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Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather sued over promotion of crypto token



Reality TV star Kim Kardashian and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. are facing a lawsuit alleging the celebrities misled investors in their promotion of a cryptocurrency token.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 7 in Los Angeles federal court, claims the celebrities touted tokens sold by EthereumMax, or EMAX, in order to boost its price and make themselves a profit “at the expense of their followers and investors.”

“The company’s executives, collaborating with several celebrity promoters … made false or misleading statements about EthereumMax through social media advertisements and other promotional activities,” the lawsuit stated.

According to the lawsuit, Kardashian promoted EthereumMax in a June 2021 post on Instagram, when she had 250 million followers.

“Are you guys into crypto?” she wrote in the post, followed by the disclaimer “this is not financial advice”, but that she wanted to share “what my friends just told me” about the EthereumMax tokens. She included the #AD hashtag to show the post was a paid advertisement, the lawsuit said.

Mayweather promoted EthereumMax on his boxing trunks during a widely viewed fight with YouTube star Logan Paul in June, among other times.

Representatives for Kardashian and Mayweather did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

EthereumMax, the company, was also named in the lawsuit.

“The deceptive narrative associated with the recent allegations is riddled with misinformation about the EthereumMax project,” EthereumMax said in a statement. “We dispute the allegations and look forward to the truth coming out.”

The lawsuit, filed by a New York resident who bought EMAX tokens and lost money, is proposed as a class-action suit for anyone who bought EMAX tokens from mid-May to late June 2021.

The case seeks restitution and disgorgement of profits by the defendants.


(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Karishma Singh)


Analysis-Physical crude oil market steams ahead after Omicron blip



Frantic oil buying driven by supply outages and signs the Omicron variant won’t be as disruptive as feared has pushed some crude grades to multi-year highs, suggesting the rally in Brent futures could be sustained a while longer, traders said.

Prices for physical cargoes do not always trade in tandem with oil futures and when differentials widen rapidly and considerably, they can indicate speculators have oversold or overbought futures versus fundamentals.

Brent oil futures have jumped 10% since the start of the year but the physical market is still racing ahead, with differentials for some grades hitting multi-year highs, suggesting a tight market will push the futures rally on.

“These are crazy numbers. There clearly is physical tightness,” a North Sea oil trader said.

Key benchmark grade Forties traded at a fresh two-year high on Thursday at Dated Brent plus $1.80 a barrel.

Other North Sea grades have also hit one or two year highs. Prices for key west African grades like Nigeria’s Bonny Light have jumped too since the start of the year.

Graphic – Atlantic Basin crude differentials jump:

The tightness began in the Atlantic Basin and spread as Asian buyers were forced to look for cheaper cargoes elsewhere. Differentials for crude from Oman, the UAE and Russia’s Far East have jumped as Brent crude’s premium to Dubai swaps is at its widest in two months.

Several factors have fuelled prices. After the wildfire spread of Omicron in the fourth quarter, oil demand has not been badly hit in a surprise to refiners that had reduced purchases. Now, they suddenly have to make up for the gap.

Violent protests in Kazakhstan at the start of the year prompted fears of a prolonged oil outage, which did not materialise, that would have compounded outages elsewhere such as in Libya, Canada and Ecuador. The Libyan and Ecuadorian outages were largely resolved in the past week after taking out close to 1 million barrels per day.

At the same time, OPEC and its allies have stuck by their timeline to slowly increase output, despite repeated calls by the United States and elsewhere to go faster. Meanwhile, nuclear talks with Iran, that could also boost supply, appear stalled.

“Turns out Omicron wasn’t so bad and supply issues were worse than anticipated,” a U.S. crude trader said.

“(Buyers) are snapping up everything no matter what grade.”

Inventories have also shrunk in the United States and Canada. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday crude oil stockpiles fell more than expected to their lowest since October 2018.

“With spring and summer on the horizon … people are getting prepared to enjoy a strong market,” a U.S. trader said.

Some traders still believe the market could run out of steam due to new COVID variants, seasonal refinery maintenance in the second quarter, and a potential slowdown in China.

“I think it’s more trying to get ahead of tightness they think is coming … back to a ‘herd of lemmings’ market dynamic,” another market player said of the recent rally.

Graphic – Physical price of North Sea Forties grade vs Brent futures:


(Reporting by Julia Payne, Arathy Somasekhar and Florence Tan; Additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York and Alex Lawler in London; Editing by Mark Potter)

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Omicron: 'Let it rip' not the solution, experts say – CTV News



Dr. Kieran Quinn says he’s noticed a shift in attitude among his friends, colleagues and community members during the Omicron wave of COVID-19, as preventive vigilance has eroded into resignation that infection seems inevitable.

The clinician-scientist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital says he can sympathize with this sense of pandemic fatigue as the Omicron variant rages across Canada, ushering in another round of public health restrictions and backlogged demand for tests and COVID-19 vaccines.

As Omicron gains a reputation as a “mild” virus variant, Quinn says he sees why some people might feel tempted to “let it rip” in hopes of moving on from the pandemic’s latest and in some cases most overwhelming wave.

But Quinn and other doctors say Canadians can’t afford to be so cavalier about Omicron, because while the risks of infection seem lower to some individuals, abetting the variant’s supercharged spread would have devastating consequences across society.

