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Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shot at campaign event, in critical condition

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Police officers at the scene where former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign event in Nara, Japan on July 8, 2022. Abe was unresponsive after the attack, shocking a nation where gun violence is rare.

Kosuke Okahara | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe is in critical condition after being shot at a campaign event on Friday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, had just begun a speech in the city of Nara when gunfire was heard around 11:30 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. Thursday ET). Public broadcaster NHK, citing the local fire department, reported that Abe was in a state of cardio and pulmonary arrest, suggesting that his heart had stopped.

It said he had been admitted to Nara Medical University Hospital.

In brief on-camera remarks, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that one person had been apprehended in relation to the shooting. According to NHK, police identified the suspect as a 41-year-old who was a resident of Nara.

“Such a barbaric act is utterly unacceptable, and we categorically condemn it,” he said. Kishida and government ministers traveling in various parts of the country returned to Tokyo immediately, he added.

Elections for the upper house of the Japanese Parliament are Sunday. Abe, 67, who stepped down in 2020, was campaigning for other members of the governing conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) but is not a candidate himself.

The incident sent shockwaves through Japan, where gun violence is extremely rare. Handguns are banned in the country and people must undergo extensive tests, training and background checks to obtain and keep shotguns and air rifles.

Iwao Horii, an LDP member of the upper house representing Nara, was standing next to Abe when the former prime minister was shot. “We heard two loud sounds while he was talking and he fell immediately after that,” said Horii at a news conference. He added that Abe was unresponsive when emergency medics tried to resuscitate him.

Horii said Abe’s appearance at that location had been advertised locally via faxes to the media and loudspeakers on election vans. He said he was not aware of any threats made against Abe or the LDP before the speech.

“This is something that shakes the very foundations of democracy and cannot be forgiven,” he said. “At this point we are all praying for the quick recovery of former Prime Minister Abe.”

The shooting was also condemned by the country’s main opposition party, the center left Constitutional Democrats. “This is an unforgivable act of barbarism, but the first and utmost priority is the condition of former Prime Minister Abe, and I just pray that he survives,” party leader Kenta Izumi told reporters.

Workers stand near the scene where Japan’s former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was shot outside the Kintetsu Yamato-Saidaiji station square in Nara on July 8, 2022.

STR | Jiji Press | AFP | Getty Images

The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, said that he was shocked and saddened by news of the shooting.

“Abe-san has been an outstanding leader of Japan and unwavering ally of the United States,” Emanuel said in a statement Friday. “The U.S. Government and American people are praying for the well-being of Abe-san, his family, and people of Japan.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking from Indonesia, where he is attending a G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, expressed how “deeply saddened and deeply concerned we are by the news coming from Japan, about the attempt on the life of former Prime Minister Abe.”

“Our thoughts, our prayers are with him and his family, with the people of Japan,” Blinken said. “This is a very, very sad moment, and we’re awaiting news from Japan.”

Abe hails from Japan’s political elite and as prime minister had made reviving economic growth through his “Abenomics” policies a key pillar of his time in office.

Though Abe had been praised for amplifying Japan’s profile on the world stage, his party was plagued by scandals and he was accused of mishandling the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Abe’s resignation two years ago came amid a worsening of his ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel condition he’d battled for years.

He made the announcement days after he set a record as Japan’s longest-lasting prime minister, having been in office for almost eight years. He previously served as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.



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Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather crypto scam lawsuit dismissed

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A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit by investors against the founders of the cryptocurrency EthereumMax, as well as celebrity endorsers including Kim Kardashian and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. over their promotion of the cryptocurrency on social media.

Investors who bought EMAX tokens alleged they had suffered losses after taking the word of the celebrity influencers about the value of the crypto. The suit claims the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to artificially inflate the value of the EMAX tokens.

Judge Michael Fitzgerald wrote that he recognized that the lawsuit’s claims raised legitimate worries about “celebrities’ ability to readily persuade millions of undiscerning followers to buy snake oil with unprecedented ease and reach.”

“But, while the law certainly places limits on those advertisers, it also expects investors to act reasonably before basing their bets on the zeitgeist of the moment,” wrote Fitzgerald, of the Central District of California.

