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Twinkie Talks to Avoid Liquidation Fail and More News

Twinkie Talks to Avoid Liquidation Fail and More News


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In today's Media mix, Anthony Bourdain spills all, plus why Americans are obsessed with pumpkin

The Daily Meal brings you the top news in the food world.

Twinkies May Be Officially Done: The talks with the bakers' union failed, and the brand will ask a bankruptcy judge for permission to shut down permanently. [Businessweek]

Anthony Bourdain's Live Q&A: Read the Gawker transcript to get Bourdain's views on the last No Reservations, celebrity chefs, and Thanksgiving (of course). [Gawker]

The Great Pumpkin: The reason people are so obsessed with pumpkins, researchers say, is the "pumpkin feeling" over the taste or nutrition. [NPR]

Burger King Delivery?: Burger King is already testing delivery in Miami, Houston, and Washington, D.C. [Huffington Post]

Good Thing There's a Twinkie-Stuffed Turkey: New York City's Kennedy Tavern claims it's served the Twinkie turkey for years. [CBS]


Bakers Union President Not Optimistic on Hostess Mediation

The head of the baker's union whose strike precipitated liquidation plans for Hostess Brands Inc. says he's "not too optimistic" about the mediation session intended to give the baking company one last shot at survival.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union President Frank Hurt, who's not attending the mediation being held in New York Tuesday afternoon, said he's heard "not a word" about how the talks are going. But he doesn't think a deal will be reached to head off the Twinkie maker's liquidation because his members aren't prepared to take the labor concessions Hostess says it needs to survive.

Hostess, which has already shut down its plant and idled its workers, is in last-ditch talks Tuesday afternoon designed to reach a deal to save the 85-year-old company. Following the bakers union strike, which began on Nov. 9, the company sought court approval at a hearing Monday to begin the liquidation process but was persuaded by Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y., to give negotiations with the union one more shot.

If the talks fail, 18,500 workers, including 5,600 bakers union members, are likely to lose their jobs.


Hostess liquidation likely as mediation fails

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Hostess Brands said Tuesday evening that a last-ditch mediation session with its bakers&apos union over a new contract imposed in bankruptcy court had failed, bringing the company closer to liquidation.

Hostess said in a brief statement that the mediation session "was unsuccessful," and that it had no further comment ahead of a hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning in bankruptcy court, where it has requested permission to liquidate.

Jeff Freund, a lawyer for the bakers&apos union, declined to comment, citing mediation ground rules.

Last Friday, management announced a shutdown of Hostess. They appeared before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain on Monday afternoon seeking approval to liquidate and sell off the company&aposs assets. But Drain said he wanted the parties to try one last time to reach agreement, serving as the mediator at Tuesday&aposs session.

Drain said he was motivated by the prospect of saving the roughly 18,500 jobs at Hostess, maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread.

Only one day of talks was scheduled. Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn said Monday that the company would need an answer from the bakers&apos union on whether it would accept the new contract by the end of the day Tuesday.

With Tuesday&aposs talks having failed, liquidation and the loss of Hostess&apos jobs appeared likely.

The bakers&apos union, which represents 5,000 of the 18,500 employees, went on strike on Nov. 9 to protest a new contract that imposed wage and benefit cuts. Other unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, had accepted the deal.

"As we said on Friday when the company announced it was closing, this is a tragic outcome and our thoughts and prayers go out to all Teamster Hostess members and all Hostess employees," Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall said in a statement Tuesday.

If the company goes into liquidation, its brands and recipes will be sold off to raise funds to pay creditors.

On Monday, private equity firm Sun Capital Partners told Fortune that it wants to buy Hostess as a going concern. It would reopen the shuttered factories, keeping the Hostess workers and their unions.

But others vying for the rights to Hostess products could simply produce them at their own facilities, leaving former Hostess employees out of jobs.


10 Tips For The Perfect Retro Easter Lamb “Lambie” Cake

It’s Lamb Cake time. For the last two weeks I have been baking lamb cake after lamb cake in my grandmother’s vintage lamb cake pan. Why? Well, after this story came out in the Wall Street Journal, a ton of wonderful people emailed and snail-mailed me vintage recipes and tips to help me on my quest to make the perfect lamb cake.  I have to admit I was very excited, so I decided to try out as many recipes and tips as I could.

And they worked!! Let me tell you, after one small mishap in the beginning, everything went smoothly, and not a single lamb lost his head!  So, since a lot of people have been emailing me and asking me for help, I thought I would share all the tips I tested with you guys so you can all have great lambs, too!

