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Explainer: Why the Unification Church has become a headache for Japan’s Kishida

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Why the Unification Church has become a headache for Japan's Kishida
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TOKYO, Aug 10 (Reuters) – Japan’s Fumio Kishida is expected to reshuffle his cabinet on Wednesday, as his party’s ties to the Unification Church have dented public support following the assassination of former premier Shinzo Abe last month.

Abe’s suspected killer bore a grudge against the church, alleging it bankrupted his mother, and blamed Abe for promoting it, according to his social media posts and news reports.

Around a dozen other lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have since disclosed connections to the church, which critics call a cult.

The church has confirmed the suspected gunman’s mother was a member. It says it has been vilified and members have faced death threats since Abe’s shooting.

Here’s why the church is an issue.

WHAT’S THE BACKGROUND?

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, known as the Unification Church, was founded in South Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, an anti-communist and self-declared messiah.

Japan was one of the first destinations in its international expansion, where Moon’s conservatism aligned with the Cold War views of the ruling elite.

He launched the International Federation for Victory Over Communism group in the 1960s, building relations with Japanese politicians, according to church publications.

WHY THE LDP?

The church and the LDP share some views, opposing same-sex marriage and supporting revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution, said Eito Suzuki, a journalist who studies lawmakers’ relationships with religious groups.

The church built ties with politicians to attract followers and gain legitimacy, said Hiro Yamaguchi, a lawyer who has worked on cases against it. Politicians gained access to church members for help with campaigns, he said.

The LDP had no “systematic relations” with the church, Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi has said. It would cut off ties with the church, he said on Monday.

WHAT ABOUT ABE?

The church has said Abe was neither a member nor an adviser. He delivered a speech at an event hosted by a church affiliate last September, according to its website.

Nobuo Kishi, Abe’s younger brother and the incumbent defence minister, told reporters he received support from church members as campaign volunteers.

Former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, Abe’s grandfather, was an honorary executive chair at a banquet hosted by Moon in 1974, the International Federation for Victory Over Communism said on its website.

FALL-OUT?

Support for Kishida’s cabinet has fallen to the lowest since he took office in October at 46%, public broadcaster NHK said on Monday, with many poll respondents saying they wanted an explanation about ties to the church.

Kishida, who has said he has “no links” to it, said new cabinet members and new ruling party officials must “thoroughly review” ties with the church.

BIG IN JAPAN?

The church has some 600,000 adherents in Japan out of 10 million globally, and Japan is the church’s fourth-largest congregation, according to Ahn Ho-yeul, a Seoul-based spokesperson, although monitoring groups in Japan question the number.

Recruitment tactics include knocking on doors, targeting members’ relatives and approaching people outside train stations, former followers say.

Japan has been its biggest source of income for decades, the spokesperson said, partly due to the practice of trading religious items for donations.

These so-called spiritual sales by the Unification Church and other groups have cost followers nearly $1 billion and resulted in some 35,000 compensation claims since 1987, according to a lawyers group.

The church previously pledged not to solicit excessive donations after some members were convicted of illegal sales tactics following an investigation.

The suspect in Abe’s murder said the church persuaded his mother to part with around 100 million yen ($736,000), according to his social media posts and news reports.

After the incident, the church said it had returned around $400,000 to the mother. It denied coercing her or declined to comment on the total sum.

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Love and Relationship Horoscope for July 28/2022

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Love and Relationship Horoscope for July 28/ 2022
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Your love life will open up with new opportunities for today. Find out the love astrological prediction for Aries, Leo, Virgo, Libra and other zodiac signs for July 28.

Aries: Today is a great opportunity to try out some new ways of being with the person you like. Try new things, go somewhere you’ve never been before, and find a way to make the unusual a permanent part of your lives. Habit may quickly sour any relationship, but if you and your partner are open to the possibility of new experiences, you’ll both benefit greatly.

Taurus: Look at opportunities instead of problems. Today, you may be concerned about an upcoming situation that can potentially cause some disturbance in your love life. Instead of focusing on the potential for disruption that is ahead, try to see how you can make it better. Have a serious conversation with your partner and be confident that things will work out in the end.

Gemini: A decision to continue forward with a relationship that holds a lot of potential for the future is being hampered by feelings associated with a previous relationship. Even while this might be a passing phase, it is forcing you to give serious consideration to the question of what it is that you truly seek. Instead of being frustrated, be ready to let go of the past and embrace the life that lies ahead.

Cancer: Today, communication is more important than ever, particularly if you want to convey your thoughts to the person you care about the most. In order to get seen, you might need to take a chance, and you might also need to be a little bit different and express yourself in ways that will make you stand out and grab attention. Be prepared to think beyond the given and you will find success.

Leo: There is a good chance that today will be a day full with passion. You might expect your potential romantic partner to be in a good mood and eager to embark on an outing. You and that one particular person will feel reconnected after participating in this new activity together. The choice of the location is not important, but how you spend the time together will make a difference.

Virgo: It’s possible that you’re feeling down today because you haven’t heard from a love partner in a while. Because your phone hasn’t been ringing, you might think that your loved one no longer cares about you. Don’t get caught in this mindset. Being objective will show you that this is not the case. Most likely, your companion is stuck up with some personal issue and will contact you soon.

Libra: Being romantic is in your demeanour. It’s difficult to focus on your work when your mind keeps drifting back to past love affairs and wondering about what went wrong. It would be better for you if you used all of this energy to create something new in the present. Let your creative juices flow by writing or creating a piece of art. A jovial mood will lead to spectacular success.

Scorpio: You’ve been going through a lot of transitions as of late. Some of your previous goals are no longer essential to you, but in their place are some new ambitions that you have been working for. Your romantic partner and you need to have the same spirit of exploration and curiosity. You know you’ve found the proper person to be with when they get thrilled when you talk about your plans.

Sagittarius: Your connection gets deeper and more meaningful today. You have been keeping a close tab on the person you have you like while doing so stealthily. You might have believed that this relationship required a little bit more time to develop. You can see how the merging of two persons into a single entity is a natural path now. Have fun with this stage of your love life.

