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Trump is expected to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ginsburg Supreme Court vacancy

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett

Matt Cashore | Notre Dame | Reuters

President Donald Trump is expected to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, sources familiar with the matter tell NBC News. 

Trump is expected to make the announcement at an event planned for 5 p.m. ET Saturday. 

Barrett is a 48-year-old federal appeals court judge favored by social conservatives and the religious right. Her confirmation to replace Ginsburg, a feminist icon who sat on the bench for 27 years, would solidify a 6-3 majority for Republican appointees on the bench for the foreseeable future. 

Trump’s announcement will come just 38 days before voters will decide whether he will hold the White House for a second term, and is bound to have profound reverberations on all three branches of government. 

Barrett’s expected selection will come just a week after Ginsburg died from complications due to cancer found on her pancreas. She will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery next week. 

Ginsburg, who had in the past publicly sparred with the president, said in a statement issued while she was dying that it was her “most fervent wish” that she not be replaced until after Election Day. 

That comment, and the precedent Republicans set in 2016 when they opposed former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the bench, prompted a battle between Democrats and Republicans over whether a vote on a new nominee would take place before Nov. 3. 

Barrett has long been anticipated as a potential nominee to the Supreme Court, and it came as a surprise to some when Trump passed over her in favor of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat vacated by Anthony Kennedy. Trump reportedly said at the time that he was saving Barrett for Ginsburg. 

Trump has repeatedly pressed for a vote ahead of Election Day, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said there is more than enough time to do so, despite his 2016 posture that prohibited a vote on Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. 

Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his allies in Congress have blasted the president’s decision to nominate a justice. During a speech in Philadelphia, Biden said of Ginsburg that “we should heed her final call to us, not as a personal service to her, but as a service to the country, our country, at a crossroads.”

But it appears Republicans will have the votes they need. Two moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, came out in opposition to holding a vote, but failed to attract other defectors. McConnell needs just 50 of the Senate’s 53 Republicans to stay in line, given Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to cast a tie breaking vote. 

Any selection Trump could have made was likely to be contentious, but Barrett could prove especially so. 

Barrett, whom Trump appointed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has already started to spur a cultural battle over the place of religion on the high court, and the future of abortion rights in the United States. 

Democrats are worried that Barrett’s deeply held Catholic faith will bias her in cases that could cause the court to revisit Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion. 

They have pointed to Barrett’s comments to students suggesting that their legal careers were a means to “building the kingdom of God,” and a 1998 paper in which Barrett explored whether orthodox Catholic judges should recuse themselves from cases concerning the death penalty. In the paper, Barrett referred to aborted fetuses as “unborn victims.” 

Barrett wrote in the article, co-authored with a professor while in law school, that the Catholic church’s opposition to the death penalty provided a reason for federal judges to recuse themselves in capital cases. She wrote that the same logic did not apply to abortion or euthanasia.

“We might distinguish between executing criminals and killing the aged and the unborn in this way: criminals deserve punishment for their crimes; aged and unborn victims are innocent,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Barrett’s path to confirmation is bolstered by support among social conservatives, who accuse Democrats of attempting to put a “religious test” in the way of the Supreme Court vacancy. 

Barrett has only considered two cases touching on abortion as a federal appeals court judge, in both cases voting to reconsider rulings that struck down abortion restrictions. 

In both appeals, Barrett signed onto opinions authored by another judge, rather than independently outlining her thinking, making an assessment of her abortion jurisprudence more complicated. 

‘The dogma lives loudly within you’

One comment in particular from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to Barrett energized conservatives and became something of a rallying cry. 

During Barrett’s confirmation hearing in September of 2016, Feinstein said she had concerns related to past statements about religion. 

“I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern,” Feinstein said.

Conservatives promptly put versions of the statement on merchandise as a sign of protest. “‘The Dogma Lives Loudly Within You’; Now It Lives Loudly On Your T-Shirt,” read one headline in The Daily Wire, a conservative outlet. 

Democrats are likely to choose their words carefully in any potential Barrett confirmation hearings, but whether she will make decisions based on her faith is expected to be a prominent line of inquiry. 

Membership in People of Praise

Barrett has also courted controversy with her membership in a small, primarily Catholic organization called People of Praise. Members of the group swear to uphold so-called “covenants” and are held accountable to advisors. 

Female advisors were referred to as “handmaidens” until the term was introduced into popular culture by the dystopian television show, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the Margaret Atwood novel. 

Critics of the group have called it a “cult,” and said the idea of a justice on the Supreme Court being accountable to a spiritual leader crossed the typical bounds defining the separation between church and state. 

As with Feinstein’s comments during Barrett’s confirmation, the controversy over Barrett’s membership in People of Praise similarly led to a conservative backlash against what some saw as anti-Catholic bigotry.  

Conservatives deny that the group is a cult, and have criticized Democrats and newspapers like The New York Times for what they say are unfair attacks on religion. Conservative writer David French wrote in The National Review that “parachurch” organizations such as People of Praise are misunderstood.

“It betrays fundamental ignorance about the way millions of American Christians live their lives,” he wrote, noting that groups like People of Praise are common places where religious people seek advice on issues like dating, marriage, careers, and child-rearing. Words like “covenant,” he said, were very common. 