1. Grease the HECK out of your lamb pan.

I cannot stress how important this is.  Some of the vintage lamb pans, like mine, have so many tiny details in them that if you don’t get every single nook and cranny, you are going to end up with a disaster on your hands. Some people wrote to me and recommended Baker’s Joy or Pam in the spray can, but in the end I discovered that liberally applying shortening with a paper towel and carefully going over every bit was the best way to go. It may be time-consuming, but it gave me a good result every time.

2. Flouring your pan is MUST!

I have to admit, there have been many times when I have greased a cake pan and skipped the flour step, or used homemade pan-ease (which is just flour and shortening mixed) to get everything done in one step. This does not work with the lambs. You need both steps to ensure that the lamb pops out at depanning time.  And make sure to keep an eye out for “naked” spots after flouring and go back over those with more shortening. Skipping the flour can end in disaster, so to avoid tears and tears, flour is a must!

3. Fill your lamb on the “face” side of the mold.

Put your lamb face-down on a large cookie sheet or sheet pan. Fill the lamb to just under the rim of the mold with your chosen cake batter. Be sure to spread batter gently into the ear cavities to ensure that your lamb actually ends up with ears. If you don’t do this, there is no guarantee that the batter will fill the ears during cooking.

And lambs without ears look really, really weird. Trust me on this one.

4. Add support to your lamb cake before it is baked.

This is time to add your structural support to your lamb cake. One of the recipes that was photocopied from a major cookbook and sent to me stated, in a matter-of-fact way, that the head of your lamb cake was bound to roll off, and not to worry about it. It claimed you could just use toothpicks and frosting to glue it back together and everything would be great. Which is sort of a lie. Anyone who has ever made a lamb cake and had the head come off knows it is a delicate procedure to get it glued on. You need a whole lot of sticky frosting and a couple thousand toothpicks, and when you are done the lamb looks like it is wearing a neck brace. And even after a patch job you are nervous come serving time.

I am going to be the first to tell you that this does NOT have to be the case. Yeah, it is possible for the head of the cake to roll off, but the chances will be greatly reduced with a couple of quick toothpick placements. The lamb needs one toothpick in each ear and the thickest food grade bamboo skewer or pick you can find for the neck. The skewer should be placed about one inch in from the top of the head and extend into the body. I did this with every lamb cake recipe I tested, and I didn’t have a single head roll off. Poke these down slightly into the cake and make sure they are covered with batter.

5. Tie your lamb cake mold shut with baker’s twine.

I am kind of ashamed to admit that this bit of advice, which I received from multiple wonderful people, was a complete revelation to me. I had previously, if you can believe this, been baking my lambs in two separate pieces and trying to glue them together with frosting. Why? Well, because if you put the top on without any string, the cake doesn’t rise into the second half of the mold. It just all oozes out through the cracks and makes a complete mess. I have been told that the oldest lamb molds were heavy cast iron, and this didn’t used to be a problem. The lamb mold I have, and that I am sure many people use, is made from aluminum and isn’t heavy enough to stay closed on it’s own. But a couple of sturdy pieces of string, tied tightly, eliminates the leakage and lets the cake rise into the second half.

Make sure your strings are tight and hold the mold closed! Even little gaps can let batter leak out.

6. Bake cake for the maximum amount of time called for in the recipe.

Once your lamb is tied up nice and tight, unless you are lucky enough to have a vintage Renalde mold, there really isn’t a way to check whether or not the lamb cake is done in the center. After I pulled a cake that was completely raw in the middle, I decided that unless you know your oven and have made your recipe so many times that you know exactly how long it takes, it is best to just leave the cake in for the maximum time called for in the recipe.

7. Cool cake properly before removing from mold.

Your lamb will crack apart if you try to shake him out too soon. The best method I found is this one: Let your lamb cool for 15 mins after removing it from the oven. Then cut the strings on the mold and remove only the back half. Let cool for another 15 mins before flipping the lamb over and attempting to remove the face.

8. Loosen edges on the face side completely before trying to de-pan your lamb.

Your lamb, if you made it properly, will contain sugar, and sugar is sticky. Especially the caramelized sugar around the edges of the pan. I run a sharp knife around the edges of the lamb cake, and then carefully pull the cake back from the edge to make sure it is free. If you skip this, things aren’t going to go well. Those thin little ears are going to be crispy and completely stuck to the edge of the pan. And we already covered how dumb the lamb will look without ears, didn’t we?

9. Let your lamb cool completely before trying to frost it.

I know, I know. You want to get the little sucker upright now, because you are proud of how he came out in one piece. But you must wait. If you try to make him stand now, he is just going to crack. I found it took about 90 mins after the final de-pan for the lambs to be cool enough to sit up straight.

