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Papa John’s Kicks NFL To The Curb In Major Marketing Overhaul

Following an earnings miss that sent Papa John’s down 7.59% after hours on Tuesday to two-year lows, the pizzamaker’s new CEO Steve Ritchie announced that the company would be severing their nearly decade-long relationship with the NFL, Ritchie said on the ir fourth quarter earnings call.

The announcement followed an internal decision to make drastic changes to the company’s marketing strategy – which will now see the company focus on its 22 partner teams within the league along with individual star players.

Tensions with the NFL grew strained last year, after founder and former CEO, John Schnatter, slammed the league last November amid sagging ratings along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s mishandling of the ongoing kneeling controversy.

In November, the company pulled its ads from the NFL amid Schnatter’s criticisms:

“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter said on a November conference call before his departure.

“NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”

“The NFL and Papa John’s have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport,” both organizations said in a joint statement.

The sponsorship’s demise comes during a slump at the pizza chain. The company posted a 3.9 percent decline in North American same-store sales last quarter, sending the shares tumbling in extended trading on Tuesday. Papa John’s pledged to reverse the decline by improving its loyalty program, hiring a new public relations partner and revamping its marketing. –Bloomberg

Shares were off as much as 8.5% to $51.55 in after-hours trading on Tuesday amid adjusted earnings of 65 cents per share on revenue of $467.6 million, missing expectations.

“We know our potential is so much greater than our results, and we are taking significant steps to reinvigorate our record of profitable growth and value creation,” said Ritchie in a statement.

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YouTube Backs Down After Putting InfoWars On Verge Of Deactivation

YouTube issued a second strike to Alex Jones’s main channel early Tuesday over a pair of videos related to the Florida school shooting – bringing it dangerously close to termination, however the second strike was removed hours later for unknown reasons.


The videos, “The Truth About Crisis Actors In The Florida Shooting,” and “What Is To Blame For The Florida High School Shooting” have been removed from YouTube, but can be seen here on the Infowars website.

While a second strike restricts a channel from posting new content for two weeks, a third strike can result in a ban from the platform.

“This is the second strike applied to your account within three months,” the notice reads. “As a result, you’re unable to post new content to YouTube for two weeks. If there are no further issues, the ability to upload will be automatically restored after this two week period.”

Infowars has referred to the YouTube strikes as a “CNN lobbying campaign,” after CNN reported that they had “identified three similar YouTube videos from InfoWars” which they flagged to YouTube. A YouTube spokesperson responded at the time that those videos were under review.

The Alex Jones Channel, which has over 2.2 million subscribers, first came under fire over a video suggesting that a survivor of the Parkland school shooting, David Hogg, was coached and given lines for interviews with various media outlets following the Valentines Day massacre which left 17 dead.

The video was removed for a violation of YouTube’s “harassment and bullying” policy and the channel was issued a strike.


The video featured a clip of Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg appearing to flub scripted lines – leading many to believe he has been coached on what to say as he tours around the country to promote an aggressive gun control agenda:

YouTube has all but scrubbed this clip of Hogg from its platform.

Earlier in the day, David Hogg shot off a barrage of tweets making fun of Alex Jones – which started off with Hogg telling Jones he wanted to [sic] “come on and clear some of this up because clearly as a shit journalist you can’t clearly

Jones accepted Hogg’s offer to have him on the show:

Three hours later, Hogg backpedaled, tweeting “I will not speak to anyone that has had disgusting remarks to victims of mass shootings in the past.”

Jones replied:


originally published by ZeroHedge

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Leaked Audio From Defeated Russian Mercenaries: “They Beat Our Asses”, “A Total Fu*k Up”

Leaked audio recordings allegedly capture demoralized Russian mercinaries in Syria bemoaning an joint U.S. strike that killed as many as 200 Russian nationals (according to Bloomberg) around the oil fields of the Deir Ezzor region. Russia pushed back against the figure, publicly acknowledging that just five people, “presumably” Russian citizens, were killed in an armed clash with U.S. forces.

Reuters has reported that 300 were killed or wounded in the clash.

The casualties are the highest that Russia has suffered in a single battle since fierce clashes in Ukraine in 2014 claimed more than 100 fighters’ lives. Moscow denies sending soldiers and volunteers to Ukraine and has never confirmed that figure.

