Banking system: Why is the Fed pumping money?

Banking system: Why is the Fed pumping money?

The US central bank has pumped more than $200bn (£160bn) into the banking system  this week – the first time there’s been such an intervention since 2008.

The Federal Reserve’s aim was to stabilise what is usually a calm part of the market.

Interest rates in the so-called “repo market” had shot up to 10% in some cases – although the cost of borrowing in that market more typically hovers around the benchmark rate set by the Fed – around 2%.

So what happened and should we worry?

First things first: what’s the repo market?
Banks, hedge funds and other players borrow money regularly on a short-term basis to ensure their books are in order, no matter what their daily activities.

The borrowers typically offer government bonds or other high quality assets as collateral, which they repurchase, plus interest, when they repay the loan – often the next day.

Those repurchase agreements give the repo market its name.

What happened this week?
This is a huge market, with some $3tn changing hands each day, according to the US Office of Financial Research.

Under normal conditions, interest rates in the repo market are low, since the loans are considered safe and there’s plenty of cash on hand.

But this week the cost of borrowing shot up – toward 10% in some cases. And the rate at which banks lend to each other – the Fed’s benchmark – exceeded 2.25%, the top of its desired range. Full Story

 

Climate strike: What US children are sacrificing for the cause

Young people poured on to the streets of cities across the world on Friday, to try to force political leaders to act over climate change.

But they aren’t just leaving it to the politicians – in New York City, activists explained what they were doing in their own lives to help. Full Story

 

Walmart ceases e-cigarette sales

Walmart has said it will no longer sell e-cigarettes in the US, amid mounting calls to ban the products entirely.

The retailer said its decision was due to “uncertainty” about the rules governing e-cigarettes, which US health authorities have linked to more than 500 cases of lung injury.

US President Donald Trump last week said the US would prohibit sales of all flavoured e-cigarettes. Full Story

 

Justin Trudeau: Canada PM seeks to put blackface scandal behind him

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sought to put the blackface scandal behind him with an announcement on gun control as he seeks re-election.

Flanked by cabinet ministers he said his party would ban military-style assault rifles if they win next month.

His campaign went into damage control on Wednesday night following the publication of a photo of Mr Trudeau wearing brownface at a costume gala. Full Story

 

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Originally posted 2019-09-21 09:07:34.

Brexit Boris Johnson prime minister ‘s 12 December election

Brexit Boris Johnson prime minister

Brexit Boris Johnson prime minister ‘s 12 December election plan has cleared its first hurdle as MPs backed it.

They are continuing to debate and will vote later on amendments, including a Labour proposal to change the date to 9 December.

The prime minister can only hold an election with the support of MPs – who have blocked it three times.

Efforts by opposition MPs to lower the voting age to 16 and allow EU nationals to take part have failed.

Proposed changes to the PM’s early election bill to extend voting rights were not selected for debate by the Deputy Speaker despite enjoying cross-party support.
It removes one major potential obstacle to a pre-Christmas poll as No 10 had said it would abandon the legislation needed for it if the franchise was altered at such a late stage.

One proposed change that will be considered is a call by Labour – backed by the other opposition parties – to hold the poll three days earlier on 9 December.

This, they argue, would ensure that university students are more likely to be able to take part because it would still be in term time.

MPs will vote on this amendment and one calling for the poll to be pushed back to 20 May before being asked to give their final approval to a 12 December poll at about 20:00 GMT. Full Story

 

Boeing accused of putting profit before safety by Senators

US lawmakers have accused Boeing of engaging in a “pattern of deliberate concealment” as it sought approval for its 737 Max 8 plane to fly.

The accusation came as Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg was quizzed by the Senate Commerce Committee.

Senators said they had serious concerns that Boeing put profits over safety as it rushed to get clearance. Full Story

 

Philippines hit by deadly earthquake in south

The death toll from an earthquake in the southern Philippines has risen to seven, officials said, with many more injured.

