Aspire Food Group completes production of manufacturing facility - Canadian Manufacturing
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 17:08
Aspire Food Group completes production of manufacturing facility
On May 26th, Aspire Food Group announced that it has completed construction of its alternative protein manufacturing facility. London, Ontario is now home to the world's largest cricket production facility.
Aspire's new plant will reportedly produce 9000 metric tons of crickets every year for human and pet consumption. That's about two billion insects to be distributed annually across Canada and throughout the United States.
Aspire also reports that it already has orders for the next two years.
Crickets are currently being explored as a protein-rich superfood. They contain fibre and are already found in grocery stores and restaurants, and have a smaller environmental footprint than traditional protein sources.
The construction was led by EllisDon, and the new London facility, which will be fully operational in the fall, reportedly showcases four first-of-a-kind newly developed technologies; an automated storage retrieval system (ASRS), a new type of HVAC system, a 5G IoT network and an AI solution that's been recognized by UNESCO.
Memorandum on the Establishment of the White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse | The White House
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 17:05
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Establishment of the White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to improve efforts to prevent and address online harassment and abuse, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. Technology platforms and social media can be vital tools for expression, civic participation, and building a sense of community. But the scale, reach, and amplification effects of technology platforms have also exacerbated gender-based violence, particularly through online harassment and abuse. Online harassment and abuse include a broad array of harmful and sometimes illegal behaviors that are perpetrated through the use of technology. Women, adolescent girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals, who may be additionally targeted because of their race, ethnicity, religion, and other factors, can experience more severe harms from online harassment and abuse. Online harassment and abuse take many forms, including the non-consensual distribution of intimate digital images; cyberstalking; sextortion; doxing; malicious deep fakes; gendered disinformation; rape and death threats; the online recruitment and exploitation of victims of sex trafficking; and various forms of technology-facilitated intimate partner abuse. In the United States, 1 in 3 women under the age of 35 reports having been sexually harassed online, and over half of LGBTQI+ individuals report having been the target of severe online abuse, including sustained harassment, physical threats, and stalking in addition to sexual harassment. Globally, half of girls report that they are more likely to be harassed through social media than on the street.
In the United States and around the world, women and LGBTQI+ political leaders, public figures, activists, and journalists are especially targeted by sexualized forms of online harassment and abuse, undermining their ability to exercise their human rights and participate in democracy, governance, and civic life. Online abuse and harassment, which aim to preclude women from political decision-making about their own lives and communities, undermine the functioning of democracy. Growing evidence also demonstrates that online radicalization can be linked to gender-based violence, which, along with other forms of abuse and harassment, spans the digital and physical realms. Online harassment and abuse can result in a range of dire consequences for victims, from psychological distress and self-censorship to economic losses, disruptions to education, increased self-harm, suicide, homicide, and other forms of physical and sexual violence. Further, digital technologies are often used in concert with other forms of abuse and harassment, underscoring the urgency of addressing the interplay of in-person and online harms. More research is needed to fully understand the nature, magnitude, and costs of these harms and ways to address them in the United States and globally.
Therefore, I am directing the Director of the White House Gender Policy Council and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs to lead an interagency effort to address online harassment and abuse, specifically focused on technology-facilitated gender-based violence, and to develop concrete recommendations to improve prevention, response, and protection efforts through programs and policies in the United States and globally.
Sec. 2. Establishment. There is established within the Executive Office of the President the White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse (Task Force).
Sec. 3. Membership. (a) The Director of the White House Gender Policy Council and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, or their designees, shall serve as Co-Chairs of the Task Force.
(b) In addition to the Co-Chairs, the Task Force shall consist of the following members:
(i) the Secretary of State;
(ii) the Secretary of Defense;
(iii) the Attorney General;
(iv) the Secretary of Commerce;
(v) the Secretary of Health and Human Services;
(vi) the Secretary of Education;
(vii) the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;
(viii) the Secretary of Homeland Security;
(ix) the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy;
(x) the Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council;
(xi) the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council;
(xii) the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development;
(xiii) the Counsel to the President;
(xiv) the Counsel to the Vice President; and
(xv) the heads of such other executive departments, agencies, and offices as the Co-Chairs may, from time to time, designate.
(c) A member of the Task Force may designate, to perform the Task Force functions of the member, senior officials within the member's executive department, agency, or office who are full-time officers or employees of the Federal Government.
Sec. 4. Mission and Function. (a) The Task Force shall work across executive departments, agencies, and offices to assess and address online harassment and abuse that constitute technology-facilitated gender-based violence, including by:
(i) improving coordination among executive departments, agencies, and offices to maximize the Federal Government's effectiveness in preventing and addressing technology-facilitated gender-based violence in the United States and globally, including by developing policy solutions to enhance accountability for those who perpetrate online harms;
(ii) enhancing and expanding data collection and research across the Federal Government to measure the costs, prevalence, exposure to, and impact of technology-facilitated gender-based violence, including by studying the mental health effects of abuse on social media, particularly affecting adolescents;
(iii) increasing access to survivor-centered services, information, and support for victims, and increasing training and technical assistance for Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments as well as for global organizations and entities in the fields of criminal justice, health and mental health services, education, and victim services;
(iv) developing programs and policies to address online harassment, abuse, and disinformation campaigns targeting women and LGBTQI+ individuals who are public and political figures, government and civic leaders, activists, and journalists in the United States and globally;
(v) examining existing Federal laws, regulations, and policies to evaluate the adequacy of the current legal framework to address technology-facilitated gender-based violence; and
(vi) identifying additional opportunities to improve efforts to prevent and address technology-facilitated gender-based violence in United States foreign policy and foreign assistance, including through the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse.
(b) Consistent with the objectives of this memorandum and applicable law, the Task Force may consult with and gather relevant information from external stakeholders, including Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial government officials, as well as victim advocates, survivors, law enforcement personnel, researchers and academics, civil and human rights groups, philanthropic leaders, technology experts, legal and international policy experts, industry stakeholders, and other entities and persons the Task Force identifies that will assist the Task Force in accomplishing the objectives of this memorandum.
Sec. 5. Reporting on the Work and Recommendations of the Task Force. (a) Within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, the Co-Chairs of the Task Force shall submit to the President a blueprint (Initial Blueprint) outlining a whole-of-government approach to preventing and addressing technology-facilitated gender-based violence, including concrete actions that executive departments, agencies, and offices have committed to take to implement the Task Force's recommendations. The Initial Blueprint shall include a synopsis of key lessons from stakeholder consultations and preliminary recommendations for advancing strategies to improve efforts to prevent and address technology-facilitated gender-based violence. Following submission of the Initial Blueprint to the President, the Co-Chairs of the Task Force shall make an executive summary of the Initial Blueprint publicly available.
(b) Within 1 year of the date that the Initial Blueprint is submitted to the President, the Co-Chairs of the Task Force shall submit to the President and make publicly available an update and report (1-Year Report) with additional recommendations and actions that executive departments, agencies, and offices can take to advance how Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments; service providers; international organizations; technology platforms; schools; and other public and private entities can improve efforts to prevent and address technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
(c) Prior to issuing its Initial Blueprint and 1-Year Report, the Co-Chairs of the Task Force shall consolidate any input received and submit periodic recommendations to the President on policies, regulatory actions, and legislation on technology sector accountability to address systemic harms to people affected by online harassment and abuse.
(d) Following the submission of the 1-Year Report to the President, the Co-Chairs of the Task Force shall, on an annual basis, submit a follow-up report to the President on implementation of this memorandum.
Sec. 6. Definition. For the purposes of this memorandum, the term ''technology-facilitated gender-based violence'' shall refer to any form of gender-based violence, including harassment and abuse, which takes place through, or is aided by, the use of digital technologies and devices.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This memorandum shall not apply to independent regulatory agencies as described in section 3502(5) of title 44, United States Code. Independent regulatory agencies are nevertheless strongly encouraged to participate in the work of the Task Force.
(c) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(d) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(e) The Attorney General is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
Biden signs bipartisan ocean shipping bill into law, saying it will 'help bring down inflation' - MarketWatch
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 17:04
President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which aims to establish new restrictions around how carriers may coordinate operations, prohibit shipping lines from ''unreasonably'' declining exports and limit added fees on container handling.
''This bill is going to help bring down inflation at least marginally for farmers and businesses all across America,'' Biden said at the White House.
''And more than that, the bill is proof of what we can achieve when we work together on common ground '-- Democrats, Republicans and independents,'' he added, noting the measure advanced in ''an overwhelmingly bipartisan way.''
Biden has been calling for Congress to pass the measure and criticizing shipping companies.
Extra fees for transporting countless products are a hidden and mind-boggling source of inflation controlled by ocean carriers, said a ProPublica report on Thursday. The Federal Maritime Commission has been trying to crack down on fees and proposing tougher rules on carriers, and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act gives the commission more teeth, according to the report.
''One of the factors affecting prices is this: Nine major shipping companies, consolidated into three alliances, control the vast majority of ocean shipping in the world, and each of these nine is foreign-owned,'' Biden said on Thursday. ''During the pandemic, these carriers have increased their prices by as much as 1,000%.''
The World Shipping Council, a trade group whose members include Hapag-Lloyd HLAG, -2.06% , Maersk MAERSK.B, -3.34% and HMM 011200, -3.41% , pushed back on Biden's characterizations of the industry in a statement on Thursday.
The Federal Maritime Commission has found that ''ocean carrier competition is 'vigorous' and that while ocean freight prices are high, they are 'exacerbated by the pandemic, an unexpected and unprecedent surge in consumer spending particularly in the United States, and supply chain congestion, and are the product of the market forces of supply and demand,' '' the shipping group said.
''The worn-out talking point that 'there's only nine major ocean shipping lines who ship from Asia to the United States' is also untrue. While nine lines in and of itself is evidence of competition and not concentration, there are an additional thirteen ocean liner companies that operated over 30% of the sailings from Asia to the U.S so far this year.''
Christine McDaniel, a senior research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, tweeted on Wednesday that the shipping measure ''has noble aims of promoting growth, efficiency & competition within the industry, but the question is whether increased regulatory oversight can achieve them.''
''The good news is that the bill '-- created by lawmakers eager to be seen as 'doing something' in the eyes of frustrated constituents '-- gives @FMC_gov considerable leeway in how to enforce the legislation,'' she added, referring to the Federal Maritime Commission.
Now read: As Biden fights inflation, economists warn his weapons for this battle look 'extremely limited'
Also: White House acknowledges Americans are 'concerned about inflation and the stock market,' as S&P 500 erases all gains since Biden's inauguration
40,000 UK Rail Workers To Strike Next Week, Will Paralyze Transportation Network | ZeroHedge
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 17:03
Tens of thousands of railway workers are preparing to strike across Britain and may cause transportation chaos next week as they demand higher wages amid the worst inflation in four decades.
Financial Times reports that 40,000 workers across Network Rail Limited, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway networks in the UK, and 13 train operating companies, will strike next week for higher pay and against job cuts in one of the most significant strikes to hit UK railways in three decades.
Transportation turmoil begins next week as Network Rail warned only 4,500 of the regular 20,000 daily trains would be operational -- hours of operation will be reduced to 11 hours per day, between 0730 to 1830. Large parts of the railway network will be closed.
Network Rail lays out a map of the affected service areas that span the country.
