste good. The idea came from Shokouhi’s desire to employ primarily locally produced goods in his recipes. Broad beans were chosen as their crop because they are simple to grow and are produced in large quantities in the UK each year (740,000 metric tons are harvested.

The outcome had a harsh flavor at first. However, balancing the ingredients required some time. According to Wallman and Shokouhi, coming up with the ideal avocado replacement is hard.

Ecovocado might not be a practical substitute

Ecovocado is a very innovative product. Others in the profession, nevertheless, perceive the product as having drawbacks. For example, Dr. Wayne Martindale, an associate professor of food insights and sustainability at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom, believes that the Ecovocado may not be a practical substitute for an avocado.

The qualities of natural avocado byproducts that can be utilized to make cutlery, lubricants, and other important items are taken into consideration by Dr. Martindale. Additionally, he stated that authorities’ moderation should be the main emphasis of the environmental concern surrounding the avocado trade rather than the production method.

Shokouhi prays that people will still think about Ecovocado despite this.

“The taste maybe is not 100% exactly like avocado, but that doesn’t matter as an alternative as long as you can have it on your sourdough, and it tastes good, and it looks the same, and it’s healthy,” said Shokouhi.

Source: CNN

Communities, Infrastructure Damaged as California Faces Heat and Rains

Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/AP

Damage to life and property is caused in the southern region of California by a tropical storm. On Friday, there were significant raindrops and strong gusts, which may have caused flooding and damaged power lines. In contrast, the areas hit by the heat wave were relieved of the extreme temperatures they had experienced for more than ten days.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Kay landed in Baja California Sur on Thursday. Thankfully, the hurricane began to lose strength as soon as it made landfall. But the tropical storm had winds of around 109 mph (175 kph).

Firefighters expressed worry that the hurricane impacting Southern California could produce strong winds that might fuel the Fairview fire, which is located 121 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles. However, the team managed to restrict the fire and said that by Monday, the blaze would be completely under control. Thousands of people are still sheltered inside evacuation centers, and the fire has damaged over 10,000 homes and other buildings.

A heat wave that caused temperatures to rise to nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) in the area was followed by the storm, which happened at a perfect time. Unfortunately, the oppressive heat also had an adverse effect on San Diego. On another note, the hurricane arrived and temporarily relieved the people’s discomfort from the heat.

Read Also: Pope Francis to Act Swift and Just Against Cases of Abuse by Priests, Clergy

“The heat was killer, so for now, this feels good. I just hope the water doesn’t get too high. But I will rough it. I’ve got pallets I can put underneath to keep out the rain.”

However, despite the rain’s comfort, locals are conscious that excessive rains might bring dangers. For instance, a twin-engine aircraft slipped beyond the runway when it landed at the Naval Air Station North Island in Colorado. Due to the damage to the plane, the two pilots on board had to be brought to the hospital for observation.

It rained lightly in a few places in Southern California, but there was a risk of severe downpours throughout the weekend. If the rains continue, experts say there is a strong likelihood of flooding. In addition, if the sea level rises to the usual level, residents of coastal villages and low-lying homes have been urged to prepare for potential evacuation plans.

 

Before the storm was the heat

The warmest September on record was experienced in Western states, including California. The heat waves that were seen there lasted the longest. As a result, the phenomena put pressure on the energy infrastructure, raising costs. This week, severe heat advisories and warnings were issued for a number of areas with a combined population of more than 54 million people.

Sacramento, the state capital of California, saw its hottest temperature in nearly 79 years last Tuesday, reaching a high of 116 degrees Fahrenheit or 46.7 degrees Celsius. While this was happening, Salt Lake City also experienced temperature increases that reached 41.6 degrees Celsius, or 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read Also: Global Sea Level Expected to Rise After Greenland’s Ice Sheet Melts Due to High Temperatures

 

More damage caused by the phenomenon

The high heat and rain have harmed numerous infrastructures throughout dozens of states, but electricity networks have been seriously hit. As the temperature rises, businesses and homes must raise the capacity of their air conditioning systems to combat the oppressive heat outdoors. Power demand and consumption increased as a result, and the inability of the power systems to handle the demand resulted in blackouts.

Scientists claim that Western nations have been warmer and drier in only the past 30 years as a result of climate change. The situation simply increases the potential for fiercer and more devastating wildfires. In fact, California had the most damaging wildfire in its history within the course of only five years.

For example, the Mosquito Fire in eastern Sacramento has doubled its size, engulfing 46 square miles (119 square kilometers) of land and endangering more than 3,600 residences in El Dorado and Placer counties.

Source: NPR

Burger King to Boost Advertising, Stores in $400 Million Investment Plan

Photo Credit: Burger King

Burger King said that it would expend more than $400 million on upgrades and ad campaigns over the next two years. The decision was made in light of the company’s report displaying poor sales in the United States.

Burger King execs gathered in Las Vegas to discuss the company’s turnaround plan for its US-based franchises. Restaurant Brands International, the fast food chain parent organization, convened its brands during the annual franchisee convention to finish the plan, which expects the projected investment generating income for the firm by 2025.

Burger King reported steady sales in the second quarter. However, the fast food business follows behind McDonald’s and Wendy’s, demonstrating that the company’s sales are stagnant. Jose Cil, the CEO of Restaurant Brands, expressed alarm about Burger King’s performance.