10. Give your lamb a good base to sit on.

The same sharp knife you used to loosen your lamb is useful once again. Use it to cut off the bottom ridge created by the mold. This will give the lamb a good solid base. Also, remember that it will need some glue to sit upright. Use a knife to spread a good amount of your frosting over the base you plan on putting your lamb on. Then gently pick the lamb up and place him directly on the frosting stripe and make sure he is secured.

And there it is! Your perfect retro lamb cake, ready for frosting and decorating!


Live Updates

“That’s why we bought insurance, so that all of our assets wouldn’t be gobbled up by nursing-home costs,” Mr. Sproule said.

In liquidation, the policies will be canceled, and the guarantee fund will take care of $300,000 worth of claims. “We end up suffering about a 48 percent loss,” Mr. Sproule said. It took the couple 18 years to build up their policies’ value to $573,000 apiece. Mr. Sproule said he was sure it was too late to go out and buy coverage to replace what they had lost.

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“We’re probably uninsurable,” he said. “You buy long-term-care insurance when you’re young and healthy, because that’s how you pay the lower premium.”

They were also encouraged by a federally financed program in which states urged their residents to buy long-term-care insurance. The goal was to keep Medicaid from being overwhelmed by tens of millions of aging baby boomers.

The Sproules, Ms. Leonard and all the rest of Penn Treaty’s policyholders have spent the last nine years in a strange legal limbo. State insurance regulators in Pennsylvania first petitioned the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to order liquidation in 2009, which is standard procedure.

But then the standard playbook went out the window. Droves of insurance agents challenged the petition in court. That’s because as long as Penn Treaty stayed out of liquidation, they would keep receiving their sales commissions, which they said they were constitutionally entitled to.

Health insurers fought the liquidation, too. State guarantee funds, it turns out, are not funded at all. When an insurance company goes under, all the surviving companies in that line of business are required to chip into the guarantor, with assessments based on their market share.

Long-term-care insurance is classified as health insurance, so health insurers would get the assessment — even the ones that steered clear of long-term-care insurance and never sold a single policy. They were aghast at having to pay for other people’s mistakes.

Some of the staunchest opposition came from Penn Treaty’s corporate parent, the Penn Treaty American Corporation of Frisco, Tex. Its chief executive, Eugene J. Woznicki, said that the insurer was viable and could be put back on its feet if only state insurance regulators would grant adequate rate increases. In court filings, he heaped blame on the Pennsylvania Insurance Department in particular.

“The commissioner has deference,” he said in an interview. “He can make decisions that he thinks are the right ones and not be challenged.”

As it happens, Penn Treaty’s financial problems date back at least to 2001, when the company noticed its claims were higher than expected. Executives worked with regulators on a “corrective action plan,” which included fresh capital, reinsurance and a series of rate increases. But insurance rates are approved state by state, and while some granted the prescribed increases, others (including Pennsylvania) did not.

“This case presents a serious indictment of the existing system of rate regulation of long-term-care insurance,” Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said in a 2012 opinion. By refusing to grant the rate increase, Pennsylvania “showed that rate regulation is governed by politics, not actuarial evidence or legal principles.”

The 2001 rehabilitation plan may have been a lost cause, but things play out slowly in this corner of the insurance business. While Penn Treaty’s troubles mounted, its offshore insurance deals gave it an appearance of normalcy. The biggest, with a reinsurer in Dublin, removed more than $1 billion in liabilities from Penn Treaty’s balance sheet, making it look robust, despite the faltering corrective-action plan.

And then, in the financial turmoil of 2008, Penn Treaty and its Irish reinsurer had a falling-out. Penn Treaty had to take back the $1 billion of liabilities, blowing a hole in its balance sheet. That was the beginning of the end. A year later, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department said the situation was irretrievable and asked the court for a liquidation order.

“It was the best option,” said the spokesman for the Insurance Department, Ron Ruman. “The company was not viable, and this would provide the maximum protection under law for the consumers.”

But the court wrangling went on for nearly nine years before Judge Leavitt finally ordered the liquidation, in March. During that time, Penn Treaty’s financial condition deteriorated further. And for nine years, policyholders didn’t know if their insurer was dead or alive — but they kept getting those letters instructing them to keep paying their monthly premiums or they would lose everything.

Policyholders who had already moved into nursing homes or other care facilities did have their claims paid throughout the proceedings.