Capricorn: Get a grip on yourself and inject some element of the unexpected into your romantic relationships. You are aware of how wonderful it is when someone does something romantic for you that is completely out of the blue. Put yourself out there. Don’t hold back any longer; the time has come. Create a romantic atmosphere by focusing on your strengths.

Aquarius: Today, it would appear that the present is predominately influenced by the past. There is an idea that is starting to take shape, and you might want the assistance of your partner in order to formulate it into some kind of actionable strategy. By cooperating in this endeavour, you will provide yourselves a wonderful opportunity to take pleasure in the events that will inevitably take place.

Pisces: A few aspects about the way a relationship ended recently can make you question whether or not you’re being seen favourably by the people involved. Despite the fact that you have no control over how the other person will feel after a breakup, your desire to end things on good terms might be difficult to shrug off. Try to see whether an ex is still interested in rekindling their connection with you.

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Johnson County sheriff accuses top county attorney of breaking the law

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Johnson County sheriff accuses top county attorney of breaking the law
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Without providing specific details, Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden Tuesday accused the county’s top attorney, Peg Trent, of breaking the law.

It comes after the KSHB 41 I-Team obtained a memo Trent sent to Sheriff Hayden expressing concerns. They centered around the sheriff’s requests related to election security in the county.

“These requests give the appearance that the Sheriff’s Office is attempting to interfere with an election and to direct a duly authorized election official as to how an election will be conducted,” Trent wrote in the July 7 memo.

In the memo, Trent wrote that a meeting on July 5 was set up to discuss security cameras on election ballot boxes.

During the meeting, the memo said the sheriff asked about “prior election processes, challenged the integrity of elections in Johnson County, and requested that local law enforcement participate in the current election procedures.”

Hayden is now disputing Trent’s recollection of an election security meeting outlined in the memo.

“I whole-heartedly disagree with Ms. Trent’s recollection of events, as does every deputy who was present for that meeting,” Hayden said in a statement. “Furthermore, Ms. Trent and her office are knowingly violating their own laws: K.S.A. 25-2437. We will continue to deal with Ms. Trent until we reach a successful conclusion and ensure all election laws are followed.”

The I-Team has reached out to the sheriff’s office to get clarification about what portion of that statute they believe Trent and her office violated.

The statute focuses on the “transmission or delivery of advance voting ballots on behalf of another voter.”

“We have no intention of asserting ourselves into any election. That is illegal,” Hayden continued in the statement. “We have been requested by the Board of County Commissioners to provide security. We made suggestions to help with security. That’s as far as that has gone.”

Since last fall, the sheriff’s office said it received more than 200 tips alleging fraud in local elections. The sheriff’s office previously told the I-Team they had received more than 100 tips.

When the I-Team requested to see the tips that have come into the sheriff’s office, they cited an active investigation and refused to release them.

 

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Michael Mann’s Damaged Men

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Michael Mann Damaged Men
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In “Ferrari,” his first film since 2015 — and in “Heat 2,” his first ever novel — the director returns to his great theme: outsiders with a brutal determination to win.

Michael Mann stood at the center of a long, sunlit room, scrutinizing a model of the Ferrari factory as it looked in 1957, thinking about how to improve its appearance. “This should be a pattern,” he said, pointing at the windows, “so that you have almost a musical rhythm, like, two-two-two-two-two, then it breaks, to drive your attention to the entryway.” Around him, a half-dozen collaborators listened closely. After Mann’s decisions were finalized, a construction team would be dispatched to a nearby site to build a replica of the 1957 factory.

It was a May afternoon in Modena, Italy, a small city in the north of the country. Mann was at the production offices of his 14th feature film, “Ferrari,” which will trace three months in Enzo Ferrari’s life, culminating with the 1957 Mille Miglia — an infamous, and tragically fatal, road race. That morning, Mann took the train up from Rome, where he spent the previous day auditioning 26 actors opposite Adam Driver, who will star in the film. “I looked at it as extra rehearsals,” Mann said. “A chance for Adam to start locking in the character.” Dressed for the summertime, Mann wore a roomy ombré button-up that bled from green to black, with white jeans and white Ecco sneakers. He spoke with the thick Chicago accent, full of bent vowels, that he has never lost despite living in Los Angeles for decades. This accent suited him in his 20s, when he drove a taxicab and worked in construction, and it confers on his directorial pronouncements a street-hardened authority.

Mann’s specialty is the meticulous construction of major Hollywood entertainments: big-budget epics and thrillers rich with genre pleasures, rigged with dazzling set pieces and heavy on movie stars like Daniel Day-Lewis (“Last of the Mohicans”), Will Smith (“Ali”) and Tom Cruise (“Collateral”). As interested as he is in making movies for mass enjoyment, though, Mann is by his own description “not a journeyman director — these guys who go from gig to gig to gig. I need a real compelling reason to do something.” Years ago, he spoke of his ambition to move more rapidly between projects, but when I mentioned this to him in Modena, Mann laughed. “I failed utterly in that plan,” he said.

 

There was, for one thing, the coronavirus. Mann was working in Japan when the pandemic hit, directing the pilot for the HBO Max series “Tokyo Vice,” about a young American crime reporter investigating the Yakuza. Shooting was barely underway when the virus halted production. At that point, it had been five years since the release of Mann’s last film, the underrated cybercrime thriller “Blackhat.” During this gap — one that “Ferrari” will finally close — he tried to bring several ambitious projects to life without success, facing the kind of disappointment all directors grow accustomed to, but perhaps especially those who make films that cost what Michael Mann films cost, and who insist on the complete creative control he insists on.

Mann’s artistic signature is to establish a core of painstaking realism, then create around it a heightened visual and emotional atmosphere that can edge, at times, into a kind of hallucinatory, macho camp. It’s an aesthetic Mann began exploring when he oversaw the epochal 1980s cop show “Miami Vice.” Since then, he has set forlorn peals of electric guitar over a parade of steely faces. He has filmed handsome men walking in slow motion in bulletproof vests, or gazing contemplatively at vast bodies of water that swirl in hypnotic abstraction, or striding beside private jets with sunglasses on. He has rigorously avoided comic relief, while allowing for moments of oblique humor, as when a hardened undercover cop announces, “I’m a fiend for mojitos.” He has scored sex scenes with the anguished rock of Audioslave. Somehow, it works: Chasms of unanswered yearning and alienation seem to roil beneath Mann’s images, and his movies lodge in the brain like fever dreams.