"Make no mistake, the level of service we will be able to offer will be significantly compromised and passengers need to take that into account and to plan ahead and only travel if it's really necessary to do so," Network Rail boss Andrew Haines told BBC.
BBC describes the planned walkout as the "biggest rail strike in modern history" and comes one week after RMT and Network Rail couldn't agree on higher pay for workers.
Haines said Network Rail expects the strike to cost up to £150m in lost revenue.
"Once we have taken the pain of next week we will have around £150mn less money available to us as a system. The Treasury will either have to decide to fund that . . . or we will have to make more savings," he told FT.
Train strikes, record petrol prices at the pump, soaring energy and food bills, and overall inflation spiking to four-decade highs appear to be reminiscent of the stagflation years of the 1970s.
Earlier Thursday, the Bank of England hiked rates for the 5th straight time, raising interest rates by 25bps to 1.25% to curb inflation. We know that inflation is sticky, and rate hikes bring forward UK recession risks.
Senators tack $45B onto Biden's defense budget - POLITICO
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 17:02
The committee approved the defense policy bill Thursday morning, its second day of deliberations.
Senate Armed Services' increase is the highest bid so far for military spending for the coming fiscal year. The House is expected to make its own push to increase Pentagon spending. Still, the NDAA only authorizes spending and would need to be backed up by funding legislation produced by the House and Senate Appropriations panels.
Biden sought $813 billion for national defense in his fiscal 2023 budget '-- including $773 billion for the Pentagon. Roughly $10 billion of the $813 billion falls outside of Armed Services' jurisdiction.
But Republicans have been pushing for a substantial increase, arguing for a 3 to 5 percent increase from the current year's level above inflation. The current year's enacted level for the NDAA is $768 billion.
Reed told reporters Thursday that historic inflation was ''the first consideration'' in boosting the topline.
The committee chair had been negotiating a bipartisan topline deal with ranking Republican Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma ahead of the markup. Reed acknowledged that the bill's topline would likely have to be higher than Biden's request to account for high inflation, but that other needs could push that even higher.
''It's everything I hoped for,'' Inhofe said of the topline increase.
The House Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, this week sided with Biden's budget in its version of the bill , authorizing $773 billion for the Pentagon and $803 total for national defense programs that are in the panel's jurisdiction. Although the panel's chair, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), said this week that he expects that number will grow.
Bigger topline: This marks the second budget of the Biden administration, and the second year in a row that Senate Democrats have joined Republicans to add billions to the request. Despite a progressive wing that has vowed to cut defense spending, the 50-50 split in the Senate means that the majority can't pass the NDAA without Republican help, which gives the GOP leverage to force higher budgets.
Pay raise: Despite the topline boost, senators stuck with the administration's request for a 4.6 percent pay increase next year for military personnel.
Stockpiling: The bill authorizes $1 billion for the National Defense Stockpile to shore up military access to critical materials.
Regional defense programs: Reed said the legislation ''fully invests'' in the Pentagon's Pacific Deterrence Initiative, aimed at building up the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific to deter China, as well as the European Deterrence Initiative and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
Honoring Inhofe: The bill is named for Inhofe, who is resigning from the Senate at the end of the 117th Congress. Inhofe has served as both chair and ranking member of the panel.
Flood Rocks Abbott Baby Formula Plant Likely Delaying Production for 'Weeks'
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 17:02
Baby formula ''production and distribution'' at Abbott's plant in Sturgis, Michigan, will likely be delayed ''for a few weeks'' after flooding Monday has led to setbacks, the company announced Tuesday.
The plant had only resumed baby formula production on June 4, following a months-long delay stemming from a voluntary recall after complaints that four infants who had consumed products manufactured at the plant developed bacterial infections, Breitbart news previously noted. Abbott's recall and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigations that coincided contributed to the nationwide baby formula shortage that has left frantic parents struggling to feed their infants for months.
Breitbart NewsAbbott stated that ''severe thunderstorms and heavy rains'' in Southwest Michigan caused the flood that rocked portions of Sturgis and '' areas of our plant.''
''As a result, Abbott has stopped production of its EleCare specialty formula that was underway to assess damage caused by the storm and clean and re-sanitize the plant,'' the company noted. Abbott has alerted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the incident and '' will conduct comprehensive testing in conjunction with the independent third party to ensure the plant is safe to resume production.''
The Abbott manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, on May 13, 2022. (JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
''This will likely delay production and distribution of new product for a few weeks,'' the update continued.
In Abbott's June 4 announcement that it was resuming manufacturing at the plant, it noted that specialty and metabolic formulas would be prioritized at the start of production operations while projecting EleCare products release on June 20, as Breitbart News reported:
The company will begin making Similac formula and other regular products after prioritizing the specialty formulas, ''with supplies hitting stores several weeks later,'' the Walls Street Journal reported, citing ''a person familiar with the matter.''
However, on Tuesday, Abbott asserted that it '' has ample existing supply of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet needs for these products until new product is available.''
''These products are being released to consumers in need in coordination with healthcare professionals,'' the update continued. ''Parents or caregivers in need should contact their healthcare professional or contact Abbott at +1-800-881-0876 for additional information.''
Abbott asserted that in June, it manufactured nearly 9 million pounds of infant formula, which was not produced in Sturgis. The figure represents 95 percent of the company's January output '' before the recall.
Once production resumes, the Michigan plant will again work to bolster specialty and metabolic formula supply after prioritizing EleCare manufacturing and will simultaneously work to begin producing Similac formula.
Before the recall, the Sturgis plant ''had produced roughly one-fifth of the infant formula in the country,'' as the Wall Street Journal noted. Although the recall occurred in February, and such a significant void in production would undoubtedly have severe negative consequences for the country's most vulnerable populations, White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese recently contended on CNN's The Lead that President Joe Biden was not aware of the crisis until April, Breitbart News reported.
U.S. Departments of Justice and Treasury Launch Multilateral Russian Oligarch Task Force | OPA | Department of Justice
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:59
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen today met virtually with representatives from Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission, to launch the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) multilateral task force. The task force was first announced by leaders on Feb. 26.
The task force, consisting of Finance Ministry and Justice or Home Ministry in each member jurisdiction, each committed to using their respective authorities in concert with other appropriate ministries to collect and share information to take concrete actions, including sanctions, asset freezing, civil and criminal asset seizure, and criminal prosecution.
Cooperation between the U.S. government and foreign partners has already yielded notable successes. In the last three weeks alone, information provided by U.S. law enforcement to foreign partners has contributed to the restraint of multiple vessels controlled by sanctioned individuals and entities. Collectively, these vessels are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
''We are already working with our international partners to freeze and seize properties belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs worldwide,'' said Attorney General Garland. ''We will continue to work together to take all appropriate actions against those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unjust war against Ukraine.''
''Our sanctions, trade restrictions, and other measures have already imposed significant costs on Russia, its leadership, and those who enabled Putin's unprovoked invasion into Ukraine,'' said Secretary Yellen. ''This multilateral task force will raise those costs even more, by galvanizing coordinated efforts to freeze and seize assets of these individuals in jurisdictions around the world and deny safe haven for their ill-gotten gains.''
The REPO task force members discussed ways to ensure the effective, coordinated implementation of the group's collective financial sanctions relating to Russia, as well as assistance to other nations to locate and freeze assets located within their jurisdictions. Participants also discussed the need to preserve evidence and determine whether these frozen assets, or other assets linked to these sanctioned individuals or entities, are subject to forfeiture. Finally, the task force discussed ways to bring to justice enablers and gatekeepers who have facilitated the movement of sanctioned assets or other illicit funds.
The Department of Justice's newly launched Task Force KleptoCapture, which the Attorney General established on March 2, will help support this international effort. Task Force KleptoCapture is designed to help deploy U.S. prosecutorial and law enforcement resources to identify sanctions evasion and related criminal conduct.
In addition to the launch of the REPO task force, Treasury took steps to boost cooperation and intelligence sharing. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today will join in a statement with counterparts in task force member countries and others to increase information sharing. FinCEN will also release an alert for financial institutions about the importance of identifying and reporting suspicious transactions by sanctioned Russian elites, oligarchs, and their proxies that involve real estate, luxury goods, and high-value assets. FinCEN continues robust engagement with financial institutions through its public-private partnership authorities to enhance collaboration and information sharing and analysis.
Treasury will also launch the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Program today, which offers rewards payments for information leading to seizure, restraint, or forfeiture of assets linked to foreign government corruption, including the Government of the Russian Federation. The Department of the Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence administers the Program in coordination with the Departments of Justice and State and U.S. federal law enforcement agencies. More information on eligibility for rewards payments and on submission of relevant information to the U.S. government can be found here. Those individuals with information are encouraged to contact Kleptocracy_Rewards@Treasury.gov or call +1 202-622-2050.
In connection with the meeting, Treasury is providing attendees with a list of 50 individuals who are priorities for the United States. Treasury has publicly released 28 names of individuals from the list who have been sanctioned by multiple jurisdictions, including the United States. The names are available here.
New Class | The Forum of Young Global Leaders
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:56
We are excited to welcome 109 Young Global Leaders to the Class of 2022. From scientists leading on efforts to address COVID, to activists tackling gender-based violence, artists keeping history and culture alive through music and leaders from business, civil society, academia and government, meet the new class of YGLs:
20 YGLs in North America Joud Abdel Majeid Deputy Chief Financial Officer, BlackRock, USA
Joud Abdel Majeid is a global executive serving as Deputy Chief Financial Officer for BlackRock. Previously, she served as Chief of Staff to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock and Chief Operation Officer of BlackRock Solutions, BlackRock's technology business. Prior to joining BlackRock, she was Head of Strategy and Corporate Development for E*TRADE Financial where she was responsible for corporate strategy development, business partnerships and M&A activities. She was also a management consultant for Booz & Company where she advised global financial institutions on key strategic, operational and organizational issues. Abdel Majeid holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a BSc in Finance and Economics from Elmhurst College, where she was named Senior of the Year.
Usman Ahmed Head of Global Public Policy and Research, Paypal, Inc., USA
Usman Ahmed is the Head of Global Public Policy at PayPal. His work covers a variety of global issues including financial services regulation, innovation, international trade and entrepreneurship. He has given talks on these subjects at conferences and universities around the world and has published in the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report, Journal of World Trade and the Michigan Journal of International Law. Ahmed is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law School where he teaches courses on international law and policy issues related to the Internet. Prior to PayPal, Usman worked at a number of policy think tanks in the Washington DC area focusing on good governance issues. He earned his JD from the University of Michigan, MA from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and BA from the University of Maryland.
Colin Allred Congressman from Texas (D), 32nd District, U.S. House of Representatives, USA
Colin Allred is an American politician, civil rights attorney and former professional football player. A member of the Democratic Party, he is currently serving as the US Representative for Texas's 32nd congressional district. He is part of the "Blue Wave" of Democrats who were elected during the recent midterm elections and took seats previously held by Republicans. Prior to joining Congress, Allred worked as a Special Assistant in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of General Counsel alongside then-Secretary Julian Castro in the administration of president Barack Obama.