But those who didn’t make the move yet, like Ms. Leonard, will in some cases bear losses. They are waiting now to hear how much. A few states cap guarantee-fund relief at $100,000. Others, like California and Connecticut, guarantee $500,000 and more. New Jersey is said to have no limit at all, but some analysts question that promise, especially if another big long-term-care insurer fails.

“I’m sure I speak for everybody else: We’re all confused,” said Ms. Leonard, a retired member of the faculty at Nova Southeastern University. She said she had asked for updates on the nine-year court proceedings, but thought it was a class-action lawsuit. She was surprised to learn it was something else.

“If this was not a class-action suit, then why was it not?” she said. “There needs to be a class-action suit. It seems to me they need to be made an example of and made to honor their policies.”


Binging With Babish has the following tropes:

  • 420, Blaze It: Andrew has admitted he enjoys smoking "Jazz cigarettes" from time to time, so he wasn't going to pass up on the jokes when he released a video on April 20, 2021. During the creation process of the Space Cake from High Maintenance, he finds it curious that both the vegetable oil and butter is curiously green in color. By the end of the episode he goes all in and acts totally baked after eating a slice of the cake.
  • Accidentally Correct Writing: Frequently invoked, when even he seems surprised that dishes that were probably designed by a TV writer on a lunch break actually turn out tasting pretty good. A particular one was the Twinkie Wiener Sandwich, where, despite its simple ingredients, seeming Cordon Bleugh Chef nature, and Nutritional Nightmare look, actually tasted pretty good, and even his attempt to "improve" it resulted in something he found less appetizing.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Numerous examples:
    • Episode 61 (The Wire) stands out.

