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Ripple cryptocurrency crashes after MoneyGram ices deal



Ripple cryptocurrency crashes after MoneyGram ices deal

Ripple Labs’ cryptocurrency tumbled Tuesday after MoneyGram said it paused its relationship with the tech firm while it battles the feds in court.

The price of XRP — the digital coin at the center of a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Ripple — sank nearly 22 percent to roughly 47 cents as of 2:10 p.m. after MoneyGram revealed that it suspended trading on Ripple’s platform.

The two companies struck a deal in 2019 in which MoneyGram used XRP to settle cross-border payments while Ripple paid the company “market development fees,” which totaled about $50 million last year.

But MoneyGram suspended the arrangement in December as the SEC accused Ripple of illegally raising more than $1.3 billion by selling the virtual coin, CEO Alex Holmes said Monday.

Holmes said the money-transfer giant wants to continue working with Ripple but decided to put the partnership on ice out of an “abundance of caution.”

“I certainly hope that they’re successful in their efforts with the SEC and that things go in the direction that they want,” Holmes said on a Monday earnings call. “I would say that right now, we’re pausing those activities.”

Ripple said its multi-year contract with MoneyGram is still in place. The embattled firm noted that some market participants were “reacting conservatively” to the SEC’s lawsuit, which it said has “needlessly muddied the waters and introduced more uncertainty in the market.”

“We look forward to finding a path forward with MoneyGram and have confidence that there will be more regulatory clarity in the US for the use of digital assets and blockchain technology at the end of this lawsuit,” Ripple said in a statement.

Ripple and the SEC have agreed to take the case to trial before a jury in Manhattan federal court, according to a Monday filing in the case.

At the heart of the case is whether XRP — the world’s seventh-largest cryptocurrency by market value — is a security, like a stock, that has to be registered with the SEC under federal law.

The SEC alleges that Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and co-founder Christian Larsen personally sold about $600 million worth of XRP while the company skirted disclosure rules meant to protect investors.

But Matthew Solomon, a lawyer for Garlinghouse, claimed in a Monday court hearing that the SEC failed to tell “ultra sophisticated market actors” that it believed XRP was a security as recently as 2019, according to Law360.

“This entire case is a gross overreach,” Solomon reportedly said.

XRP’s Tuesday slump came amid a broader selloff in the crypto market that saw bitcoin, Ether and Dogecoin fall deep into the red.

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NYC eateries enticing staff to get COVID vaccine




NYC eateries enticing staff to get COVID vaccine

Now that Big Apple restaurant workers are eligible for coronavirus vaccines, eatery owners are walking a fine line trying to encourage them. 

Shake Shack staffers get an extra six hours of pay to get jabbed. 

“While Shake Shack won’t be requiring vaccinations, we are strongly encouraging it,” a spokeswoman for the New York City-based burger chain told Side Dish. 

Starbucks is shelling out four hours’ pay to employees who get protected against the virus, as is McDonald’s at all of its corporate-owned outposts. 

It’s not just the big chains that are doing it. Smaller restaurateurs are also coming up with ways to encourage staffers to get the vaccine — ranging from a one-shot payment to time off without pay and assistance setting up appointments. 

Jeremy Wladis, president of The Restaurant Group, which operates Harvest Kitchen, Hachi Maki and Good Enough to Eat on the Upper West Side, is offering to pay his employees $25 each to get vaccinated. 

“I want everyone who is willing to be vaccinated. I think it is so important. It’s a good way to give back and to give people a few bucks and incentivize them to do something good. It will help the staff, the world and our business,” Wladis said, adding that he now has 65 staffers, down from around 100 pre-pandemic. 

It’s not something he wants to force on workers, however. 

“I don’t want to push it. You never know when you are stepping over that line,” Wladis said, adding that if some employees don’t take him up on his offer to pay them to get vaccinated, then “we certainly aren’t mentioning it.” 

Indeed, while it is perfectly legal for hospitality employers to require their staffers to get vaccinated, there are medical and religious-based exemptions that could lead to problems for employers without a full-time human-resources team, said James Mallios, a top restaurant lawyer and owner of Bar Marseille and Amali in New York City and Calissa in the Hamptons. 