The victims included a seven-year-old boy and his 44-year-old father who died after they were struck by a boulder, officials told the Reuters news agency. Full Story

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Area 51: Storming of secretive Nevada base

Area 51: Storming of secretive Nevada base

Fears that thousands of people could storm Area 51 on Friday were unfounded, with just several dozen arriving at the secretive US military base.

Millions had responded to a Facebook post in June calling for people to raid the facility in Nevada on 20 September to “see them aliens”.

But nobody attempted to enter the site and only one person was arrested – for urinating near the gate.

Area 51 has long been rumoured to house secrets about extraterrestrial life.
Why are people talking about Area 51?
In June, Matty Roberts, a student from California, posted a tongue-in-cheek Facebook event inviting people to charge at the base in large enough numbers to bypass security.

Within days of its launch, the event became a viral sensation, making headlines across the world. More than three million people expressed an interest in taking part.
The US Air Force warned that Area 51 was “an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces”.

What happened on Friday?
Not a lot.

Despite much anticipation surrounding the event, only around 75 people turned up at the front gate and nobody attempted to enter.

The only person to be arrested was a man caught urinating near the entrance and a woman was detained for an undisclosed reason, Associated Press reported.
The “raid” was more of a small-scale celebration, with enthusiasts dressing up and holding placards. Full Story

 

Saudi Arabia oil attacks: US to send troops to Saudi Arabia

The US has announced plans to send forces to Saudi Arabia in the wake of attacks against the country’s oil infrastructure.

Secretary of Defence Mark Esper told reporters the deployment would be “defensive in nature”. Total troop numbers have not yet been decided.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have said they were behind the attacks against two oil facilities last week. Full Story

 

Climate protests: Marches worldwide against global warming

Millions of people around the world held a global climate strike on Friday, inspired by activist Greta Thunberg.

Protesters across continents waved placards and chanted slogans in what could be the biggest ever demonstration over global warming caused by humans.

“Our house is on fire”, Ms Thunberg said at a rally. “We will not just stand aside and watch.”

The day began in the Pacific and Asia and culminated in a massive demonstration in New York. Full Story

 

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Originally posted 2019-09-21 08:42:52.

Politics and Technology

politics and technology

China speeds ahead of U.S. as quantum race escalates, worrying scientists

U.S. and other Western scientists voice awe, and even alarm, at China’s quickening advances and spending on quantum communications and computing, revolutionary technologies that could give a huge military and commercial advantage to the nation that conquers them. The concerns echo — although to a lesser degree — the shock in the West six decades ago when the Soviets launched the Sputnik satellite, sparking a space race. In quick succession, China in recent months has utilized a quantum satellite to transmit ultra-secure data, inaugurated a 1,243-mile quantum link between Shanghai and Beijing, and announced a $10 billion quantum computing center. “To me, what is alarming is the level of coordination of what they’ve done,” said Christopher Monroe, a physicist and pioneer in quantum communication at the University of Maryland. Full Story

Another confirmation that China is destined to be new the powerhouse and will probably hold this title for over 100 years after it moves to the top spot. China has focussed on developing trade; their second focus has been their military as they are primarily merchants at heart. They are going to win this battle for one reason; at the end of the day, they are going to have the biggest purse. As the saying goes “money talks and BS walks.

 

Xi Tells Zuckerberg and Cook China’s Set for ‘Unprecedented’ Reform

Chinese President Xi Jinping used a meeting with Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg and Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook to announce that his nation is embarking on reform with “unprecedented determination and vigor.”

Less than a week into his second five-year term at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy, Xi’s remarks may underscore a shift toward loosening of restrictions on doing business in China. The nation is “willing to work with the U.S.,” Xi said, according to an official Xinhua report, adding that he’s looking forward to President Donald Trump’s visit next week.

Though use of Facebook’s social networking platform is blocked in China, the leadership from Xi down have increased pledges to open up to foreign companies across the economy. Xi was speaking at an event with overseas members of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management advisory board on Monday.