Jennifer (Jen) Auerbach-Rodriguez Managing Director - MLWM Strategic Growth Markets, Merrill Lynch, USA
Jennifer Auerbach-Rodriguez is Managing Director, Head of Acquisition, Strategic Growth and Retention at Bank of America. Making managing director at 34 at one of the largest financial services firms in the world, she is a passionate advocate for advancing women and people of colour in traditionally male-dominated industries. Auerbach-Rodriguez has served on numerous councils and networks throughout her tenure, including as the Executive Sponsor for the Women's Exchange, the Merrill Lynch Diversity and Inclusion Council and the Hispanic Latino Advisory Council. She is the recipient of a number of honours, including the 2016 Women's Bond Club Rising Star Award, and 2016 Global Diversity & Inclusion Award by Bank of America. She was also recognized by the Paradigm for Parity coalition as one of 19 trailblazing women for breaking down barriers to help achieve true equality and full representation in corporate offices, and by Crain's New York Business as one of 2020's Rising Stars in Banking & Finance. Auerbach-Rodriguez holds a BA from Dartmouth College in Philosophy and an MBA from the Columbia Business School.
Jessica Beckerman Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Muso, USA
Jessica Beckerman is a health justice advocate who works to end preventable deaths rooted in poverty by building rapid universal healthcare systems. She is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Muso, which has given care to 330,000 patients throughout Mali and supports the country's national community health efforts to deliver health systems impact for 3.4 million of the country's most vulnerable citizens. Muso's work has been featured by The Atlantic, Forbes, The Guardian, BBC World Service and The Financial Times. She is also a practicing Obstetrician-Gynecologist in Oakland, California.
Joy Buolamwini Founder and Executive Director, Algorithmic Justice League, USA
Joy Buolamwini is Founder of Algorithmic Justice League, an organization that looks to foster a world with more ethical and inclusive artificial intelligence. She is also a Researcher at the MIT Media Lab, where she pioneered evaluation techniques for face classification algorithms, and serves on the Global Tech Panel convened by the Vice-President of the European Commission to advise world leaders and technology executives on ways to make technology more beneficial. Buolamwini's TED Talk on bias in artificial intelligence has been viewed over 1 million times. She has been listed on the Technology Review 35 under 35, Forbes 30 under 30, BBC 100 Women and Bloomberg 50, and was featured in the inaugural Forbes list of 50 Top Women in Technology. Buolamwini earned a BSc in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and master's degree from both the University of Oxford and MIT, where she is a PhD candidate. She is also a Rhodes Scholar and Fulbright Fellow.
Eugene Chung Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Penrose Studios, USA
Eugene Chung is a globally recognized Blockchain Metaverse influencer, filmmaker and investor as well as Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Penrose Studios. His latest work, ''Arden's Wake", won the first Lion awarded for Best VR at the 74th Venice International Film Festival. Previously, he was Head of Film and Media and Co-Founder of Story Studio at Oculus VR, which was later acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. Prior to Oculus, he was in production at Pixar Animation Studios, a private equity investor at Warburg Pincus and an investment banker at Morgan Stanley. Chung earned his BSc degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar.
Vilas Dhar President and Trustee, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, USA
Vilas Dhar is an entrepreneur, technologist, and human rights advocate. He is President and Trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, a 21st century philanthropy advancing AI and data solutions to create a thriving, equitable, and sustainable future for all. A leading voice on equity in a tech-enabled world, Vilas champions individuals and communities as architects, decision makers, and primary stakeholders in shaping our digital future. A trained computer scientist, lawyer, and philanthropist, Vilas serves on the Advisory Council at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), as Expert Contributor to OECD.AI, Co-Chair of the Global AI Action Alliance at the World Economic Forum, Advisor to MIT SOLVE, Director of the Network of Engaged International Donors, and a Trustee of the Christensen Fund. He has been named a Young Global Leader and Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum, and has previously served as a Senior Fellow of the Berggruen Institute, the Gleitsman Fellow on Social Change at Harvard University, a Practitioner Resident on Artificial Intelligence at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Illinois. Vilas holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law, a Master's in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and dual Bachelor's degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Illinois. He is currently completing his doctoral dissertation at the University of Birmingham, where his research drives novel approaches to economic and policy infrastructure for a data enabled society to support and empower vulnerable populations.
Margot Edelman General Manager, Edelman, USA
Margot Edelman is the third generation in her family business, Edelman PR, and leads the Bay Area Hub, which includes the San Francisco and Sacramento offices for the company. In her role as General Manager, she advises tech giants and industry disruptors alike on how to build trust and reputation.
Ilwad Elman Chief Operating Officer, Elman Peace Centre, Canada
Ilwad Elman is a young female leader at the forefront of the Somali peace process, and a global authority on ending conflict and preventing violent extremism. After finding asylum in Canada with her family, she returned to Somalia at age 19 and co-founded the Elman Peace Centre. At just 20, she founded Somalia's first rape crisis centre. Since then, Elman has become a champion of building peace and gave those impacted by conflict a seat at the table. She has designed interventions aimed at security sector reform to create an inclusive space for women in peacebuilding, and aimed at developing programmes for the disarmament and rehabilitation of child soldiers and for the rehabilitation and reintegration of adults associated with armed groups. Elman is also an advocate for the Kofi Annan foundation initiative 'Extremely Together' to prevent and counter-violent extremism.
Sean Fraser Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Canada
Sean Simon Andrew Fraser is Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, and has served as the Member of Parliament for Central Nova since 2015.
As Canada's Minister of Immigration, he is currently leading Canada's efforts to boost immigration levels to help drive the post-pandemic economic recovery, and he is responsible for the federal government's initiatives that offer safe haven to displaced persons fleeing Afghanistan and Ukraine.
His previous work as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister included contributions to the Government of Canada's economic response to COVID-19, during which time he served as a primary spokesperson for the federal government in parliament on fiscal and economic matters. He also helped inform the federal government's environmental policy agenda during his term as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
Kim Hallwood Head, Corporate Sustainability, HSBC Bank Canada, Canada
Kim Hallwood is Head of Corporate Sustainability at HSBC Bank Canada. As a member of HSBC Bank Canada's Executive Committee and one of the longest-serving members on HSBC's global Corporate Sustainability Executive Committee, Hallwood shapes the development and leads the local execution of a sustainability strategy for one of the world's largest banking and financial services organizations. She was named one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada by Women's Executive Network and one of Canada's Clean50 Emerging Leaders. She is also Executive Sponsor of the bank's national Balance Network, which supports the recruitment, development, advancement and engagement of a gender-balanced workforce.
Bicheng Han Founder and Chief Executive Officer, BrainCo, USA
Bicheng Han is the founder and CEO of BrainCo. He is dedicated in the research and application using the technology of non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI). Bicheng found BrainCo in 2015, while he was pursuing his PhD degree at Harvard Center for Brain Science. The company has now grown into a world-leading brain-computer interface (BCI) company and the first unicorn among all BCI companies in the world. Their technology has been applied in multiple fields to help people with different needs, from neurological diseases like ADHD, Alzheimers, and Autism, to prostheses that help people with disabilities regain control over their body. For his work in BCI, he was awarded the ''MIT Tech Review China 35 Innovators under 35''. Their product was selected as ''Best inventions of the year'' by TIME magazine.
Orenzo "Perry" Hollowell Head, Equities and Sustainable Investing, CFI Partners, USA
Perry Hollowell has over 15 years in the financial services industry and a passion for investing for both profit and purpose. As the Head of Equities and Sustainable Investing at CFI Partners, he oversees public and private equity impact strategies aligned with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the integration of ESG best practices across all of the firm's equity and fixed income portfolios.
In his prior role as a Managing Director at Guggenheim Partners, he managed over $750 million in equity derivative strategies. While at Guggenheim, Perry was instrumental in establishing the firm's Social Justice Investment Committee, which seeks to invest in and support minority-owned businesses. Before Guggenheim, Perry was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in the firm's internal hedge fund, Principal Strategies. As a portfolio manager specializing in global macro investment strategies, he invested across asset classes and the capital structure of companies.
Perry has a Bachelor of Science with majors in accounting and finance from Georgetown University and a Master of Business Administration with concentrations in econometrics and statistics from The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. He is a charterholder of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Market Technician (CMT), and Chartered Alternative Investments Analyst (CAIA) designations. The World Economic Forum has recognized Perry as a Young Global Leader in 2022. He is an alumnus of the Robert Toigo Foundation Fellowship and a 40 Under 40 honoree.
Perry currently serves on the boards of Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and the Smithsonian's D.C. Regional Council. He also is an advisor to Silver Lining Finance, which believes that there is no better risk than small businesses and seeks to lend to business owners with terms that are fair to them and viable to investors. In his spare time, Perry enjoys struggling through boxing workouts, staying on his wife's good side, and teaching his son how to be a kind human being.
Matthew Katz Global Head of Data Science, Blackstone Group, USA
Matthew Katz is a Senior Managing Director and the Global Head of Data Science for Blackstone. He leads Blackstone's team of data scientists and in this capacity partners with management teams and operators to accelerate growth across Blackstone's portfolio companies by leveraging data science. He and his team additionally work closely with Blackstone's investment teams to provide a differentiated viewpoint through advanced analytics during the investment process.Before joining Blackstone in 2015, Mr. Katz was a Vice President at Point72 Asset Management where he focused on data science and investing. He began his career at Credit Suisse.Mr. Katz graduated with honors from Princeton University. He serves on the advisory board of Virginia Tech's Academy of Data Science and is on the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Leadership Council.
Alaa Murabit Director, Health (PAC), UN High-Level Commissioner and SDG Advocate, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA
Alaa Murabit is a medical doctor, global security strategist and a women's rights advocate. She is currently Global Policy and Advocacy Health Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and United Nations High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth. She also founded the women's rights organization Voice of Libyan Women in 2011, at the age of 21. Her TED Talk, What My Religion Really Says About Women, has been viewed nearly 6 million times. In 2016, Murabit became Executive Director of Phase Minus 1, providing thought leadership in conflict resolution and inclusive security, and later founded CO-AGENCY, an accelerator for emerging women's leadership in security, health, peacebuilding and policy. A two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Murabit is the recipient of more than 100 honours and awards, including the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, Top 20 of the World's Most Influential People in Gender Policy, BBC 100 Women, Forbes 30 Under 30, CNN Leaders You Should Know, Nelson Mandela International Changemaker Award, and Harvard Law's Women Inspiring Change. She is an MIT Media Lab Director's Fellow and an Ashoka Fellow and serves on the board of the Malala Fund. Murabit received an MD from the University of Zawia in Libya and an MSc in International Strategy and Diplomacy, with Distinction, from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Kaitlyn Sadtler Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator, Chief of Section on Immunoengineering, National Institutes of Health, USA
Kaitlyn Sadtler is a scientist and Chief of the Section on Immuno-Engineering at the National Institutes of Health. She began her lab at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering after a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Chemical Engineering working on the molecular mechanisms of immune activation in the foreign body response with Dr Robert Langer (founder of Moderna). There, she was awarded a competitive NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship for her work on immunology and tissue engineering. She completed her PhD at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she showed a critical role for Th2-T cells in biomaterial-mediated muscle regeneration. Her research has been published in journals such as Science, Nature Methods, Nature Communications and Science Translational Medicine. She was recognized as a 2018 TED Fellow and delivered a TED talk that was listed as one of the top-viewed talks of 2018. Sadtler was selected for the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 List in Science and received the 2021 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award from Johns Hopkins University. Since starting her laboratory at the NIH, she has lent her lab's expertise to the fight against COVID-19, launching the NIH Serologic Survey, detecting 16.8 million undiagnosed SARS-CoV-2 infections in the US via remote blood sampling and antibody testing. This work continues as the team works to map the spread of the pandemic in the US from 2020 through 2021.