“You can legally mandate people to get vaccinated, but it’s an HR nightmare to do it the right way,” Mallios said. 

“You have to make sure people are treated the same,” he added. “It sounds normal and intuitive, but it’s a lot of work, and I don’t have 30 hours a week to spare, so we decided we’d take a different approach — to positively encourage people to get vaccinated.” 

In the past, Mallios has paid for his employees to get flu shots. Now he’s paying for their travel and time to get the COVID-19 vaccine and setting up their appointments. Around 55 people work in all three restaurants, he added. 

In addition to the legal issues, many restaurant workers also don’t have health insurance. That could lead to problems if they’re forced to have the vaccine and end up having a reaction. 

“Forget the legality, just the guilt I would feel,” Mallios said. 

A recent survey suggests fears over side effects loom large among workers. According to the 2021 Hospitality Vaccination and Employment Status Report from Harri, a hospitality and retail recruiting Web site, 29 percent of 4,250 current and former hospitality workers surveyed said they would not get the vaccine, with 57 percent citing fears of side effects. 

“God forbid we tell them to do it and something happens and they have an allergic reaction. We could be liable,” said Stratis Morfogen, director of operations at the Brooklyn Chop House and Brooklyn Dumpling Shop. 

“But we are offering paid time off for the days they get it, and if they feel tired or discomfort, we’ll give them a paid sick day leave,” Morfogen said. 

Giselle and Roberto Deiaco of Avena in Greenwich Village and on the Upper East Side say their staffers are anxious to get vaccinated because they saw up close the danger of the coronavirus. 

“Everyone is eager to get vaccinated. I don’t need to incentivize them. Eighty percent of my staff had COVID-19 last March, and four of them had really bad cases where they were violently ill and thought they would die. They don’t want to go through that again,” Giselle Deiaco said of her 25 staffers. 

Still, she is doing what she can to help, including booking staffers’ appointments, providing them with documentation and giving them time off. 

“I wrote letters for them and helped book online appointments. I told them we will do whatever it takes for them to get the vaccine,” Deiaco added. 

“We are supportive and cooperative and give them time off. Everyone can’t wait to get it.” 

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Dow adds 600 points as bond jitters ease, vaccinations rise




Lawmakers' tax-hike temptation could end NY as we know it

March is coming in like a lion on Wall Street.

The Dow surged more than 600 points on Monday and the S&P 500 had its best day since June as last week’s jitters over the bond market cooled and investors grew increasingly optimistic about fiscal stimulus and coronavirus vaccinations.

After a week marred by growing fears of rising interest rates that sparked a surprise spike in Treasury bond yields and sent stocks plummeting, the bond market cooled off Monday with the benchmark 10-year rate falling well back from a one-year high of just over 1.6 percent.

“The sentiment is risk on with more investors showing interest towards cyclical stocks while a positive vaccination drive and better macro numbers are hinting towards a better growth environment,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at GLOBALT in Atlanta.

The S&P jumped 90 points, or 2.4 percent, to 3,901.82, erasing nearly all of last week’s losses. The Dow Jones industrial average popped more than 700 points, or 2.3 percent, before settling to close at 31,535.51, up 603.14 points or 2 percent. The Nasdaq, which had an especially rough end to February as tech shares got hammered, soared 396 points, or 3 percent.

On the vaccination front, US government officials now say that 15 percent of the population has received at least one shot of a COVID vaccine, a vertiginous rise in only a matter of weeks.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson jumped almost 2 percent in early trading after the company received approval for emergency use of its one-shot COVID vaccine on Sunday.

So-called “reopening trades” like cruise-ship operator Carnival and American Airlines climbed 4.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively, before the former gave up its gains to go negative in the afternoon session.

Monday’s rising tide lifted all ships as every one of the S&P’s 11 sectors was positive on the day, putting an exclamation point on what appears to be a major shift in Wall Street sentiment.

“It’s a positive signal, at least in the near term, that the recent weakness has dissipated,” CFRA Research Chief Investment Strategist Sam Stovall told Reuters.

