|From: Jon Koplik||11/14/2019 1:44:36 AM|
|WSJ -- Small Town in Georgia / Big Plans for Enormous Topiary Sculpture Chicken ...........................|
Nov. 13, 2019
Small Town in Georgia Has Big Plans for an Enormous Chicken
Hoping to feather its nest and scratch up some tourism, a community is trying to build the world’s tallest topiary sculpture; ‘It’s something different’
By Cameron McWhirter
FITZGERALD, Ga. -- Mayor Jim Puckett’s dream rises next to a supermarket parking lot.
Shoppers gawk as work crews -- their drills echoing throughout the neighborhood -- attach steel beams to what he hopes will become the world’s tallest topiary sculpture: a 62-foot chicken.
The chicken will cost $150,000, use at least 16 tons of steel and include an apartment inside that officials plan to rent to visitors. It will match the tallest building in the city, which is five stories.
Paul Dunn, 90 years old, likes the mayor’s plan. A huge chicken made of vines and flowers just might be what the struggling community about 155 miles south of Atlanta needs to bring in more visitors, he says.
“It’s something different,” he muses from a chair on his porch near the construction site. “Fitzgerald needs rejuvenating. It’s drying up on the stem.”
But the big bird, a grand homage to wild chickens that roam here, has many residents of this rural Georgia city clucking.
A schematic of the head of the topiary being built for the town of Fitzgerald, Ga. Photo: Topiary Joe
“Nobody’s coming to Fitzgerald to see a giant chicken,” says Mr. Dunn’s neighbor Justin Phillips, 26. “It’s stupid. Waste of money.”
Mayor Puckett, 52, discovered unused special tax funds after taking office in 2018 and learned the city could use the money to promote tourism.
“I was thinking about it,” he says, “and thought, ‘Why don’t we just build a big-ass chicken?’ ”
The dust-up ruffling feathers is the latest squabble in a decades-long debate over what to do about the birds that overrun streets and yards here. Many residents see the colorful birds as a draw for tourists. Others want to fry the renegade fowl that crow at street lamps, stop traffic, and scratch and peck in people’s gardens.
In the 1960s, the state brought jungle fowl from South Asia to a forest near Fitzgerald in hopes of promoting game hunting, according to Jeri Lynn Gilleland, who heads the Fitzgerald office of the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension. The birds disappeared and at first were presumed killed off.
Somehow, a few made it to Fitzgerald -- some say eggs were smuggled into town, others say the birds just flew here.
Wild chickens have roamed in Fitzgerald, Ga., for decades. Photo: Fitzgerald Department of Tourism, Arts & Culture
Mr. Dunn, who says he helped with the state’s jungle-fowl program to make extra money, recalls that shortly after the birds left the forest, he saw something odd in town.
“I looked in a plum bush and saw these little birds up there roosting,” he says. “I shot at them a couple of times, and they dropped to the ground and run off. That was the beginning.”
With fewer predators and plenty to eat in town, they thrived. Today hundreds of the birds’ descendants, which have interbred with local chickens, run around the town. Most have colorful feathers, but some now are white. They can be tough with other animals and have been known to chase small dogs. They are skittish around humans. Four squawking birds flew the length of a city block to escape a reporter when he approached recently.
Locals insist the chickens are no good to eat. Kristie Johns, 47, pursed her lips remembering when she tried to eat one that her son shot. “It’s tough and gummy,” she says. “It’s not your regular farm chicken.”
The topiary frame under construction in Fitzgerald, Ga. Photo: Cameron McWhirter/The Wall Street Journal
There are fewer chickens than there used to be, partly because some people smash eggs in the spring to keep the population down, residents say. Others run the chickens down with their cars, they say, even though injuring a bird is a city misdemeanor.
“If we want a big turnout at a council meeting we just put chickens on the agenda,” says Cam Jordan, 63, the city’s deputy administrator.
Mayor Puckett’s initial plan was to build a chicken slightly taller than a 56-foot-tall non-topiary structure known locally as “The Big Chicken” at a KFC restaurant in suburban Atlanta. Then he learned the tallest topiary structure in the world, a Mickey Mouse in Dubai, is a little over 59 feet tall, according to Guinness World Records’ official website.
