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Coronavirus: Delta to extend caps on passenger numbers




The boss of Delta Airlines says the carrier will continue to limit the number of people on its planes beyond September.

So far the airline has been capping the numbers on board its flights to no more than 60% of capacity.

It is aiming to limit the spread of coronavirus and implement some form of social distancing.

Chief Executive Ed Bastian told the BBC that some of the details of the plan still need to be worked out.

He told the BBC: “We will be extending the cap on the planes post September, whether it’s 60% or a slightly higher number I don’t know, but yes we absolutely will.”

It’s significant because it means the world’s second-biggest airline by passenger numbers could well be running flights at a loss for a longer period of time.

Financial pressure

Data from the US Department of Transportation suggests that last year, Delta needed to fill 70.6% of the seats on its flights to cover its costs.

However airlines are now under even greater financial pressure, with planes sitting idle thanks to the huge fall in global demand for air travel.

Even those sitting on the tarmac cost their owners money, including through airport fees and maintenance costs.

Aviation analyst John Grant, from OAG, says that Delta is in a stronger position to break-even than its big US rivals American and United who need 78.6% and 73.8% capacity respectively to do so.

He explains that “those sort of break-evens are pretty typical around the globe”, adding that “2019 was a good year though, with the cost of fuel very low compared to recent years and it can obviously fluctuate based on a mix of those costs and revenues per passenger.”

American has not limited its capacity and United has a policy to allow passengers to choose to rebook on a different flight or receive a travel credit when flights are 70% full.

More routes are returning to Delta’s schedule, with the carrier this week becoming the first US airline to reintroduce flights to China after a row between Washington and Beijing.

‘Choppy recovery’

Nonetheless, Delta’s boss acknowledges that it’s not going to be straightforward to increase the number of passengers on each plane. With cases of Covid-19 now estimated to have passed 20 million in the United States, Mr Bastian says “of course” he is worried about a second wave of the outbreak.

“I’ve said throughout this pandemic that it’s going to be a choppy recovery, it’s going to be stops and starts and the virus is going to move, just as people move.”

Like other airlines, Delta has measures in place to try and protect those on board its planes.

Mr Bastian says, “We need to make certain that we take all precautions for our people, for our customers, reinforcing wearing masks, social distancing, keeping our planes only at 60% full, making certain every seat next to a customer is open, so you have space on board, and doing everything we can to be cautious in the face of the spread.

“Because until there is a vaccine it’s going to be very hard to see this industry back at scale.”

Mr Bastian concedes that the reduction in scale will mean cutting the number of staff, which is currently around 90,000.

Those roles are all protected until the end of September under the terms of a $5.4bn (£4.38bn) bailout plan funded by the US federal government.

But when the crunch comes Mr Bastian hopes that volunteers will make the process less painful.

Virgin deal

“We’re doing everything we can to hold on to as many jobs as possible, and while the job count will go down, our goal is to make it as voluntary for employees as we can”.

As the airline tries to map out its future, thousands have signed up for early retirement whilst 37,000 others are taking time off without pay, in periods ranging from 30 days to a year.

In recent years, Delta has pursued a strategy of growing through the acquisition of stakes in other airlines, including LATAM which has sought bankruptcy protection in the US, and China Eastern.

Virgin Atlantic, has already announced more than 3,000 job cuts and remains in financial difficulty, with previously lucrative transatlantic crossings struggling like other routes.

Delta owns 49% of Virgin, but Mr Bastian says it won’t be putting any more cash in and hopes to avoid administration.

Worst year

“We’re not planning on injecting additional capital into Virgin. We’re supporting them in doing everything we can, helping them through a restructuring, hopefully to avoid an in-court process, and I’m still optimistic, cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to get there”.

Aviation analyst Andrew Charlton isn’t as confident about Virgin Atlantic’s prospects saying that he will “watch the process with fascination”.

He adds that “the jury is still out on Delta’s international expansion because the pandemic means there is almost no international long-haul travel, which is normally quite profitable, and the airlines in which it has stakes don’t all have strong domestic networks to tap into”.

The global airline body IATA is forecasting the industry’s worst ever year with losses of more than $84bn.

But Mr Charlton thinks ultimately Delta is “well positioned” to weather the coronavirus storm compared to other carriers. This, he says is “thanks to a strong financial position and its US domestic position” which accounts for 70% of ticket sales.