“China is willing to work with the US, to take a long-term perspective, care for each other’s mutual interests, and appropriately handle disagreements and contradictions,” Xi said. “We have an optimistic attitude toward the prospects for China-U.S. relations.” Full Story

This is the trend we have been speaking off for a while and which we just addressed in the last interim update. Asia led by China will move and more towards the direction of free markets and freedom, while the US will and the West will seek to restrain the populace.

 

The New Silk Road will go through Syria

Take what happened this past Sunday in Beijing. The China-Arab Exchange Association and the Syrian Embassy organized a Syria Day Expo crammed with hundreds of Chinese specialists in infrastructure investment. It was a sort of mini-gathering of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), billed as “The First Project Matchmaking Fair for Syria Reconstruction”.

And there will be serious follow-ups: a Syria Reconstruction Expo; the 59th Damascus International Fair next month, where around 30 Arab and foreign nations will be represented; and the China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui province, in September.

Amid the proverbial doom and gloom pervading all things Syria, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune sometimes yield, well, good fortune.

Take what happened this past Sunday in Beijing. The China-Arab Exchange Association and the Syrian Embassy organized a Syria Day Expo crammed with hundreds of Chinese specialists in infrastructure investment. It was a sort of mini-gathering of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), billed as “The First Project Matchmaking Fair for Syria Reconstruction”.

And there will be serious follow-ups: a Syria Reconstruction Expo; the 59th Damascus International Fair next month, where around 30 Arab and foreign nations will be represented; and the China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui province, in September.

Qin Yong, deputy chairman of the China-Arab Exchange Association, announced that Beijing plans to invest $2 billion in an industrial park in Syria for 150 Chinese companies.

Nothing would make more sense. Before the tragic Syrian proxy war, Syrian merchants were already incredibly active in the small-goods Silk Road between Yiwu and the Levant. The Chinese don’t forget that Syria controlled overland access to both Europe and Africa in ancient Silk Road times when, after the desert crossing via Palmyra, goods reached the Mediterranean on their way to Rome. After the demise of Palmyra, a secondary road followed the Euphrates upstream and then through Aleppo and Antioch.

Beijing always plans years ahead. And the government in Damascus is implicated at the highest levels. So, it’s not an accident that Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Moustapha had to come up with the clincher: China, Russia and Iran will have priority over anyone else for all infrastructure investment and reconstruction projects when the war is over. Full Story

Read this story in Detail for it provides some of the reasons of why America has lost its place in the Middle East and why Syria was Russia’s red line in the sand.  Most importantly, it reveals how strong the relationship between China and Russia is and why these two nations are set to dominate the world stage for decades to come.

Originally posted 2018-06-13 12:13:43.

Elizabeth Warren nabs 2020 backing of Iowa’s state treasurer

Elizabeth Warren

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has announced the endorsement of one of Iowa’s last two uncommitted Democratic elected officials, state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald.

“She’s the one I think can address the biggest problems we have, and that is the hollowing out of the middle class,” Fitzgerald said in an interview with The Associated Press. “She’s clear, you understand her message, and I want her fighting for me and all of us.”

Fitzgerald was an early supporter of then-Sen. Barack Obama, who went on to win the presidency. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller also supported Obama but is endorsing Montana Gov. Steve Bullock for 2020. Iowa’s last remaining uncommitted statewide elected Democrat is Auditor Rob Sand.

Asked what stood out about Warren in a field of Democrats often aligned on key issues, Fitzgerald declared that Warren “is a Democrat, she is a capitalist, and she wants to make our system work.” He said he’d do whatever the Warren campaign needed to help her win the caucuses.

Warren’s organization is seen as one of the strongest in Iowa, but compared with the other top-tier contenders in the field Warren has been relatively slow to roll out endorsements in the state. After a trickle of endorsement announcements, her first major haul of supporters in Iowa came out just last week, after her strong performance in the primary debate in Houston.