    • He makes "traditional Japanese donuts" from the English dub of Pokémon for his April 1st, 2019 episode. (He makes actual riceballs the next day.)
    • In the video he released on March 31st, 2020, he creates the Imaginary Pie from Hook by using an imaginary set of ingredients and the creation process of the pie. The pie only turns real once it has been completely made. He shows the actual creation process afterward, while also showing the imaginary footage in the corner, and making sure to make the same goofs and mistakes to mimic the footage perfectly. note There was also a bit of Real Life Writes the Plot there: it was an easy recipe to do and he and Jess were recovering from an illness at the time.
    • 2021 had two jokes:
      • His weekly Tuesday video from March 31st starts off by mimicking the ads on youtube videos in order to actually advertise the launch of his Babish cookware line. The "Skip" button in the lower corner counted down to "ERROR 404 - PART OF VIDEO - GOTCHA"
      • On April 1st proper, it's suggested that Alvin from "About To Eat" snuck into Andrew's house at 3 AM in order to cook up the "Gotcha Pork Roast" note which is a potato dish presented as a pork roast, in keeping with the April Fools spirit from Food Wars!.
      • For a while the opening theme of the series was "Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs".
      • During the episode on il timpano from Big Night, he mentions that he watched the show for six hours while cooking.
      • A special on it after co-star John Mahoney died was made.
      • In one episode, he gets into an argument with his cameraman if Daphne or Roz is hotter.
      • He sometimes uses the show's episodes as units of measure for cooking times.
      • In the comments of his Bob's Burgers-themed video, one commenter noted that he kind of sounds like a decongested Bob Belcher.
      • This becomes funnier when H. Jon Benjamin, the voice of Bob, collaborated with Babish on a cocktail video.
      • The Peep Show rum, water, lettuce, vinegar, and salt cocktail is the first accurate show cocktail recipe Babish has done that he flat out stated there was no making it good.
      • Likewise, breakfast dessert pasta is the first accurate movie recipe that Andrew doesn't even attempt to improve. The video ends with him forcing down one bite before switching to regular pasta to wash the taste out.
        • For laughs, it's one of the recipes he did include in his recipe book Eat What You Watch. The blurb at the top of the recipe advises against making it.
        • "Let those flavors get to know each other."
        • "Let's get down to basics" for Basics With Babish.
        • "We can do better" whenever he's going to improve upon a recipe that doesn't work in real life, such as the Chocolate Salty Balls or Moonwaffles.
        • "Scrape up all that good stuff off the bottom of the pot. "
        • "I feel like I'm saying 'type of food' a lot," usually followed by him attempting to give it a different name that fails quickly.
        • He lets out one of these after accidentally cutting himself by using a mandolin without a hand-guard. Quite fitting, considering the episode covered the foods of South Park.
        • Happens again during an episode of Being with Babish after he tries to sneak a taste of brewing whiskey by sticking his finger directly into a boiling vat of the stuff.
        • Happens as a reference to the famous "Corn Baller" running gag in the Arrested Development episode.
        • Peter Griffin's car panini ended up leaving a mess in his car and was too vile to take a second bite. He tried recreating it in the kitchen, but the combinations of Reese's chocolate, Cadbury Creme Eggs, and Doritos still proved too much to stomach.
        • The Every Meat Burrito was made by gathering 18 different exotic types of meat including alligator, rattlesnake, kangaroo, and even bull testicles. He literally couldn't swallow a bite because most of the meats need to be properly cooked for hours on end to bring out their flavor or textures. He attempted to remake it by only using various types of Mexican-style pork, and ended up making an even larger burrito that was quite delicious.
        • The Overnight Salad is lettuce, cheese, lemon juice, far too much mayonnaise, too many raisins, too much pepper, hot dogs, and Fritos drowned in root beer then topped with cookies note intended to be the croutons , pizza, even more mayo, and a maraschino cherry. In short, a soggy haphazard mishmash of sweet and savory smothered in root beer-infused mayo. Even leaving out the quarter and not simulating the overnight stay on the radiator on the basis that he didn't want to die because of a parody of terrible recipes from The '50s, Andrew found this monstrosity of a salad absolutely revolting.
        • In the $5 Shake episode, Andrew decides to make the "world's most expensive milkshake" note which he models after a similar milkshake from New York's Serendipity 3 , ultimately producing a shake that Andrew estimates would retail for around $200 note in 2019 money .
        • Also, Jake's "Perfect Sandwich", which in Babish's version contained a steak and a whole Cornish game-hen, among other things.
        • invoked After making Kevin's famous chili, Andrew decides to go the extra mile (because as he states, he's all about accuracy and faithfulness to the source material) and serve it appropriately: spilled onto a carpet. A "low-quality poly-fiber carpet", like you would see in an office, to be exact.
        • The Death Sandwich isn't anything to sneeze at (it's a fair amount of meat), but it isn't going to kill you if you eat it wrong. To fulfill the idea of a potentially lethal meal, Andrew enlists the help of Chef Masaharu Morimoto to add fugu to the sandwich, a fish that will absolutely kill you if it isn't prepared properly.
        • While in New Orleans, Babish and Rashid went out of their way to put in the time and energy to do a shot-for-shot remake of Homer's food tourof New Orleans.
        • When making Eggs in a Nest, Andrew managed to screw up the bread-making process 5 times before deciding to measure by weight instead of volume and got it right the first time.
        • The "Pizza from Deadpool" episode has him beginning the process of placing the pizza dough onto the oiled countertop. only to realize once it's on the counter that he forgot an important step. Specifically, said oiling.
        • He makes homemade ladyfingers and custard for Superbad's tiramisu and fully assembles it, only to realize once he picks it up that he assembled the cake tray wrong and the whole thing just falls out the bottom onto the floor.
        • The bagel sandwiches from Steven Universe means he gets to make his own bagels, as the sandwich is mundane otherwise.
        • The Raspberry Pasty from Antman And The Wasp is nothing more than a store-bought Entenmann's Raspberry Danish Twist. Andrew stated he had no desire to try to improve upon perfection, and just wanted an excuse to make pastries for Jess.
        • The "Broodwich" from Aqua Teen Hunger Force is an excuse to make homemade lunch meats.
        • Lampshaded in the intro of the Chicken Kiev episode.

        Why did Thomas Cook collapse after 178 years in business?

        Why did Thomas Cook fail after 178 years in business? The immediate answer is that it was unable to secure a £200m lifeline from its bankers, including government-owned RBS.

        But in truth the tour operator’s woes go back much further – a victim of a disastrous merger in 2007, ballooning debts and the internet revolution in holiday booking. Add in Brexit uncertainty, and it was perhaps only a matter of time before the giant of the industry collapsed.

        In May, the group reported a £1.5bn loss, with more than £1bn written off from the 2007 merger with MyTravel – better known for its brands Airtours and Going Places.

        That deal was supposed to create a European giant, promising £75m-a-year cost savings and a springboard to challenge emerging internet rivals. In reality Thomas Cook was merging with a company that had only made a profit once in the previous six years, and the deal saddled the group with huge debts.

        Thomas Cook’s collapse is not because the British have stopped taking holidays. Far from it: 60% of the population took a holiday abroad in 2018, up from 57% the year before. It is how we are taking holidays that has changed, with the number of city breaks now significantly outstripping beach holidays.

        The beneficiaries are Ryanair, easyJet and Airbnb, with all of their customers booking online. The losers are package holiday companies shackled to expensive high street chains. Thomas Cook owns about 560 high street outlets.

        Just one in seven of us now pop into a high street travel agency to buy a holiday, according to travel agent trade body Abta. Those who do tend to be over 65, and in lower socio-economic groups, with less money to spend.