“When I heard that I said, ‘Screw it, let’s go to 62 feet,’ ” he says.
Officials at Guinness World Records, Dubai Miracle Garden where the Mickey Mouse is located and the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington didn’t respond to requests for comment.
A record-holding topiary of Mickey Mouse in the Dubai Miracle Garden, in the United Arab Emirates. Photo: Amazing Aerial/ZUMA PRESS
Much of Mr. Puckett’s drive for his colossal chicken stems from his belief that God gave him a second chance and life is too short to think small. In 2010, he accidentally ignited a gas can, burning himself severely. He almost died. While in a coma, Mr. Puckett had a vision that he was in hell and prayed fiercely to live again, he says. When he recovered, he decided to live boldly.
Fitzgerald Mayor Jim Puckett with his wife, Joanna Weaver Puckett. Photo: Puckett family
“You may not like everything I do as mayor, but you damn sure aren’t going to be able to say I didn’t do anything,” says Mr. Puckett, who owns a diner in town.
Like many rural communities in the South, Fitzgerald is struggling. Many storefronts and homes are boarded up. About 8,700 people lived in the city in 2018, down 4.5% from 2010, according to the Census. Almost 39% of residents live in poverty.
The town tried for years to promote its chickens, with limited success. The Wild Chicken Corner gas station has a large bird statue on Main Street. Metal statues of chickens of various sizes stand in front of stores and homes. Fitzgerald holds an annual Wild Chicken Festival, in March, which includes a crowing contest.
Joe Kyte, also known as Topiary Joe, installed a topiary wolf for an event in San Francisco in 2017. Photo: Topiary Joe
Mayor Puckett hopes the giant chicken will be the draw his city needs. He plans to erect a billboard on nearby Interstate 75 to alert drivers to the attraction. When asked what the town would do if the big bird flops, Mr. Jordan, the deputy administrator, says, “Well, it won’t be the only gamble that we made that didn’t pay off.”
Most of the bird will be finished by Fitzgerald’s next chicken festival, says designer Joe Kyte, 60, a Tennessee-based topiary maker who goes by the business name Topiary Joe. For clients around the world, he has built sculptures of greenery resembling all kinds of things, from dinosaurs and Bigfoot to elephants and whales. Once the main structure is completed, workers must add steel mesh, a drip-irrigation system and the apartment. Then they will attach at least 5,000 plants, he says.
Mr. Kyte says he has never built anything this big. He has two 13-foot-tall chicken legs in his garage waiting to be trucked to Fitzgerald. Asked how he adjusted designs to handle the project, he says, “I just winged it.”
Write to Cameron McWhirter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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|From: Jon Koplik||11/24/2019 1:20:28 PM|
|Dog puts car into reverse, drives in circles in Florida ..........................|
A dog drove doughnuts alone in a car for half an hour. There's video.
They should give that dog a license," a neighbor told the Sun-Sentinel. "He drives better than some people I've seen on the roads here."
A Florida dog put a car into reverse and drove it in circles for nearly an hour
No one was injured, though the dog did ram into a neighbor's mailbox.
Florida dog trapped in car drives in circles for an hour
In a Florida cul-de-sac, neighbors watched in confusion as a dog was captured on video driving its owner's vehicle in circles in reverse for nearly an hour, ...
WPLG Local 10
Dog days in Florida as pooch seen 'driving' car
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|From: SirWalterRalegh||12/26/2019 7:33:42 AM|
|ITEM 17: Ace of Spades HQ reported, "If Donald Trump wants to ensure he recaptures the 2020 electoral votes in the Great Lakes states he won in 2016 -- and possibly add Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Maine -- there is one simple thing he could do that would make him a hero to every snow-blowing American -- issue an executive order to restore functioning gas cans.|
"To be clear, this would also make him a hero to tens of millions of other Americans throughout the country who use lawn mowers, power tools, etc around their homes or in their jobs. In 2009 the EPA banned the sale of gas cans that functionally pour gas. To be specific, the scientifically illiterate bureaucrats at the EPA outlawed gas cans with vents, mandating that all new gas cans must have crazy contraptions that require three hands to operate. Unlike the old gas cans, the new ones spill gas all over the user and onto the ground. The result of the EPA’s incompetence is a new gas can that is much worse for the environment than the one it replaced. The incompetent regulators at the EPA are so scientifically illiterate that they honestly believed that the vents on gas cans were there to allow gas fumes to escape, rather than the actual purpose of allowing air to flow in to the can so that gas can be poured out. Having received their science education in Oppression Studies classes at Grievance State University, these morons making rules for how we gas up our power tools have likely never handled a tool more powerful than their own personal groomers.