Mann enjoys a cultlike adoration of the kind typically reserved for directors further out on the fringes. His blockbusters have their ferocious partisans, as do his lesser-known pictures and outright bombs, which reliably come up for — and tend to reward — reappraisal. In 2014, the Criterion Collection put out a beautiful edition of his 1981 theatrical debut, “Thief,” helping to spark a broader re-engagement with Mann’s work that included retrospectives at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2016 and at the Museum of the Moving Image this spring. Film scholars devote books and podcast series to him. Underground clothing lines make coveted bootleg tees and caps in homage to his films. Among fellow directors, Mann’s admirers and acolytes include Alfonso Cuarón, Ava DuVernay and Christopher Nolan.

ImageMann on the set of “Thief” (1981).
Credit…Photograph by Marv Newton
Mann on the set of “Thief” (1981).

This February, Mann turned 79 and ushered in an improbably busy year. In April, his “Tokyo Vice” pilot made its debut, setting the show’s fleet feel and stark tone. Not long afterward, it was announced that the financing had materialized for “Ferrari.” And next month, in a particularly unexpected curveball, Mann will release his first-ever sequel, in the form of his first-ever novel, “Heat 2.”

Of Mann’s many movies, none have inspired the sustained obsession — in audiences, and in him — as “Heat.” Al Pacino plays a brilliant police detective named Vincent Hanna, and Robert De Niro plays a brilliant thief named Neil McCauley. They are mirror-image foils engaged in an operatic cat-and-mouse game that unfolds across the criminal netherworlds of Los Angeles, “heading simultaneously for a collision in which both cannot survive,” as Mann put it.

“Heat 2” spans nearly 500 pages, two time frames — before and after the events of the movie — and multiple continents. Rather than representing some larkish detour from the body of Mann’s work, the book drills down into themes that run throughout his filmography.

Vincent and Neil are archetypal Mann protagonists: damaged men who dedicate themselves all-consumingly to their work, chasing an exalted state where extreme capability becomes its own goal. Or, as a member of Neil’s crew memorably puts it, where “the action is the juice.” They derive profound meaning, exhilaration and sense of selfhood from what they do — even at the cost of deep dysfunction and unhappiness in other parts of their lives. In this way, “Heat” crystallizes one of Mann’s career-long preoccupations, paying tribute with one hand to the great American myths of roguish individualism while undermining those same myths with the other.

Mann told me that “Heat 2” took the better part of two years to complete. “I have no idea how to write a novel, OK?” he said. “I do know how to make very, very large movies.” But, he added, “when things are a little bit difficult for me, I’m on the frontier. And I perform better, in my own estimation, on a frontier.”

When Mann describes the path he took to filmmaking, he often mentions formative screenings in college of “Dr. Strangelove” and G.W. Pabst’s Weimar-era landmark “Joyless Street.” But on a couple of occasions, he has recalled an earlier, inexplicable thrill he got “just driving under a steel bridge on a rainy night” and looking up at its gargantuan span, or moving along “those caged iron bridges” around Chicago, their latticeworks cutting up the landscape into a multitude of flickering frames. This excitement wasn’t something that Mann associated with filmmaking at first, but it lingered in his eventual understanding of himself as an artist. If you’re an admirer of Mann’s movies — which exude a hard-hammered visual poetry and tell stories of men traversing liminal realms, searching for things just beyond their grasp — this is as perfect an artistic origin story as you could hope for. “I have an attraction to these twilight zones,” he said.

Time and again, Mann has set up camp on, and then blurred, the borders that separate documentary from fiction, genre from “prestige” drama, literalism from abstraction and the multiplex from the art house. This was true of “Thief,” a hard-nosed, Marx-inflected neo-noir about an expert Chicago burglar, played by James Caan. While shooting, Mann sprayed down the city’s nocturnal streets with tens of thousands of gallons of water, so that they took on an unreal, painterly glow — even as he enlisted a local thief named John Santucci to teach Caan how to breach real vaults onscreen using real techniques and real tools, in what feels like real time. And it was true of “Blackhat” (2015), a globe-trotting thriller that begins with a highly detailed and apparently highly accurate CGI visualization of the insides of microprocessors during a computer hack, captured at 12,000x magnification as they course with electrons — a sequence so extended it becomes trancelike.

“There is absolute beauty and visual joy, a dreamlike sensibility to his films,” Christopher Nolan told me, “but it’s all driven by the function of the storytelling, driven by the minutiae of his research and the extraordinary commitment to narrative detail. The aesthetics grow from that — I don’t know of any other filmmaker who does that.”

 

In Modena, I saw firsthand how Mann’s interest in creating uncanny dream worlds rests upon a foundation of extreme nuts-and-bolts authenticity. Discussing possible shooting locales for “Ferrari,” and how they would be decorated, Mann paid special attention to the wallpaper that would hang in the bedroom of Enzo’s wife, Laura. His production designer, Maria Djurkovic, had gathered some options. “This doesn’t do it,” Mann said, dismissing them all. He tapped a photo of the original pattern: “It’s the sparseness of the ribbons that really gets at a certain heaviness. And this green.” To Mann, famously demanding, it was crucial to get it right. “We think she died in this room,” he said.

Pinned to a wall behind him were several images of vintage Ferraris painted different screaming reds. He’d tasked his crew with making full-body 3-D scans of these vehicles, crafting perfect facsimile shells and fitting these with contemporary drivetrains capable of high-performance racing. Special recordings, Mann said, would capture the engine sound of period-accurate “small-displacement V12s running very high, this shriek, driving down narrow canyons through masonry, then suddenly they’re out in an open field.” He smiled. “It’ll feel like the air is being ripped apart.”

