Crypto exchange FTX U.S. gets into stock trading

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX US Derivatives, testifies during the House Agriculture Committee hearing titled Changing Market Roles: The FTX Proposal and Trends in New Clearinghouse Models, in Longworth Building on Thursday, May 12, 2022.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

The U.S. affiliate of crypto exchange FTX said Thursday it plans to roll out zero-commission stock trading. The new service was limited to a small number of U.S. users Thursday.

FTX U.S. made the announcement a week after the company’s owner, Sam Bankman-Fried, acquired a minority stake in Robinhood and two days after Robinhood revealed plans for its own bigger push into crypto.

The news also comes as the S&P 500 teeters on the edge of a bear market. Stocks — and cryptocurrencies, by extension — have been in a brutal sell-off for most of this year. The Nasdaq Composite suffered its worst month in April since 2008.

FTX U.S. will offer no-fee brokerage accounts, commission-free trading and market and company data. Customers will have the option to fund their accounts with fiat-backed stablecoins like USDC in addition to normal dollar deposits through wire transfer, ACH or credit card. There will be no minimum required balances for customers to maintain. Users will be able to trade some securities fractionally.

“Our goal is to offer a holistic investing service for our customers across all asset classes,” FTX US President Brett Harrison said in a news release Thursday. “We have created a single integrated platform for retail investors to easily trade crypto, NFTs, and traditional stock offerings through a transparent and intuitive user interface.”

The product, called FTX Stocks, will initially route orders through Nasdaq. The company said it will not receive any payment for order flow. The back-end payments that brokerages receive for directing clients’ trades to market makers came under scrutiny as Robinhood brought more retail investors into the market.

The new product is part of a new customer acquisition strategy by FTX U.S. that may initially lose money but look to recoup those losses in other ways, likely through its crypto trading service, as it figures out monetization down the road, according to a spokesperson for the company.

“There is clear market demand for a new retail investment experience that offers full order routing transparency to customers and does not rely on payment for order flow,” Harrison said in the release. “As we grow the product offering and capabilities, we are excited to give our customers even greater choice for order execution, as well as the tools they need to make informed routing decisions.”

Other than Robinhood, FTX U.S. joins fintech brands like Square Cash App, SoFi and Public in offering trading in both stocks and crypto. Big crypto-native rivals like Coinbase and Binance do not offer stocks, with the latter ending its equities product last year.


Why some Black Americans are leaving the U.S. to reclaim their “destiny” in Ghana

Accra, Ghana — In 2019, Ghana’s president invited African descendants in the diaspora to mark the “Year of Return,” commemorating 400 years since the first Africans arrived in the colony now known as Virginia on a slave ship. The invite prompted record tourism to Ghana, and an increase in Americans who applied for visas to stay.

But it was the events in the United States in 2020, and the Black Lives Matter movement, that drove a real surge in people looking to move out of America and into Africa.

The Elmina Castle on Ghana’s Atlantic coast is more than 5,000 miles from American shores, but the five-century old structure occupies a particularly dark place in U.S. history. Hundreds of years ago, it was a central trading hub where African people from around the continent were sold into slavery. 

Elmina castle view from the beach
Elmina Castle is seen on Ghana’s Cape Coast.

Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola/LightRocket/Getty

As the U.S. continues to confront its racist past, Ghana is turning that history upside down, and welcoming Black Americans back home.  

Sonjiah Davis was the epitome of Washington cool. She was a well-connected, successful therapist trained to deal with emotional health. And yet, living in the capital of the United States, she says she was constantly looking over her shoulder.    

“I was living what people would consider the American dream,” she told CBS News correspondent Debora Patta. “I was educated, professional. I had friends. I was a socialite… but I never felt safe.”

Davis believes trauma is embedded in her DNA, from the transatlantic slave trade to the Tulsa race massacre in 1921 that saw some of her family displaced from their homes.   

Biden announces plans to tackle racial disparities while marking 100 years since Tulsa Race Massacre


The trauma of racism, she said, was “beginning to take an emotional and psychological toll.”

“I didn’t even realize how traumatized I was, especially in regards to police,” she told CBS News. “My immediate thought all the time was, ‘Oh, my gosh, you know, what if a police officer pulls me over? Am I going to be physically safe? Am I going to come out of it alive?'”

Then George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota sparked a global cry of outrage, demanding that all Black lives matter.     

Black Lives Matter around the world: The global impact of George Floyd


For Davis, it was a breaking point.    

“I was barely holding on. I could feel myself nearing a nervous breakdown,” she said. “That’s why I made the decision that I had to get out of there.”  