You can watch Ed Bastian’s full interview on Talking Business with Aaron Heslehurst on BBC World News at Saturday 2330 GMT,



Could NFT auctions be moving away from Ethereum? One new group is betting they will




NFTs were arguably already taking off when Beeple sold his NFT artwork for $69m. But another crypto project attracted attention when it bought an original Banksy artwork for $95,000.

The group literally burnt the artwork and sold its NFT on the OpenSea platform for $400,000. Although the stunt was covered by CBS News, BBC News, The Guardian, and others, it did actually make a significant point.

By removing the physical piece, the group – calling itself “Burnt Banksy” – proved that the value of the piece wasn’t affected by being destroyed, given that the NFT went up so much in value.

Now that project is turning that stunt into an actual blockchain platform for art auctions.

Burnt Finance says it has raised $3 Million for a decentralized auction protocol built on the Solana blockchain.

The project is being incubated by Injective Protocol (which recently raised $10 from investors and Mark Cuban, as well as Multicoin, DeFiance, Alameda, Mechanism, Vessel Capital, Hashkey, Spartan, Do Kwon (CEO of Terra), Sandeep (COO of Polygon), and others.

The reason why it’s worth mentioning all this is that in trying to auction the painting, the Burnt Banksy group stumbled on an increasing problem in the world of NFTs: the rising congestion on the Ethereum network is leading to larger and larger gas fees. This is making both the creation and bidding on NFTs increasingly expensive, just from a baseline.

As a result, team decided to build the Burnt Finance NFT auction platform away from Etherum and hit upon the Solana blockchain, which has comparatively good speed, performance, and lower transaction costs. It will use ‘Solana Wormhole’ which connects ETH and ERC20 tokens to SPL Tokens.

A spokesperson for Burnt Finance, ‘Burnt Banksy’ told me: “Most auctions are Ethereum based, and currently the Ethereum gas fees are extremely high. It can cost you up to $70 to make an artwork, which doesn’t work if you’re selling an NFT for $50. We chose Solana mainly because of the ecosystem. It’s fast-growing, in addition to the technical aspect of it.”

There’s another reason why we may see other Crypto projects move away from Ethereum as ETH rises in price and as gas fees increase: the potential for bad faith actors in NFT auctions.

If a bad actor tries to leverage the congestion on Ethereum and manipulate the transaction fee, they might sway the results of an auction. This would be quite something, if the auction was for, say, $69 million…

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa

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Ledger Acknowledges Data Breach; Grayscale Hits ATH Numbers; Missing Cryptoqueen Podcast Returns!




TL;DR: Welcome to In Case You Missed It (ICYMI), a daily crypto news update. Ledger acknowledges customer data breach. Grayscale reaches ATH numbers. Coinbase to offer interest on Dai savings. Ethereum price hike causes GPU shortage. BBC podcast The Missing Cryptoqueen to continue, and Central Bank of Philippines considers issuing a digital currency.

Ledger Acknowledges Customer Data Breach


Ledger, one of the leading hardware wallet manufacturers, acknowledged it suffered a recent data breach that compromised customer information. The company announced this was the result of an exploit previously patched that was leveraged by an attacker to obtain customer’s email addresses, also first and last names, postal addresses, and phone number in some cases. More than 9,500 customers were affected, but Ledger claims neither payment information nor credentials were leaked.

Grayscale Hits ATH Numbers in Assets Under Management

The latest cryptocurrency market pump made institutional holders aware of the importance of it, and institution focused exchanges are profiting. Grayscale, the biggest cryptocurrency investment fund, reached ATH numbers of assets under management, $5.1 billion. This is in part because investors are paying premiums to enjoy these kinds of instruments. In just one day, the number of assets under management rose $300 million, according to updates offered by Grayscale’s Twitter account daily.

Coinbase to Offer Interest on Dai Savings


Coinbase, a normie friendly cryptocurrency exchange, announced it will start paying its customers 2% APY for saving in Dai, an Ethereum-based stablecoin. The company is rolling these changes in US, UK, Netherlands, Spain, France, and Australia. With interests offered by banks at absolute lows all around the world, Coinbase introduces these instruments as an attractive way of generating passive income with cryptocurrency assets. Coinbase also offers this kind of instrument for USDC, another stablecoin issued by the same exchange.

Ethereum Price Rise Creates GPU Shortages


The recent price hike experienced by Ethereum made people consider Ethereum mining as a considerable source of income, creating shortages in the availability of GPUs in the market. Nvidia, one of the leading GPU manufacturers, is also being blamed, in part because it is phasing out its latest graphics product (RTX 20 series) at the wrong time, among coronavirus pandemic woes. A miner manufacturer stated GPU companies “limit the mining industry’s procurement to avoid the impact on the subsequent consumer market.”