"The government-mandated non-functioning gas can may be the most unpopular government-imposed regulatory rule since the 55 mile per hour speed limit. If you don’t know someone who mocks and despises these stupid red canisters, then you are living a very sheltered urban or upscale lifestyle. Most all working-class and middle-class Americans deal with these awful containers, and they mock the government for imposing them on us."
I am not going to pretend to know what he is talking about.
But if the federal government did it in 2009 -- the beginning of the Obama Era -- then by all means it was probably the exact opposite if what should have been done, and should be repealed.
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|From: Jon Koplik||2/17/2020 1:31:23 PM|
|WSJ -- Pinsa Pie Tries to Elbow Into New York’s Crowded Pizza Market ....................|
Feb. 17, 2020
The Pinsa Pie Tries to Elbow Into New York’s Crowded Pizza Market
Restaurants are now offering the oval pie that is said to have a lighter texture
Restaurants like Brooklyn’s Bar Camillo are now offering pinsa, an oval, lighter pizza. Above, the pinsa felino and peppers. Photo: Raffaele De Vivo
By Charles Passy
Pizza lovers in and around New York City may have to brace themselves yet again: There is another new pie in town.
A number of restaurants in the city have begun offering a Roman style known as pinsa, an oval-shaped pie that is said to be a lighter take on the favorite foodstuff. This month, Bar Camillo opened in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, heralding pinsa as one of its menu highlights. The dining and drinking spot is an offshoot of Camillo, another Brooklyn establishment that features pinsa.
In mid-2019, pinsa specialist Montesacro Pinseria Romana, a minichain that started in San Francisco, added a Brooklyn location in Williamsburg.
The pinsa at Montesacro Pinseria Romana Photo: Michael Grimm
The pinsa craze is the latest pizza trend in the city. In recent years, New Yorkers have embraced everything from the rectangular-shaped Detroit-style pizza, known for its cheesy edges, to pizza topped with pepperoni “cups.”
Pinsa may have an advantage in that it speaks to New Yorkers’ desire for foods that are healthier or, at the very least, less heavy on the stomach, establishments that offer the style say. Aside from its oval shape, pinsa is often distinguished by the fact it is made with a mix of flours -- not just wheat flour, but also rice and/or soy -- which are said to give it a lighter texture.
As for the name, pinsa derives from the Latin pinsere, which refers to the process of pushing and pulling the dough by hand, pizza professionals said. In pinsa places, no pies are tossed in the air.
The style has become increasingly popular in Rome, professionals added. Camillo and Bar Camillo owner Michele Baldacci said he became familiar with it on a trip a few years ago.
“I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is different and so good,’” he said. In turn, that led to his offering it in New York City.
Like other pizza styles, pinsa is offered with a variety of toppings. At Montesacro, diners can have a Margherita pinsa with the classic combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Or they can opt for a vegan-friendly pinsa with leeks, olives and a fava-bean purée.
Bar Camillo’s pinsa napoletana Photo: Raffaele De Vivo
Scott Wiener, a pizza expert who leads tours of pizzerias in the city, said the pinsa trend is an example of something old becoming new again. He noted the style isn’t that much different from the flatbread one, which proved a hit in restaurants about a decade ago.
At the same time, the spread of pinsa raises the question of whether the classic New York pie, itself a variation on the Neapolitan version, could be losing its place in the city’s pizza pantheon, especially when factoring in the other trending styles of late.