She had already visited Ghana in 2019, during the government’s Year of Return campaign. The publicity attracted a record number of tourists, and its aim was to convert visitors into residents.

Erieka Bennet, Head of the African Diaspora Forum, said that after George Floyd was killed, the organization was inundated with inquiries.  

“It was just overloaded. Every day, at least — and this is no exaggeration — at least 300 people a day, saying, ‘How can we relocate to Ghana?’ It did spur a sense of people wanting to get out of America,” she said.  

Americans on a visit to Ghana.


About 5,000 African Americans have made the trip back to Ghana and stayed.

“Home is not a place. It’s how you feel where you are,” said Bennet. “The feeling of belonging, the feeling of welcome and a sense of freedom.” 

Just over a year ago, Davis traded her home in Washington D.C. for that sense of freedom.  

Her therapy practice is now all online, and while she misses the convenience of modern American life, she’s no longer looking over her shoulder. 

“I feel loved, I feel supported. I feel regarded. I feel like I matter,” she said. “I don’t feel like I am looked at for the color of my skin. I’m just a person here. I’m just another person.”

As for building a personal connection to Ghana, Davis said she’s been “trying to muster up the ability to go back to the slave castle.”

Slave quarters at the Cape Coast Castle (UNESCO World
The old slave quarters are seen at the Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of a number of slave castles near Elmina, Ghana.

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty

Many Black Americans have been able to trace the roots of their enslaved ancestors’ awful journeys to the new world back to the Elmina Castle and others like it on Ghana’s Cape Coast.

“When we got there, I thought I was ready, I thought I was ready, and walking into the dungeon, I couldn’t breathe,” Davis recalled of her visit in 2019. “I feel like I need to go again.” 

Patta joined Davis as she revisited the castle. They walked down corridors shadowed by horror, past the church where slave traders would pray above chained bodies, and into the godforsaken dungeons where tens of thousands of people perished.

Dungeon in Elmina castle
The entrance to a dungeon where Africans captured for the transatlantic slave trade were held at Elmina Castle, on Ghana’s Cape Coast.

Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola/LightRocket/Getty

Only a third of the Africans dragged into the castles in bondage made it out alive, only to be pushed onto ships, never to return to the land of their birth. Davis was acutely aware as she walked through the castle that her ancestors likely passed through it, or another just like it, hundreds of years ago.

“It’s heavy. It’s really heavy. You feel it,” she told Patta. And it has made her regard America differently.   

“I think that as Black Americans, we’re starting to come to the realization of our place in America. We’re coming to understand that America was really never meant for us to be there, as free people.” 

She said she left the United States in part to reclaim her own identity.

“I know that I am in control of myself, my destiny, my dreams and everything that I want for myself, and that my ancestors wanted for me,” she said.

On a recent trip back to Tulsa, Davis visited those ancestors, and she told them herself.

“I went to the cemetery and told them, ‘Hey, you know, I made it. I made it out of here. I made it back. I made it back. I got out of here.'”


US advisory panel to weigh in on COVID-19 boosters for children

An advisory panel to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is meeting on Thursday (May 19) to discuss whether to recommend COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for children ages five to 11, a group that is just 29 per cent vaccinated so far.

The US Food and Drug Administration authorised booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those children on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the United States.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) could recommend making boosters available for some portion of that age group, but may stop short of saying all children should get the extra shot, experts said.

“Omicron and other Omicron-like variants have caused some degree of illness in children, but it has been less than Delta, so is there sufficient benefit (from a booster)?” said Dr William Schaffner, who serves as the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases liaison to ACIP.

The companies submitted data to the FDA that showed a third dose of their vaccine generated a strong immune response against the Omicron variant in healthy children aged five to 11 years.

Severe disease is relatively rare in the age group, especially for those who have received two shots.


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Ticks in Nebraska – AZ Animals

Ticks in Nebraska are eight-legged arachnids that live solely on blood. They can take the blood of almost any host, humans included. These tiny, blood-sucking parasites survive on every continent, even Antarctica. A single tick can transmit any number of diseases, illnesses, and pathogens, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Tick bites can even cause red meat allergies in humans. And, as if all of that wasn’t scary enough, too many ticks feeding off a single host can lead to the host’s death.

Here, we’ll look at the two most common types of ticks in Nebraska. Then, we’ll go over two less common but still present tick species you might run into. Then, we’ll break down everything there is to know about ticks in Nebraska, starting with peak tick season and ending with how to avoid these bloodsuckers altogether. 

Keep reading to learn all there is to know about ticks in Nebraska and what to do if one of them decides to feed off you.