The wounded, who have been medically evacuated from Syria in the past few days, have been sent to four Russian military hospitals, according to five sources familiar with the matter. –Reuters

The recordings, released by Polygraph.info, a Voice of America fact checking website, were reportedly given to the publication by a source close to the Kremlin, who said that the recorded phone calls came from mercinaries employed by CHVK Wagner – a Russian private military company.

The mercinaries on the audio tapes can be heard expressing anger over Russia’s reaction to the military clash, while refuting the Kremlin’s figure of five dead.

Opposition leaders inside Russia, as well as Russian and Western media reports, dispute Zakharova’s comments.

Polygraph.info has obtained audio recordings from a source close to the Kremlin who said the Russian casualties were personnel from a private Russian military company who attempted to capture an oil refinery in Syria.

“So, one squadron f**** lost 200 people…right away,” said one of three mercenary soldiers. “Another one lost 10 people… and I don’t know about the third squadron but it got torn up pretty badly, too.” –Polygraph

First clip:

“The reports that are on TV about … well, you know, about Syria and the 25 people that are wounded there from the Syrian f— army and — well … to make it short, we’ve had our asses f— kicked. So one squadron f— lost 200 people … right away, another one lost 10 people … and I don’t know about the third squadron, but it got torn up pretty badly, too … So three squadrons took a beating … The Yankees attacked … first they blasted the f— out of us by artillery, and then they took four helicopters up and pushed us in a f— merry-go-round with heavy caliber machine guns … They were all shelling the holy f— out of it, and our guys didn’t have anything besides the assault rifles … nothing at all, not even mentioning shoulder-fired SAMs or anything like that … So they tore us to pieces for sure, put us through hell, and the Yankees knew for sure that the Russians were coming, that it was us, f— Russians … Our guys were going to commandeer an oil refinery, and the Yankees were holding it … We got our f— asses beat rough, my men called me … They’re there drinking now … many have gone missing … it’s a total f— up, it sucks, another takedown … Everybody, you know, treats us like pieces of s— … They beat our asses like we were little pieces of s— … but our f— government will go in reverse now, and nobody will respond or anything, and nobody will punish anyone for this … So these are our casualties.”

Second clip:

“Out of all vehicles, only one tank survived and one BRDM [armored reconnaissance vehicle] after the attack, all other BRDMs and tanks were destroyed in the first minutes of the fight, right away.”

Third clip:

“Just had a call with a guy — so they basically formed a convoy, but did not get to their f— positions by some 300 meters. One unit moved forward, the convoy remained in place, about 300 meters from the others. The others raised the American f— flag, and their artillery started f— ours really hard. Then their f— choppers flew in and started f— everybody. Ours just running around. Just got a call from a pal, so there are about 215 f— killed. They simply rolled ours out f— hard. Made their point. What the f— ours were hoping for in there?! That they will f— run away themselves? Hoped to f— scare them away? Lots of people f— so bad [they] can’t be f— ID’d. There was no foot soldiers [on the American side]; they simply f— our convoy with artillery.”

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Parkland Survivor David Hogg Now A Financial Activist – Recommends Dumping FedEx

In the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting, survivor and gun control activist David Hogg has been making the rounds – encouraging citizens to boycott companies which deal with the NRA.

Over a dozen major companies have cut ties with the NRA – including Delta, Hertz and MetLife.  And as we reported yesterday, Wall St. is getting in on the outrage – as Bank of America, BlackRock and Blackstone Group, LP are all putting the screws to companies who deal with firearms manufacturers.

While Bank of America is “reexamining relationships with clients who make AR-15s,” and Blackrock – the world’s largest money manger – is sitting down with gunmakers Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson), of which they’re the largest shareholders, investment giant Blackstone Group, LP fired off a Saturday letter to outside managers at a dozen hedge funds, asking them to detail their holdings in companies that make or sell guns.

Meanwhile, two days ago young David Hogg put pressure on FedEx – encouraging companies which use the shipper to stop doing business with them over the company’s refusal to cut ties with the NRA.

And today – Hogg encouraged shareholders of FedEx to dump the stock – and instead “stick with @USPS or @UPS,” apparently unaware that the US postal service isn’t a public company.