“We need to look beyond ourselves and protect those around us who are most vulnerable,” said Quinn. “Omicron is not going to spare those people if we throw caution to the wind and ‘let it rip.”‘

Emerging evidence suggests Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than previous COVID-19 strains, but Quinn said those relative differences still translate into absolute numbers that make the new variant’s impact on the health system anything but mild.

Britain’s public health agency released preliminary data last month that found people with the Omicron variant were between 50 to 70 per cent less likely to require hospitalization than those with the Delta strain.

But research also indicates that Omicron is several times more transmissible than its predecessors, Quinn said, adding that even if a smaller proportion of infected people need medical attention, the sheer volume of cases would overwhelm hospitals.

Dr. Katharine Smart, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said the Omicron surge has already put Canada’s health-care system under critical pressure.

Hospitals in many regions have been forced to cancel or delay surgeries to free up beds for the influx of COVID-19 patients. At the same time, the virus’s spread among health workers exacerbates staffing shortages.

“The reality right now is with the pace at which Omicron is already spreading … there really is no wiggle room,” said Smart, a Whitehorse-based pediatrician.

“Trying to be purposely infected with Omicron and taking the risk that you may require medical care right now is a big gamble, as we’re really seeing our health resources stretched to the limit.”

She urged Canadians not to give way to “let it rip” complacency and resolve instead to flatten the curve by reducing social contacts, upgrading masks and booking booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We can protect ourselves, our friends, our neighbours, our communities by doubling down again, doing the things that are within our control and really trying to stick together,” she said.

Quinn, who wrote a piece in Healthy Debate last week about the pitfalls of a “let it rip” approach, proposed that people consider how one Omicron case could ripple through their social sphere within six degrees of separation. Chances are it wouldn’t take too many links in the chain for the virus to reach someone susceptible to Omicron’s harms, he suggested.

That could mean infecting someone at higher risk of severe health outcomes from Omicron, such as older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems, said Quinn. Even a mere exposure could cost someone a paycheque if they’re unable to work while in self-isolation.

Quinn said this goes to show how vulnerable people will ultimately pay a catastrophic price if others decide to roll the dice on Omicron.

“We must not forget about the greater good,” he said.

Most individuals will also find that catching Omicron isn’t in their own best interest, said Quinn.

Omicron isn’t your typical winter bug, he said, and “mild” illness shouldn’t be confused with innocuous. There’s a wide spectrum of symptoms — such as a cough, fever, sore throat, fatigue and body aches — that can range in severity from imperceptible to debilitating, he said.

Then there’s the risk of developing long COVID-19. The World Health Organization reported last year that approximately one in four individuals who contracted the virus experienced post-COVID-19 symptoms for at least a month, and one in 10 saw the effects linger for more than 12 weeks.

While some people seem to believe that beating Omicron could be a welcome immunity boost, Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, a professor at University of Alberta’s School of Public Health, said the cost-to-benefit calculation of courting the variant tips firmly toward the negative.

 Francescutti said it’s true that overcoming Omicron likely confers some degree of natural immunity, but that benefit would wane over time, leaving people vulnerable to COVID-19 reinfection. He added that getting vaccinated is a much safer method of building protection against the virus.

He’s also skeptical of the notion that Omicron is paving the way for COVID-19 to shift into an endemic disease, meaning it would continue to circulate sporadically but with more manageable societal impacts.

It’s too early to predict the trajectory of the virus, said Francescutti, particularly as the uneven distribution of vaccines across the globe creates concerns about the emergence of new variants.

But he believes the rise in “let it rip” sentiment shows how Canada’s piecemeal and inconsistent COVID-19 strategy has left the public confused about the threat Omicron poses.

Francescutti said government officials seem to have thrown up their hands when they should have been redoubling their efforts to contain the highly contagious variant, neglecting to take necessary measures to shore up the health-care system, expand testing and contact tracing capacity and combat vaccine hesitancy.

If the people leading Canada’s pandemic response seem prepared to “let it rip,” Francescutti said it’s no surprise some Canadians feel the same way.

“It’s a pretty dire situation, and any politician or public health official that pretends everything’s under control is doing exactly that — they’re pretending,” he said.

“You think we’d be more vigilant, but instead we’re looking the other way … and going, ‘Que sera, sera.’ And now’s not the time to be singing that song.”

— with files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2022.

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U.N. mission in Mali grounds flights amid sanctions restrictions



The United Nations‘ peacekeeping mission in Mali has grounded its flights amid discussions over sanctions that have shut air and land borders to the West African country.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the regional monetary union sanctioned Mali last week after its interim government, installed in the wake of coups in 2020 and 2021, proposed delaying planned elections by up to four years.

“MINUSMA has to temporarily suspend all flights. We are in discussion with our Malian partners on the new mechanism for approving MINUSMA flights,” a spokesperson said, adding that he expected a resolution “very quickly”.

MINUSMA has over 13,000 troops trying to contain violence in the north and centre of the large West African country, where Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State carry out regular attacks on civilians, soldiers and U.N. bases.

The mission has recorded about 230 fatalities since 2013, making it the deadliest of the United Nations’ peacekeeping missions.



(This story corrects to delete fifth paragraph following MINUSMA clarification that omitted mention of aid deliveries)


(Reporting By Edward McAllister; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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