Mark Stoffels Senior Vice-President, Connected Care North America, Philips, USA
Mark Stoffels is a senior global health tech executive. As Managing Director and Senior Vice-President of Royal Philips' Connected Care North America, he is highly driven to improve global access to healthcare. Other roles at Royal Philips include Vice-President and General of Latin America, Country Manager Mexico, General Manager Health Systems Mexico and Strategic Marketing Director for Latin America. Stoffels is the author of "3 Billion Heart Beats", a novel on Buddhism which principles he works tirelessly to implement in his leadership style.
John R. Tyson Executive Vice-President; Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer, Tyson Foods, USA
John R. Tyson is a fourth-generation member of the Tyson family and executive at one of the largest food companies in the world. As Chief Sustainability Officer at Tyson Foods, he has the ability to influence the global food supply chain, promoting more sustainable production practices that empower people, conserve natural resources and drive innovation for smart, responsible agriculture. Prior, he worked in investment banking for J.P. Morgan and as a private equity and venture capital investor. He is also a lecturer at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, he serves on the Board of Directors of Winrock International and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Tyson has a BA in Economics from Harvard University and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Kiah Williams Co-Founder and Managing Director, Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine - SIRUM, USA
Kiah Williams is Co-Founder and Managing Director of SIRUM, a non-profit social enterprise that drives the future of healthcare by connecting people with surplus medications. Prior to SIRUM, Williams helped create the Alliance Healthcare Initiative, a public-private partnership spearheaded by the American Heart Association and Clinton Foundation that engaged Fortune 500 companies to expand healthcare benefits for 2 million children. Her work at SIRUM has been recognized by Forbes 30-Under-30 and Marie Claire's America's 50 Most Influential Women. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University.
Sheryl Sandberg and the Crackling Hellfire of Corporate America - The Atlantic
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:53
In publishing , there are some books that are too big to fail. Very early on you get the message that this is a Major and Very Important Book. In 2013, that book was Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which sold more than 1.5 million copies in its first year. She was the chief operating officer of Facebook, back when most of us had no understanding of the platform's fearsome powers'--in the halcyon days when we thought it was just for sharing pictures of the grandkids and ruining marriages. The book was about how women can make it to the top. It was a sort of ''work-life balance'' category buster, because she was telling women to pretty much forget about the ''life'' part.
In the weeks before the big rollout, I was contacted by editors at several publications asking if I would write something about it. I knew exactly what they wanted'--not the main article, which would be a rapturous announcement of this bold American visionary. They wanted some crank to pump out a ''What About the Children?'' sidebar, pointing out that to lean into work you have to lean away from your family, to lend a spirit of objectivity to their 21-gun salutes to author and book. Trust me, around 2013 I was the top crank for that kind of thing.
But when I looked through the galley, the whole thing was so manufactured and B-school-ish that I just wanted to put my head on the keyboard and have a little nap. Still, I myself had been leaning in to the lucrative book-reviewing space for a long time, and I could tell there was money on the table because these Sheryl Sandberg packages were obviously going to be lavish. If I played my cards right, I could be looking at one large. Where to get it?
Read: How Sheryl Sandberg lost her feminist street cred
Time Inc., as it turned out. It was a purely meretricious transaction, but I didn't phone it in. I did the honorable thing and read the book closely. Almost immediately I saw that its main problem wasn't the children. This was a book about how women in corporate America could'--and should'--strive to get the most money and the most power. But where should they seek such power? In the crackling hellfire of C-suite America.
Sandberg invoked the name Goldman Sachs multiple times'--in a good way. Mind you, this book was published five years after that despicable outfit played a major role in almost bankrupting the country. She tells us it was a ''seismic event'' when, in the late '90s, Goldman Sachs made a woman named Amy Goodfriend head of its U.S. derivatives team; she stayed at the company until 2001. ''Amy's a bitch, but an honest bitch,'' one man said about her. If I ever write one of these books, I'll call it A Few Honest Bitches, and explain that if we can get the right kind of women inside these places, we might be able to burn them down.
Why were the progressive worlds of publishing and journalism embracing this junk as some kind of giant step toward equality? It will surely go down in history as one of white feminism's greatest achievements.
I didn't send Time a book review so much as a red-flag warning. Time had published a cover story in the midst of the financial crisis called ''The Price of Greed''; Lean In was a return to Greed is Good. But the editors didn't care about Cassandra in the sidebar. The copy was clean, and they slapped on a title they liked (the title was ''What About the Children?''), and I decided to act very Goldman Sachs about the situation. I cashed the check the day it arrived.
S heryl Sandberg announced this month that she's resigning from Facebook'--now called Meta'--to focus on her philanthropy. Her work there is done.
During her 14 years at the company, she's done so much damage to our society that we may never recover. The simple truth is that you cannot simultaneously dedicate yourself to making untold fortunes for a giant corporation and to championing a social good. Facebook'--supposedly a wondrous, no-charge gift to the world'--was made of you and me. It needed our baby pictures, our religious and political affiliations; it needed the names of our high schools and employers and favorite movies and hometowns. It let us set up shop as the very particular and special individuals we are'--and it was all free. In fact, it was ruinously expensive. As the saying goes, ''If you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.'' There we were: suckers, lambs to the slaughter. It didn't even occur to us that all of that information wasn't ''safe.'' We didn't want it to be safe! We wanted our long-lost friends from Brownie Troop 347 to be able to find us! When we realized what we'd done, it was already too late.
During the Trump campaign, we got a taste of what a giant, mysterious corporation can do with all of that information. A political consultancy called Cambridge Analytica had gotten hold of the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users. That data was used in service of the ''psychological warfare'' that Steve Bannon wanted to wage against the American public. It sent voters down just the right rabbit holes; it whispered in their ears. It was a fooling-some-of-the-people-all-of-the-time operation.
''We made mistakes and I own them,'' Sandberg eventually said about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. ''They are on me.'' The impression was of radical transparency, a Harry Truman of the C-suite: The buck stops here.
Read: The Cambridge Analytica scandal, in three paragraphs
But according to The New York Times, the buck was about to embark on an Oh, the Places You'll Go! journey to the bottom of the Earth. Sandberg oversaw the company's bizarre damage-control efforts. It was an old-school, dirty-tricks campaign, combined with the unimaginable power of Facebook. That campaign included hiring ''a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros,'' and lobbying ''a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.''
Excuse me'--Facebook did what?
But more interesting is the way that Sandberg deployed some of her personal power. In Lean In, we were power-posing, assuming male levels of self-confidence, asking for the big money and knowing we deserved it. But when The Daily Mail attempted to publish something unflattering about Sandberg's then-boyfriend, the Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, she seemed more like the head cheerleader standing up for the captain of the football team. On two separate occasions she is said to have contacted The Daily Mail and successfully kept the information out of the paper. (The source of the critical story recanted some of it, and Sandberg denied pressuring the paper, The Wall Street Journal reported.)
(Look, I fully understand that as the result of this article, I'm going to wake up next to a horse's head, and all I ask is that it not be one of the weeks when I'm using the paisley sheets.)
Now we learn that Meta has been investigating Sandberg for possible misuse of company resources. The Wall Street Journal reported that some of her colleagues think she may have broken Securities and Exchange Commission rules by having Facebook employees work on her pet projects. These include her Lean In foundation; her second book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy; and even her upcoming wedding, to a consultant named Tom Bernthal. (The Journal reported that a Meta spokesperson declined to comment and that a spokesperson for Sandberg denied that she had inappropriately used company resources in connection with her wedding.)
I should have left well enough alone, but I couldn't help myself, and I Googled the fianc(C)'s company's website, which reads, ''From Manila to London we help Facebook with their most pressing Communications and global Brand Strategy challenges.'' So this is a match made in heaven.
(It's going to be my own head bleeding out on the sheets, I realize now. Will have to pin a note to my pillow reminding the night caller of what Michael Clayton said: ''I'm not the guy you kill. I'm the guy you buy!'')
O ne lesson I learned in the Berkeley of my 1960s and '70s youth has never failed me: Huge corporations are never, ever on the side of the people. You can't take your eyes off of them for a second, because any time you look away, they'll do terrible things, like make napalm (Dow Chemical) or Agent Orange (Monsanto), or get desperately impoverished women in developing countries to use expensive baby formula instead of breastfeeding (Nestl(C)).
Today's young people have been forced to learn that old lesson, because they are the inheritors of 40 years of corporate greed, private equity's smash and grab, bank deregulation, and the collusion of the very rich and the U.S. government to squeeze every penny it can from the middle class and move it into the counting houses of billionaires. They know the game isn't rigged against them; they know the game was lost long before they were born.
Corporations are now faced with labor shortages, and there are rumblings from the owner class about the demise of the great American work ethic. But corporations are the ones who killed it. Young people today know that work is not your life; it's how you pay for your life. It's an exchange of money for labor, and they are not interested in devoting a jot of extra energy to jobs that pay minimum wage and offer no health insurance or savings plan, for employers who show no loyalty to their workers.
Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen: How to care less about work
These are signs that a real labor movement may be growing in this country. Here's another old lesson from my misspent youth: If workers organize, they become more powerful than the men'--or, lean in!, women'--who own the companies.
So farewell to Sheryl Sandberg. But maybe her departure is finally the moment to answer the question Time magazine asked me so long ago: What about the children?
I've heard a number of young people lately say they won't have children because of the climate crisis. That's a tremendous sacrifice and a principled position. A Pew Research Center survey from November found that 44 percent of adults without kids say that they probably won't have any, up from 37 percent in 2018, the last time Pew asked the question. But often when you talk with these young people, after the climate comes a whole lot of reasons the choice isn't a sacrifice at all. Children seem like a hassle, and an impediment to a fun life.
To them I say, Hold on. That's the corporation speaking, which seeks to cleave you from human experience and sees you only as a worker, a unit of production. That's the corporate demand that you lean in to work and lean away from your family. ''For some women, a career is their baby,'' said Business Insider, in its article on the Pew results.
Staying home with very small children'--Jesus Christ! There's no way to explain the amount of labor, tedium, and occasional desperation it includes. Especially if you also work from home. Nothing is going right, the kids are running around, and you really can be brought to tears by mud tracked across a clean kitchen floor. Nothing to recommend it on that front.
But here's the thing. Ask any older person when the happiest time in their life was, and they will always, always say it was when their children were young.
A few weeks ago I came up with the absurd project of digitizing all of the photographs of my children taken from the pre-iPhone half of their lives. I bought the scanner, and the cord to attach it to my computer. I hauled up the cardboard boxes and opened one'--and the whole endeavor stalled out.
My children, thank God, are healthy young men living their adult lives'--they are twins, 24 years old. But when I opened the box, I saw the faces of those little boys who aren't here anymore, the ones who lived with me in the dreamtime of early childhood. My husband worked, I stayed home, and five long days a week we did things I knew they would never remember. Like the first time they heard the music of an ice-cream truck. I bought them each a Pok(C)mon popsicle, and here's the mind-blowing thing: They had no idea what was inside those wrappers until I took them off. When I gave them those astonishing, perplexing, never-before-seen popsicles (''My popsicle is raining,'' one of them said in confusion when it started dripping), they looked at me the way they often did in the dreamtime: as though I was the most wonderful, and kind, and important person in the whole world. In the corporation of their love, I was at the top of the power structure.