One asset that is holding onto a big day is Bitcoin.

After leaping more than 9 percent Monday morning and getting back to a price of $49,410, the king of crypto is holding onto most of its gains, recently up 6.3 percent at $48,149 after a Citi research report found that Bitcoin is at a “tipping point” to reach mainstream acceptance and could “become the currency of choice for international trade.”

Bitcoin likewise got a boost on reports that Goldman Sachs has reopened its crypto desk after shuttering it in 2018 after an earlier crypto bubble burst.

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Black Amazon manager says she was compared to ‘gorilla’




Black Amazon manager says she was compared to 'gorilla'

A black manager at Amazon alleges a coworker once said she “looked like a gorilla” in a new lawsuit accusing the company of “systemic” racial and gender discrimination.

Charlotte Newman sued the company in D.C. federal court Monday, saying she first felt discriminated against when she was hired in 2016 at a lower position than the one she applied and was qualified for.

Within months, Newman — a public policy manager at Amazon Web Services — was given the responsibilities of the higher position, but she wasn’t officially promoted with a pay raise until two years later, the court documents allege.

“Like so many other Black and female employees at Amazon, Charlotte Newman was confronted with a systemic pattern of insurmountable discrimination based upon the color of her skin and her gender,” the suit charges.

This is part of a larger pattern that the company has of hiring black and other minorities people for jobs below what they applied for and will actually be performing, the court documents allege.

Minority employees take longer to get promoted, have fewer positions in the higher levels of the company and not a single black person in the top leadership team, the court papers claim.

Black employees also get less shares in company stocks meaning they can miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as stock prices go up, the suit claims.

“Many of Ms. Newman’s colleagues observed a consistent practice of paying Black employees less than similarly situated white employees, and a near-total lack of Black representation in and very few women in the upper echelons of the group’s leadership,” the suit charges.

The culture fostered an environment where a coworker on a business trip in November 2019 told her “Oh my god, you like like a gorilla” when Newman was trying on a black jacket while out shopping with the colleague, the court papers allege.

Newman confronted the employee, and the person later apologized for the inappropriate comment, the suit says.

Newman’s supervisor also “used stereotypical racial tropes when criticizing her about how she speaks in meetings, calling her ‘aggressive,’ ‘too direct,’ and (shockingly) ‘just scary,’” the suit charges.

Newman also alleges she was sexually harassed and assaulted by a senior coworker in January 2018 while at a restaurant with a third employee — when the man put his hand on her lap under the table “close to her genitalia” and also grabbed and groped her upper thigh, the suit says.

Later that night, the man asked Newman to “go home with him to have sex,” the court papers charge.

Another time, the same colleague also “yanked on” her long braids when she was leaving a work gathering at a bar “telling her to stay or leave her hair behind — a particular insult for a black woman,” the court documents allege.

Newman reported the mistreatment to the company’s human resources department, but it didn’t update her or help any further, the suit claims.

In September 2019, Newman and other “demoralized” coworkers wrote a letter to Amazon on how to make the workplace more equitable for minorities, but the company hasn’t still hasn’t put any of the suggestions into place, the court documents claim.

While Amazon has released statements saying it supports the fight for social justice, including one it released after George Floyd’s death, “Behind closed doors, Amazon and its leadership are more focused on attacking black workers who speak up — and managing the public relations (‘PR’) fallout — than on addressing the conditions that led black employees to protest and file legal claims,” the suit charges.

“Sadly, despite its emphasis on innovation, Amazon still treats Black employees like second-class citizens by shutting them out of high-level corporate roles, paying them less than similarly situated white employees, and dismissing their concerns about equity and safety,” Newman’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, said in at statement.

Newman is suing Amazon, Amazon Web Services, Inc. and other employees for unspecified damages.

Amazon and AWS did not immediately return requests for comment.

Amazon has recently become embroiled in a court battle with New York Attorney General’s office last month, which sued the e-commerce giant over an alleged lack of safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to that case, Amazon sued the AG’s office, claiming its probe — which was prompted after Staten Island worker Chris Smalls protested working conditions during the pandemic — was an overstep of power.

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