Conversely, Alper Uyanik, owner of two pizzerias in the city, Harlem Pizza Co. and Sliced by Harlem Pizza Co., wondered if New Yorkers might eventually suffer from a kind of style overload. His establishments stick closer to the Neapolitan and New York pizza traditions.
“At some point, you’re going to reach the peak of how far you can take it,” he said of the newly introduced pizza versions.
Write to Charles Passy at email@example.com
Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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|To: Jon Koplik who wrote (4)||2/26/2020 12:51:23 AM|
|From: Maurice Winn|
|People with boats and people in the oil industry know how impossible it is to protect plastics paint oil etc when sun water heat oxygen and marine life have a free hand.|
It's surprising that they are surprised at the missing plastic.
The giant garbage floater "gyres" are not long for this world. Barnacles and all sorts attach and sink floating things. Microbes eat oil. Oxygen and sunlight oxidize crack and polymerase organic molecules.
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|From: Jon Koplik||2/29/2020 1:21:46 AM|
|WSJ -- Leap-Year Babies Fight a Lonely, Quadrennial Fight for Recognition .................|
Feb. 28, 2020
Leap-Year Babies Fight a Lonely, Quadrennial Fight for Recognition
Those born on Feb. 29 just want to be acknowledged by DMVs, retailers and others whose computers don’t recognize their birth date
By Jim Carlton
What Dean Walsmith really wants for his birthday is to have a computer notice him.
Mr. Walsmith, who turns 52 and who celebrates his 13th leap-year birthday on Saturday, launched a Change.org petition two years ago to make all computer systems accept February 29 as an option for the end of February, instead of a common setup now of the 28th.
“It’s just annoying,” said Mr. Walsmith, of Post Falls, Idaho, whose petition has garnered more than 1,200 signatures. “Hey, it’s not our fault we were born on the 29th, dang it.”
Leap-year babies are fighting back. They’re tired of being told the date on their IDs is fake. They’re tired of having trouble at the DMV, getting library cards, or missing out on birthday specials that ignore their day.
Raenell Dawn founded a group now called the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, for people born on Feb. 29 to share the joys -- and indignities -- leapers such as herself must endure. Its membership has ballooned to 11,000 from just 21 when she started it in 1988. Among other things, it maintains a list of issues the leapers face.
Karen Korr celebrated her leap-year birthday in 2016. Photo: Karen Korr
Ms. Dawn, of Keizer, Ore., celebrates her 15th birthday Saturday after spending a total of 60 years on the planet. She strives to make life easier on leapers, including getting more states to change their DMV computers to recognize Feb. 29 and pushing restaurants to honor free birthday offers every year rather than every four.
“I’ll tell you who cares, one in 1,461 of us do,” Ms. Dawn says in a video posted on her website, citing the odds of being born on leap day.
Leapers fight back in the ways of any interest group: They write letters, they send emails. And they have seen some change. Some states have rejiggered their computer systems to recognize Feb. 29 on driver’s licenses, said Ms. Dawn.
When Karen Korr turned both 40 and 10 four years ago, she first celebrated with a party with face painters, balloon animals and Barbie cakes. Then, she and her girlfriends jetted off to Las Vegas to see Celine Dion.
“Not having your birthday on the actual calendar means it gets overlooked completely sometimes, but you get to make up for it with a killer celebration every four years,” said Ms. Korr, a legal-marketing strategist from San Diego.
Still, she feels hurt missing out on birthday wishes from her friends on Facebook. “When I don’t get messages on my Facebook wall on February 28, I assume that Facebook will alert my friends on March 1,” she said. “But sometimes Facebook hasn’t alerted friends on either day!”
A Facebook spokesman said it does send birthday reminders to friends of people who are born on Feb 29.
Kelly Rowe delivered triplets on Feb. 29, 2004, and since then she and her husband, Jeff, have had to deal with issues ranging from correcting forms for doctors’ offices to having to convince customs agents on a recent trip to Canada that their children were legit.
Harris, Elizabeth, and Andrew Rowe, in 2004, above, and in 2020 below, were born on Feb. 29. Photo: Kelly Rowe
“Customs were very entertained with their birth certificates we presented and … didn’t believe us because they are all different sizes,” said Ms. Rowe, of Charleston, S.C., whose triplets vary in heights up to 6 feet tall. The family eventually made it through.