American Dog Tick

Female American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variabilis, sitting on a rock.
The American dog tick is the largest tick in Nebraska.

Elliotte Rusty Harold/

American dog ticks are one of the largest ticks in Nebraska. They’re the primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, an illness that can lead to death in the very young or immunocompromised. American dog ticks are also known as wood ticks, though they prefer fields to forests. They’re dark brown in color, with tan mottling on their bodies. Females are all brown, except for mottled tan ‘scuta,’ the hard shields that protect their upper backs. 

Lone Star Tick

Lone Star Tick on Virginia Spring Beauty flower. Lone Star ticks are very aggressive and actively travel to the host.
The lone star tick is most prevalent in eastern Nebraska.

Shooty Photography/

Female lone star ticks are among the easiest of ticks to identify, thanks to the ‘lone star’ marking on their back. Males lack the lone star, instead having variable tan and brown mottling along their bodies. These are common ticks in Nebraska, as well as most of North America. They’re smaller than American dog ticks, and will feed on just about any animal that crosses their path.

Lone star ticks are known to be aggressive host seekers. They’ll even follow carbon dioxide trails (left as a result of respiration) in order to find blood meals. Like all ticks, lone star ticks cannot see and rely instead on other senses to find hosts.

Deer Tick

A Deer tick, a parasitic biting insect on background of human epidermis.
One of the most prevalent ticks in North America, the deer tick is also one of the easiest to recognize. Kubeš

Also known as the black-legged tick, the deer ticks are one of the less common ticks in Nebraska. These ticks have distinct black legs with mahogany brown bodies. Their mouthparts are large, and when they bite, they bite deep. Of all the ticks in Nebraska, these are the only ones capable of transmitting Lyme disease. Deer ticks prefer feeding on small to medium-sized mammals, like raccoons, foxes, badgers, white-tail deer, and even rats and mice. 

Brown Dog Tick

Close up female rhipicephalus sanguineus on recycle paper. They get their common name from its overall reddish brown color.
Unfortunately for dog lovers, brown dog ticks live just about everywhere dogs live, even in our homes.

7th Son Studio/

Brown dog ticks are one of the most widespread ticks on Earth. Unlike other species of tick, these ticks spend their entire lives indoors. They have red-brown, almost rectangular bodies with no tan or black markings. Brown dog ticks are about the size of a sesame seed and carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, as well as several canine diseases. These ticks feed primarily on dogs but will also bite humans or other domestic animals.

When is Tick Season in Nebraska?

The worst time of year for ticks in Nebraska is from May-June. Ticks are also active from the spring through the summer and early fall, but their activity levels rise significantly in these months. During the winter, ticks either die or hibernate. Ticks can actually go months, or even years, without a blood meal. They simply become dormant for the winter if they haven’t fed.

Do Ticks in Nebraska have Lyme Disease?

Two deer ticks isolated on white background.
One of the earliest symptoms of Lyme disease is a red ring of rashy skin surrounding the bite area.


Fortunately for Nebraskans, the only type of tick known to transmit Lyme disease is the deer tick. Deer ticks are rare in Nebraska. Accordingly, incidences of Lyme disease transmission from ticks in Nebraska are extremely low. That being said, all ticks are capable of transmitting pathogens, so any bite should be closely monitored for signs of infection. 

Where do Ticks Live in Nebraska?

Ticks in Nebraska live in any number of habitats. Brown dog ticks live exclusively indoors, near dogs. Deer ticks are rare in the state but tend to cluster around open fields. Similarly, American dog ticks prefer trails and low grasses and shrubs over wooded areas. Lone star ticks prefer high grasses and shrubs as well.

How to Avoid Ticks in Nebraska

Female American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, on a person's arm.
The best defenses against tick bites include long pants and staying out of thick foliage.

Doug Lemke/

Nebraska is a popular state for outdoor activities like hiking, mushroom hunting, and camping. With all those outdoor opportunities, it’s no wonder so many people find ticks either on their clothing or embedded in their skin. Ticks in Nebraska are easy to avoid if you take a few basic steps.

First, always wear appropriate tick clothing, like long pants and long-sleeved shirts. You can also spray tick repellent spray on your clothing. For dogs, be sure to treat them with flea and tick prevention before going outdoors. Also, avoid areas with dense, knee to waist high grass or shrubs, as these are ideal locations for ticks to find hosts.

Finally, always check yourself for ticks after engaging in any outdoor activity during peak tick season.


US launches program to document war crimes in Ukraine

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. State Department has announced the launch of a new program to capture and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

The goal of the program will be the documentation, verification, and dissemination of open-source evidence to ensure that Russia is held accountable for its actions, the U.S. State Department said on May 17 in a statement.

