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UK Bank Threatens to Cancel Accounts if Customers Refuse to Wear Masks

HSBC has said it will “reserve the right” to cancel the accounts of customers who refuse to wear masks inside its UK branches.

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UK Bank Threatens to Cancel Accounts if Customers Refuse to Wear Masks

The British-based bank — the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) founded in 1865 — said that masks are mandatory in all branches unless visitors have a medical exemption.

A spokesman for HSBC told The Mirror on Tuesday that it advises its customers: “If you do visit us, please wear a face covering and maintain a safe distance from others. If individuals put themselves or our colleagues at risk, without a medical exemption, we reserve the right to withdraw their account.”

In December, the British multinational froze the account of a church in Hong Kong that backed the pro-democracy movement. That same month, HSBC also froze the accounts of exiled Hong Kong lawmaker Ted Hui, his wife, and his parents, reportedly under the orders of Chinese Communist Party-controlled police.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab criticised HSBC in July for its support of the CCP-backed security laws which resulted in the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

This week has also seen almost all major British supermarkets, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons, saying they will refuse entry to customers not wearing a mask, unless they have a medical exemption. Supermarkets like Tesco are also demanding shoppers shop alone, and several have said they have hired extra security to enforce the measures.

“Should a customer refuse to wear a covering without a valid medical reason and be in any way challenging to our colleagues about doing so, our security colleagues will refuse their entry,” an Asda spokesman said.

Reports revealed this week that German banking giant Deutsche Bank has decided cut ties with President Donald Trump, while New York lender Signature Bank has said that it will be closing down two of the Republican leader’s personal accounts.

Payment processor Stripe has also reportedly cut off President Trump’s campaign from its service. While e-commerce platform Shopify terminated stores affiliated with the President last week.

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Economy

Democrats now drop paid family and medical leave from social spending package despite it being a cornerstone of Biden’s economic agenda

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Democrats now drop paid family and medical leave from social spending package despite it being a cornerstone of Biden’s economic agenda
  • Democrats reportedly drop paid family and medical leave from spending bill
  • It followed hectic talks on Wednesday to bring liberals and centrists together
  • The White House is desperate for a deal to keep the Biden agenda on track
  • But it appears to have come at the cost of one of his signature campaign policies 
  • And Democrats dropped the idea of a billionaire tax to help pay for it all
  • Hours after floating the idea of squeezing the country’s richest people, the proposal was hurriedly abandoned 
  • Earlier Jen Psaki said Biden may go to the Capitol if a deal was close
  • He intends to fly to Rome Thursday for summit meetings and an audience with the Pope
  • Negotiators have yet to lock down support from Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema 

Congressional Democrats signaled Wednesday they would ditch plans for paid family and medical leave in an effort to trim costs and secure an elusive deal to push through a massive spending bill.

It marked the latest attempt to bridge the divide between liberals and moderates but would come at the cost of one of President Biden’s key campaign pledges. 

During another day of frenetic activity, the two moderate holdouts, Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, met with Biden aides on Capitol Hill before saying they were confident of ‘progress.’

Later three sources familiar with ongoing discussions told Politico that Senate Democrats were dropping paid family and medical leave from the reconciliation bill. 

It followed a confusing back and forth between House and Senate members, who first floated and then withdrew the idea of using a tax on billionaires to help pay for the package. 

Biden aides are pressing Democrats to come together around a set of plans with a $1.75 trillion price tag before the end of the week, a move that would also unlock the president’s stalled $1 trillion infrastructure bill. 

Discussions on Wednesday centered both on how to trim the cost of the bill and how to generate funding. 

Biden is due to fly to Rome, Italy, on Thursday for a G20 summit followed by a climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, but is desperate to trumpet progress on his domestic agenda before a tight gubernatorial election in Virginia on Tuesday.

Last week he admitted that family leave was on the chopping block.

‘It is down to four weeks,’ he said during a CNN town hall. 

‘And the reason it’s down to four weeks is I can’t get 12 weeks.’ 

The U.S. is one of the few industrialized countries that does not have a universal paid leave program for new parents or employees suffering health problems.

And Biden made changing that a central part of his election campaign last year before ensuring it was a key part of his social agenda.

Manchin made clear late in the morning that it was a potential dealbreaker.

‘It doesn’t make sense to me,’ he told reporters. ‘I just can’t do it.’

Dropping it might help woo the West Virginia senator but it could cost the support of other Democrats, who voiced their anger in the evening.

Rep. Jamal Bowman, one of the party’s most progressive members, said bluntly: ‘I’m pissed off, man.

He singled out Manchin, saying he had a disproportionate amount of sway over the proposals.

‘It’s just unacceptable to me that one person from one state can have all this power and make these decisions that will crush my district and districts like mine across the country.’

