Great American Taxi transports listeners to the musical intersection of jam band, blues, rock and Americana on their new album, Dr. Feelgood’s Traveling Medicine Show. While it is said that “laughter is the best medicine,” good music is surely comes in a close second. For their latest release, Great American Taxi continue to show that, whoever has their hand on the wheel, the direction and destination stay the same.The twists and turns in the band’s lineup seem to have finally settled into a cohesive unit that is delivering a sound far greater than the sum of its parts. Not to say that newly minted front man Arthur Lee Land, guitarist Jim Lewin, keyboard player Chad Staehly and company ever strayed from the Gram Parsons spirit the band was forged to follow.“We Can Run” opens things up with a blast of honky-tonk blues that serves as a fitting introduction for new vocalist Land. There are similarities to former vocalist Todd Snider in tone, but similarities are just on the surface level. Songs like “Out On The Town” quickly help illuminate the more earnest direction of the band. It’s easy to see a more whimsical take on the tune with previous line-ups but the more heart felt approach presented here is impressive and distinct.The slow burn blues of “Sunshiny Days” shows a understanding of build and release that lets Land and Lewin trade some powerful licks over booming bass and drums. A groovy banjo intro to “All The Angels” is placed perfectly on the track listing, lifting the slowly darkening mood instantly. The religious iconography in the lyrics serve as sparse cover for the universal advice the band is doling out on the track. “Home” keeps the expansive vibe going with jazz brush drumming and banjo counterpointing lilting pedal steel guitar and fiddle that perfectly underscore the melancholy spirit of the tune.The title track, “Dr. Feelgood’s Traveling Medicine Show,” comes on like a fever dream version of old-timey carnival music with a psychedelic twist for good measure. The wry songwriting on the album reaches a peak on “Like There’s No Yesterday” giving Jimmy Buffett some unexpected competition in the “Looking back on a life from a pirate’s perspective” sub-genre. Closing out the album, “Mother Lode” unwinds in a flat spiral, evoking a hopeful but weary look at the future.Over the course of Dr.Feelgood’s Traveling Medicine Show, Great American Taxi shows great comfort in a wide variety of song styles and sonic dimensions. Though past iterations have seemed to focus more on the person at the front of the stage this is the first effort that feels like a true group effort. If GAT can continue with this level sanctified mix of righteous music and insightful lyrical content, then let’s hope this configuration is here to stay.
A coronavirus-led demand shock has seen oil prices collapse in 2020, with strict public health measures coinciding with curtailed travel and economic activity.An easing of lockdown measures in the third quarter helped global oil demand to improve, but OPEC now fears a surge in the number of reported Covid-19 cases could derail an expected recovery.“As new COVID-19 infection cases continued to rise during October in the US and Europe, forcing governments to re-introduce a number of restrictive measures, various fuels including transportation fuel are thought to bear the brunt going forward,” OPEC said. LONDON — OPEC on Wednesday trimmed its global oil demand forecasts for the remainder of this year and 2021, citing a weaker-than-expected economic outlook and a surge in coronavirus cases.In a closely watched report, the group of oil-producing nations said it now expects world oil demand to contract by around 9.8 million barrels per day year over year in 2020. That reflects a downward revision of 0.3 million barrels from last month’s assessment.For next year, OPEC said oil demand growth will rise by 6.2 million on an annual basis, representing a downward revision of another 0.3 million barrels from its October report. The group has steadily lowered its oil demand outlook for 2021 from an initial expectation of 7 million in July.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – International benchmark Brent crude futures traded at $44.84 a barrel on Wednesday afternoon, up around 2.8%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures stood at $42.52, also 2.8% higher.Both oil contracts were on pace to record their third consecutive positive trading session after hopes of an effective coronavirus vaccine continued to bolster market sentiment.Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that early results showed their vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid infections. It is hoped a safe and effective vaccine could help bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 1.27 million lives.Huge challenges remain before a Covid-19 vaccine can be rolled out, but energy markets have cheered the news.Looking further ahead, OPEC warned “risks remain” with regard to oil demand.“Ongoing developments in the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to dominate a recovery amid the latest news relating to a potential imminent vaccine,” the group said.“The structural impact of the pandemic on various sectors, especially the transportation sector, will linger well into 2021.” – Advertisement – Paul Putnam, 53, a rancher and independent contract pumper walks past a pump jack in Loving County, Texas, November 25, 2019.Angus Mordant | Reuters “These downward revisions mainly take into account downward adjustments to the economic outlook in OECD economies due to COVID-19 containment measures, with the accompanying adverse impacts on transportation and industrial fuel demand through mid-2021,” OPEC said in the report.The report comes ahead of the group’s Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 meeting with non-OPEC allies to discuss the next phase of oil production policy.The energy alliance, a grouping known collectively as OPEC+, had agreed to a record supply cut of 9.7 million bpd starting on May 1. The cut was subsequently scaled back to 7.7 million in August and OPEC+ has said it plans further tapering next year.‘Risks remain’- Advertisement – Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – OPEC logo is seen on the organisations’ headquarters in Vienna, Austria.Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto | Getty Images
Topics : Australia’s parliament is set to probe alleged foreign interference at public universities, a government minister said Monday, as concerns grow about Chinese influence.A proposed inquiry by the security and intelligence committee follows a series of controversies over China’s clout on Australian campuses, ranging from hacks of university data to questionable financial donations and intimidation of Beijing’s critics.Concerns have also been raised about the nature of research links between academics and scientists in the two countries. “We need to be assured and the public need to be assured that there isn’t that foreign interference in our universities sector,” he said.He did not say if the probe was aimed at China.The Australian newspaper reported that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton outlined the terms of reference for the inquiry in a letter Sunday to committee head Andrew Hastie, a government parliamentarian and outspoken China critic.Advisors to Dutton did not respond to a request for comment.The university guidelines announced in November push public institutions to enhance cybersecurity systems, undertake due diligence before signing partnerships with overseas organizations, and train staff to recognize foreign influence attempts.Academics have been urged to be wary of sharing knowledge on sensitive topics and discern how joint research with international scholars could potentially be misused.Schools and government officials also committed to more intensive consultation to protect Australia’s national interests.Beijing has repeatedly denied interfering in Australian campus life.China-Australia relations have reached a new ebb in recent months, with the two governments at loggerheads over trade and competing for influence in the Pacific.Tensions spiked in April when Australia infuriated China by calling for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. Alan Tudge, the minister for population and cities, told Sky News the mooted inquiry was the latest government attempt to tackle spiraling foreign interference now at “levels not seen since World War II”.The move comes after Canberra announced last week that it was seeking new powers to scrap deals between local authorities and foreign countries that threaten the national interest — sweeping powers that would extend to universities.It also comes less than a year after Australia announced new guidelines for universities for research collaboration, cybersecurity, and international partnerships.Tudge said the inquiry would “go further” than previous probes into alleged foreign interference.