BBC Announces “The Missing CryptoQueen” Podcast Will Continue

BBC Sounds and Jamie Bartlett, the producer of The Missing Cryptoqueen podcast, that deals with the scam scheme of OneCoin, announced there will be a continuation of this podcast in the near future. “You didn’t think we were going to stop, did you?,” declares the new teaser posted on BBC Sounds. It that promises to reveal more of the secrets the OneCoin scam and its leader Ruja Ignatova, who took approximately $4 billion from investors all over the world, and disappeared without a trace back in 2017.

Philippines Considers to Issue Official Central Bank Digital Currency

The Central Bank of Philippines is considering issuance of an official central bank digital currency, according to reports from Bloomberg. The institution created a committee to research the feasibility of this idea and how it could be executed. “We have to first look at the findings of the group before making a decision,” declared Governor Benjamin Diokno in a virtual briefing. Philippines is just the last country to examine the possibility of the creation of a digital currency, while China is already in the testing stages.

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DYOR: CoinSpice is your home for just spicy crypto things. We’re not affiliated with any cryptocurrency project or token. Each published piece is intended for information purposes only, not investment advice and not in the hope of impacting speculative markets. There are plenty of trading sites and coin-specific advocacy journals out there, we’re neither. CoinSpice strives for rigorous accuracy in our reporting. Information presented here is contingent usually on a host of factors, and the ecosystem moves fast — prices change, projects change, and at warp speed. Do your own research.


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News outlets will digitally watermark content to limit misinformation




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BRAZIL - 2020/06/15: In this photo illustration the Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone and a red alerting word "FAKE NEWS" on the blurred background. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images via Getty Images

In the run-up to the 2020 US election, a group of major media organizations will once again work together to try and clamp down on fake news. The Trusted News Initiative (TNI) is a coalition of blue-chip publishers and Microsoft which have pledged to work together to tackle disinformation. And, this year, the team will try using a new verification technology, dubbed Project Origin, to try and watermark legitimate content. That way, it’s hoped, scammers can’t mock up a headline and pass it off as real news as easily as they once did.

“Brand marks, styles and other traditional indicators of trust,” says the BBC in a statement, “they are no longer enough to ensure content legitimacy.” That’s why Project Origin will attach a “digital watermark” to stories from TNI partners that shows them that the news has come from an official source. The idea is both to help people find trusted news, but also to filter out faked content. Unfortunately, there’s no word on how this will work yet — the standards for Project Origin have yet to be published.

TNI Members include the BBC, NYT, CBC and the WSJ as well as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, with the AP and Washington Post joining this year. It’s likely that Google and Facebook will have to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility after being willing incubators of fake news for so long. Sadly, Project Origin isn’t going to be standard from now on, and instead will run in the month just before the 2020 election. That means that malign actors have got from now until early October to get their material in front of people. 

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Stephanie Winston Wolkoff: Melania Trump’s former aide to publish book




A former aide to Melania Trump has written a memoir about her 15-year friendship with the US first lady.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s book, Melania and Me, is due out on 1 September.

In 2018, Ms Winston Wolkoff was reportedly forced out of the White House, amid allegations that she had been profiteering from President Trump’s inauguration.

But the former aide has said she was “thrown under the bus”.

She denied claims her company received $26 million (£20 million) in payments to help plan the 2017 ceremony and surrounding events, saying her firm “retained a total of $1.62 million”.

“In her memoir, Wolkoff chronicles her journey from their friendship that started in New York to her role as the First Lady’s trusted advisor to her abrupt and very public departure, to life after Washington,” according to a description of the book published by Vanity Fair.

The book, which will be on sale ahead of the November presidential election – when Mr Trump will take on Democrat nominee Joe Biden, is the latest controversial memoir involving the Trumps.

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book, The Room Where It Happened, portrays a president ignorant of basic geopolitical facts and whose decisions were frequently driven by a desire for re-election.

He accuses Mr Trump of wanting help from China to win re-election, while offering approval for China’s plan to build forced-labour camps for its Muslim Uighur minority. He also backs up Democrat allegations that sparked impeachment efforts against the president.

Meanwhile, the president’s niece, Mary Trump, is due to publish Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man later this month.

An Amazon blurb for the book says the author will set out how her uncle “became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security and social fabric”.

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