There is no greater joy in this life than having a baby. Here is a person who has been uniquely designed to love you. And here is Goldman Sachs.
Meet the Peecyclers. Their Idea to Help Farmers Is No. 1. | Bay Street Post
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:46
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. '-- When Kate Lucy saw a poster in town inviting people to learn about something known as peecycling, she was mystified. ''Why would someone pee in a jug and save it?'' she wondered. ''It sounds like such a wacky idea.''
Jon Sellers, her husband was available to help her as she had to work the night of the information session. He returned with a funnel, jug, and other items.
Human urine, Mr. Sellers discovered seven years ago that urine is rich in nutrients that plants need. It actually has more nutrients that Number Two, and almost none of the pathogens. Farmers typically apply those nutrients '-- nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium '-- to crops in the form of chemical fertilizers. However, this comes at a high environmental cost due to fossil fuels and mining.
Rich Earth Institute, a local nonprofit, ran the session. They were working on a more sustainable approach. Plants feed us, they feed us.
Experts agree that such urgent actions are becoming more urgent. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has worsened a worldwide fertilizer shortage that's driving farmers to desperation and threatening food supplies. Scientists warn that it will be increasingly difficult to feed a growing global populace in a world with climate change.
Now, more than a thousand gallons of donated urine later, Ms. Lucy and her husband are part of a global movement that seeks to address a slew of challenges '-- including food security, water scarcity and inadequate sanitation '-- by not wasting our waste.
At first, collecting their urine in a jug was ''a little sloshy,'' Ms. Lucy said. But she was a nurse and he was a preschool teacher; pee didn't scare them. They went from dropping off a couple of containers every week or so at an organizer's home to installing large tanks at their own house that get professionally pumped out.
Ms. Lucy now feels a pang in her stomach when she uses regular toilets. ''We make this amazing fertilizer with our bodies, and then we flush it away with gallons of another precious resource,'' Ms. Lucy said. ''That's really wild to think about.''
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, toilets are the biggest source of water usage in homes. Smarter management could save huge amounts of water, which is an urgent need given the increasing drought in areas like the American West due to climate change.
It could also help with another profound problem: Inadequate sanitation systems '-- including leaky septic tanks and aging wastewater infrastructure '-- overload rivers, lakes and coastal waters with nutrients from urine. It's made worse by runoff of chemical fertilizer. Algal blooms are the result, which can cause mass deaths of animals and plants.
One example: Manatees in Florida's Indian River Lagoon are dying of starvation after sewage-fueled algal blooms decimated the sea grass they rely on.
''The urban environments and aquatic environments become hideously polluted while the rural environments are depleted of what they need,'' saidRebecca Nelson is a Cornell University professor of plant science, global development.
Some are attracted to the transformative idea behind turning urine into fertiliser, in addition to the practical benefits. They say that by reusing something that was once flushed away they are taking a radical step towards tackling biodiversity and climate crisis.
Chemical fertilizer is not sustainable. The two main ways fossil fuels are used to produce ammonia for commercial use, which is mainly used in fertilizer production, are: The first is to provide hydrogen, which can be used in the chemical process to convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonia. The second is to provide heat for the intense heating required. According to one estimate, ammonia manufacturing accounts for 1 to 2 percent global carbon dioxide emissions. Phosphorus is another important nutrient and is mined from rocks with a diminishing supply.
Another study of urine fertilization was conducted in Niger, across the Atlantic. It was intended to address a local problem: How can female farmers increase their poor crop yields. Women often found themselves in the most remote areas of the farm, where they struggled to transport enough animal manure or find it. Chemical fertilizer was much too expensive.
A team including Aminou Ali, director of the Federation of Maradi Farmers' Unions in south-central Niger, guessed that the comparatively fertile fields closer to people's homes were getting a boost from people relieving themselves outside. They sought advice from religious leaders and medical doctors about fertilizing with urine.
''So we said, let us test that hypothesis,'' Mr. Ali recalled.
It took some convincing before they were able to get 27 volunteers to collect urine and apply it to plants.
''The results we got were very fantastic,'' Mr. Ali said. The next year, it was used by around 100 more women to fertilize, and eventually, it was used in excess by 1,000. His team's research ultimately found that urine, either with animal manure or alone, increased yields of pearl millet, the staple crop, by about 30 percent. This could result in more food for the family or the ability to sell surplus at market and earn cash for other necessities.
It was taboo for some women to use the word urine, so they renamed it oga, which means ''boss'' in the Igbo language.
Pasteurizing the pee requires that it be kept in the jug at least for two months before it is used by the farmer, plant by plant. The urine is used at full strength if the ground is wet, or, if it's dry, diluted 1:1 with water so the nutrients don't burn the crops. To reduce the smell, masks and scarves are recommended.
The men were initially skeptical. saidHannatou Moussa is an agronomist, who works with Mr. Ali. The results were clear and men began saving their urine soon after.
''It's become now a competition in the house,'' Dr. Moussa saidEach parent trying to persuade children to use their containers, vying for more urine. She explained that some children have begun to demand candy or money in exchange for their services.
The Latest News on Climate Change Card 1 from 5South Asia India and other nations in the region, home to hundreds of millions of humanity's most vulnerable, are on the front lines of climate change. As climatic extremes become the norm, it's growing more difficult to address poverty, food security and health challenges.
Great Salt Lake. Scientists and local politicians warn that the lake is shrinking due to climate change and rapid population growth. This creates toxic dust that could poison Salt Lake City's air. There are no easy ways to prevent this outcome.
Carbon dioxide levels. Scientists found that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide reached its highest point ever. said. In 2021 alone, humans emitted 36 billion tonnes of the planet-warming gas into our atmosphere. This is more than any previous year.
The kids aren't the only ones who see economic potential. Mr. Ali, an entrepreneur young farmer, has taken to collecting, storing, and selling urine. saidThe price of 25 liters of water has increased from $1 to $6 in the last two years.
''You can go pick up your urine like you're picking up a gallon of water or a gallon of fuel,'' Mr. Ali said.
So far, the research on harvesting and packaging the nutrients in urine isn't advanced enough to solve the current fertilizer crisis. To collect urine at scale, it would require significant changes to the plumbing infrastructure.
Then there's the ick factor, which peecycling supporters confront head on.
''Human waste is already being used to fertilize foods you find in the grocery store,'' said Kim Nace, a co-founder of the Rich Earth Institute, which collects the urine of some 200 volunteers in Vermont, including Ms. Lucy's, for research and application on a handful of local farms.
The stuff being used already is treated leftovers from wastewater plants, known as biosolids, which contain only a fraction of urine's nutrients. It can also be contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals from industrial sources or households.
Ms. Nace stated that urine is a better option than urine.
So, every spring, in the hills around the Rich Earth Institute, a truck with a license plate reading ''P4Farms'' delivers the pasteurized goods.
''We see very strong results from the urine,'' saidNoah Hoskins applies it to the hayfields of Bunker Farm, Dummerston, where Noah raises cows. Pigs, chickens, and turkeys. He saidHe wished that the Rich Earth Institute had more pee. ''We're in a moment where chemical fertilizer has more than doubled in price and is really representing a part of our system that is way out of our control.''
One of the biggest problems, though, is that it doesn't make environmental or economic sense to truck urine, which is mostly water, from cities to distant farmlands.
The Rich Earth Institute has teamed up with the University of Michigan to create a pee concentrate that is sanitized. And at Cornell, inspired by the efforts in Niger, Dr. Nelson and colleagues are trying to bind urine's nutrients onto biochar, a kind of charcoal, made, in this case, from feces. (It's important to not to forget about the poop, Dr. Nelson noted, because it contributes carbon, another important part of healthy soil, along with smaller amounts of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen.)
Similar experiments and pilot programs are ongoing around the world. In Cape Town, South Africa, scientists are finding new ways to harvest urine's nutrients and reuse the rest. In Paris, officials plan to install pee-diverting toilets in 600 new apartments, treat the urine and use it for the city's tree nurseries and green spaces.
Karthish Manthiram is a professor of chemical engineering and chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. saidHe was eager to see the results of his efforts. His lab is currently working to develop a process to produce nitrogen from the atmosphere. ''These are all methods that need to be pursued because it's too early right now to tell what's going to win out,'' Dr. Manthiram said.
He feels certain of what is true. saidBecause they are unsustainable, the current methods of acquiring fertilizer must be replaced.
Peecyclers in Vermont describe a personal benefit from their work: A sense of gratification thinking about their own body's nutrients helping to heal, instead of hurt, the earth.
''Hashtag PeeTheChange,'' quipped Julia Cavicchi, who directs education at the Rich Earth Institute. ''Puns aren't the only reason I'm in this field,'' she added, ''but it's definitely a perk.''
Source: NY Times
On some PBS stations, Jan. 6 hearings can't dislodge 'Curious George' - The Washington Post
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:45
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Major broadcast and cable networks are carrying the House hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection live. But on many PBS stations, the hearings are losing out to the likes of Daniel Tiger and Curious George.
Some public stations are essentially consigning the hearings to second-class status, airing them only on secondary digital channels instead of their better-known and more widely accessible flagship channels.
Monday's hearing, for example, took a back seat to children's programming on WyomingPBS, the statewide public broadcaster. The station aired its usual morning bloc of ''Curious George'' and ''Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood'' on its main high-definition signal. The hearings appeared on a digital subchannel called Create, which typically features cooking and sewing programs and episodes of ''This Old House.''
WyomingPBS is among a number of public stations that have been reluctant to preempt shows such as ''Donkey Hodie'' and ''Sesame Street'' for hearings that sometimes feature cursing '-- in videotaped testimony, former attorney general William P. Barr recalled telling Donald Trump his election-fraud claims were ''bulls---'' '-- and images of rioters attacking police at the U.S. Capitol.
''We have a commitment to the parents in Wyoming to provide a 'safe harbor' on our main channel for their children during the day,'' said Terry Dugas, the station's general manager. As of Tuesday morning, he said, ''we've received no complaints.''
Public stations in regions that skew blue as well as red made the same kind of decision. PBS stations in South Carolina, New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia and Iowa, among other states, aired kids' shows on their main channels, and broadcast the hearings on a digital sub-channel called World, which features news, documentaries and discussion programs.
However, some viewers find it difficult or impossible to find these secondary channels, which were made possible by the transition to digital TV broadcasting more than a decade ago. Not all cable and satellite systems include the sub-channels in their lineups. If a viewer doesn't have a cable subscription, they need a special antenna to pull them in over the air.
Nevertheless, stations have touted their coverage. ''We are humbled by our duty as a public television station to support the democratic process by making community debates and federal public hearings available to you and all of our viewers across our many platforms,'' wrote Arizona PBS General Manager Adrienne R. Fairwell in an email to viewers last week as she announced that her station would air this week's hearings only on a secondary channel.
Fairwell declined to respond to questions. The station aired Monday's hearing on its World sub-channel, after a broadcast of ''Rick Steves' Festive Europe.''
Thursday's prime-time hearing attracted an estimated national TV audience of around 20 million, about 19 million of them on the three leadings broadcast networks and CNN and MSNBC on cable (the figures do not include PBS's audience). Fox was the only major station that didn't carry the hearing live, opting instead to stick with its opinion programs. However, Fox joined the pack by carrying Monday's morning hearing. And NBC and CBS plan to air future hearings on all affiliate stations (ABC did not immediately respond to The Post).