Mann is something of a Method director, building immersive worlds by first immersing himself in their grain. “I have all this data, real people, real language,” he told me. “It’s not stuff you make up sitting in a room in L.A.” During commentary recorded for “Thief,” Mann talks with Caan about how top-of-the-line vault doors are layered with both copper (“obviously a very soft metal”) and titanium (“very hard”), “so that, when you drill it, if you have a hard bit to cut through the titanium, it hits the copper, it’s going to bind up,” Mann says, extolling “the value of this kind of detail” in making a performance feel truly lived in.

Daniel Day-Lewis, who is one of Mann’s close friends, told me about spending several days with him in the Alabama wilderness before making “Mohicans,” living off the land together in a recreated “18th-century hunter-trapper course.” There, they learned tracking techniques and methods for laying trap lines. They also did “a huge amount of weapons training — black-powder weapons, principally,” Day-Lewis said, explaining that such firsthand experience “creates for each person involved, on both sides of the camera, a belief in the authenticity of what they’re reaching for.”

I’d heard a rumor that, for a short passage in “The Insider,” which dramatizes the true story of a tobacco-industry whistleblower and the “60 Minutes” producer he confides in, Mann sneaked into Baalbek, Lebanon, making financial arrangements with political leaders so he could shoot in the neighborhood where the events depicted actually happened — acting as a middleman, in effect, between Disney and Hezbollah. When I asked Mann about this, he laughed and shook his head. “What happened is, we were going to go to Israel to shoot it,” in the majority-Arab city Umm al Fahm, “and Disney told us, No, no, it’s too dangerous, you can’t go there.” Mann called the journalist Lowell Bergman, portrayed in the movie by Pacino. He asked him, “Can you get us into Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley?” And then he notified the studio of this new plan. He received a frantic response. “They said: ‘Are you out of your [expletive] mind? Go to Israel!’”

No sequence in Mann’s filmography makes the case for the virtues of authenticity as explosively as the showstopping bank robbery in “Heat,” which spills into a broad-daylight melee in Downtown Los Angeles. De Niro and Val Kilmer, who plays his protégé, underwent urban-combat training beforehand, proving such capable students that, according to Mann, Fort Bragg instructors later screened footage of Kilmer reloading his rifle to show cadets how it was done. Before filming, dozens of cars were pummeled at a shooting range with high-caliber rounds, and the crew fitted the holes with detonatable squibs, painted over with Bondo putty. During filming, they triggered the squibs in time with the actors’ guns, ripping open the munitions-accurate damage. Nolan calls “Heat” Mann’s masterpiece, and when we spoke, he singled out a “tiny detail during the bank robbery, where the money is stacked and wrapped in plastic, and they put it into the duffel bags, then use a razor to slash the plastic and bang it, so that it comes loose and takes the shape of the bag.” This moment flies by, but it “grounds the entire robbery in a technical reality that you respect and enjoy,” Nolan said. “You feel you’re watching a film about experts made by experts.” The sequence’s most indelible aspect is its terrifying sound. Mann recorded the gunfire — “full-load” blanks, containing the same powder charge as live ammo — not on a soundstage, as is common practice, but out on the streets, as it reverberated off the sunny steel-and-glass canyons onscreen.

Mann running beside Al Pacino during the filming of “Heat” (1995).
Credit…Photograph by Frank Connor
Mann running beside Al Pacino during the filming of “Heat” (1995).

Mann is committed to total veracity, it seems, except when the prerogatives of compelling image-making win out. While plotting the restoration of Enzo’s neighborhood barbershop in Modena, still open, to its 1957 appearance, he indicated an archival image and said, “Even if the real chairs were darker, I want them to look the way they look in this light.” Later that day, he told me, “all these decisions — every one means something, particularly when you’re dealing with interiors, because that character picked that lamp, picked that fabric, picked that curtain, picked that cheap radio.” He recalled the home décor of the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, in Mann’s 1986 Hannibal Lecter movie, “Manhunter.” “He’s got the vertical control on his television so he can see the subcarrier frequency, because he thinks there’s a message in there. There are so many pieces of psychopathy that are manifested in the shape of a toaster. Really! It was, ‘Find me a psychotic kitchen chair.’”

 

He added, “You don’t dwell on these things when you’re shooting, but the audience sees it all.”

One pitch-black night when Mann was in his teens, he drove south from Chicago to a rural Illinois back road, turned off his headlights and floored the gas pedal — hurtling, for a few crazed seconds, into total darkness. He was full of a restless ambition that had yet to find its object, he said, and in “Heat 2,” he lends this quasi-existential stunt to the young Vincent Hanna. “He’s searching, he has that crazy vibration in the nerves running through his arm when he’s 18, saying, I’ve got to get the [expletive] out of here, wanting to move and go places and do things,” Mann told me. “I’m talking about myself, too, when I say that.”

Mann was born in 1943 into a secular Jewish family — “in the city,” he emphasized, noting wryly that “directors from the Chicago suburbs make comedies.” His father, Jack, was a Russian immigrant from Ovruch and a combat veteran of World War II. “He didn’t talk about it much, but it affected everything,” Mann recalled, describing “an absolutely loving man” who suffered from symptoms of PTSD long before it had a name. Jack ran a small supermarket for several years, before he was driven “out of business by a big chain that opened up a block and a half away. My younger brother and I, as amateur arsonists, one night tried to burn it down. We were angry. I think we succeeded in blackening the back door.”

 

Jack’s wartime experience left him with “a very dark view,” Mann said. Fighting in Germany, “he’d read in Stars & Stripes how American planes had bombed such-and-such a refinery, interrupting the supply of the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. Then four, five weeks later they’d pass the refinery, and everything around it was bombed, but the refinery itself was untouched, because Shell wants to take control of it.” Jack returned to America with “a cynicism about systems,” Mann said, adding, “I totally inherited that cynicism.”

In 1969, Jack died from a pulmonary embolism, just 56. “It shattered my family,” Mann recalled, explaining that his mother, Esther, “made a different life for herself” — starting her own business and entering into new relationships — but “operating from the thesis that ‘the meaningful life I’ve lived is over. I’m not going to just drift into widowhood; I’m going to make a life for myself, but it’s all superficial.’”