In response, FedEx issued a statement saying that while they oppose “assault rifles” (which an AR-15 is not), they won’t cut ties with the NRA:

FedEx stock responded by giving zero fucks and honeybadgering higher along with the rest of the market:

Meanwhile we haven’t heard one word from David Hogg about Broward Sheriff’s office and the FBI’s failure to follow up on three tips about suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz – specifically warning over Cruz shooting up a school. Hell, the FBI didn’t even contact Google after a YouTube video uploader reported his threat – under his own name – to become a “professional school shooter.”

We haven’t heard one word from Hogg about the two dozen visits to Cruz’s house by Broward County Sheriffs – or the fact that the Florida Social Services agency which deemed Cruz not to be a threat after investigating.

We haven’t heard anything from the young gun control activist about the fact that had Cruz been appropriately charged with a felony for holding a gun to his mother’s head while threatening her life, he wouldn’t have legally been able to own a firearm.

But hey, let’s try to take FedEx stock down for no other reason than the fact that they refuse to condemn the NRA.


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Goldman-Backed Crypto Startup Buys Major Digital Token Exchange

Goldman-backed Cryptocurrency startup Circle has inked a deal to buy digital token exchange Poloniex, said Cirlce on Monday.

Poloniex, which often boasts daily volumes of more than $2 billion in transactions for over 70 digital currencies, will help cement Circle’s position as one of the leading players in the highly competitive market, the company said on Monday.

While neither Circle nor Poloniex disclosed the value of the deal, Fortune magazine says the agreement between the two Boston-based firms is worth $400 million, according to a source familiar with the transaction.

“We’ve been really impressed with what they have been able to pull off,” Circle co-founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire said.

“They defined what originally people thought of as ‘altcoin’ exchanges,” he told Reuters – referring to the dozens of lesser known cryptocurrency alternatives to Bitcoin.

The value of cryptocurrencies – as well as the number – has ballooned since the start of 2017, when they were worth around $17 billion, according to trade website Coinmarketcap, with their total value topping $800 billion in January before slipping to around $450 billion now.

There are now more than 1,500 digital currencies and tokens, Coinmarketcap said. –reuters

Peer to Peer

Circle’s app-based network is a peer-to-peer system operating on the blockchain – the technology which underpins the entire cryptocurrency market. Circle plans to launch a retail-focused app for buying cryptocurrencies, dubbed “Circle Invest.” 

The company’s backers include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Chinese muiltinational Baidu, Inc. – while their deal to buy Poloniex was reportedly discussed with all major investors and regulators before a final agreement was struck on Friday.

Tightening regulations

The SEC has been cracking down on cryprocurrency exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) – warning last july that they could be considered securities which require regulation under federal securities laws.

We intend to continue playing a leadership role when it comes to national and global regulatory frameworks for this space,” Circle co-founder Sean Neville told Reuters.

”That includes meeting with the SEC as well as obtaining all relevant licensing required for us to support our customers.”

Regulators are also keeping an eye on the anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (KYC) practices of cryptocurrency exchanges.

A Reuters investigation published in September showed that Poloniex had allowed some customers to trade cryptocurrencies and withdraw up to $2,000 worth of digital coins a day by providing only a name, an email address and a country.

Circle’s Allaire said that Poloniex was fully complient with the “Know Your Customer” checks, however he could not confirm that the exchange had the identities for all clients.

“I’m not sure that 100 percent of prior clients have gone through all their identity verification requests. I know they have a huge backlog of clients in their KYC queues,” he said. “But obviously now that we operate the company we’re going to ensure that the business is compliant in every way it needs to be.”

Sorry New Yorkers, unless you have a VPN!

Residents of New York are sadly unable to participate in the Poloniex exchange due to lack of a state license to operate a cryptocurrency exchange – however Reuters found people circumventing the rule by claiming they live elsewhere.

“Clearly, people can get around things like IP (internet protocol) restrictions, and other restrictions, and people do it all the time. People evade geo-blocking mechanisms, and it’s difficult to fully police. So it’s possible that some people have snuck through that, and that’s obviously something we take very seriously,” Allaire said.

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Blackrock, Blackstone Pressure Gun Manufacturers After Florida Shooting

In the wake of the Parkland massacre, over a dozen companies cut ties with the NRA – including Hertz, Delta and Metlife.

Wall St. is also getting in on the outrage.

While Bank of America is “reexamining relationships with clients who make AR-15s,” and Blackrock – the world’s largest money manger – is sitting down with gunmakers Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson), of which they’re the largest shareholders, investment giant Blackstone Group, LP fired off a Saturday letter to outside managers at a dozen hedge funds, asking them to detail their holdings in companies that make or sell guns.