        Anglo-German group Tui, Thomas Cook’s biggest rival, has suffered from similar trends, issuing several profit warnings during 2019. But it has much smaller debts, owning many of its own hotels and cruise ships, and arguably could see an uplift as it takes on former Thomas Cook customers, at higher prices.

        The climate crisis has also had an impact. A Europe-wide heatwave in May 2018 reduced holiday demand sharply, as customers delayed holiday decisions while enjoying record temperatures at home. Then in 2019, Thomas Cook said British customers were postponing travel plans for the summer because of worsening uncertainty around Brexit – and the way it has hit sterling’s buying power abroad.

        Thomas Cook only narrowly survived a near-death experience in 2011. Its debt pile had already reached £1.1bn, and it stayed afloat only after an emergency additional cash injection - but it also meant even more debt to service.

        Since 2011 Thomas Cook has paid out £1.2bn in interest, which meant that more than a quarter of the money it charged for the 11m holidays it sold every year went into the pockets of lenders.

        There was – for a couple of years at least – a corporate saviour, in the form of Chinese group Fosun International, run by Guo Guangchang, a billionaire regarded as China’s Warren Buffett.

        Fosun bought its first stake in Thomas Cook in 2015, as part of a plan to build a global holiday and entertainment conglomerate, having already taken over France’s Club Med and Canada’s Cirque de Soleil.

        In August Thomas Cook published details of a planned restructure, which included a £450m cash injection from Fosun in return for a majority stake in the group – which also required the banks to write off £1.7bn in debt. Other existing shareholders would be wiped out.

        It was that deal that fell apart at the weekend. It was not surprising that the axe fell in late September like most tour operators, Thomas Cook enjoys revenue inflows in the first half of the year as holidaymakers book their summer breaks, but sizeable outflows in autumn and winter when flight and hotel arrangements must be paid for.

        Some yearn for nationalisation. Critics say the cost of rescue flights and compensation may far outweigh the £200m that Thomas Cook needed to survive another day. But the government refused to step in, arguing that, like failed airline Monarch, it was purely a commercial matter at an individual business and that customers would be protected by the Atol protection scheme and insurance.

        How different it was 70 years ago. Thomas Cook was considered such a part of the fabric of British life that it was nationalised in 1948, after facing bankruptcy during the second world war. It remained in public hands, as part of British Railways, until 1972. But now it has been destroyed largely by the internet and changing fashions, hastened along by trying to finance an impossible burden of debt.


        Thomas Cook collapses, stranding 150,000 UK holidaymakers

        Thomas Cook has ceased trading after talks failed to produce a funding lifeline for the ailing travel company, placing 9,000 British jobs at risk and triggering a huge repatriation effort to bring home 150,000 UK holidaymakers overseas.

        The Civil Aviation Authority announced at 2am on Monday morning that the world’s oldest holiday company had gone into liquidation and that all flights and bookings had been cancelled.

        “Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect,” the aviation regulator said in a statement. “All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.”

        The official administration was timed for the early hours when the largest number of the 94-strong fleet of planes were on the ground.

        Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook’s chief executive, said the tour operator’s collapse was a “matter of profound regret” as he apologised to the company’s “millions of customers, and thousands of employees”.

        The government and the CAA have now triggered the UK’s largest ever peacetime repatriation – codenamed Operation Matterhorn – to bring holidaymakers home.

        Speaking to reporters on his plane heading to the UN general assembly in New York, Boris Johnson hinted at possible government action against directors of travel firms who presided over bankruptcies. The prime minister said that in the wake of the collapse of the budget airline Monarch and Thomas Cook, it was time to “reflect on whether the directors of these companies are properly incentivised to sort such matters out”.

        Johnson said it did not seem the government could have done more to help, for example agreeing to Thomas Cook’s request for a £150m bailout. “It is a very difficult situation, and obviously our thoughts are very much with the customers of Thomas Cook, the holidaymakers, who may now face difficulties getting home,” he said. “We will do our level best to get them home.”

        The Guardian understands that airlines including British Airways and easyJet will be involved in the airlift for holidaymakers using Thomas Cook, whose destinations range from mainland Europe to north Africa, the Middle East, the US and the Caribbean.

        The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said on Sunday that the government had contingency plans in place for passengers and sought to reassure holidaymakers that they would not end up stuck overseas. The company had appealed to ministers for a bailout but Raab said the government did not “systemically step in” unless it was in the national interest.

        “We would wait to see and hope that [Thomas Cook] can continue but in any event, as you would expect, we’ve got the contingency planning in place to make sure that in any worst-case scenario we can support all those who might otherwise be stranded,” Raab told the BBC.