The PLSA is now considering advising its members to take a harder line if the current trend of controversial pay awards continues into the AGM season.“Most pension funds,” Hildyard said, “are very concerned with the levels of CEO pay we are seeing, and there is certainly a chance investors may use the binding votes next year to get their message across.”Common-sense checkThe tough stand taken by investors against some of UK’s largest companies comes after a period of turbulence in the financial markets, hit by falling oil and commodity prices resulting in thousands of jobs being axed in that sector.Nearly 60% of BP shareholders voted against a £13.8m (€18.1m) pay deal for boss Bob Dudley. The advisory vote came as BP shed thousands of jobs across the company. Mining company Anglo American also faced a 41.3% of shareholder dissent over its remuneration report, which included a £3.4m pay for its chief executive.Investors are also up in arms over advertising firm WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell’s expected £70m payout. Advisory firms ShareSoc and PIRC have urged shareholders to vote against Sorrell’s proposed pay at the company’s annual general meeting on 8 June. PIRC said in its research report that Sorrel’s variable pay amounted to 58 times his salary of £1.1m.Deborah Gilshan, head of sustainable ownership at Railpen Investments, said companies needed to apply a “common-sense check” to pay policy.“Some of the pay packages we see in the market do worry us,” she said. “Companies need to apply the pay policy investors have voted for, but they also need to apply discretion around the edges to really look at those outcomes.”She added: “There is also the fact these outcomes don’t seem to be aligned with the interest of long-term shareholders and stakeholders like customers and employees.”Railpen Investments is the investment manager for the Railways Pension Scheme, which has around £22bn in assets under management.Another significant investor revolt has been at engineering group Weir, which lost a binding vote on its pay policy, meaning it will now have to go back to the drawing board and come up with an alternative plan.Pharmaceutical company Shire, too, received a bloody nose with its advisory pay policy just squeezing through, with only 50.5% of shareholder approval.Railpen’s Gilshan said: “What you have seen with some of these votes against is perhaps where shareholder patience has run out and where remuneration committees need to listen a bit more to what they are hearing from investors in private dialogues and to what shareholders are signalling through their votes.”Pension funds are still smarting from criticism, following the financial crisis, that they did not demand more accountability, through their fund managers, from the companies in which they invest. New rules, which gave investors a binding vote on pay, were introduced in 2013 by then business secretary Vince Cable.The current shareholder backlash comes a few years after the so-called Shareholder Spring of 2012, which led to some high-profile resignations.‘Acid test’ for investorsDaniel Summerfield, co-head of responsible investment at USS, the UK’s second-largest pension scheme, said the binding vote that many companies faced next year would be the “acid test” for investors.“The last time we had the Shareholder Spring, we didn’t have the binding vote,” he said. “So this is the acid test where, if shareholders are really concerned about the pay structures and pay proposals, the way the vote will be cast will have more bite than previous initiatives. Shareholders can vote against policies they don’t agree with.”Railpen’s Gilshan said the key was for companies to listen to what shareholders were actually telling them and act accordingly.“Shareholders are stepping up, and boards have to step up, too, and listen and apply some of that feedback they are receiving as they go into 2017’s binding votes,” she added.Summerfield agreed: “If companies take note – which they should – of the increasing expectations of shareholders for pay to be aligned with performance, then our hope is that policies will ensure pay is aligned with the accretion of long-term shareholder value.” UK pension funds are planning to take a tougher line with recalcitrant companies that award excessive salaries to their executives, as a raft of blue-chip firms have come under fire in recent weeks over executive pay.As companies such as BP, Anglo American, WPP, Reckitt Benckiser, Weir, Shire and Standard Chartered face a sharp backlash over their pay awards, pension funds are warning of an even fierier AGM season next year as many companies come up for their triennial binding votes on their remuneration policies.While remuneration packages at most companies were advisory this year, many companies face a binding shareholder vote next year that normally takes place once every three years.Luke Hildyard, policy lead for stewardship and corporate governance at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) said: “There is a worry companies are bit tone-deaf to shareholder concerns and, indeed, wider societal concerns.”