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Mainstream U.S. religious leaders criticize Trump after church photo

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mainstream U.S. Protestant and Catholic leaders sharply criticized President Donald Trump on Tuesday, a day after peaceful protesters were forcibly displaced for a staged presidential photo in front of a church near the White House.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a Bible during a photo opportunity in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in the midst of ongoing protests over racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, outside the White House in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Trump won the 2016 presidential election with strong support from white Catholics and evangelical Christians. Just months ahead of the November elections, when he hopes to win a second term, Trump has been trying to appeal to those voters with the photo in front of the Episcopal church, a visit Tuesday to a shrine to Pope John Paul II, and an executive order directing U.S. agencies to “protect” religious freedom overseas.

But religious leaders have condemned the administration’s treatment of Americans protesting the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American who died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.

Police on horseback and armed soldiers on Monday evening used tear gas and rubber bullets to push protesters back before Trump walked from the White House across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been damaged by fire amid protests on Sunday evening. In front of the church, Trump held up a Bible.

Trump has called for state governors to crack down on the thousands protesting Floyd’s death around the country, and threatened here to send in the U.S. military.

John Paul, the head of the Catholic church for nearly 40 years, would “not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the top Catholic leader in the nation’s capital, said in a statement Tuesday.

Hundreds of shouting protesters lined the street near the monument to the pope, holding signs that read, “Racist in Chief,” “Trump Mocks Christ” and “Our Church is not a Photo Op.”

Susan Gunn, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, a Catholic group that helped organize the protest, said she was disappointed that Trump had not used either occasion to try to bring people together.

“Our society’s splintering. We are in the middle of a pandemic with 100,000 dead,” she said speaking of the coronavirus outbreak, which she noted has disproportionately affected people of color.

“President Trump identifies himself as a Christian and avid reader of the Bible. And I just call him and all of our hurting communities to remember the great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself,” Gunn said.

Bishop Michael Curry, the chief pastor and chief executive of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, also criticized Trump for using a church building and the Bible for partisan purposes.

“We need our president, and all who hold office, to be moral leaders,” he said in a statement. “For the sake of George Floyd, for all who have wrongly suffered, and for the sake of us all, we need leaders to help us to be ‘one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.’”

Trump won strong support from white evangelical Christians in the 2016 presidential election, while white Catholics backed him by 60%, according to Pew Research Center.

Elizabeth Eaton, the presiding bishop for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, condemned Trump’s decision to use the Catholic shrine as a political backdrop.

“Denouncing this outrage cannot, however, distract us from the deep wounds of structural racism and white supremacy that have been reopened by the killing of George Floyd,” she said in a statement.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Makini Brice; Editing by Leslie Adler

Source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/topNews/~3/Q9VjeBRptSc/mainstream-u-s-religious-leaders-criticize-trump-after-church-photo-idUSKBN23A03W

Blockchain

India to have a ‘window’ for Bitcoin, says minister amid crypto ban FUD

The Ministry of Finance of India continues to form a careful position on private cryptocurrencies.

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The minister of finance of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has given a ray of hope for the Indian cryptocurrency community as more fear, uncertainty and doubt circulate regarding a supposedly impending ban on digital assets. 

In a Saturday interview with India Today, Sitharaman emphasized that the ministry does not plan to shut off Indian innovations associated with Bitcoin (BTC) and its underlying blockchain technology.

“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options off. We will allow certain windows for people use, so that experiments on the blockchain, Bitcoins or cryptocurrency […] and fintech, which depend on such experiments, will have that window available for them. We are not going to shut it off,” she said.

Sitharaman said that the ministry is finalizing a cabinet note on crypto as India continues formulating its official stance on the asset class. “It is nearing completion, and then it will be taken to the cabinet. The Supreme Court had commented on cryptocurrency. We are very clear that the Reserve Bank of India will take a call on an official cryptocurrency,” she said.

After India’s supreme court lifted a crypto banking ban one year ago, reports of a new ban started circulating in early 2021. In February, another anonymous Indian official claimed that the government was about to introduce a complete ban on crypto, giving investors up to six months to liquidate their holdings.

On Sunday, Reuters published a report citing an anonymous senior government official who claimed that India is preparing to enforce a blanket ban on crypto and impose major penalties on rule-breakers. As part of an alleged bill, India is planning to criminalize “possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring crypto-assets,” the source claimed.

Despite reports of a ban from anonymous sources continuing to surface, Sitharaman said in early March that the ministry wants to form a “calibrated” stance on digital assets. 

Nischal Shetty, founder of local crypto exchange WazirX, seemed optimistic about Sitharaman’s comments in a tweet, stating that it is time for the Indian crypto community to build. 