The letter demands an answer by Sunday night – a 24 hour turnaround.

In the message, Blackstone executives apologized for the weekend intrusion, saying that Blackstone’s senior management wanted to know the information as soon as possible.

Blackstone has taken steps over the years to eliminate its exposure to guns across its various lines of business. –WSJ

“We believe we have next to no direct exposure to the firearms industry, but it’s not surprising that we would want to confirm,” a spokeswoman for the firm said in an emailed statement.
Pensions too

Gunmakers may also come under pressure from pensions – such as Florida’s state pension, which holds shares of American Outdoor Brands. As Bloomberg put it, “as Florida teachers grieve over the mass shooting that left 17 students and colleagues dead last week, some of them may be surprised to learn they’ve been helping fund the firearms industry—including the company that made the gun used that bloody Wednesday.”

Bank of America

Meanwhile, BofA is going to be “joining other companies in our industry to examine what we can do to help end the tragedy of mass shootings,” the bank said in a statement.

“And an immediate step we’re taking is to engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility.”

Flood of demand

Meanwhile, evidence suggests gunmakers are about to have a great quarter or two – with record attendance at the Florida Gun Show. Organizer Steve Fernandez said they’ve never seen such a large crowd .

“Some of the people attending are afraid that future legislation will impact their gun ownership rights,” said Fernandez. That said, 95% of the vendors at this weekend’s Florida Gun Show are required to run background checks since they are licensed dealers.

This is nothing new. Under President Obama – dubbed the “greatest gun salesman in America” – FBI firearm background checks skyrocketed amid a record 52,600 weapons sold daily under his administration as of June 2016.

And take a look at the Google trends search for “buy ar15” below – note the spike right after the Las Vegas shooting followed by searches conducted in the wake of the Parkland massacre.


Meanwhile, both $RGR and $AOBC seeem to be sucking wind… perhaps over recent moves by Wall St. and others against the NRA and other pro-Second Amerndment entities.


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InfoWars YouTube Channel Receives Strike Over David Hogg “Crisis Actor” Video

YouTube has issued a strike to the primary InfoWars channel over a video suggesting that the survivors of the Valentines Day Parkland school shooting were coached prior to interviews with various media outlets. The video revolves around a clip of shooting survivor David Hogg, who appears unable to remember his “lines” while giving a media interview. The clip immediately went viral, before YouTube began removing it from its platform.

The video published to the Alex Jones Channel, which has over 2.2 million subscribers, was removed for a violation of YouTube’s “harassment and bullying” policy – leaving InfoWars with two more chances before it’s banned.

YouTube’s community guidelines say that if an account receives two strikes in a three-month period, it will not be able to upload content for two weeks. If three strikes are given within three months, the account will be terminated.

Adding to the “crisis actor” speculation is another clip which surfaced shortly after the shooting, featuring an altercation between Hogg and a Redondo Beach, CA lifeguard. In it, Hogg places his boogie board on a trash can before he and the lifeguard get in an argument.

After the lifeguard altercation jumped to the #1 on YouTube’s “trending,” Google removed it under their harassment and bullying policy – apologizing for helping to fuel the “crisis actor” theory. The clip is still being scrubbed, so the embedded video above may not work.

“Last summer we updated the application of our harassment policy to include hoax videos that target the victims of these tragedies,” said a YouTube spokesperson. “Any video flagged to us that violates this policy is reviewed and then removed.”

Hogg hits back

In a series of interviews and statements, Hogg has vehemently denied that he is a crisis actor – claiming “I am not a Clinton ploy or an actor,” adding “I am a witness to this.

Hogg appeared on CNN’s AC360 alongside his father – a former FBI agent, to proclaim his innocence.

“I’m not a crisis actor,” Hogg told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360” Tuesday. “I’m someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that.”

“I’m not acting on anybody’s behalf,” the 17-year-old added. –CNN


Further fueling the crisis actor theories is another clip actively being scrubbed from YouTube of another Parkland shooting survivor, Senior Alexa Miednik, who says she spoke with suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz during the shooting. Miednik believed that a second shooter was involved in the attack, stating “There was obviously, definitely another shooter involved.” When KHOU11 reporter Matt Musil then asks Miednik “Oh, you think he was not the only one?“, Miednik replies “Definitely not.”