No facile interpretive pipeline neatly connects Mann’s biography and the movies he makes. Whereas his filmography is littered with broken, solitary, state-raised men, he says his parents loved each other deeply, and Mann and his own wife, an artist named Summer, have been married since 1974, raising four daughters. “In a city that’s not renowned for child-rearing, he’s managed to raise this wonderful, solid family that’s so close,” Day-Lewis said of Mann, adding, “You go to their house, and it’s an oasis.” But the cynicism Mann inherited from his father can be felt everywhere in his films, and his interest in upstart heroes who assert themselves against powerful forces — mob bosses in “Thief”; predatory tobacco companies and cowardly media conglomerates in “The Insider”; and the U.S. government in “Ali,” his Muhammad Ali biopic — certainly doesn’t contradict the picture of the angry young kid seeking vengeance against the chain grocery that crushed his father’s market.

In the late 1960s, Mann enrolled in film school in England. “I was not going to Vietnam,” he said. He made short documentaries about the ’68 student protests and other social upheavals of the era. In 1979, he shot his first feature, the TV movie “The Jericho Mile,” on location at Folsom prison, where he cast inmates opposite trained actors and incorporated the prison’s distinct hierarchies and customs into the script, about a convict who becomes an Olympic-class runner on the yard. By this point, Mann’s focus had shifted to stories of determined individuals who perceive the workings of oppressive systems and — even if it comes at a ruinous price — insist on charting their own paths through them.

Michael Mann at the London Film School in 1967.
Credit…Courtesy of Michael Mann.
Michael Mann at the London Film School in 1967.

Mann has constantly evolved the look of his movies. His images have become less straightforwardly beautiful, his palettes increasingly leached of color, his framing less formal. Hand-held cameras drift, faces appear unfocused in extreme close-up and the digitally captured dark of nighttime degrades into extravagantly pixelated noise. But thematically he has remained consistent, returning continually to heroes who are peeled away from the dominant ideologies of what Mann has called “the normal range of human experience,” and, from this remove, come to see questions of selfhood, coercion and power more clearly than most of us.

‘Michael’s an unusual blend of things,’ Day-Lewis said. ‘He’s an intellectual, but he thinks like an engineer, and he has the spirit of an artist.’

Often, these characters’ worldviews are forged in prison. In a 2017 interview, Mann recalled the lasting impression of meeting convicts decades earlier who devoured philosophical texts, not with the abstract curiosity of “undergraduates,” but because they had “fundamental questions that they wanted answered, like: ‘How should I view my life in time? What’s property?’ They’ll read Kierkegaard, and Sartre and Marx and Engels. You encounter it with people that have sixth-grade educations, who become quite astute in this raw kind of way.” Frank in “Thief,” Neil in “Heat” and the hacker Nick Hathaway in “Blackhat” all share versions of this pedigree.

Mann told me about a particularly memorable encounter he had inside Folsom, making “Jericho Mile”: “I had one guy in Black Guerrilla Family, weight lifter, 6-foot-2, dangerous guy doing a life sentence. I said, ‘Hey, I’d like you to play such-and-such a role.’” The inmate rebuffed him, explaining, “ ‘I’d be allowing you to appropriate the surplus value of my bad karma,’” Mann said. “He wasn’t trying to impress me with big words. He was serious. He’d read Marx and Engels and knew about surplus value, and he was here because karma put him here.”

Like many of Mann’s protagonists, I remarked, this man seemed to have a bird’s-eye view of his position amid various superstructures. Mann nodded. “If you’re an experienced convict,” he said, “you have a systems analysis.”

The day after I visited the “Ferrari” production offices, Mann picked me up in the lobby of my hotel, and we walked down Modena’s cobblestone streets to get some lunch. He moved spryly, dodging the delivery trucks, mopeds and bicycles that whizzed around us. I’d heard that Mann keeps detailed daily journals going back decades, and at our table he set down his own voice recorder next to mine, along with a thick Mnemosyne notebook bulging with color-coded Post-it notes. “Glass of wine?” he asked.

Neil McCauley, like so much in Mann’s movies, is rooted in real life. In the 1970s, Mann befriended a Chicago detective, Chuck Adamson, who told him a story about getting coffee years earlier with a notorious local robber — the real McCauley. During this encounter, the two adversaries acknowledged a wary but genuine mutual respect, and made it known that, in any future confrontation, each was ready to shoot the other dead. In 1964, Adamson was part of a detail that gunned down McCauley in the street.

With Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx during the filming of “Collateral” (2004).
Credit…Photograph by Frank Connor
With Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx during the filming of “Collateral” (2004).

Inspired by that story’s tense, fateful symmetry, Mann began writing “Heat” in the late 1970s. In 1987, he turned a truncated version of his script into the pilot for an unproduced NBC series, which eventually aired as a TV movie under the name “L.A. Takedown.” This is mostly worth watching today in order to appreciate the vastly superior achievement of “Heat,” which Mann was finally able to make at the proper scale in 1995 — six months of preproduction, 107 days of shooting, 95 locations, $60 million budget — after the success of “Mohicans.” It was De Niro and Pacino’s first time sharing a movie screen.

So, as unexpected as it was to learn that Mann was publishing a novel, it wasn’t shocking that he was returning to the world of “Heat.” Its characters had been with him some 15 years before he made the movie, and they still captured his imagination some 30 years later. “I always wanted to do more with these people’s lives,” he said.

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K-ELECTRIC MAKES CHANGES TO TARIFF STRUCTURE

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KARACHI: K-Electric has made to the rates of electricity and tariff structure that will be effective from July and applicable nationwide including on consumers in KE’s service territory, Karachi’s power supplier said in a statement.

The changes include the non-extension of relief for zero-rated industries as well as the relief on peak-hour electricity consumption for industrial consumers. The retailer tax with revised slabs has been introduced for commercial consumers.

Non-Time of Use residential consumers will also see a revision in their applicable tariff along with a change in the methodology for their calculation.

Protected and Unprotected Consumers

As per SRO 1004 dated 7th July 2022, the tariff rates and slab structure for a tariff of unprotected non-ToU residential consumers (i.e. consumers with a sanctioned load below 5kW) have changed.