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she was not giving up on paid leave.

‘Until the bill is printed, I will continue working to include paid leave in the Build Back Better plan,’ she said.

High profile supporters of the measure include Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who last week wrote to Democratic Party leaders urging them not to let the measure slip.

‘This is about putting families above politics,’ she wrote. 

‘And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.’

Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki offered an optimistic picture and said the administration was monitoring progress ‘hour by hour.’

She said the president could yet visit Capitol Hill before flying overseas. 

‘We are on track now to move forward once we get an agreement,’ she said.

But there were other setbacks along the way, as Democrats haggled over how to pay for the plans and whether a tax on billionaires would be part of the mix.

The Senate’s top tax writer, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, floated the idea early on Wednesday but it was nixed in the afternoon by his House of Representatives counterpart, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, who said it was too complex to work. 

Read more on The Daily Mail

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Business

Raytheon warns of worker losses as companies impose vaccine mandate

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Raytheon warns of worker losses as companies impose vaccine mandate

Raytheon Technologies’ top boss warned on Tuesday the U.S. aerospace and defense firm will lose ‘several thousand’ employees who refused to take COVID-19 vaccines, as it prepares to meet the Biden administration’s Dec. 8 deadline for immunization.

“We will lose several thousand people,” Raytheon Chief Executive Greg Hayes said in a CNBC interview on Tuesday, adding that staff hiring was underway. The company has a total of 125,000 U.S. employees.

Raytheon, the maker of Tomahawk missiles, last month said it will require all U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated, after the Biden administration mandated immunization for nearly all federal employees and contractors, to widen vaccination coverage in the country.

Many federal contractors, such as Boeing Co, 3M, and American Airlines have announced vaccination mandates since. European planemaker Airbus, which supplies helicopters to the U.S. Army, also joined the list on Tuesday.

Read more on Reuters

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Economy

2021 Thanksgiving feast will wallop the wallet

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2021 Thanksgiving feast will wallop the wallet

Thanksgiving 2021 could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday.

Caroline Hoffman is already stashing canned pumpkin in the kitchen of her Chicago apartment when she finds some for under a dollar. She recently spent almost $2 more for the vanilla she’ll need to bake pumpkin bread and other desserts for the various Friendsgiving celebrations she’s been invited to.

Matthew McClure paid 20% more this month than he did last year for the 25 pasture-raised turkeys he plans to roast at the Hive, the Bentonville, Arkansas, restaurant where he is the executive chef. And Norman Brown, director of sweet-potato sales for Wada Farms in Raleigh, North Carolina, is paying truckers nearly twice as much as usual to haul the crop to other parts of the country.

“I never seen anything like it, and I’ve been running sweet potatoes for 38 or 39 years,” Brown said. “I don’t know what the answer is, but in the end it’s all going to get passed on to the consumer.”

Nearly every component of the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, from the disposable aluminum turkey roasting pan to the coffee and pie, will cost more this year, according to agricultural economists, farmers and grocery executives. Major food companies like Nestlé and Procter & Gamble have already warned consumers to brace for more price increases.

Granted, last year the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 was the lowest it had been since 2010, according to the American Farm Bureau, whose annual survey of large dinners will be released Nov. 18. But because of the pandemic, fewer people bought for big gatherings, and turkey prices were kept low to entice shoppers. This year, turkey prices are likely to hit record highs, and the cost of many foods has jumped sharply.

There is no single culprit. The nation’s food supply has been battered by a knotted supply chain, high transportation expenses, labor shortages, trade policies and bad weather. Inflation is at play, too. In September, the Consumer Price Index for food was up 4.6% from a year ago. Prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs soared 10.5%.

Weeks before the holiday feast, home cooks have started shopping, hoping to get ahead of shortages and price creep. “I picture a perfect storm of increased demand and lack of supply,” said Matt Lardie, a food writer in Durham, North Carolina, who has already laid out his Thanksgiving game plan and expects to have some components in the freezer by next week.

For many cooks, the biggest expense will be the turkey. By the end of the year, market analysts say, prices per pound will likely surpass the record Department of Agriculture benchmark price for turkeys — $1.36, set in 2015.

Turkey is more expensive largely because the price of corn, which most commercial turkeys feed on, more than doubled in some parts of the country from July 2020 to July 2021. Whole frozen birds between 8 and 16 pounds already cost 25 cents a pound more than they did a year ago, according to the weekly Department of Agriculture turkey report released Friday.

The price rises are hitting in a year when COVID-19 vaccines and loosened health guidelines point to more and bigger holiday celebrations than in 2020. There will be fewer turkeys on the market, but demand is expected to be higher, particularly for smaller birds and for more carefully raised and processed turkeys.

Read more on The Seattle Times

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