Some PBS stations, like ArizonaPBS, showed last week's prime-time hearing on their main channels but downgraded Monday's hearing to a secondary channel, in favor of children's programming.
Many PBS stations already air children's programs on a secondary channel called PBS Kids '-- though Dugas noted that at his station, it does not reach nearly as many people as the main channel.
The reluctance to showcase the House hearings has a special historic irony. Public TV stations established themselves as a leading news source in the early 1970s by airing hundreds of hours of another congressional inquiry, the Senate Watergate hearings.
Those hearings spawned a nightly recap program hosted by Washington correspondents Robert McNeil and Jim Lehrer. The program became a hit, swelling public television's audience and leading to a surge in pledge-drive contributions to stations before evolving into PBS's signature news program, the ''PBS NewsHour.''
The stations' decision is striking, too, in light of Congress's role in funding PBS and its affiliated stations. The stations receive taxpayer support through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an entity created by Congress to distribute federal money to noncommercial radio and TV stations. Congress appropriated $485 million to CPB in the current fiscal year. The figure is set to rise to $525 million by 2024.
In contrast with many other PBS stations, Washington's WETA is tripling down on the House hearings, broadcasting them live on its flagship channel (Channel 26) and two sub-channels during the day and re-airing them in prime time each evening. (WETA produces ''NewsHour'').
''This is a way for public media to differentiate itself from commercial providers,'' said Miguel Monteverde, WETA's senior vice president and general manager. ''I'm shocked that there aren't more [public] stations highlighting this. It's riveting TV.'' He added, ''I can't imagine a scenario in which we'd forgo something as important as this for other programming.''
A PBS spokesperson, Brianna Barker, said member stations are owned and operated independently and are free to draw up their own schedules for most hours of the day. She was unable to provide a tally of how PBS's 330 member stations are presenting the hearings, but she suggested that more stations will carry them on their main channels as the hearings progress.
At least one PBS station opted not to show the first hearing at all on Thursday, but quickly reversed itself after receiving complaints from viewers. PBS North Carolina dropped the opening session because viewers were able to see it on other stations and through a stream on the station's website, interim chief executive David Crabtree told the Raleigh News & Observer.
In its place, the station aired locally produced programming, such as ''On the Road with Chatham Rabbits,'' ''My Home, NC,'' ''North Carolina Weekend'' and ''David Holt's State of Music.''
After fielding complaints from viewers, however, the station decided to carry Monday's hearing on a secondary channel devoted to ''civic affairs, issues, entertainment and educational programs relevant to North Carolina.''
This article has been updated twice with more information on PBS children's programming.
How to Stop Our Food From Hurting the Planet | Time.com
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:45
Farmers have grown food in roughly the same way for thousands of years: planting seeds and watching them grow; raising animals from birth to slaughter; hoping that nature provides them the right amounts of rain and sun.
Now, entrepreneurs say they have a better idea. Agriculture in its current form is bad for the planet, they say'--fields for crops and animal grazing occupy land where trees could be planted, and farming sucks up vast amounts of increasingly precious water. Why not make food in a completely different way, maybe growing lettuce in skyscrapers and creating meat from cells in a petri dish?
There is a dire need to change how food is produced. An August U.N. report prepared by more than 100 experts warned that exploitation of land and water is already putting pressure on humanity's ability to feed itself. Those pressures will grow as the world's population reaches 9.7 billion by 2050 and as high temperatures and floods make it more difficult to grow crops in some regions. That's why -mission-driven entrepreneurs and funders see food tech as the ultimate investment opportunity, making money while also creating food that makes the planet a better place.
Read more of TIME's Davos 2020 coverage
The result has been billions of dollars invested in companies that promise to reinvent the food that ends up on your dinner plate. More than 47 companies making meat and dairy products from plants, including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, have raised $2.29 billion from venture capitalists in the past decade, one-quarter of it invested in 2019 alone, according to PitchBook, which tracks private equity and venture capital worldwide. Shares of Beyond Meat, which sells plant-based meat substitutes in grocery stores and in restaurants including Dunkin' and TGI Fridays, are trading at roughly three times their IPO price. Nearly 40 more companies trying to grow proteins like meat and fish from cells, such as the Dutch company Mosa Meat and the San Diego firm BlueNalu, have raised $1.1 billion, almost all of that funding in the past five years, PitchBook says. While most of the investment is from venture capitalists, a handful of countries, including the Netherlands, Japan and New Zealand, have funded research into lab-grown meat.
Solar Foods uses microbial fermentation '-- a process similar to producing yeast '-- to grow a protein resembling wheat flour from water, nutrients and carbon dioxide. Courtesy Solar Foods Startups are thinking beyond meat too. Indoor-agriculture companies such as Plenty in California and AeroFarms in New Jersey, which grow food in tightly packed towers called vertical farms, have together raised more than $300 million. A competitor, Crop One, is partnering with Emirates Flight Catering to build a 130,000-sq.-ft. vertical farm in Dubai, which will be the world's largest. Exo, which makes cricket protein bars and sells whole-roasted crickets, was acquired by the Aspire Food Group in 2018, and Soylent, a meal-replacement beverage, has raised more than $70 million.
''We're on the cusp of some breakthroughs in the development of food,'' said Jeff Housenbold, a partner at SoftBank who headed the firm's investment in Plenty, a vertical farm.
But the billions of dollars being poured into startups may not change farming anytime soon. Some scientists are dubious that the many companies that say they can grow fish and steak from cells will actually be able to do so on a large scale in the next decade. Plant-based-meat companies, which have reached millions of consumers, are still scrambling to make a burger that tastes as satisfying as conventional meat. Vertical farms are expensive to run because they have to use power to provide the one thing that's free in traditional farming: light from the sun. ''The timescales of disrupting the agriculture industry are not what they are in the software industry,'' says David Lobell, director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University. ''People who have come from tech and get into ag are often frustrated by the pace of change.''
Consumers seem to be in no hurry to change their food habits, despite climate concerns. More than a decade ago, after a U.N. report found that farmed animals produced 35% to 40% of all methane emissions, newspapers including the Baltimore Sun encouraged consumers to ''save the planet with a vegetarian diet.'' But despite a plethora of other reports since then suggesting that eating meat contributes to climate change, meat consumption has climbed and is at an all-time high in the U.S. Global meat consumption rose by an average of 1.9% a year in the decade leading up to 2017, about twice as fast as population growth.
The money poured into food startups may just reflect wishful thinking on the part of investors who want to do something about the climate, even if consumers won't follow. ''The idea that new tech can fix a major problem that threatens the life of your grandchild is very tempting,'' says Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft, the author of Meat Planet, a book about the future of food. ''People hate to feel disempowered'--they always want to have a lever to pull.''
The August U.N. report put a number on just how much the agricultural system contributes to climate change. From 21% to 37% of greenhouse-gas emissions caused by humans derive from agriculture and food processing, according to the report. Using land in different ways, like planting more trees instead of grazing cattle, can help mitigate climate change, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the authors of the report. But as the world's population grows, trees are instead being cut down to grow crops. ''There's the potential for real competition between mitigating climate change and ensuring food security,'' she said.
Leafy greens grow under LED lights in an indoor vertical farm run by Aerofarms Courtesy Aero Farms Food startups are quick to tout their environmental benefits. BlueNalu cultures fish tissue from cells to help avoid overfishing at a time when demand for seafood is growing. Plenty, the vertical-farming company, says it can grow the same amount of fruits and vegetables on a space the size of a soccer goal as is usually grown on a football field, while using 1% to 5% of the water of a traditional farm. Just egg products, which are made from mung beans, require a fraction of the water and carbon dioxide needed to produce other proteins, including beef, pork, chicken and even tofu.
Food-tech companies say younger generations care more about the planet than older ones, and so will choose climate-friendly foods. Of all the consumers polled by Michigan State University who said they were already eating plant-based meat, nearly half were under 40. Besides, the companies say, their products are healthier. Conventional meat contains cholesterol and doesn't have the fiber and complex carbohydrates that plant-based meat has, says Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, which advocates for cultured and plant-based meat. Crops grown locally in vertical farms are fresher, so people will eat more of them, and since they're grown indoors, they don't use pesticides, companies like Plenty say.
But traditional food companies have challenged food-tech companies at every step. ''What's hiding in your plant-based meat?'' the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit supported by restaurants and food companies, asked in a full-page ad directing consumers to a website that compared plant-based meat with dog food. Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said meat substitutes ''wouldn't fit'' into Chipotle's menu because of the ''processing'' required to make a plant taste like meat. Congressional lawmakers have introduced a bill supported by the U.S. Cattlemen's Association that would require makers of plant-based and cell-cultured meat to put the word imitation on their labels, following dozens of states that have passed or introduced bills requiring plant-based-food companies to label their products ''imitation meat.''
The taste and health obstacles facing plant-based-meat companies are driving more entrepreneurs to the lab-grown-meat space. But meat grown from cells might not be ready for public consumption anytime soon. The process starts with putting an animal like a cow under anesthesia, cutting open a muscle and removing a small sample of tissue. Scientists use enzymes to break that tissue down into muscle and fat cells, which are then put, along with a growth medium, into a bioreactor that looks like the fermentation tanks where beer is brewed. Then the cells multiply.
But meat has been grown from cells only on a small scale. Growth mediums, which include fetal bovine serum (essentially blood from a cow fetus), are costly, and scientists have struggled to ensure that cells grown in larger containers get enough oxygen and nutrients. No cellular-agriculture company has explained how these obstacles have been overcome, says Ricardo San Martin, research director at the Alternative Meats Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. They are very evasive, he said. ''When you ask them A, they answer B.'' Growing meat from cells for public consumption ''is not going to happen on a large scale anytime soon,'' says San Martin, ''maybe even ever.''
There is almost no publicly funded research on lab-grown meat, and private companies aren't forthcoming about their methods. But cellular--agriculture startups have been granted only a small number of patents despite their high valuations, says Babak Kusha, a patent lawyer at -Kilpatrick Townsend.
Scaling obstacles also exist in vertical farming, and two vertical-farming startups already went out of business in 2016 and 2017. Plants need a tremendous amount of light to photosynthesize, about 50 times more than humans need to see, says Neil Mattson, a professor of plant science at Cornell University who is conducting a large-scale study of vertical farms. Vertical farms use LED lights to grow plants, and though the costs of LED lights have fallen significantly in recent years, lettuce grown in vertical farms in New York and Chicago was twice as expensive as lettuce grown in the California fields and shipped to those cities, according to a study co-authored by Mattson. Labor was costlier in New York and Chicago, and the structures that housed the vertical farms were expensive to build and maintain. Vertical-farm companies are experimenting with using solar and wind power to reduce their energy bills, but Mattson believes vertical farms will be cost-effective only when renewable-energy prices fall.
Food-tech companies say big change can happen now. In a lab in Boston looking out onto a dry dock where ships are repaired, Motif FoodWorks is preparing to ramp up production of animal-free ingredients that make plant-based food taste better. With the help of advances in synthetic biology, Motif inserts genes into yeast microbes to create things like animal-free milk-protein isolates that could make almond milk creamier.