One life milestone -- being able to legally buy one’s first drink at 21 -- often becomes a sobering experience. Annabella Gualdoni is still annoyed, 30 years later, about when she went to a bar near her college in Los Angeles to celebrate her 21st birthday and showed her ID for an Alabama Slammer.
“The waiter looked it up and down, scrunched his face, and said, ‘Uh, are you celebrating your 21st birthday tonight?’ ” said Ms. Gualdoni of Newton, Mass. “I said that I was and he said, ‘I’d better check with my boss about this.’ After much deliberation on their part, and a little sweat on mine, they let me have my drinks!”
Rita Sigler recalls that when she moved to Connecticut years ago, DMV officials ended up having to shut down their entire computer system for a half-hour to get it to accept her Feb. 29 birth date. “Needless to say, everyone else waiting was thoroughly annoyed,” said Ms. Sigler, an insurance worker from South Windsor, Conn., who turns 48 and 12 on Saturday. “I tried to act nonchalant so they wouldn’t know I was the troublemaker.”
A spokesman for the state’s DMV said Feb. 29 is now recognized.
Michelle Mohring said when she when she moved to a new town in Michigan in 2009, she was unable to register for a library card online and sought help in person. The clerk, she said, tried but failed to find a way to input Feb. 29 into the library system. She finally got a card when she suggested just changing her birth date on it to Feb. 28.
Annabella Gualdoni celebrates a birthday in 1970. Photo: Annabella Gualdoni
“He informed me I would have this problem for the rest of my life and joked that I should just change my birthday,” said Ms. Mohring, a teacher. “I found that a little condescending. I’m entitled to have a birthday and the correct information without hassle.”
Ms. Mohring said she is looking forward to her birthday on Saturday, when she turns 52, or 13 -- the same age as the middle-schoolers she knows “who get a kick out of knowing we were the same age this year.”
Stacy Keyes, of Compton, Calif., who turns 56 or 14 on Saturday, said her late father warned her life would be like this. They were both born on leap day and among their joint issues: each being questioned throughout their lives if their birth date was real.
“For the mere mortals that don’t understand the leap year, we always get the side eye or ‘Is that really your birthday? How did that happen?’” she said.
Ms. Dawn, of the leap-year baby group, says progress still needs to be made. “We’ve come a long way, but there are still some things that have not been fixed online,” she said. “I’m not going to stop until we are all leapified.”
She said she recently got a coupon in the mail from a department store for leap-year babies to use on their birthday. There’s just one problem: The expiration is Feb. 28.
Write to Jim Carlton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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|From: Jon Koplik||3/11/2020 11:04:26 PM|
|Bloomberg -- safety of bills (cash) / microbes persisting on surfaces ..............................|
March 11, 2020
Fear of Virus-Tainted Dollars Opens New Front in War on Cash
By Jennifer Surane, Olivia Rockeman, and Robert Schmidt
Some banks urge Fed and Treasury to vouch for safety of bills
Yet payments firms could benefit if cash is labeled a threat
The signs began appearing around Seattle in the windows of Dick’s Drive-In, the city’s iconic burger chain: “In an abundance of caution, we ask you to please pay with credit or debit card if possible rather than cash.”
Fear of dollars is now palpable in the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus.
And across the financial industry, a rigorous debate is brewing over how to address the public’s mounting concern that greenbacks might transmit Covid-19. Studies show it’s at least theoretically possible for other coronaviruses to survive on the dollar’s cotton-and-linen weave, though there’s little agreement on the actual risk of contagion.
Behind the scenes, some industry groups and banks have been urging the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department to issue a statement assuring Americans that there’s minimal risk for using cash, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The Fed, in turn, says it’s waiting for advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which so far has said the virus spreads primarily through person-to-person contact. In the meantime, the Fed has been putting notes repatriated from Asia in quarantine for up to 10 days to ensure it’s safe.
The stakes are high for banks and companies handling electronic payments: Billions of dollars in profits hinge on whatever statement or policy authorities ultimately issue.
