The Chicago Journal

Investors Brace for the Start of Earnings Seasons as US Stock Futures Take a Dip

Early Monday morning, US stock futures fell significantly, particularly those tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. These fell 0.44% or 139 points, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.6% and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.89%.

The Dow and the S&P traded slightly lower last Friday, while the Nasdaq Composite rose for a fifth consecutive day.

Most of the major medians had a positive week after a better-than-expected employment report on Friday, which shows that the economic downturn that investors are anticipating is not yet here, giving them some hope.

Treasury Yields also rose, with two-year Treasury Yields exceeding 10-year yields, a reversal that many believe to be an indicator of a recession. Greg Bassuk, CEO of AXS Investments, also said:

“While the markets ended in solid green for the week, investors should brace for continued volatility in July, with ongoing uncertainties looming with respect to inflation, Fed policy, recession concerns, the enduring Russian-Ukraine war, all as we also move into corporate earnings season.”

Read also: Americans’ Wealth Takes a Hit from Stock Market Collapse

As beneficial as it is to the economy, employment reports could encourage the Federal Reserve to continue its policy of aggressive rate hikes in the coming months to fight high inflation. It remains to be seen, but speculation will be put to the test this week with a series of important bank earnings and consumer inflation data this week.

“With recessionary fears weighing on the markets, investors are hyper-focused on corporate earnings for greater clues about the health of corporate America and the broader US economy,” said Bassuk. “A sharper lens will be needed to dissect these earnings reports, as a strong second quarter might be accompanied by very conservative outlooks.”

“As commodity and other producer costs remain high, companies will be factoring in the extent to which those heightened prices can be passed on to consumers and, likewise, how to keep earnings vigorous amid economic, geopolitical and other key headwinds,” he added. 

Investors are also expecting key inflation data this week, with June CPI out on Wednesday. Headline inflation is expected to rise above 8.6% from May.

“Investors expect more aggressive Fed rate hike actions,” said Bassuk. “Unless the inflation data shows an outsized reduction in prices, balanced against concerns that an over-aggressive boost in rates could tip the US into recessionary territory.”

The June PPI will be released on Thursday, while the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence report will be released on Friday.

Read also: While Inflation Remains High, Jerome Powell Believes a Recession is Unlikely

Starbucks Locations in Michigan to Join the Unionization Efforts

Since late 2021, large companies like Amazon, Google, and Starbucks have seen a growing trend of workers seeking union representation. While not all efforts have been successful, many remain determined to move forward.

Buffalo Starbucks’ organizational victory inspired other branches across the country to join the union, and Michigan is the latest state to join the union.

More than 10 Starbucks in Michigan has successfully received union votes within months.

“I don’t want better pay for just myself, I want better pay for the guy who’s been here for 14 years and makes 10 cents more than me,” said Hannah Whitbeck, former shift manager at Starbucks in Ann Arbor. 

Whitbeck was instrumental in leading union work on his site, garnering enough votes in early June to be represented at Starbucks Workers United. As a result, only one chain voted against the union.

“Five out of six, in a really small area, I would say is a really good deal,” said Whitbeck.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, union requests increased 57% in the first half of the fiscal year, from October 1 to March 31. But Professor Marick Masters, who teaches business administration at Wayne State University and has written extensively on labor issues, said that despite measurable increases, union membership in Michigan is nowhere near what it once was.

“In 1960, 50% of the workers in Michigan were unionized,” he revealed.

“So this is perhaps a tipping point, but it’s too early to tell whether or not this represents a sea-change in union success, either in Detroit, statewide, or nationally.”

Starbucks is not alone, as workers at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, a Midtown coffeehouse, went on strike in February demanding better benefits, higher wages and paid sick leave.

Like many others, the cafe is pushing for a union. However, the store closed in January due to a COVID outbreak. Others credit the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst for union efforts. Meanwhile, Hannah Whitbeck thinks the craving existed long before COVID and said she and her colleagues want to feel like they’re sitting at the table.

The former regulator says the pandemic has only made concerns more apparent.

In April, Whitbeck was fired from her job for leaving a bartender unattended. She claims she never received a formal warning and was only late once after a car accident. Whitbeck believes his resignation was due to his desire for union representation. She is currently working with the NLRB to restore her position.

iPhone Users to Receive Two New Major Security Boost from Apple

Security has been an issue for many people as spyware has become more prevalent in the digital age, and Apple takes measures against cyber attacks.

Apple has unveiled two initiatives to protect users by introducing Lockdown Mode and macOS Venture.