Motif's lab uses computer-assisted machines to tinker with ingredients in test tubes the size of pencils, a scene far removed from that of a muddy dairy farm in rural America, where big companies currently get milk-protein isolates from cow's milk. But Michael Leonard, the chief technology officer at Motif, says it's the future of food. The cost of sequencing genomes has fallen dramatically, and computers have become more adept at scanning genomes to find alternative sources of protein, he says. Motif plans to have its first products ready to sell to food giants by 2021, when consumers will have become much more comfortable with the intersection of technology and food. ''I think what we'll see over time with the undeniable reality of population growth is the need to do more with less,'' he says. ''And I think plant-based eating can really help to bring that into balance.''
TIME's Davos 2020 issue was produced in partnership with the World Economic Forum.
PBS NewsHour commentator Mark Shields dies at age 85 : NPR
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:44
Mark Shields speaks during a taping of NBC's Meet the Press on Feb. 17, 2008, in Washington, D.C. The longtime PBS NewsHour commentator has died at age 85. Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press hide caption
toggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press Mark Shields speaks during a taping of NBC's Meet the Press on Feb. 17, 2008, in Washington, D.C. The longtime PBS NewsHour commentator has died at age 85.
Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press Mark Shields, the longtime PBS News commentator known for his weekly political analysis, died Saturday morning at the age of 85, PBS NewsHour confirmed.
Shields died of kidney failure at his home in Chevy Chase, Md., NewsHour spokesman Nick Massella told NPR.
Before he retired in 2020, Shields provided thoughtful insights into the administrations of six U.S. presidents, on the Persian Gulf War, the Iran-Contra affair and 9/11. His tenure lasted for 33 years.
Shields was known for both his sense of humor and his expansive knowledge of American politics, Judy Woodruff, the anchor and managing editor of NewsHour said in a tweet announcing his death.
"I am heartbroken to share this..the @NewsHour's beloved long-time Friday night analyst Mark Shields, who for decades wowed us with his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics, his sense of humor and mainly his big heart, has passed away at 85, with his wife Anne at his side," Woodruff tweeted.
Woodruff also said in a statement: "Mark Shields had a magical combination of talents: an unsurpassed knowledge of politics and a passion, joy, and irrepressible humor that shone through in all his work. He loved most politicians, but could spot a phony and was always bold to call out injustice. Along with Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil, he personified all that's special in the PBS NewsHour."
The Wall Street Journal called Shields "the wittiest political analyst around" and The Washington Post described him as "a walking almanac of American politics."
"Mark radiates a generosity of spirit that improves all who come within his light," David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, wrote shortly after Shields retired. The two discussed politics together on NewsHour Friday evenings for nearly two decades.
Shields was a native of Weymouth, Mass., and graduated from the University of Notre Dame. After college, Shields went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps. Afterwards, he worked for several local and presidential races before embarking on his PBS career in 1988. Shields was also a columnist for several news outlets, including CNN and ABC.
He showed his famous sense of humor in a 2006 commentary for NPR's "This I Believe" series, writing: "I admire enormously the candidate able to face defeat with humor and grace. Nobody ever conceded defeat better than Dick Tuck who, upon losing a California state senate primary, said simply, 'The people have spoken ... the bastards.' "
With a smile or a wave, paying in store just got personal | Mastercard Newsroom
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:42
Press Release May 17, 2022
Mastercard unleashes new era of biometric payments to enhance the checkout experience
No more fumbling for your phone or hunting for your wallet when you have your hands full '' the next generation of in-person payments will only need a quick smile or wave of your hand. The trusted technology that uses your face or fingerprint to unlock your phone can now be used to help consumers speed through the checkout. With Mastercard's new Biometric Checkout Program, all you will need is yourself.
As part of a global launch announced earlier today, the program represents a first-of-its-kind technology framework to help establish standards for new ways to pay at stores of all sizes, from major retailers to mom-and-pop shops. The program outlines a set of standards that banks, merchants and technology providers adhere to, helping to ensure the security and privacy of personal data when people pay biometrically.
Globally, 74% of consumers have a positive attitude towards biometric technology, and the market for contactless biometrics technology is projected to reach $18.6 billion by 2026.
''The way we pay needs to keep pace with the way we live, work and do business, offering choice to consumers with the highest levels of security,'' said Ajay Bhalla, president, Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard. ''Our goal with this new program is to make shopping a great experience for consumers and merchants alike, providing the best of both security and convenience.''
Transforming the checkout experience
Participants in Mastercard's Biometric Checkout Program offer consumers the option to conveniently enroll into their biometric checkout services, in store or at home, through a merchant or identity provider app. Once enrolled, there is no need to slow down the checkout queue searching through their pockets or bag. Consumers can simply check the bill and smile into a camera or wave their hand over a reader to pay. The new technology ensures a fast and secure checkout experience, whilst also empowering consumers to choose how they want to pay.
For merchants, the benefits are also considerable, from faster transaction times and shorter lines to greater hygiene and heightened security. The payments system can be integrated with loyalty programs and personalized recommendations to help consumers find products they might be interested in based on previous purchases.
Mastercard is working with partners including NEC, Payface, Aurus, PaybyFace, PopID and Fujitsu Limited to ensure the launch and scale of these types of new checkout capability around the globe, adhering to an overarching framework of minimum standards, specifications and guidelines that address security, biometric performance level, and data protection in the context of in-store biometric payments.
The first pilot will be launched this week in Brazil with Payface and St Marche. The pilot will see Payface's technology implemented across five St Marche supermarkets in S£o Paulo. Consumers visiting these supermarkets are able to enroll their face and payment information through the Payface app, and once registered, they can simply smile to pay at the checkout without a card or mobile device. Future pilots are being planned for roll-out in the Middle East and Asia.
"We've been developing Payface since 2018, with a mission to help transform the way people pay - improving the experience, without compromising on security,'' said Eldio Isoppo, chief executive officer, Payface. ''This partnership with Mastercard is a welcome step forward for us and will enable our technology to be used by more merchants and consumers, making shopping easier and bringing the joy of a smile to payments."
Building on a legacy of rich innovation
Biometric Checkout is Mastercard's next step to support the evolution of payments, alongside a suite of recent innovations, such as Shop Anywhere, Enhanced Contactless (ECOS) and Cloud Point of Sale, which have been rolled out to provide consumers and merchants with frictionless, flexible and secure in-store experiences.
Mastercard has long pioneered biometrics - instore and online - as a secure way to verify identity, replacing the password with the person. The effort, which builds on the EMV 3-D Secure standard, enables people to shop and pay through biometric-powered payment cards, devices and wearables. Biometrics have also featured in confirming online shoppers' identities through ''selfie pay'' and online, leveraging key standards such as FIDO (Fast Identity Online).
As this technology is increasingly adopted across the world, Mastercard is helping ensure all stakeholders maintain the highest levels of security and privacy to protect consumers. The Biometric Checkout Program is governed by Mastercard's principles for data responsibility, reinforcing that consumers have the right to control how their personal data is shared and benefit from its use.
Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act of 1980 - Wikipedia
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:40
Repealed US federal law; excise tax on oil
The Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-223) was enacted as part of a compromise between the Carter Administration and the Congress over the decontrol of crude oil prices. The Act was intended to recoup the revenue earned by oil producers as a result of the sharp increase in oil prices brought about by the OPEC oil embargo. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Act's title was a misnomer. "Despite its name, the crude oil windfall profit tax... was not a tax on profits. It was an excise tax... imposed on the difference between the market price of oil, which was technically referred to as the removal price, and a statutory 1979 base price that was adjusted quarterly for inflation and state severance taxes."
Enactment [ edit ] The 96th United States Congress was motivated to enact the tax by several factors:
The Congress was concerned that the domestic oil industry would reap enormous revenues and profits as a result of the deregulation of price controls to allow domestic oil to reset to world oil price levels. Congress believed that the projected huge redistribution of income from energy consumers to energy producers would not be fair.Congress also felt the industry was not paying its fair share of federal taxes. The oil industry's low effective income tax rates were due to the availability of two oil industry tax deductions: the percentage depletion allowance, and the provision which permits companies to expense (deduct fully in the initial year) the intangible costs of drilling.In addition, Congress was looking for additional sources of revenue. Between 1961 and 1979, the federal budget was in deficit in every year but one (there was a small surplus in FY1969). The Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation projected the tax would generate, from 1980 to 1990, additional gross revenues of approximately $393 billion.Repeal [ edit ] On August 23, 1988, amid low oil prices, the tax was repealed when President Ronald Reagan signed P.L. 100''418, The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. Reagan had objected to the tax during his 1980 presidential campaign and promised to repeal it. As with the enactment, Congress was motivated by several factors:
A principal issue in the debate over the Act's repeal was that the original forecast of revenues turned out to have been significantly overestimated, reflecting overestimates of crude oil prices. From 1980 to 1990 the tax generated gross revenue of about $80 billion, or 80% less than the projected amount of $393 billion.Congress was also concerned that the tax had increased the nation's dependence on imported oil. The tax was an excise tax on oil produced domestically in the United States; it was not imposed on imported oil. Domestic oil producers could not shift the tax forward as a higher oil selling price because the purchaser would merely substitute imported or tax-exempt crude. The tax caused domestic oil production losses in every year until 1986, when crude prices declined below adjusted base prices resulting in zero windfall profit tax. Over the 1980-1986 period, it is estimated that, depending on the assumed supply curve price elasticity, the tax reduced domestic oil production from between 320 million barrels (1.2% of domestic production) and 1,268 million barrels (4.8% of domestic production). The effect of reducing domestic oil production was to increase the level of imported oil. The estimated production losses caused by the tax, as a % of the actual level of imported oil, under three assumed supply curve elasticities range from 3.2% of total imports to 12.7% of imports for this period, depending on price elasticity.The tax also may have distorted the way resources were allocated within the oil industry. Since the tax was imposed on oil production '-- i.e., upon its removal and sale '-- extraction (and other upstream operations) was penalized and other aspects of the business (refining and marketing, the downstream operations) become relatively favored. Thus it created financial incentives to shift resources from exploration and drilling to refining and marketing.The tax also appeared to be a complicated tax to comply with and to administer. A 1984 General Accounting Office report called it "perhaps the largest and most complex tax ever levied on a U.S. industry." The windfall profit tax was imposed on oil producers when taxable crude oil was removed from the oil-producing property. Any individual or business with an economic interest in an oil-producing property was considered as a producer and subject to the tax. There were four kinds of producers '-- independent producers, integrated oil companies, royalty owners (landowners), and tax-exempt parties. There were about one million oil producers (persons, institutions, and businesses) in the United States in 1984. Sometimes there were hundreds of people having a fractional economic interest in a single oil-producing property. Throughout the compliance process, many tax return forms and information forms were required. The process was further complicated due to numerous exceptions to the basic general rules and due to possible interactions between the windfall profit tax rules, the personal and corporate income tax rules, energy regulations, and state and local tax and energy laws. After 1986, the WPT imposed little or no tax liability on oil producers because oil prices were below the threshold base prices that triggered it. Oil producers were obliged to comply with the paperwork requirements of the law, however, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was compelled to administer the system despite the fact that the tax generated no revenue, reportedly spending about $15 million a year to do so.Since 1988, no windfall profit tax has been enacted in the U.S., however, when gas prices once again reached record levels there was renewed pressure on the U.S. government to bring back the tax. At least nine bills that purported to tax windfall profits of crude oil producers were introduced in the 110th United States Congress during 2007-08 (HR 1500, HR 2372, HR 5800, HR 6000, S.1238, S.2761, S.2782, S.2991, S.3044) .