The judge found that the plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficiently backed, especially “given the heightened pleading standards” for fraud claims, according to his ruling in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

In addition to Kardashian, Mayweather and former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, the defendants in the case included Steve Gentile and Giovanni Perone, the co-founders of EthereumMax, and Justin French, a consultant and developer for the cryptocurrency, court documents state.

Fitzgerald in his ruling said he would allow lawyers for the plaintiffs to refile their suit after amending some of their claims under a number of the statutes cited in the original complaint, which included the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO.

“We’re pleased with the court’s well-reasoned decision on the case,” Michael Rhodes, a lawyer for Kardashian, told CNBC.

The dismissal came weeks after investors in fallen crypto exchange FTX filed a class-action lawsuit against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and celebrity advertisers for the company, among them NFL superstar Tom Brady, for allegedly overstating the value of the crypto tokens in promotional messaging.

And the ruling came two months after Kardashian agreed to pay $1.26 million, and not to promote cryptocurrency for three years, to settle claims by the SEC for her failure to disclose a $250,000 payment touting EthereumMax on her Instagram account.

Fitzgerald in his ruling Wednesday said the EthereumMax lawsuit reflects a broader conflict surrounding celebrity and influencer promotional schemes.

“This action demonstrates that just about anyone with the technical skills and/or connections can mint a new currency and create their own digital market overnight,” Fitzgerald wrote in his dismissal.

Investors sued EthereumMax and its celebrity advertisers in January after a slew of influencers started snagging sponsorships to promote cryptocurrencies to their millions of social media followers.

Kardashian’s Instagram post in June 2021 had written, “Are you guys into crypto??? This is not financial advice but sharing what my friends told me about the Ethereum Max token.”

Her post included “#ad” at the bottom, indicating she had been sponsored. But it did not disclose her $250,000 payment from EthereumMax.

Mayweather promoted EMAX at a boxing match and a large Miami bitcoin conference in June 2021.

But by January, the cryptocurrency had lost 97% of its value.

Fitzgerald at a hearing last month indicated he was inclined to dismiss the case.

Bloomberg News, in an article about that hearing, said that an attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit asked the judge to allow him to revise the suit’s racketeering claims to show how the statements by the celebrity defendants harmed the investors.

“If plaintiffs had known the true facts related to the promoters’ financial interest in the tokens, and that they were being paid to shill these tokens, they wouldn’t have paid as much for the tokens as they did,” the attorney, John Jasnoch, told Fitzgerald, according to a transcript cited by Bloomberg.



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Cathie Wood says the Fed is making a serious mistake as bond market flashes worst signal since 1980s

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How the U.S. became a global corn superpower

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The United States has just about 90 million planted acres of corn, and there’s a reason people refer to the crop as yellow gold.

In 2021, U.S. corn was worth over $86 billion, according to calculations from FarmDoc and the United States Department of Agriculture.

According to the USDA, the U.S. is largest consumer, producer and exporter of corn in the world.

“We’re really good at [corn production],” Seth Meyer, chief economist at the USDA, told CNBC. “And that’s why you see big acres, big demand, export competitiveness.”

It’s not just what we eat.

“We turbocharged the value of corn through the application of science,” Scott Irwin, agricultural economist and professor at the University of Illinois, told CNBC.

Corn is in what we buy, including medications and textiles, and corn is turned into ethanol, which helps to fuel cars across the nation.

The rest of the world relies on U.S. corn, too. 

At $2.2 billion in 2019, corn is the most heavily subsidized of all crops in the country.

“A lot of these subsidies … do get embedded into the cost of farmland and they essentially bid up the price of farmland marginally,” Joseph Glauber, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and former USDA chief economist, told CNBC. “So the benefits accrue largely to those who own land.”

The federal crop insurance program’s net spending is forecast to increase to nearly $40 billion from 2021 through 2025, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

At the same time, farmland values have reached all-time record highs.

“Do we get the corn acres because we’ve got the support, or do we have the support because we have the corn acres?” Meyer said, posing the chicken-and-egg question about the nation’s grain superpower.

Watch the video above to learn more about how corn fuels the U.S. economy from its people to its vehicles, the power of the corn belt states, the role of subsidies and where government policy for the industry may go from here.



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