“Protected” consumers, as per tariff terms proposed by GOP under its Power Subsidy Rationalization Plan and by NEPRA as those non-ToU residential consumers with monthly electricity usage of 200 units or less, consistently for the past 6 months. All other non-ToU residential consumers fall in the Unprotected category.

Previously, category of unprotected consumers we were provided the benefit of one previous slab in their billing (i.e. their billing was done in two slabs), which has now been removed. Consumers in the unprotected category will now only be charged on one slab in which their units fall. Accordingly, tariff rates have also been adjusted downwards to minimize the impact on consumers.

Industrial Customers Bills

Industrial consumers were previously being provided a relaxation by the Government of Pakistan, allowing them to utilize electricity during peak hours at the same rates as off-peak hours. That relief was allowed until June 2022 and accordingly with no further extension. Peak rates would now be applicable to industrial consumers as well.

Similarly, zero-rated (or export-oriented) industries were being provided electricity at a fixed rate of USD 9 cents/unit, which was applicable till June 2022, and has now been removed. Now, these industries will be charged as per applicable tariff rates to normal industrial consumers.

In addition to the above charges, it must also be noted that routine charges under FCA will be applicable in July bills within KE’s service territory.

Retailer Tax for Commercial Consumers

Per the Government of Pakistan Finance Act 2022 applicable across the country, retailer tax on unregistered retailers has been revised and effective from 1st July 2022. For consumers on commercial tariff, a minimum fixed tax of PKR 3,000 will be charged for bills between PKR 0 and PKR 30,000. Monthly bills between PKR 30,001 and PKR 50,000 will be taxed PKR 5,000, while those with monthly bills above PKR 50,0001 will be taxed PKR 10,000.

Important to note that inactive income taxpayers will be charged twice the taxable amounts.

Further, these taxes will apply even if the consumer’s premises are not in use.

Fuel Charges Adjustments (FCA):

Unprecedented hikes in the price of furnace oil and RLNG were translating into higher costs of electricity production for utilities, and higher costs of electricity for consumers as well. Under the tariff mechanism determined by NEPRA, incremental costs of fuel are recovered from consumers in their bills via Fuel Charges Adjustments (FCA) after the regulator’s scrutiny and approval. Within the decision for FCA, the regulator also states in which month FCA is to be charged. For example, the FCA of March 2022 was charged in the month of June 2022.

Accordingly, in its determination for the month of April 2022, NEPRA has allowed KE to charge PKR 5.2718 per unit for units consumed in April ’22 to be billed in the month of July 2022. Further, NEPRA has allowed the FCA for May ’22 to be recovered in two parts with PKR 2.6322 per unit charged in July and the remaining PKR 6.8860 per unit in the bills of August ’22. This means customers will see two entries for FCA in their July bills i.e., FCAs for April and May, respectively.

Speaking about the changes, Spokesperson KE stated “We understand that our consumers may have a number of questions about these revisions. To assist them during this time, we have updated our website with frequently asked questions. To reiterate, these changes are introduced under the governing laws of the Government of Pakistan and the rules of the regulatory authority NEPRA and are applicable across the country.”

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Australia report reveals “shocking; decline in environment

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The long-awaited 2021 State of the Environment Report finds severe deterioration across biodiversity, habitat loss, and pollution.

Canberra, Australia – The state of Australia’s environment is “poor and deteriorating”, a new government report has found.

The 2021 State of the Environment Report, a mandatory assessment conducted every five years, was released on Tuesday by the recently-elected federal Labor government. It had been received by the previous Liberal-National coalition government in December 2021 but not published.

The report is undeniably grim, with the new Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek, describing the findings as “shocking” and “a story of crisis and decline”.

The report found that Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent in the world. More than 100 Australian species have been declared extinct or extinct in the wild, including eight species of wallaby alone.

One primary cause is habitat destruction.

Almost half the country is now used for grazing sheep and cattle, and about 6.1 million hectares (15 million acres) of primary forest have been cleared since 1990. These changes mean Australia has experienced the third-largest cumulative loss of organic carbon in soil, behind only China and the United States.

Many of the worst changes have occurred in the past five years, with 202 animal and plant species having been declared ‘threatened’ over this period, bringing the total to 377 species becoming threatened in the last decade alone. There are now also more introduced foreign plant species in Australia than native species.

Campaigners, one dressed as a turtle and some in red robes, demand action on climate change as the government releases the State of the Environment report
The State of the Environment report, published every five years, was described as ‘shocking’ by Minister Tania Plibersek [William West/AFP]

Even species supported through focused assistance showed little improvement, and the situation is expected to worsen once the effect of the 2019-20 ‘Black Summer’ bushfires becomes better understood. The bushfires are believed to have killed or displaced as many as three billion animals.

In the water, the news is also dire.

Ocean acidification is reaching a tipping point, threatening the existence of juvenile coral, with the Great Barrier Reef experiencing mass bleaching events in 2016, 2017, 2020 and this year. Sea level rise is affecting many low-lying coastal areas, including the important Kakadu wetlands in the Northern Territory. In the Murray-Darling Basin, one of Australia’s most important river basins, record low water levels were recorded in 2019.

The report, which for the first time includes an Indigenous lead writer – Terri Janke – also pays specific attention to Indigenous heritage and knowledge.

It found that Indigenous heritage continues to be destroyed, such as Juukan Gorge, parts of which were blown up in 2020 by mining giant Rio Tinto to extract iron ore. This ongoing destruction is despite the clear wishes of traditional owners.

‘Extremes more often’

Survey after survey has shown that the Australian public wants more action on climate change.

For many voters, climate change was the number one issue in May’s federal election.

A record number of Greens candidates were elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate, while the Liberal party was all but wiped out in urban strongholds by the ‘teal’ independents who campaigned strongly on climate change. Labor was therefore the only major party able to form a government.

The increase in public support for climate action, and for politicians willing to take that action, is believed to be a direct response to the extreme bushfires, floods, and storms that wide swathes of the country have experienced in recent years.

“Australia has always been a land of extreme weather and climate variability,” notes Andrew King, a senior lecturer in climate science at the University of Melbourne. “[But] human-caused climate change is causing extremes to occur more often and with more devastating impacts.