Known as the Conflict Observatory, the program will make its reports and analyses available on its website.

“The Conflict Observatory will analyze and preserve publicly and commercially available information, including satellite imagery and information shared via social media, consistent with international legal standards, for use in ongoing and future accountability mechanisms,” the statement said.

The online platform will help refute Russia’s disinformation efforts and shine a light on abuses, the statement added.

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing atrocities during its unprovoked invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia denies targeting civilians and claims that evidence of atrocities presented by Ukraine was staged.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said last week there were many examples of possible war crimes in Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court is also working with Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Polish prosecutors in investigating war crimes allegations against Russian forces.


Rwanda: Ten Highlights From Premier Ngirente’s News Conference

The Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente on Wednesday May 18 hosted a press conference after the launch of the second phase of the Economic Recovery Fund (ERF), a policy response unleashed two years ago to support Covid-19 hit business.

The Premier, who was flanked by several top government officials, gave an update on the economy, CHOGM preparations and also answered a wide range of questions from both local and international media organizations.

Below are the 10 highlights

1. Rwanda finds alternative wheat suppliers in Brazil, Australia

Rwanda is now importing wheat from both Brazil and Australia, following the Russia-Ukraine crisis that has forced the government to search for an alternative source, from the two countries which were the majority suppliers.

“We have found new suppliers in Brazil and Australia. The only challenge compared to our previous markets is the long distance which increases shipping costs,” Ngirente said, maintaining that the quantity imported is relatively the same.

Ngirente also disclosed that the government is searching for new markets to import fertilizers which have increased by 120 percent per kilo.

2. Projections signify reduction in commodity prices

The current inflationary pressures are mainly attributed to the economic shock caused by Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

According to Ngirente, government projects that by next year, the now hiked-prices are set to return to normal.

Journalists cover Prime Minister Ngirente’s news briefing in Kigali on Wednesday, May 18. Photo: Dan Nsengiyumva.

He explained that there is currently no global economic crisis that could lead to long term economic effects.

He also sounded optimistic that the ongoing recovery interventions will support the country to absorb the shock.

3. CHOGM preparations in high gear

Rwanda is confident in the current preparations to host the much-anticipated Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the premier told the media.

He attributed the move to the ongoing infrastructure developments, new road networks and increased personnel at the CHOGM Secretariat, among others.

With nearly a month to go, the Premier pointed out that the government has identified venues, hotels that will accommodate the guests and everything is in place.

“However, we still call upon partners, especially those with small businesses to improve service delivery at their level,” he added.

4. CHOGM guidelines due in two weeks

In less than 15 days, Ngirente said that the government is set to announce a new roadmap that is expected to direct and inform movements for both delegates and the general public.

He allayed concerns that the new arrangement will hinder movement of people, citing that it has been well informed.

“It will also feature directions on schools, public servants among others.”

5. Relations with neighbours

Regarding the efforts to normalize ties with Burundi, Ngirente said that there have been several engagements on both sides to address the issue.

The premier didn’t disclose details of the talks, but he assured that Rwanda and Burundian authorities continue to witness progressive and better bilateral relations.

“We believe that when two governments decide to rule out a certain problem, then it ceases in one way or another,” he said.

For instance, Ngirente highlighted that both countries have been exchanging several delegates and that there is a promising trend in restoring ties.

The outcome, he asserted, could lead to the reopening of Rwanda-Burundi land borders.

6. Rwanda-Uganda relations

Rwanda and Uganda are seeing significant progress in restoring bilateral relations and the trend is expected to advance, according to PM Ngirente.

Both governments, according to him, are now looking to see that bilateral trade resumes.

On the side of Rwanda, the Premier said, several authorities including the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Rwanda Revenue Authority have been given the task to fast track the development.

However, putting in context new developments that emerged after trade between the two countries came to a halt, there is a set of standards that Ugandan products should possess to be able to compete on the Rwandan market.

“What I can possibly say is that trade between the two countries will resume very soon,” he said.

7. On the Rwanda-UK asylum deal

Asked about whether Rwanda will cancel her recent asylum deal with the United Kingdom, Ngirente said that every resolution which attracts scrutiny must not be necessarily canceled.

He said that both parties maintain their plan to transfer unauthorized migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda, reiterating that it was a well-informed arrangement.

When pressed about details, he said, “We have designated places already, and we can expect the first batch soon.”

The Premier likened the backlash to the case of Libyan asylum seekers, a policy that has now been widely welcomed.