Fitzgerald marks Warren’s 25th Iowa endorsement and her sixth endorsement from an Iowa elected official. Full Story

 

Jimmy Carter says he couldn’t have managed presidency at 80

ATLANTA (AP) — Weeks shy of his 95th birthday, former President Jimmy Carter said he doesn’t believe he could have managed the most powerful office in the world at 80 years old.

Carter, who earlier this year became the longest-lived chief executive in American history, didn’t tie his comments to any of his fellow Democrats running for president in 2020, but two leading candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, would turn 80 during their terms if elected. Full Story

 

Sri Lankan doctors strike over salary ‘injustice’

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Doctors at state-run hospitals across Sri Lanka began a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, demanding that the government resolve what they say is a salary “injustice.”

Two years ago, the government gave an unusually high salary increase to legal officers in the government sector, creating what Dr. Haritha Aluthge, secretary of the Government Medical Officers Association, called “a severe injustice to doctors and other professionals.” Full Story

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Originally posted 2019-09-18 10:25:24.

Brexit news: Talks ‘should not be a pretence’ warns Barnier

Brexit news: Talks 'should not be a pretence' warns Barnier

Brexit news: The UK and EU “should not pretend to be negotiating” a Brexit  deal if there are no new proposals on the table, the EU’s chief negotiator has said.

Michel Barnier said the UK telling the EU what it does not like about the current agreement was “not enough”.

He cast doubt on two ideas put forward by the UK – a single all-Ireland zone for agriculture and livestock and a Northern Irish veto over EU rules.

Boris Johnson has said there is a “landing zone” for an agreement.

He has said a deal is possible at a crucial summit of EU leaders on 17 October – although ministers have said they are reluctant to reveal the details of new proposals in advance for fear they will be “rubbished” by the EU.
Mr Johnson has insisted he will not accept a further delay beyond 31 October despite MPs passing a law requiring him to seek an extension if there is no deal by 19 October.

After meeting Mr Barnier and Mr Juncker in Luxembourg on Monday, Mr Johnson said the process of trying to get a deal on the terms of exit would be accelerated.

‘Not enough’
Briefing the European Parliament, Mr Juncker said the lunch had been “friendly and constructive” but there had been no progress on the main sticking point – the UK’s demand that the Northern Irish backstop should be removed from the current agreement. Full Story

 

Live facial recognition surveillance ‘must stop’

UK police and companies must stop using live facial recognition for public surveillance, politicians and campaigners have said.

The technology allows faces captured on CCTV to be checked in real time against watch lists, often compiled by police.

Privacy campaigners say it is inaccurate, intrusive and infringes on an individual’s right to privacy. Full Story

 

Inside Afghanistan’s ‘no-man’s land’

Earlier this year the UN released data showing that more civilians were killed by allies than insurgents in Afghanistan.

The BBC has gained incredibly rare access to Taliban-controlled territory, in Faryab province, to meet those civilians most at risk. Full Story

 

Israel election: Netanyahu and rival headed for deadlock

Unofficial results in Israel’s second election in five months suggest it is too close to call, Israeli media say.

Incumbent PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s party and that of his main challenger, Benny Gantz, are neck and neck with 32 seats each, the Kan public broadcaster says.

A prime minister needs to command a 61-seat majority in parliament. The smaller Yisrael Beiteinu party appears to hold the balance of power.

Official partial results are expected on Wednesday morning. Full Story

 

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Originally posted 2019-09-18 10:15:05.

Trump Syria: US cedes region to Russia

Trump Syria: US cedes region to Russia

Trump Syria: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared success in Syria and created a bumper-sticker moment to illustrate his campaign promise to put a stop to American involvement in “endless wars.”

But with his abrupt withdrawal from what he called “bloodstained sand,” the Republican president ceded American influence over a huge swath of the region to rivals and may have spun the Middle East into a new season of uncertainty.