“This report should act as a wake-up call to the damage we are doing to the world around us. We must decarbonise our economy and society as rapidly as possible to try and limit the environmental losses that we will experience as we keep warming the world.”

A wallaby rests its paws on the arm of a keeper at Taronga Zoo in Sydney where it was taken after the bushfires.
The report found that Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent in the world, with more than eight species of wallaby – an animal unique to Australia – disappearing [File: Bianca de Marchi/EPA]

Who is to blame?

The State of the Environment report was delivered to the previous Coalition government in December 2021, but they declined to release it ahead of the election.

The new federal Labor government is therefore keen to lay the blame at the feet of the Coalition, which had been in government since 2013. Two of that period’s three prime ministers were outright climate deniers – Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison – while the other, Malcolm Turnbull, was removed by the party because he wanted to do more on climate change.

“Sussan Ley [environment minister under the Coalition] chose to keep it hidden, locked away until after the election … When you read it, you’ll know why. But Australians deserve the truth,” Plibersek told the National Press Club following the launch.

The reality is not quite so black and white.

It is true that the federal Coalition did little to improve the environment, and in several circumstances actively made the situation worse. The Coalition was committed to increased investment in coal and gas, and its plan to cut carbon emissions was largely reliant on potential future technological development.

What federal Labor wants to avoid admitting is that state and territory governments are also culpable for the declining state of the country’s environment. In fact, sub-national governments in Australia have primary responsibility for environmental regulation, and the role of the federal government is limited.

Of the country’s eight states and territories, Labor is in power in six, including in the mining powerhouse states of Queensland and Western Australia. In Queensland alone, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has approved at least 18 new coal mines since being elected in 2015. This includes a 1 billion Australian dollar ($680m) coal mine at Olive Downs, where construction began in April.

Euan Ritchie, professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at Deakin University, describes government efforts to protect the environment as an “utter failure”.

“Bushfires devastating wildlife populations, extensive, repeated coral bleaching events, ecosystems collapsing across the continent,” Ritchie lists. “These events are all symptomatic of governments and society not acting on the science and evidence.”

Under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Labor aims to achieve net zero by 2050. It has a 43 percent emissions reduction target by 2030, but this is significantly below the expert-recommended target of 50 to 75 percent. Although promising to invest heavily in renewables, Labor has repeatedly stated it will continue to support the extraction and use of fossil fuels.

Scientists are keen to point out that despite the report’s grim findings, there is still much the country – government and people – can do.

“Every Australian has an opportunity to be on the conservation frontline: saving species in the places they live and work,” said Kylie Soanes, an urban ecologist from the University of Melbourne. She says that research has revealed a huge appetite for nature conservation in cities, but that “actions occur in isolated pockets and need more support”.

Protesters hold placards pointing to the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and how climate change could destroy it.
Climate change has contributed to a series of bleaching events at the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system [File: Jono Searle/EPA]

Soanes says we need “a culture shift to support cities as spaces for nature as well as people. If we want people to better support biodiversity, to really get involved in environmental issues, we need to make nature part of every Australian’s everyday experience – something they can see, enjoy, and help save.”

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Biden news – live: Jamal Khashoggi’s US lawyer sentenced to three years following detention in UAE

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President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East came to an end with yet more controversy after it emerged that an American lawyer who previously represented murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been detained in the UAE.

US citizen Asim Ghafoor was detained at Dubai airport on Thursday while travelling to Istanbul for a family wedding and was held on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering. Mr Ghafoor reportedly had no prior knowledge of any conviction.

UAE state media said on Saturday that the attorney had been sentenced to three years in prison.

On Saturday, Mr Biden met with UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and invited him to visit the US before the year is out.

He was one of multiple Middle Eastern leaders Mr Biden met in Saudi Arabia on Saturday before leaving aboard Air Force One.

New details also emerged about Friday’s controversial meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the man US intelligence found responsible for ordering the Khashoggi’s murder.

When Mr Biden confronted MBS about the killing – after a friendly fist-bump – he denied the accusation and fired back about the US’s own controversies.

Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia was doomed from the beginning

“Trying to make peace in the Middle East is a task American presidents usually leave until their second term. That was the pattern set, with varying degrees of success, by presidents Nixon, Clinton and Obama.

“Only Jimmy Carter allowed hope to triumph over experience during his single term in office, with the historic Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel.

“Although only in his first term, and on his first visit to the region, Joe Biden is expressly not there to follow in the footsteps of any of his peacemaking predecessors. He has been around for too long, and seen too many disappointments, to risk the investment needed to make progress. This trip has more to do with Russia and Ukraine than Israel and Palestine.”

Read the rest of The Independent’s editorial here:

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Ruti the celebrity hyena run over and killed near Modiin

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The animal, who aroused fiery support and opposition from residents, returned twice after rangers moved her far away; fed from trash after buildings replaced natural habitat

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S&P 500 falls for 3rd straight day after Powell says no guarantee of soft landing for U.S. economy, JP Morgan warns of recession risk

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JP Morgan economist now sees a reasonable risk of U.S. recession, potential for global slowdown

U.S. stock indexes end mixed Wednesday, as investors focused on remarks by central bankers and from corporate executives, while fretting that soaring inflation is damaging the world’s biggest economy.

How did stock indexes do?

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.27%  rose 82 points, or 0.3%, to end at 31,029.31.
  • The S&P 500 SPX, -0.07%  edged down 2.27 points, or 0.1%, to close at 3,818.83.
  • The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.03% shed 3.65 points, a fall of less than 0.1%, ending at 11,177.89.

On Tuesday, the Dow fell 491.27 points, or 1.6%. The S&P 500 fell 2% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3%. All three booked their worst daily percentage declines since June 16, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

What drove markets?

Earlier gains for U.S. stock benchmarks mostly faded Wednesday, as investors monitored corporate earnings and remarks from central bankers looking to battle high inflation by tightening financial conditions.

Investors were focused on a mixed bag of corporate earnings results trickling out ahead of the mid-July quarterly deluge for insights into whether bulging inventories of goods and sharp inflation pressures pinch profit margins.

“It remains to be seen, but it feels like the market is expecting profit margins to be squeezed, and profit to be revised lower,” said Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio manager at Natixis Investment Managers Solutions, by phone.