While the most logical solution is that Hogg is nothing more than an enthusiastic young liberal who also happens to legitimately be an aspiring actor, videos of Hogg flubbing his lines and Miednik’s “second shooter” comments are sure to fuel speculation for quite some time.

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Illinois Governor Chugs Glass Of Chocolate Milk Laced With Brown Sugar In Diversity Stunt

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) became an unwitting assistant in a diversity stunt on Wednesday at a downtown Chicago “workplace diversity” workshop for black history month – downing a glass of chocolate milk with a slug of brown sugar meant to represent how people of color “sit at the bottom” of an organization until “you actually stir it up.”

The metaphor was the createion of Hyatt Hotels diversity and inclusion executive Tyronne Stoudemire, who enlisted Gov. Rauner in the stunt

Stoudemire, who is black, poured a glass of milk to represent the white men who lead most organizations (including, um, the state of Illinois).

This chocolate syrup represents diversity,” Stoudemire said, before squirting a healthy dash of brown syrup that immediately sank to the bottom of the glass.

When you look at most organizations, diversity sits at the bottom of the organization,” Stoudemire continued. “You don’t get inclusion until you actually stir it up.” –Chicago Tribune

Rauner, who is worth an estimated several hundred million dollars, stirred the syrup into the milk to turn it brown, took a swig, and proclaimed “Diversity!”

“Diversity is the mix, and inclusion is making the mix work,” added Stoudemire as the sugary analogy concluded.

Stoudemire told Chicago Inc. he’s been using the chocolate milk stunt for 16 years as a simple way to illustrate the lack of diversity at the top of Fortune 500 companies. He typically picks on the most powerful person in the room to be his assistant, he said, adding that Rauner “didn’t know what he was getting into.”

Rauner’s spokeswoman, Rachel Bold, wrote in a statement: ”This was the event moderator’s example of diversity that an audience of all ages could see and understand. It was one of two demonstrations at the event, both of which received ovations from the crowd.”


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JROTC Shooting Survivor: CNN Gave “Scripted” Question After Refusing To Air His [UPDATED]

A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student was approached by CNN to ask a question at Wednesday night’s town hall, but declined after the network gave him a “scripted question” instead of allowing him to ask his own question.

Colton Haab, a member of the Junior ROTC who shielded students while shots rang out, Local 10 news that he was going to ask a question about hiring veterans as armed security guards.

“CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted,” Haab told WPLG-TV.  “I don’t think that it’s going get anything accomplished. It’s not gonna ask the true questions that all the parents and teachers and students have.”

CNN conducted the town hall on the Florida school shooting with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), along with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and the NRA’s Dana Loesch. Students and parents took turns asking questions about gun control and ensuring school safety.

“I expected to be able to ask my questions and give my opinion on my questions,” Haab said.

 “Colton Haab, a member of the Junior ROTC who shielded classmates in the midst of terror says he did not get to share his experience,” WPLG’s Janine Stanwood explained. “Colton wrote questions about school safety, suggested using veterans as armed school security guards but claims CNN wanted him to ask a scripted question instead so he decided not to go,” reported Stanwood.



Hmm. What about focus groups?

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CNN Harasses Elderly Florida Woman Over Unwittingly Promoting Russian Trolls

CNN went from diving in Russian dumpsters this week to doxxing an elderly Florida woman – driving to her house where reporter Drew Griffin proceeded to harass her over the Facebook group she runs which unwittingly promoted Russian trolling activities during the 2016 election.

The woman, Florine Gruen Goldfarb, was unaware that her Team Trump Broward County Facebook page had been the target of Russian meddling efforts – a point which Griffin repeatedly and accusatorily made while Goldfarb stood outside of her home, defending herself.

“Those people weren’t Russians. I don’t go with Russians,” she said at one point.

“Those people that were with me were all Trump supporters,” she added.

“And all apparently following the direction of Russians who were actually infiltrating,” Griffin replied.

“B.S.,” said Goldfarb.


One wonders if CNN is going to drive out to MSNBC host Joy Reid’s house to badger her over the fact that she was a favorite of Russian Trolls during the 2016 election.

Or if they’ll badger Michael Moore at his house for unwittingly participating in an anti-Trump rally organized by Russians.

Then again, it’s probably easier to roll up to some old lady in Florida and bust her chops.

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