In remarks at the White House, Trump made the case that American administrations before him wasted too much money and blood on sectarian and tribal fighting in which the U.S. had no place meddling.

“We have spent $8 trillion on wars in the Middle East, never really wanting to win those wars,” Trump said Wednesday. “But after all that money was spent, and all those lives lost, the young men and women, gravely wounded so many, the Middle East is less safe, less stable and less secure than before these conflicts began.”

But analysts and lawmakers said Trump declared victory for a crisis along the border of Turkey and Syria that was arguably of his own making, while underplaying the reality that he has strengthened the hand of Russia.

Critics also say the move will roll back advances made by U.S.-led forces in the fight against the Islamic State group. Full Story

 

Ukrainian leader felt Trump pressure before taking office

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — More than two months before the phone call that launched the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Ukraine’s newly elected leader was already worried about pressure from the U.S. president to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy gathered a small group of advisers on May 7 in Kyiv for a meeting that was supposed to be about his nation’s energy needs. Instead, the group spent most of the three-hour discussion talking about how to navigate the insistence from Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for a probe and how to avoid becoming entangled in the American elections, according to three people familiar with the details of the meeting. Full Story

 

The Latest: Police: 39 dead in UK truck were from China

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the death of 39 people found in a truck container in southeastern England (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

British police have confirmed that 39 people found dead in a container truck near an English port were Chinese citizens.

The Essex Police force says the dead found Wednesday in the southeastern city of Grays included 31 men and eight women. The force says one victim previously thought to be a teenager was a young adult woman.

The 25-year-old truck driver, who is from Northern Ireland, is being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder but has not been charged. Police in Northern Ireland have searched three properties there as they try to reconstruct the path of the truck and the victims’ final journey. Full Story

 

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Francisco Franco exhumation: Spanish dictator’s remains being moved

Francisco Franco exhumation

Francisco Franco ‘s remains of Spanish dictator are being moved from a vast mausoleum to a low-key grave, 44 years after his elaborate funeral.

Thursday’s long-awaited relocation fulfils a key pledge of the socialist government, which said Spain should not continue to glorify a fascist who ruled the country for nearly four decades.

His family unsuccessfully challenged the reburial in the courts.

The Franco era continues to haunt Spain, now a robust democracy.

Family members are present to witness the ceremony at the Valley of the Fallen, a national monument and basilica carved into a mountain about 50km (30 miles) from Madrid that was built in the Franco era.

The remains will be moved by helicopter.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the exhumation was “a great victory for dignity, memory, justice and reparation – and thus for Spanish democracy”.
Only a few people are being allowed to attend the event, which is taking place under high security. They include the justice minister, an expert in forensics, a priest and 22 descendants of Francisco Franco. Media are excluded but more than 200 journalists are near the site.

As part of the ceremony, a crane will need to lift a concrete slab weighing 1,500kg that covers the coffin. In total, the exhumation and re-burial will cost about €63,000 (£54,000; $70,000).

Why is Franco being moved? Full Story

Inside Bosnia’s ‘nightmare’ camp for migrants trying to enter the EU

Aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian disaster in Bosnia, with people facing a winter without proper accommodation.

Bosnia is now a major route into the EU – 45,000 migrants have arrived in the country since the start of 2018. Full Story

Leonardo da Vinci five centuries on: Louvre in Paris opens long-awaited exhibition

It took more than a decade to prepare and was almost thwarted by a diplomatic row. Now, one of the world’s most expensive art exhibitions – to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death – is finally opening to the public.

The Louvre museum in Paris, home to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, opens its doors on Thursday to a display of more than 160 Renaissance-era paintings and drawings, some of which are on loan from Queen Elizabeth II and Bill and Melinda Gates. Full Story

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Huawei ban – emerging as stronger tech competitor

Huawei ban emerging as stronger tech competitor

Facing US ban, Huawei emerging as stronger tech competitor

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Long before President Donald Trump threatened to cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. technology, the Chinese telecom equipment maker was pouring money into research that reduces its need for American suppliers.