Members of the organization have also pointed out that it is open to both Republicans and Democrats. 

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Netflix stock should be avoided if lockdowns lift or a vaccine arrives

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A man watching Netflix on an Apple iPad Pro, taken on March 6, 2020.

Future Publishing | Getty Images

LONDON — Netflix shares should be avoided if there’s a coronavirus vaccine or if lockdowns lift, according to media analyst Alex DeGroote, who owns DeGroote Consulting.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” on Tuesday ahead of Netflix’s third-quarter results, DeGroote said: “I would have seen Netflix, frankly, as a stock to avoid, should there be, for example, a vaccine, or should lockdowns ease greatly.”

He added that the stricter lockdown initiatives being rolled out across Europe now “keeps people at home and that keeps them subscribing and less likely to churn.”

Competition in the streaming market has soared in recent months as other companies have launched their own offerings as part of an effort to capitalize on the pandemic. In addition to Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube Plus, there’s also new platforms like Disney+ and NBCUniversal’s Peacock service.

“The rule of thumb is the average household will take about three subscription services, but at the moment we have potentially up to eight services on offer,” said DeGroote. “There are just too many services for the budgets that most households have.”

DeGroote believes some streaming services may merge or get acquired next year, while others may shut down completely.

“I think probably into next year, things will start to get tough, and that’s when you might see M&A, or you might see some of the bigger operators, frankly pull their streaming services,” he said.

Discounts keep customers subscribed

Netflix recently changed its discounting policy from a one-month free trial in the U.S. and the U.K. to a 50% discount for the first two months.

DeGroote believes this was part of an effort to retain subscribers. “I would expect all the platform companies to be far more creative with their discounting over the next 12 to 18 months, as they try and strike a balance between critical mass, in terms of the subscriber base, and also frankly losing money,” he said.

“The reality is that for most streamers, these businesses are not yet profitable,” DeGroote added. “They won’t be profitable until they have subscriber bases of a certain size, paying a reliable monthly subscription. That’s probably a year down the line.”

Netflix shares have risen by more than 75% since March, which is when the coronavirus pandemic started to spread significantly in the West.

The company’s story has largely been about new subscriber growth but that may no longer be the case.

“In terms of Q3, the company has really quite skilfully guided down expectations,” said DeGroote. “The expectations over net new subs in Q3 are relatively low at about two and a half million so it is more about whether they can beat that number. For what it’s worth, I think they probably will.”

Patrick Armstrong, CIO of Plurimi Investment Managers, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Tuesday that technology companies “are going to be winners in this environment.”

Disclosure: Peacock is the streaming service of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC.

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Covid likely to become as ‘endemic’ as flu

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Health workers are dressing with protective suits and face maks. The collection of swab samples by medical staff in the drive-in testing center of San Filippo Neri hospital in Roma, Italy on October 19, 2020.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

LONDON — Covid-19 is likely to become as “endemic” as the annual flu virus, according to the U.K.’s chief scientific advisor.

Some potential vaccines are in late–stage clinical trials, but Patrick Vallance said none is not likely to eradicate the virus.

“The notion of eliminating Covid from anywhere is not right, because it will come back,” he said, noting there had only been one human disease “truly eradicated” thanks to a highly effective vaccine and that was smallpox.

“We can’t be certain, but I think it’s unlikely we will end up with a truly sterilizing vaccine, (that is) something that completely stops infection, and it’s likely this disease will circulate and be endemic, that’s my best assessment,” Vallance told the National Security Strategy Committee in London on Monday.

“Clearly as management becomes better, as you get vaccination which would decrease the chance of infection and the severity of disease … this then starts to look more like annual flu than anything else, and that may be the direction we end up going,” he said.

Biotech companies and academic bodies around the world have joined forces to try to create a vaccine against the coronavirus at breakneck speed given its ferocity. On Monday, the grim milestone of 40 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide was reached, and the virus has caused 1.1 million deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Historically, creating a vaccine from scratch had taken 10 years on average, Vallance said, and it had never taken under five years.

“We’re now in the extraordinary situation where there are at least eight vaccines which are in quite large clinical studies around the world. … We will know over the next few months whether we have any vaccines that really do protect and how long they protect for,” he said.

He added that a number of vaccines created an immune response and antibody response, but only the Phase 3 clinical trials would prove whether they “actually stop people getting infected.” The safety profile of such vaccines would also become clearer and from then on, a “sensible vaccination strategy” could be looked at, Vallance said.

Vallance concluded he didn’t believe there would be any vaccine available for widespread use in the community until at least spring.

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UBS earnings: q3 2020

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The logo of Swiss banking giant UBS engraved on the wall is seen on its headquarters on May 8, 2019 in Zurich.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The world’s largest wealth manager, UBS, reported a net income of $2.1 billion for the third quarter on Tuesday, up 99% from the same period last year.

Analysts had forecast reported net income of $1.5 billion for the quarter, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon. Last year, the bank reported net income of $1.049 billion for the same period.

It comes after the Swiss bank and asset manager posted an 11% drop in profits in the second quarter, as the global banking industry felt the full effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday results will be UBS’ last under the leadership of CEO Sergio Ermotti, who is due to leave the bank this month. Ralph Hamers will become the new head on November 1.

This is a breaking news story and is being updated.

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