Lockdown mode is the first of its kind and will be released this fall alongside iOS 16 and iPadOS 16. The new feature includes protections such as:

  • Block message attachment types, including link previews
  • Disable complex web technology unless the user excludes a site from Lockdown Mode
  • Invitations and service requests such as FaceTime calls will be blocked unless the user has called or made a request
  • Wired connections to computers or accessories are blocked when iPhone is locked
  • iPhones cannot enroll in mobile device management when Lockdown Mode is enabled, and configuration profiles cannot be installed

macOS Venture is optional protection designed to help users with severe threats. It strengthens device defenses, limits certain functionality, and reduces the attack surface that can be potentially exploited by rented spyware. 

“Apple makes the most secure mobile devices on the market. Lockdown Mode is a game-changing feature that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from the rarest and most sophisticated attacks,” said Ivan Krstic, head of engineering and security architecture at Apple.

“While the vast majority of users will never fall victim to targeted cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users who are. This includes continuing to develop countermeasures specifically for these users, as well as supporting researchers and organizations worldwide doing the vital work to uncover the mercenary companies creating these digital attacks.

Apple will continue to strengthen Lockdown Mode and add new protections over time. The company has also created a new category within the Apple Security Bounty program to reward researchers who can find Lockdown Mode bypasses to improve security by inviting contributions and collaboration from the security research community. Prizes will be doubled for Lockdown Move, up to $2,000,000, the highest maximum payout for security measures.

The Legend of Aang Continues with Three New Animated Films

The creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender have announced that they will be producing three new animated movie projects. This is likely to rejoice long-standing fans, as it has been more than ten years since they last saw their favorite characters.

The prospect of revisiting and expanding the Avatar universe is one that has never shied from Paramount or Nickelodeon. The creation of their new studio, Avatar Studios, speaks volumes about how much they love this series.

Read also: The Flash Rumored to Be Ezra Miller’s Last Outing as the Iconic Speedster

The team behind The Last Airbender has announced that they are returning to continue the story in an upcoming sequel series. This time around, original creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino will be steering the course for what’s happening on screen.

With the Avatar universe branching into animated films and series, many speculate that it would be a huge success. The studio hasn’t announced anything yet so fans will just have to wait to see what they come up with.

However, the production of three new Avatar: The Last Airbender animations has been recently announced by Paramount.

The first of the new projects is being directed by Lauren Montgomery, and fans will be eager to see what she can do. She previously worked on an original series so it’s only natural that they want her involvement in this one as well.

Ramsey Naito, the president in charge of Animation and Development at Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation, said that he is confident about this collaboration between Konietzko, DiMartino, and Montgomery.

“As original creators, Mike and Bryan expand the Avatar universe with us,” said Naito. “We’re keeping it all in the family with Lauren bringing the same kind of expert, beautiful work she did on the original series to her new directing duties on the forthcoming theatrical.”

With the three films rumored to revolve around Avatar Kiyoshi (the Avatar story fans have long wanted), Zuko (everyone’s favorite antagonist-turned-hero) and a story set in the later period of Legend Of Korra era; these new movies are bound to excite fans.

Since the end of their original series, fans have been eager to see what happens next for our favorite bending heroes. Meanwhile Netflix is producing a live-action adaptation that will be unrelated to the three movies and ignore everything that happened in M. Night Shyamalan’s film.

Read also: Fred Simian’s Return Allows Seth Green to Resume Production for His Show

Victims Stood Before Congress to Plead for Change Following the Recent Shootings

Speaking to the U.S. House Committee in a pre-recorded video testimony, Miah Cerrillo described the massacre of the Uvalde school shooting.

“I took my friend’s blood and put it all over me,” she shared. “And I thought he would come back to the room.”

Miah is still healing from the trauma of the shooting last month, and she shared that it has made her more fearful about another one in school.

Miguel Cerrillo said that his daughter was no longer the same after she went through a tragedy. He pleaded for changes in schools so this doesn’t happen to other kids again. Liah wanted to be there to explain the gravity of her experience in hopes of improving the safety of schools in the future.

The parents of Lexi Rubio made an emotional plea, asking the committee to remember she was more than just a number. They shared that they ran barefoot for miles with their daughter before learning she had died with 18 others and two teacher

“We told her we loved her, and we would pick her up after school,” the mother said, recounting the morning with Lexi. “I left my daughter at that school, and that decision will always haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Zeneta Everhart, mother of a victim still recovering from the Buffalo shooting injuries, spoke about her son’s injury while cleaning him up. She explained in detail, trying to reach out to Congress.

Garnell Whitfield Jr., the son of an 86-year old victim, challenged Congress to act against gun violence sweeping across America and the “cancer of white supremacy.”

Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician from UvaldeTexas painted the Congress with his account of the young victims he treated at the emergency room.

“Those mothers’ cries,” he recalled. “I will never get out of my head.”

Negotiations are ongoing and a compromise could soon become law. The president has met with the senators to secure their agreement on this deal, which will hopefully benefit the country.