The RBI and the Ministry of Finance did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

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Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/india-to-have-a-window-for-bitcoin-says-minister-amid-crypto-ban-fud

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Reuters

Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The blank check firm co-founded by one of the most prominent U.S. financial technology investment bankers will broaden its search for merger partners to companies worth up to $10 billion after pricing a larger initial public offering (IPO).

Steve McLaughlin started FT Partners in 2001 and since then, the fintech-focused investment bank has worked on mergers and acquisitions and public and private fundraising for the likes of BlackRock Inc, StoneCo Ltd and GreenSky Inc.

An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, McLaughlin and FT Partners have also been involved in advising a half-dozen firms in mergers with so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), most recently mobile bank MoneyLion’s $2.9 billion combination with Fusion Acquisition Corp.

Alongside Gene Yoon, founder of technology-focused investment firm Bregal Sagemount, McLaughlin is now sponsoring his own SPAC. Independence Holdings Corp. priced a $435 million IPO on Monday, having increased the number of units sold due to investor demand.

SPACs are shell companies that raise funds from investors to take a private company public.

Pulling in extra cash and fully exercising the greenshoe, a share allotment potentially sold in the days after an IPO prices, McLaughlin told Reuters on Tuesday, will allow Independence to target larger fintech companies, beyond the $5 billion maximum size previously considered.

He added a deal involving a company that processes payments between businesses, or one providing financial management services, would be likely for Independence.

“We provide an incredibly attractive option for a company as we’ve successfully taken many companies through this complex process, so we can give comfort to founders and investors along the way,” McLaughlin said.

Despite heightened investor interest in cryptocurrencies, McLaughlin said Independence wouldn’t be investing in a firm in that industry because most businesses are still too early in their development.

He added it was highly unlikely that Independence would end up merging with a client of his investment bank.

Source: Reuters – Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO

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Reuters

Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC – source

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(Reuters) – Former Walt Disney Co executives Kevin Mayer and Thomas Staggs plan to raise $300 million in an initial public offering for a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The duo’s first SPAC, Forest Road Acquisition Corp, agreed a three-way merger last week with fitness companies Beachbody LLC and Myx Fitness LLC that was valued at around $2.9 billion.

Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who is also on the board of directors at pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc, and Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, are working for Forest Road II as a strategic advisor and a director, respectively, the source said.

Mayer and Staggs will serve as co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the new SPAC, the source said. They had worked with the first Forest Road SPAC as a strategic advisor and director, respectively.

The source requested anonymity ahead of a regulatory disclosure on the SPAC IPO.

Mayer was Disney’s top streaming executive before he left the media giant last year to become the chief executive of popular video app TikTok. He departed the company three months after joining. Staggs worked at Disney for 26 years and held various roles including chief operating officer.

SPACs are shell companies that raise funds to take a private company public. They have gained immense popularity since last year, as they allow companies to go public by eschewing traditional IPOs.

A string of high-profile SPACs have been raised in the last 12 months, including by financial investors William Ackman and Barry Sternlicht, former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Source: Reuters – Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC-source

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Reuters

Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues

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(Reuters) – Companies raised $546 billion from new bond and share issues in January, as a flood of central bank money-printing and recovering stock markets brought record numbers of new listings, SPAC deals and share sales, Refinitiv data showed on Wednesday.

The numbers included $106.15 billion in initial public offerings (IPOs), SPACs and secondary offerings, with the amount of money raised by SPACs alone soaring 20 times to $24.26 billion from a year earlier, the data showed.

Companies also raised nearly $439.9 billion in corporate debt in January, a 5% fall since the same period last year, but still the second largest January in 25 years.

A SPAC, a shell company that raises money in an IPO before later merging with a privately held company to take the latter public, has become many investors structure of choice over the past year.

January’s haul was already 30% of a total $79 billion raised by SPACs in the whole of 2020.

Traditional IPO volumes in the United States, however, remained higher than SPACs in January, hitting a 25-year high of $33.9 billion.

Some 47% new bond and share issues were U.S. offerings in January this year, with China second with $23.96 billion.

Nasdaq was the clear winner among exchanges, with 167 issues raising $41.12 billion, followed by the New York Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Exchange a close third, with both raking in a little more than $18 billion respectively.

That was in stark contrast to European financial hubs London and Frankfurt, which raised $4.29 billion and $1.72 billion respectively.

Chinese online video company Kuaishou Technology is the biggest IPO globally so far this year, raising $5.42 billion in Hong Kong, followed by Polish parcel locker business InPost SA which raised $3.40 billion in Amsterdam.

Source: Reuters – Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues

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