Capitol chaos, Bitcoin surge, Neil Young and Iraq’s time keeper | Arts and Culture News


If you’ve felt like the first week of 2021 lasted seven years rather than seven days, you’re far from alone.

People around the world have been glued to their screens as scenes of chaos, violence and civil unrest unfolded in the United States Capitol Building during what was supposed to be a formality in certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Take a deep breath. You made it to Friday. Catch up on some of the biggest business and economic news stories you might have missed this week, then unplug your phone and go to bed early as your mom told you to.

35.2 million

The number of followers President Donald Trump has on his Facebook page, which the company’s CEO announced has been suspended “indefinitely” following the violence and chaos Trump incited at the Capitol Building on Wednesday.

“We believe the risks of allowing President Trump to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great, so we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday.

At least four people died in the post-election riots at the Capitol on Wednesday and dozens have been arrested.

Trump has frequently used social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to speak directly to his followers and issue policy decisions, in contrast with former US presidents. Twitter and Snap Inc, which owns Snapchat, temporarily locked the president’s accounts, and e-commerce giant Shopify removed Trump stores from its platform.

It’s the first time Trump is without his social media megaphone. Stay tuned.

787,000

The number of Americans who filed for initial jobless claims last week, a drop of only 3,000 from the previous week’s level, the US Department of Labor said on Thursday.

But despite the slight downturn, unemployment in the US remains stubbornly high as COVID-19 restrictions continue to hobble the jobs market recovery.

While weekly jobless claims – a proxy for layoffs – are well below their pandemic highs, they are still nearly four times greater than pre-pandemic levels, signalling the labour market still has a lot of healing to do.

Bitcoin has doubled its value in the last month alone, helping the cryptocurrency market surpass $1 trillion in value [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

$40,000

Wall Street didn’t seem to mind the chaos and bleak numbers, however. All three major US stock indices posted gain through to Thursday, and cryptocurrency Bitcoin soared above $40,000 for the first time ever.

Bitcoin has doubled its value in the last month alone, helping the cryptocurrency market surpass $1 trillion in value.

$2.5bn

Boeing agreed to pay more than $2.5bn to settle a criminal probe into its handling of safety issues with the 737 MAX, which was grounded after two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a combined 346 people.

As part of its settlement with the US Department of Justice, Boeing won’t have to plead guilty to criminal charges but will pay big. That includes $243.6m in criminal penalties, $1.77bn in compensation payments to airline customers and $500m into a fund it must create to support the heirs, relatives and legal beneficiaries of the passengers who were killed in the crashes.

50 percent

The share of his songbook Canadian rocker Neil Young sold to UK firm Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd, including hits like Heart of Gold. Young is the latest musician to sell some of his back catalogues as the pandemic continues to obliterate concert revenue.

Under the deal, which gives Hipgnosis half of the copyright and income interests from Young’s 1,180 songs, the company will be able to cash in every time someone streams one of Young’s most popular hits, Bloomberg News reported.

In December, rocker Bob Dylan sold his music rights to Universal Music Group Inc. But rock n’ roll isn’t dead — it might just need a stimulus plan of its own.

Youssef Abdelkarim presents an antique Omega pocket-watch as he sits at his workshop [File: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP]

Three

The number of generations of shopkeeper Youssef Abdelkarim’s family that have kept Baghdad running on time by fixing its citizens’ watches.

Abdelkarim began working in the shop with his father at the age of 11 and suspects his family may have even repaired a timepiece belonging to the country’s late dictator, Saddam Hussein.

“It was a rare watch brought to me by the presidential palace, with Saddam’s signature on the back,” he told the AFP news agency.

And while times have changed, some things simply never do.

“A man’s elegance begins with his watch. And his shoes,” he remarked.





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