        A last-ditch meeting at a law firm in central London between Thomas Cook executives and stakeholders including the firm’s largest shareholder, Chinese conglomerate Fosun, came to a close after 5pm on Sunday, ending talks that began at 9am.

        The tour operator is understood to have made a number of proposals, including asking lenders to reduce a £200m demand for extra funding and for credit card companies to release about £50m of cash they are holding as collateral against Thomas Cook bookings.

        Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Peter Fankhauserleft the meeting through the City law firm’s loading bay flanked by colleagues without saying anything about the deal. He also stayed quiet when asked if he had any message for customers trapped abroad.

        No comment from Thomas Cook’s CEO Peter Fankhauser as he left out of the loading bay of Latham & Watkins law firm following crunch talks over the company’s future pic.twitter.com/tjzRbbP220

        &mdash Kalyeena Makortoff (@kalyeena) September 22, 2019

        Thomas Cook has struggled to cope with a £1.7bn debt burden. The 11th-hour meeting came after the company had agreed a £900m bailout – but was then told to find another £200m, which proved a step too far.

        Meanwhile, Thomas Cook holidaymakers were anxious that they might be evicted from their hotels or charged again for their holidays. Holiday companies do not normally pay hotels until up to 90 days after guests have left.

        Customers at a hotel in Tunisia reported being locked in by security guards as the hotel demanded extra money, fearing it would not be paid by Thomas Cook. However, the company said the dispute had been resolved and holidaymakers were able to leave the hotel.

        Check-in counter of Thomas Cook airlines at Gatwick airport. Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/Rex/Shutterstock

        Thomas Cook also attempted to reassure worried customers that their package holidays were protected under the Atol scheme, which guarantees the bookings of package holidaymakers. Atol covers holiday accommodation as well as return flights if customers are abroad at the time of a collapse. Future bookings are also protected.

        The total cost of holidaymakers’ guarantees to be paid by the Atol scheme – underwritten by the Civil Aviation Authority watchdog – is an estimated £600m now that the company has gone bust.

        The business, which also has significant operations in mainland Europe, employs 21,000 people, including 9,000 in the UK. It has a total of 600,000 people on holiday currently, including British travellers, with Germany and Scandinavia among its major customer bases alongside Britain. It also operates about 560 shops on UK high streets.

        The history of Thomas Cook

        Thomas Cook owes its name to a humble and deeply religious 32-year-old cabinet-maker who, one June morning in 1841, hiked the 15 miles from his home in Market Harborough to Leicester, to attend a temperance meeting.

        The former Baptist preacher believed that the ills of Victorian society stemmed largely from alcohol and, presumably fatigued from his walk, realised he could deploy the power of Britain’s flourishing rail network to help spread the word.

        Addressing the temperance meeting, he suggested that a train be hired to carry the movement’s supporters to the next meeting in Loughborough.

        Thus, on 5 July 1841, some 500 passengers travelled by a special train for the 24-mile round trip, paying a shilling apiece.

        Over the next few years, Cook laid on ever more trains, introducing thousands of Britons to train travel for the first time. The first such outing to be run for commercial purposes was a trip to Liverpool in 1845.

        Over the next decade or so, the business expanded to offer overseas trips, to France, Switzerland, Italy and beyond, to the US, Egypt and India.

        His more business-minded son John expanded the tour operator and its reach was such that the government enlisted its expertise in an effort, ultimately in vain, to relieve General Gordon at the siege of Khartoum in 1885.

        John’s three sons inherited the business, which incorporated as Thos Cook & Son Ltd in 1924 and benefited from the increasing ease of international travel.

        Its first flirtation with collapse came during the second world war, when the government requisitioned some of its assets and it was sold to Britain’s railway companies, effectively a nationalisation.

        But it boomed in the postwar years as growing prosperity fuelled the appetite for holidays and it returned to private ownership in 1972.

        Since then, it has changed hands and changed shape via a series of mergers and takeovers. It nearly collapsed in 2011 but averted its demise with a bailout deal funded by banks.


        MarketWatch’s top 10 stories, Nov. 12 - 16

        SAN FRANCISCO — For a few weeks before the election, things looked OK on the global economic front. Most manufacturing surveys showed some gains, and other economic data painted a picture of moderate, but noticeable growth in many parts of the globe.

        But since the re-election of President Barack Obama, that picture seems to have dissolved like a mirage on a highway in the summer.