As CEO, Cil has prioritized expenditures to boost the sales of the company’s brands, notably the resurrection of Tim Hortons, a Burger King sister chain. Meanwhile, Cil appointed Tom Curtis, a longtime executive of Domino’s Pizza, as president of Burger King in the United States and Canada. As a result, Cil ordered many adjustments to the company’s drive-thru features and pushed consumers to utilize the Burger King mobile application with Curtis on board.

Read Also: Feds Chairman to Continue Aggressive Campaign Against Inflation

 

Burger King will see more changes

Burger King is expected to undergo significant changes in the next years. The corporation plans to invest $200 million in rehabilitating and improving over 800 facilities across the United States. Furthermore, roughly $50 million has been earmarked for technological advancements, cooking equipment, and other relevant alteration. Burger King has approximately 7,000 locations in the United States, and the management of most businesses is looking to make adjustments.

Burger King is sure that the new adjustments will result in increased income. According to the company’s research, redesigned restaurants raise revenues by 12% in the first year, eventually exceeding other chains in the long run. That is why the corporation plans to renovate critical locations to optimize profits.

“We might see remodels start to hit the market mid-2023 and going forward. It should really be a gradual ramp of the business over the course of the couple of years. We expect that to start having an impact on sales over the next quarter,” the executive said in an interview.

Aside from physical alterations, Burger King will increase its advertising budget by 30%, spending around $120 million more over the next two years. The new money for its advertisements would go into effect later this year.

Furthermore, $30 million would be invested in improving mobile applications. This would significantly boost the number of clients who use its mobile app on a regular basis, a feature that many fast food restaurants are now adopting.

Menu changes are also on the horizon, as Burger King will begin creating different tastes and ingredients for its Whoppers, Chicken Sandwiches, and other food items. The increased funds will be used to train personnel to create the greatest and the tastiest cuisine possible.

Read Also: Worst for the Gas Crisis in Europe is Yet to Come says Energy Giant Uniper

 

Strategy is approved by franchisees

93% of Restaurant Brands International franchisees supported the company’s approach when it was presented. In order to put the idea into action, operators will match some of the monies set aside for improvements and personnel training.

Burger King will send the funds to the franchisees so that they may begin doing the program outlined by Restaurant Brands. Furthermore, the operators will be supplied with a revised incentive model that is slightly different from the standard structure that it has developed over the years.

“There were many long nights and plane rides,” revealed Curtis.

Source: CNBC

Central Bank will Increase Interest Rates to Fend Off Effects of Inflation in Europe

Photo Credit: ECB

The European Central Bank declared it would hike interest rates as much as possible to help nations manage the intensifying energy crisis. On Thursday, the ECB raised interest rates by three-quarters of one percent and stated that an increase would likely occur within the next few weeks.

Following the split with Russia that resulted in the supply restrictions of gas into the European nations through key pipes, particularly the Nord Stream 1, Europe has been struggling to keep up with the growing demand for energy. The extreme heat that is currently affecting the whole nation only makes the issue harder.

Years after the ECB elevated the rate to zero in 2011, the percentage is currently higher than the average. The Central Bank has now benchmarked interest rates over zero percent and above the negative area for the first time. The European Central Bank (ECB) stated in a statement that they anticipate more uptick.

“The Governing Council took today’s decision and expects to raise interest rates further because inflation remains far too high and is likely to stay above target for an extended period,” added the Central Bank.

Inflation in the UK is currently 9.1% as a consequence of high costs of commodities like food and energy.

Read Also: Feds Chairman to Continue Aggressive Campaign Against Inflation

 

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict worsens the energy crisis

Europe made efforts to wean itself off its overdependence on Russian fuel shipments when Russia started a struggle with Ukraine. The G7 nations have already voiced their displeasure about Russia’s ongoing hostility toward its neighbor.

Germany was among the numerous European nations without natural gas due to Russia’s retaliatory cutoff. As a result, the government was compelled to raise its subsidy for businesses and people in order to offset the rapid impacts of the supply reduction. In addition, the supply cuts caused a significant increase in energy costs, which in turn put pressure on the government to boost its subsidy.

The possibility of a recession in Europe is highly likely, said economists, due to these issues. The biggest European economy, Germany, is not growing as anticipated, and inflation is at a level not seen in decades. Businesses are also reporting low sales and activity. Also possible for the next quarter is a decline in the region’s gross domestic product.

The ECB has also found that many people already expect to face high inflation rates as a consequence of the present financial circumstances. The ECB is concerned that missing its annual goal may be caused by corporate leaders and people’s changes in spending and investing behaviors.

“Price pressures have continued to strengthen and broaden across the economy, and inflation may rise further in the near term,” said the Central Bank.

Read Also: Burger King to Boost Advertising, Stores in $400 Million Investment Plan

With an average inflation rate of 8.1% in 2022, the ECB is now considering higher inflation rates for the region. Additionally, the central bank forecasts that the rate will drop significantly to 5.5% in the next year. However, economic growth is anticipated to drop from 3.1% this year to just 0.9% in 2023.

“There seems universal agreement that higher rates are required to prevent higher inflation becoming embedded, though [Russian] President Putin is creating a lot of slack in the European economy already,” Societe Generale strategist Kit Juckes stated.

According to comments made by ECB president Christine Legarde, a negative outcome might happen and cause a recession in the European Union. Rationing, reduced supply, and environmental issues are the causes of this.

Holger Schmieding, the chief economist of Berenber, said, “It still seems likely that, once the ECB realizes the depth of the recession that we expect to unfold, the ECB will put rate hikes on hold at some time in early 2023.”

Source: CNN