On one side, small and mid-size banks are working to keep branches open so they can keep serving legions of business customers that refill their cash registers daily. Representatives from some lenders think it’s important for regulators to offer guidance on handling money, noting the risk of using currency is low -- comparing it, say, to pushing an elevator button or grasping a handrail.
If, on the other hand, authorities take steps that discourage the use of dollar bills, it will buttress the credit card industry’s long-running “war on cash,” sending more transactions through their networks and to payment apps that collect fees. That could even boost interest-bearing credit card balances.
Firms such as Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc., American Express Co., PayPal Holdings Inc. and a slew of large card-issuing banks would be among the top beneficiaries.
The virus may end up serving as a “trigger event” for wider acceptance of cards long term, either persuading retailers to start taking them or prompting the government to force them, said Lisa Ellis, an analyst independent research boutique MoffettNathanson. The shift would be especially dramatic in regions of the world where card use is still relatively uncommon, she said.
“Digital payments are already viewed as good for society by governments because they help with financial inclusion, they drive tax revenue and eliminate corruption,” she said. “This is another reason: ‘Oh, and it’s hygienic too.’”
Fighting for Poor
And on another side are millions of Americans who lack access to bank accounts, as well as poor and rural communities with few if any branches serving residents and local businesses. Many of them rely on cash for commerce. Repeatedly in recent years, consumer advocates have fought stores and restaurants that try to simplify checkout by going “cashless.” Cities such as New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco passed laws requiring dollars be accepted.
Some of those groups worry they’re about to face a national battle to allow cashless commerce in response to the coronavirus.
“Going cashless is definitely not something that we particularly support,” said Eric Espinoza, an associate director at Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, which helps provide financial services to low-income communities. “We certainly wouldn’t support it under a hasty decision-making environment in which you’re extremely reactive and potentially not as thoughtful about the repercussions.”
Despite the increased popularity of credit and debit cards in recent years, cash still remains one of the most popular ways to pay for things in the U.S., accounting for 26% of all payments by consumers last year, according to data compiled by the Fed. Spare change and dollar bills are still overwhelmingly favored for small purchases, accounting for about 50% of payments under $10.
Roughly 25% of Americans are either unbanked or underbanked -- with black and Hispanic households making up the largest percentage of those lacking accounts, according to a study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. More than half of unbanked households in the U.S. say they lack the funds to keep an account open.
“If you want to go that direction, it’s going to take really thoughtful planning in order to deal with the questions of inclusivity,” John Thompson, chief program officer for the Financial Health Network. “There’s still really important, substantively sized sectors of the country that are operating outside of the mainstream financial system.”
Paper currency in the U.S. is made from 75% cotton and 25% linen, according to the Treasury. That makes the surface of bills coarse and fibrous, allowing germs to adhere more easily and survive longer than they can on smooth objects. One study in 2013 showed the dollar has the ability to show “significant and prolonged carriage” of the dreaded Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria known as MSRA.
A 2020 study of coronaviruses, which included SARS and MERS, showed the microbes can persist on surfaces for as long as nine days. That can be reduced significantly using ethanol-based disinfectant, according to the study, but cleaning a paper bill proves more difficult than a plastic surface like a desk.
Confronted with Covid-19, the People’s Bank of China began using ultraviolet light and high-temperature ovens to disinfect cash coming in. It has also replaced old notes with newly minted bills.
The Fed is staying in contact with the CDC to make sure it’s aware of the agency’s latest thinking on how the virus spreads, a spokeswoman for the central bank said.
So far during the current outbreak, the Fed hasn’t widely enacted its longstanding protocol for banks handling bills suspected of being dangerous: First stacking them in “straps” of 100, then bundling those into larger bricks and packaging them in plastic bags with the word “CONTAMINATED” scribbled in permanent ink.
Even if the virus compels more people to use cards, the world’s largest payments network will still be battling the broader slowdown in spending, especially in the travel sector.
“In the near term, at this point, coronavirus is a clear negative because of disproportionate impact on international travel and consumer discretionary spend,” Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Harshita Rawat said in an interview. “People are just not traveling internationally and this is one of the most profitable businesses that these companies have.”
-- With assistance by Dan Reichl
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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