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Delta’s NRA move not the reason it shouldn’t get tax breaks: Georgia state senator

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Canceling a discount partnership with the National Rifle Association was a “stupid move” on the part of Delta Air Lines, said Georgia state Sen. Michael Williams. But that’s not the reason the Republican legislator is in favor of blocking a jet fuel sales tax exemption, he said.

“We do not support crony capitalism and giving public corporations tax breaks,” Williams told CNBC on “Closing Bell” on Tuesday.

Williams said he opposes the current version of a bill that would give airlines — such as Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta — a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel purchased in the state.

Williams, who represents Georgia’s 27th District, is a chair of the Appropriations subcommittee on fiscal management and general government and a member of the Appropriations, Ethics, Finance and Public Safety committees. He is also a candidate for governor.

“I have been fighting this because I, for one, do not believe in corporate welfare,” he said. “I don’t feel like the state of Georgia or the citizens here in Georgia should be subsidizing the bottom line for Delta.”

Williams said he was against the tax exemption before Delta announced Saturday that it would terminate its NRA contract for discounted fares for travel to the association’s 2018 annual meeting, reflecting the airline’s “neutral status” in the current gun control debate.

Georgia senators have been feeling the pressure from the people of Georgia, Williams said, who “love our Constitution, love our Second Amendment right. We’re going to stand up and fight over this.”

There is talk of sending the bill back to the Finance committee to draft a new version without the jet fuel tax credit, Williams said.

Delta is one of many businesses that has cut ties with the NRA in the wake of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla. shooting that killed 17 people.

Williams said he’s not in the business of telling corporations what to do.

“If Delta wants to do that [alter its relationship with the NRA], that’s completely up to Delta,” he said, but he also said he would “love” to see Delta reinstate its discounts for NRA members.

Meanwhile, other government officials, including Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, did say they were against tax legislation that would benefit Delta unless the company reinstituted its deal with the NRA.

Delta did not respond to a request for comment.

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‘Roaring 20s’ after the pandemic? Big banks warn be careful what you wish for

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GameStop jumps more than 100% even as hedge funds cover short bets, scrutiny of rally intensifies

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Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of GameStop surged again Wednesday, continuing the streak of wild swings for the stock as several high-profile short sellers said they had backed away from their positions.

The name traded at roughly $342 per share when it was briefly halted at about 11:19 a.m. ET, up almost 131% from Tuesday’s close and giving the company a market cap of about $24 billion. The stock traded as high as $380 per share in premarket trading.

The latest move higher comes as some of the high-profile short sellers of GameStop, including Melvin Capital and Citron, announced that they covered most or all of their positions.

The stock lost some of its premarket gains after the short sellers made their announcements, but the shares rebounded to new highs shortly before the market open.

GameStop’s nearly vertical surge over the past week has come as retail traders, many of whom have documented their moves on the social media site Reddit, have piled into the stock and call options. The spiking share price has helped to create a stock squeeze, where shorts and options dealers are forced to buy shares of a rising stock to cover their positions, resulting in a feedback loop that drives the stock even higher.

The name appeared to get a boost in extended trading on Tuesday after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted out the link to the Reddit board where much of the discussion has taken place.

The video game retailer, which had a market cap of less than $4 billion at the end of last week, was the most traded stock on the market by value Tuesday, according to Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid.

GameStop’s rapid rise has drawn comparisons to speculative trading during the tech bubble of the late 1990s and led many Wall Street veterans to warn investors about the potential for significant losses.

Hedge fund manager Michael Burry, who reported holding 1.7 million shares of the stock at the end of September, said in a now-deleted tweet that the rise was “unnatural, insane, and dangerous.” Burry also told Bloomberg News that he did not have a current long or short position in the stock.

William Galvin, Massachusetts’ top securities regulator, told Barron’s that the trading in GameStop could be “systemically wrong.”

Bank of America raised its price target on the stock to just $10 per share on Wednesday, saying in a note to clients that the increased share price could help GameStop’s turnaround plans but presented a risk for investors.

“While it is difficult to know how much very high short interest and retail ownership … could continue to put upward pressure on shares, we think fundamentals will again factor into valuation,” the note said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment to CNBC.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this story.

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PepsiCo CEO, top UN officials discuss future of food systems

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More than 1 billion tons of food is wasted every year. And agriculture is still a major driving force of climate change.

With world leaders looking to ensure the post-coronavirus recovery is one that’s sustainable and inclusive, the need to improve farming and food systems has never been more urgent.

To discuss the key issues at stake, CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick speaks with a panel of experts at the virtual Davos Agenda, including:

  • Dongyu Qu, director-general of the the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Wiebe Draijer, chairman of the managing board at Rabobank
  • Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo
  • Carlos Alvarado Quesada, president of Costa Rica
  • Agnes Kalibata, special envoy for the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit
  • Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations

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