        Stocks are weakening, signs are that global growth is bumpy and the crises that plagued the world economy over the summer — the euro zone debt crisis and questions about China’s growth, — are rearing their heads again. Add to that concerns about the fiscal cliff, or the fiscal slope, or whatever its name should be, and that’s a recipe for more uncertainty if not actual declines.

        The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.55% added 45.93 points or 0.4% to close at 12,588.31 on Friday, but still ended the week with a 1.8% loss. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index SPX, +1.06% finished the day with a gain of 6.55 points or 0.5% to close at 1,359.88. For the week the benchmark index lost 1.5%. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +1.77% rose 16.19 points or 0.6% to finish at 2,853.13 on Friday but lost 1.8% on the week.

        Check in to MarketWatch over the weekend for all the news you need to organize your portfolio and your life. We’ll have full coverage of any developments on the fiscal cliff negotiations and preparations by stores for the coming Black Friday shopping day. MarketWatch has just launched a new section on retirement, where you’ll find all the news, data and advice you need to plan for your post-work years. Visit Marketwatch’s retirement section now.

        Also, please have a look at MarketWatch’s videos giving a preview of what’s ahead next week.

        — Christopher Noble, assistant managing editor.

        Constructive start

        Top congressional Democrats and Republicans said Friday they had a constructive meeting with President Barack Obama aimed at averting the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in at the beginning of the year. Leaders call fiscal cliff talks constructive.

        Cost of the cliff

        By now, you’ve probably heard of the high-stakes budget standoff that Republicans and Democrats have to resolve by year-end. If they fail, an automatic $500 billion tax hike will kick in that will affect nearly all Americans in some way. But what’s the view from the bottom of the fiscal cliff? And how much would it cost you? What a fiscal cliff plunge would cost you.

        Cliff hogwash

        You’ve seen the scary headlines warning of an economic disaster heading our way. You’ve heard the overheated rhetoric, and seen fiscal countdown clocks. It’s hogwash. Nothing much will happen to the economy on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2 or Jan. 3, despite the expiration of tax cuts and the automatic reductions in federal spending. Stop calling it a fiscal cliff.

        Retirement cliff

        One of the biggest risks that retirees and pre-retirees face is that tax policy will change and throw a big wrench into their plans. Well, that risk — in the form of the fiscal cliff — is now upon us and retirees and pre-retirees must now develop a plan of action for their portfolio. Retiring on the edge of the fiscal cliff.

        High yield, lower appeal

        Investors are shifting toward investment-grade bonds and out of high-yield bonds as the year comes to a close and as falling yields are weighing on the appeal of reaching toward the riskiest form of U.S. debt. Investors move out of junk to higher-grade debt.

        Too high

        A company that creates medical-marijuana dispensing machines says its stock is getting way too high. Medbox US:MDBX shares surged 3,000% this week — from roughly $4 Monday to $215 Thursday — before falling to $100 after executives sought to dampen investor enthusiasm. Marijuana dispenser stock gets too high.

        Twinkie blues

        Those looking to stockpile cases of Twinkies may have to act quickly. Just hours after Hostess Brands closed its business Friday, legions of junk-food addicts began cleaning out supermarket shelves and online retailers. How to stockpile Twinkies.

        No sure thing

        If the U.S. becomes the world’s largest oil producer within the next decade, the energy market landscape will undergo some radical changes that may ultimately succeed in easing some of the volatility it’s been known for — but the nation will still rely heavily on imports. U.S. oil independence isn’t a sure thing.

        Money bags, not sand bags

        U.S. stocks have lost 4% so far this month. Fretful investors are selling winners to position their portfolios against tax changes the White House and Congress may make on capital gains and dividend income to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Against this uncertain backdrop, it’s useful to look for companies that have fortified their balance sheets. Eight companies you didn’t know had so much money.

        Puzzle

        The missing piece of the economic puzzle, the one thing that has made this recovery so much weaker than previous ones, may finally be falling into place: The housing market appears to be in a sustained recovery from what can only be called a depression. Housing’s comeback looks real.

        Read Next

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        Coinbase's Chief Product Officer issues a mea culpa on Thursday, a day after the popular investing platform was among a number of venues facing glitches and outages during a brutal crypto selloff.


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Comments:

  1. Jabin

    No matter how hard you work, there is always a goat who works less and gets more. A bear on the Diplomat server is a person who can send you to xy @ in such a way that you will be looking forward to the trip. Aphorism in defense of marital fidelity (in response to? 10 on June 2): "Any nail will bend from the frequent change of holes." If your wife stopped fucking your brains - be on your guard, for surely someone started fucking your wife.

  2. Florentino

    This message, is incomparable))), it is interesting to me :)



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