He pointed to the S&P 500 sinking about 25% below its January peak last week, before it staged a slight rebound, as a sign that investor might be “somewhat discounting that earnings are already being ratcheted down,” even before Wall Street analysts have yet to substantially lower their earnings estimates.

“Maybe the equity market has already done some of that,” Janasiewicz said.

Focus also was on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell who said Wednesday at a European Central Bank forum on central banking that he sees a path back to 2% inflation while sustaining strong labor market, but warned there was “no guarantee that we can do that.”

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, Bank of England Gov. Andrew Bailey and Augustin Carstens, head of Bank for International Settlements, also spoke at the same conference.

On U.S. economic data, the first-quarter GDP was revised to show an 1.6% decline, compared with the prior 1.5% drop.

Economists at JP Morgan Chase and Co. said on Wednesday that they now see a U.S. economic recession this year as a reasonable risk to consider, given the GDP contraction and aggressive moves planned by the Fed to fight high inflation through higher rates. They also didn’t rule out a risk of a global economic slowdown.

Equities were limping toward the end of a miserable first half of the year. The S&P 500 is down 19.6% so far in 2022 — on track for the worst first-half performance since 1970 — hit by concerns that inflation rates at multidecade highs are badly damaging household sentiment and that the Federal Reserve’s response to surging prices may tip the economy into recession.

“I think the biggest conundrum we have right now is we have not had an earnings recession, the analysts remain positive in this quarter,” Louis Navellier, chairman of Navellier & Associates, said in an interview. However, corporate profit margins are under pressure as inflation remains heated, he said.

“This is going to be a very interesting quarter where I’ve never seen a recession where their earnings are still accelerating,” Navellier said.

Wall Street’s dive on Tuesday led Asian and European bourses lower, particularly with worries that supply constraints in China could exacerbate global inflationary pressures. Such concerns were illustrated in Spain on Wednesday, where data showed prices rising by 10.2% in June, their fastest pace in 37 years.

Companies in focus

  • NIO Inc. NIO, -2.24% shares fell 2.2% after a short seller report on Wednesday alleged the company exaggerated financial results, while the China-based electric vehicle maker said the report was without merit and contained “numerous errors.”
  • Shares of Pinterest Inc. PINS, +1.32% rose 1.3% after the social-media company said Tuesday co-founder Ben Silbermann is stepping down as chief executive and is being replaced by an e-commerce executive from Google.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY, -23.58% shares fell 23.6% after it announced disappointing fiscal first-quarter results and the ouster of its chief executive, Mark Tritton.
  • General Mills Inc. GIS, +6.35% shares rose 6.3% after beating quarterly expectations.

Other assets

  • The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note BX:TMUBMUSD10Y declined by 11.5 basis points to 3.091%.
  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, 0.57%  edged up 0.6%.
  • Bitcoin BTCUSD, 0.33%  fell 0.6% to trade near $20,020.
  • Oil prices fell, with WTI crude CL.1, down 1.8% to settle at $109.78 a barrel.
  • August gold futures GCQ22, -0.11% lost $3.70, or 0.2%, to settle at $1,817.50 an ounce.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, -1.88% fell 1.9%; the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.9%; China’s Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -1.40% shed 1.4% after President Xi Jinping reiterated that the regime’s strict COVID-19 policy was “correct and effective.”
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Crypto Data Firm Kaiko Raises $53 Million During Market Rout

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Blockchain analytics firm Kaiko raised $53 million from new and existing investors in its latest financing round, even as crypto-exposed companies struggle through a rout in digital assets.

The series B deal tripled Kaiko’s valuation from its last round in June 2021, a spokesperson for the firm said, declining to provide exact figures. The investment was led by Alibaba backer Eight Roads, alongside French venture capital firm Revaia and existing investors Alven, Point Nine, Anthemis and Underscore.

Kaiko Chief Executive Officer Ambre Soubiran, in an interview with Bloomberg, described the past two months as “a marathon,” with investors growing increasingly cautious about deploying capital to crypto-linked businesses.

“What was challenging, in all honesty, was the due diligence and closing process because we were really, really under scrutiny,” she said. “They went into many, many details to make sure that there was barely any risk in the investment.”

As a data provider for clients and partners including Deutsche Boerse, ICE Global Network, Messari and Paxos, Kaiko offers institutional investors and businesses a mix of market data in crypto and decentralized finance, pricing services, indices and industry research.

Wary Investors

The company was founded in 2014 by Pascal Gauthier, now the CEO of cryptocurrency hardware firm Ledger, before being bought by Soubiran, a former HSBC banker.

Though it doesn’t have direct exposure to the whims of token pricing, Kaiko has not been immune to the industry’s troubles as $2 trillion was wiped off the market’s value.

Several prominent crypto companies, lenders and hedge funds, once flush with cash and accolades at the peak of the market, have cut costs, laid off staff and bordered on insolvency as prices plunged and liquidity dissipated. Investors have become overly wary as a result, Soubiran said, keen to ensure their bets can withstand a potentially lengthy bear market.

“Building the narrative around the series B pitch was not the hardest part,” Soubiran said. “The hardest part was getting the whole thing across the finish line in the middle of a minus 80% downturn.”

Controlling Costs

Soubiran said the crypto meltdown has been a boon for Kaiko’s business, as customers clamor for information about why prices are crashing. She pointed to a sharp jump in leads for new clients since the current crisis started.

Alston Zecha, a partner at Eight Roads who oversaw its investment in Kaiko, said crypto has matured a great deal in the seven years since he first presented an overview of the industry to colleagues and senior executives at Fidelity International Ltd., to which the fund is affiliated.

“When you speak to most VCs, yes, they are potentially slowing down their pace of deployment, but they’re not saying ‘no’ for really promising companies,” Zecha said in an interview. “The phrase that VCs use is the bar is higher.”

Soubiran said she plans to take “a much closer look at our path to profitability” in the coming months, including controlling spending as much as possible. Kaiko, however, remains in the market for a chief financial officer among other senior roles, and will use the funding to expand its workforce of roughly 60 employees across offices in London, Paris, Singapore and New York.

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