SEC Killing SPAC Industry
Welcome to The Free Press Report’s Monday Digest. This week a lot has happened - financial markets suffered the broadest losses on records, a whistleblower faces espionage charges, and the SEC is trying to kill the SPAC industry. Read on for more of the stories you might have missed
Wikileaks hero Assange to be expedited to face criminal charges in the U.S. Assange was arrested and imprisoned in London in 2019, but now the UK home secretary Priti Patel has approved an extradition request that would see Assange face trial in the U.S on 18 counts including spying and computer hacking. In 2010, Assange’s website Wikileaks exposed evidence of U.S atrocities in Iraq including the murder of civilians, and cables showing U.S schemes against the United Nations. Assange was investigated by the FBI and CIA, the latter of which he claims tried to assassinate him. Assange’s wife said that he will appeal the extradition decision [Reuters]
Anti-gun senator booed at GOP convention whilst Governor refuses to speak. John Cornyn, who has been a Texas senator since 2002, is part of a bi-partisan group in Congress pushing for stricter gun ownership laws and financial penalties for states opposing the “red flag” rules that expand gun confiscation powers. At the Texas Republican event, Cornyn was booed, with the crowd chanting “say no to Cornyn”, “no red flags”, and “RINO” (Republican In Name Only). Meanwhile, Texas Governor and gun advocate Greg Abbot chose not to speak at the event [Houston Public Media]
Federal health employees neglected emails during pandemic, leaked report shows. In the first nine months of the pandemic, as government agencies transferred to work-from-home, between 20 to 30% of Department for Health and Human Services employees failed to log in to the remote software suite that gives them access to emails, work files, video calls, and other essential applications [WFB]
“Wash your fetish gear” CDC advises as global monkeypox spread baffles scientists. There are now fewer than 100 cases in the U.S, but epidemiologists are concerned by higher-than-expected transmission rates. Hypothesizing that monkeypox is mainly spreading through sex, the CDC has issued crucial advice, including not to have sex with someone who has open sores on their genitals, to regularly wash bedsheets and fetish gear, and to "try having sex with your clothes on" [Reason]
Social and Business
Record-breaking looses on S&P 500 cap global economic meltdown. On five of the days between Weds 8th and Thurs 16th, at least 90% of companies in the index recorded losses, a pervasion of losses worse than any on record since the Great Depression of the 1920s. As central banks tighten interest rates at a scale not seen since the 1980s, financial markets continue to struggle; for two weeks running, prices of stocks, treasuries, high yields and commodities have all sunk [BBG]
Biden doesn’t think his $1.9 trillion aid package caused inflation. When the Covid rescue plan was passed 15 months ago, the treasury warned that it may have a “marginal impact” on inflation. Now U.S inflation is at 8.6%, consumer sentiment is the lowest on record, and Biden is concerningly light on specifics about how to steer the country away from economic crisis [BBG]
New SEC rules would “kill” SPAC industry, according to professional group. Draft rules would increase liabilities for parties involved in SPAC mergers, and require increased disclosure including an explanation of whether proposed takeover deals were “fair” to investors. CFA Institute’s Head of Advocacy Kurt Schacht warned that the SEC would regulate SPACs out of existence [Reuters]
Biden’s Saudi visit is “betrayal” of human rights, despite promises that meeting will not just focus on energy. Biden will see Saudi crown prince and de facto leader Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) during his first official trip to the Gulf region. When asked whether he would confront the Saudi leader over the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist and U.S resident Jamal Khashoggi, Biden replied "I'm not going to meet with MBS. I'm going to an international meeting, and he's going to be part of it" [Reuters]
British journalist’s remains discovered in Amazon as Brazil’s police force search for suspected killers. Dom Phillips and his indigenous guide Bruno Pereira went missing in the Brazilian rainforest near the Colombian and Peruvian borders. After a local fisherman admitted to killing the two men, Brazilian police continue to search for two other suspects, but claim the killings were not tied to organized crime. However Univaja, an indigenous group that aided the search, is certain that the murders were connected to “a powerful criminal organization that tried at all costs to cover its tracks during the investigation” [Reuters]
Bitcoin below $19,000 for first time in two years, as cryptocurrencies sink on recession fears. Bitcoin breached its key support level on Saturday, dropping below $19,000 for the first time since December 2020, whilst Ethereum fell to its lowest level since January 2021 [Decrypt]
“Heartbroken” Terra founder faces lawsuit over “false and misleading statements”. Do Kwon founded Terraform Labs in 2018, launching an initial coin offering worth $62 million. But the failure of Terraform’s UST and Luna coins last month wiped out tens of billions of dollars of value. Now, Kwon will face a class action lawsuit claiming that he violated securities laws “in order to induce investors into purchasing these digital assets at inflated rates” [Decrypt]
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