Huawei’s founder says instead of crippling the company, the export curbs are making it a tougher competitor by forcing managers to focus resources on their most important products.

Little-known to Americans, Huawei Technologies Ltd. is the No. 2 smartphone brand worldwide and the biggest maker of switching gear at the heart of phone networks. Its equipment is used by 45 of the 50 biggest global phone carriers.

Huawei is a pioneer in the emerging field of next-generation, or 5G, telecoms. It promises not just faster internet but support for self-driving cars and other futuristic applications. That fuels Western security concerns and makes 5G politically sensitive. The U.S. claims the company might aid Chinese spying, though Huawei denies that and American officials have provided no evidence.

Huawei needs some American innovations, especially Google services used on Android phones, but industry experts say the company is increasingly self-sufficient after spending 485 billion yuan ($65 billion) on research and development over the past decade.
“They have a strategy to become completely independent from U.S. technology. And in many areas they have become independent,” said Bengt Nordstrom of North Stream, a research firm in Stockholm. Full Story

 

Protest likely to greet Trump fundraising trip in California

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — President Donald Trump is making a rare visit to California, a Democratic stronghold where he is expected to rake in millions of dollars during a series of fundraisers for his reelection effort that are almost certain to be met with jeering protests.

Trump has routinely mocked California over its liberal culture, policies and politics. His visit Tuesday and Wednesday signals that despite the state’s decidedly leftward swing in recent years there are still plenty of wealthy Republicans who support him. Full Story

 

Iran’s supreme leader: No talks with the US at any level

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader announced on Tuesday that “there will be no talks with the U.S. at any level” — remarks apparently meant to end all speculation about a possible U.S.-Iran meeting between the two countries’ presidents at the U.N. later this month.

Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying this is the position of the entire leadership of the country and that “all officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe” this.

“There will be no talks with the U.S. at any level,” he said. Full Story

 

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Originally posted 2019-09-17 10:55:53.

Trudeau news: Liberals win in Canada election, but…

Canada election: Trudeau's Liberals win but lose majority

Trudeau news: Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party has retained power in a narrow Canadian election win but he will now be prime minister of a minority government.

The Liberals are projected to win 157 seats, 13 short of a majority, and will find it harder to pass legislation in Mr Trudeau’s second term.

The opposition Conservatives are expected to win the popular vote but have not translated that into seats.

They are projected to take 121, up from the 95 they held before.
Although Monday night’s results saw a sharp decline in seats for the country’s left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), its leader, Jagmeet Singh, could become the kingmaker.

The NDP is projected to take 24 seats in the 338-seat parliament.

Quebec’s separatist party, the Bloc Québécois, which competes only in that province, fared much better. It is expected to take 32 seats, compared to the 10 it won in 2015.

Turnout is currently listed at 66%.

The federal election was seen as a referendum on Mr Trudeau, who had a bumpy first term, tainted by scandal.

Mr Trudeau told cheering supporters in Montreal that voters had “rejected division and negativity… and they rejected cuts and austerity and voted in favour of a progressive agenda and strong action on climate change”.

He said: “Thank you for having faith in us to move our country in the right direction.”

And to those who did not back him, he promised his party would govern for everyone. Full Story

 

The Kenyan ghost writers doing ‘lazy’ Western students’ work

University students in Europe and the US are paying Kenyans to do their academic work for them.

The global market for academic writing is estimated to be worth $1bn (£770m) annually.

For some, ghost-writing university essays for students who don’t have the time or desire to do them can be lucrative, especially in countries with high unemployment among young graduates. Full Story

 

The race to build a flying electric taxi

For any commuter the prospect of being whisked to and from work in a fraction of the time it usually takes is pretty irresistible.

No traffic jams, no train delays and no cold platforms – what’s not to love?

This is the promise of more than a hundred companies developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Full Story

 

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