Though the Democratic-led House has passed a bill to raise the minimum age for purchasing semi automatic weapons, it is nearly certain that this legislation will not become law as long as the Senate continues its focus on improving mental health programs and school security.



Victims of Recent Shootings Plead with Lawmakers for Change

Victory for Towson, Maryland’s Apple Store Lays Foundations for Other Stores Across the United States

Apple seems to be the next major corporation to witness a unionization after Amazon and Starbucks witnessed more US labor organizations in the past month. The recent victory in Maryland opened the doors for such possibilities, and experts believe there is more to come.

An Apple store in Towson, Maryland, was able to secure a victory in unionization, which experts speculate will lay the foundation for stores nationwide to follow.

For many, the possibility of a unionized organization forming and succeeding in an Apple store was impossible. Given the number of workers compared to a Starbucks shop, the time it takes to organize is just one of the many factors. In addition, Apple’s wide latitude to oppose unionization is a major obstacle in union efforts among its stores.

Read also: AppleCORE Out of Towson, Maryland, the Latest Union Organization Out of 2022

While many believe they are at a disadvantage, Maryland’s unionized Apple store workers have proved that while difficult, it is still possible. David DiMaria of IAMAW or the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers led the store’s campaign.

“These workers have inspired lots of other Apple workers around the country,” said DiMaria.

Maryland’s victory brought the spotlight to IAMAW, which has earned the interest of other Apple store employees “in all types of markets all over the country,” according to David DiMaria. He and IAMAW withheld the number of total stores represented by the workers.

The Maryland store’s union campaign started over a year ago, coinciding with similar efforts from other Apple stores across the country. New York employees at the Grand Central Terminal store are in the process of a union drive, but a store in Atlanta had to withdraw its request for a union vote two months ago, citing logistical challenges posed by COVID-19 and Apple’s anti-union efforts as reasons.

Two months ago, Apple announced that it would be raising its entry-level pay for retail employees, going from $20 to $22 per hour.

The amount of Apple stores organizing adds to the increase in union activity throughout the United States. The National Labor Relations Board released data in April that revealed that in the first six months of fiscal year 2022, there was a 57% increase for union elections.

Experts believe Apple stores will have difficulty in organizing a union. They cite the number of workers as a significant factor, pointing out how the store in Maryland has ninety-eight workers voting in the union election, more than triple the average 30 employees in Starbucks.

Apple also has an anti-union campaign that could limit or slow down organization at stores. However, experts speculate that opposition from employers could only strengthen the resolve for labor campaigns.

Read also: Buffalo Starbucks Employees Released For Unionization Efforts, According to NLRB

July 4 Turns Red in Highland Park After Shooter Opened Fire on the Parade in Suburban Chicago

People often expect Independence Day to be a holiday full of festivities and celebrations, but when July 4 came, the holiday turned into a tragedy.

In Highland Park, Illinois, a gunman took to the roofs of suburban Chicago to open fire on a parade, causing panic and painting the streets red and littered.

At least six people were killed and 30 injured.

Read also: Assault Weapon Ban “Rational” for Gun Control, Says President Biden

An hour-long manhunt followed, and a 22-year-old man was arrested for being tipped as a person of interest in the shooting.

“It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” said Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “I’m furious because it does not have to be this way. While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become a weekly – yes, weekly – American tradition.”

The shooting occurred in an area along the parade route where residents had lined up and settled down to enjoy the show earlier that day. The bullets sent hundreds of people running for their lives, leaving a trail of abandoned objects.

Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogemen said an officer captured 22-year-old Robert E. Crimo III five miles north of the shooting scene hours later. The capture came after police released a photo of him and his silver Honda Fit. Police were warned earlier that he could be armed and dangerous.

Police did not confirm Crimo was a suspect but shared that identifying him as a person of interest and releasing various information to the public was a serious step to arresting the shooter.

In a press conference, Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli revealed that five victims died from the initial shooting and another died after being taken to hospital.

NorthShore University Health Center admitted 26 patients from the attack. Reports say all but one victim had gunshot wounds. The age of the victims ranged from 8 to 85 years, and four or five of the patients were children. 

Doctor Brigham Temple said 19 people had been treated and discharged, while other victims had to be transferred to other hospitals. Two patients were in stable condition and kept hospitalized at Highland Park Hospital.

The shooting took place at 10:15 a.m., and the shooter allegedly used a “power rifle” from a commercial building, sitting at an angle that made it difficult for him to be seen. However, police recovered the weapon for the shooting and found a ladder attached to the building.

Police suspect a shooter and warn he may be armed and dangerous. With one gunman still at large, neighboring towns were forced to cancel events. For example, the Chicago White Sox announced that they canceled a fireworks display after their game due to the incident.

Read also: A Truck with 50 Dead People Found at an Intersection in San Antonio