The windfall profit tax of the 1980s is not to be confused with the excess profit taxes of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War eras.
References [ edit ]
Starbucks Hit With Tech Glitches, Disrupting Orders and Frustrating Customers - WSJ
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:15
Mobile ordering, credit-card processing outages affect cafes this week; waiting more than an hour for a Trenta Pink Drink
Updated June 17, 2022 9:05 am ETStarbucks Corp. customers encountered longer waits for Frappuccinos, Cold Brew and other items this week as cafes faced what the company said were technical problems with online orders.
Some U.S. Starbucks stores across several days this week struggled to fulfill mobile orders and credit-card transactions for stretches of time, as cafes contended with mobile-ordering and payment-processing disruptions, according to company messages viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The company said the issues were later resolved.
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Starbucks Corp. customers encountered longer waits for Frappuccinos, Cold Brew and other items this week as cafes faced what the company said were technical problems with online orders.
Some U.S. Starbucks stores across several days this week struggled to fulfill mobile orders and credit-card transactions for stretches of time, as cafes contended with mobile-ordering and payment-processing disruptions, according to company messages viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The company said the issues were later resolved.
Online and to-go orders are a vital part of Starbucks's business. Around 75% of Starbucks's U.S. company store sales were placed through mobile ordering, on a delivery app or at drive-through windows in the three months ended April 3, the chain told investors last month.
Since returning to Starbucks in April, interim Chief Executive Howard Schultz has highlighted how much the company's business has shifted toward to-go orders, in contrast to past years when customers would linger over coffee at tables. He has said that the company's operations need to evolve to accommodate higher numbers of on-the-go customers, and has said changes will be made. The chain has around 9,000 company-owned stores in the U.S.
''The equipment in our stores and the layout of the stores have not been designed for the way customers are using our stores today,'' Mr. Schultz said last month, speaking to investors. Mr. Schultz led Starbucks for decades and is now on his third stint running the company.
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U.S. customers on Tuesday who placed online orders with Starbucks received confirmations that their local cafe had received the request, but baristas didn't always immediately receive the orders, the messages from the company to store employees show.
''Our technologists are working super hard on getting this fixed,'' the company wrote.
Anastasia Griffin, a Starbucks customer from East Brunswick, N.J., said it took more than an hour to get a Trenta Pink Drink and Impossible Breakfast Sandwich when she ordered it through the app from her local store earlier this week.
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''I was just annoyed because it was such a tiny order,'' Ms. Griffin said.
A Starbucks spokeswoman said that the chain this week experienced temporary outages in its mobile-order and inventory systems in its app, as well as its payment systems. The problems stemmed from unexpected interruptions in internal systems and with third-party vendor services, she said. The company worked quickly to resolve each outage, she said.
''A visit to Starbucks is an important part of our customer's day, we apologize to our customers and partners for the inconvenience,'' she said.
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Starbucks said the issue with mobile ordering occurred across stores nationally Tuesday, and varied by market in how long it affected operations. The company updated the app to let customers know they couldn't order ahead, and encouraged them to visit stores in person, a spokeswoman said. The issue was resolved later that day, she said.
Starbucks told workers Wednesday that it was separately having problems with its credit-card processing machines, and it was working to restore services. The company had an outage with its payment vendor for a short window and it was resolved, the spokeswoman said.
On Thursday, some Starbucks stores weren't properly accounting for unavailable items online when customers placed their orders, according to a separate message the company sent to employees that day. The company said it was working to fix the issue as soon as possible and apologized.
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Starbucks's technical problems this week drew complaints from customers'--and the chain's own staff.
''Need Starbucks mobile ordering to start working again because I don't even know how to order without the app,'' a customer wrote on Twitter earlier this week.
One store manager requested on an internal message board that Starbucks shut down the mobile-order function for the day, given the problems, and asked company leaders why there had been so many technology issues lately.
''Hope we figure out the root cause soon, my partners are getting quite frustrated,'' the store leader wrote, using the company's term for employees.
Write to Heather Haddon at email@example.com
Bill Gates: High-IQ people should work for climate-friendly companies
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 16:07
Calling all brainiacs: Bill Gates wants people with high IQs to work for climate-friendly businesses instead of flocking to Wall Street.
At a recent TechCrunch event, Gates spoke about how his climate-focused fund, Breakthrough Energy, has attempted to lure the types of high-IQ employees who'd otherwise be seeking lucrative gigs in fields like investment banking. Breakthrough Energy has multiple billionaire investors '' including Gates, Jeff Bezos, Ray Dalio and Michael Bloomberg '' but Gates said the fund's success largely depends on young people who have strong ideas, high IQs and "want to work on something that's not just maximizing their income."
"Part of Breakthrough Energy [has been] taking the IQ '' the best IQ in the world '' and saying, 'Hey, don't just do derivatives on Wall Street,'" Gates said. "[It will] send a signal to people early in their hard science, engineering careers that these are climate-related problems, we need you to get involved."
Gates noted that the high salaries on Wall Street are a clear draw for many young prospective employees. But, he said, those jobs "are a little less honorable than they used to be" '' which gives environmentally conscious workplaces a potential selling point for attracting top talent.
It might be a compelling argument. In April, Matthew Killingsworth, a senior psychology fellow at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, told CNBC Make It that a correlation does exist between high salaries and feelings of personal fulfillment '' but only for people who prioritized money above other life goals. And in May, a global Deloitte survey found that 26% of millennials chose to work for their current companies so they could derive a sense of meaning from their work.
Nearly a quarter of Gen Z respondents agreed, potentially representing a growing shift in societal attitudes.
As for Gates, his focus on IQ is notable, given that he's previously spoken about lessening his reliance on book smarts to judge employees. During a 2018 panel discussion at Hunter College, he said the one thing he wishes he knew when he was younger was how beneficial different skillsets '' from emotional intelligence to relational intelligence '' can be.
"I thought if somebody had a high IQ, they could be good at everything," Gates said. "And the idea that you needed to blend these different types of skills together, that always continued to surprise me."
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These are Gen Z's top work priorities'--and remote isn't one of them
Mark Zuckerberg asked Bill Gates, Lin-Manuel Miranda for their best life advice'--here's what they said
New FOIA Release Shows CDC Lied About Its VAERS Safety Monitoring Efforts
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 15:26
Back in September, I published an article in CHD's The Defender , where I showed the alarming and unambiguous safety signals coming from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), using the CDC's own published methodology. In that article, I wondered out loud why, if the safety signals were so blaringly obvious, nobody was doing anything. Was anybody listening?
Well, it turns out the CDC wasn't even looking for safety signals! They said they were going to use the most basic, standard pharmacovigilance method by calculating what are called proportional reporting ratios (PRR's) to monitor VAERS (see the article linked above for more details). But it turns out they didn't. And then they turned around and said they weren't seeing any safety signals in VAERS. They forgot to mention that they weren't looking for any.
They took a page from the pharma playbook: don't look for safety problems, then claim that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Maybe they think it's OK if you do it with your fingers crossed behind your back.
Let's rewind a bit. See, in late January of 2021, the CDC released a briefing document outlining the agency's standard operating procedures (SOP) for ongoing monitoring of VAERS for safety signals from COVID-19 vaccines. The document describes the analyses that the VAERS team at the CDC's own Immunization Safety Office was going to conduct in their ''unprecedented'' effort to monitor the safety of the new COVID-19 vaccines. This included a plan to produce weekly tables of the incidence of about forty different adverse events. They would also engage in data mining using PRRs and create tables with the results (you can read the document at the link above for more details - see esp. sections 2.2-2.5):
At my request, the amazing legal team at CHD submitted a FOIA request to CDC asking for:
Copies of the weekly tables they said they would produce from Feb 1-Sept. 30, 2021.
Copies of all tables, analyses and reports generated in connection with 'Signal Detection Analyses' as described in sections 2.3 and 2.5 of the SOP document, also from Feb 1-Sept. 30.
Well guess what? In their response letter they state that ''no PRRs were conducted by CDC'' and that ''data mining is outside of the agency's purview'' even though their own SOP document from January stated they would do data mining.
The response letter goes on to say that the agency has ''conducted 'signal assessment' as described in section 2.5 (i.e. assessed that a causal association exists between the vaccine and both TTS and myocarditis), that assessment involved no formal records .''
So then what kind of records did it involve? People chatting about all the vaccine injuries over drinks after work? The CDC's budget in 2021 was over $8 billion dollars, but they received other supplemental funding for a total budget of over $34 billion . What are they doing with all that money? One thing we now know for sure: they aren't using it to monitor vaccine safety as promised. They told us the data monitoring they were doing was rigorous and unprecedented. They said they were going to use the most rudimentary pharmacovigilance tool, PRRs, to monitor safety. They lied.
Furthermore, although their response letter defines 'signal assessment' as finding a causal connection, it actually refers to all follow-up analyses done following a safety signal, as described in the SOP document:
But wait, there's more! The depths of the CDC's safety monitoring failure doesn't stop there. We requested the weekly tables they promised to produce beginning Feb 1, 2021, since the SOP document was dated Jan. 29. But the first table they supplied us with is dated April 2. That means they only started ''monitoring'' VAERS more than 3 months after the vaccines were deployed in mid-December. So much for VAERS being used as an early warning system!
They also said they were going to produce no less than 8 different tables every week. You can see the list in section 2.2.2 in the SOP document pages 15-16. It includes:
Table 1. All reports following COVID-19 vaccines by severity and selected manufacturer/brand name
Table 2. Top 25 most frequently reported AEs
Table 3. Reports of the following AESIs after vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines, stratified by age group (ages <18 years, 18''49 years, 50''64 years, 75''84, years, 85+ years, unreported):
' Death ' COVID-19 Disease ' Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) ' Seizure ' Stroke ' Narcolepsy/Cataplexy ' Anaphylaxis ' Acute Myocardial Infarction ' Myopericarditis ' Coagulopathy ' Transverse Myelitis ' Multisystemic Inflammatory Syndrome in Adults (MIS-A)
Table 4. Reporting trends of the following AESIs after vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines, stratified by age group (<12 months, 12''35 months, 36''59 months, 5''11 years, 12''20 years, >20 years, unreported):
' Kawasaki Disease ' Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)
Table 5. Reporting trends of VACCINATION DURING PREGNANCY following vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines stratified by age group (ages <18 years, 18''29 years, 30''39 years, 40''49 years, '¥50 years, unreported)
Table 6. Reporting trends of Autoimmune Disorders by System Organ Class following vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines by age group (ages <18 years, 18''49 years, 50''64 years, 65''74 years, 75+ years, unreported)
Table 7. Reporting trends of AESIs to monitor but not abstract (Table 2, p. 8), following vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines by age group (ages <18 years, 18''49 years, 50''64 years, 75''84, years, 85+ years, unreported).
Table 8. Vaccination errors
How many of these did they actually produce? Turns out, their weekly reports include 2 tables:
One table that lists the number of deaths reported, serious non-death reports, non-serious reports and all reports by state. A second table that reports the data listed above for tables 3-5 by age. Missing is a table with AE's broken down by manufacturer; they don't have table 2 at all ; the age groups promised for table 4 are completely different (with the lowest age range being 0-17 years); and the information promised in tables 6 and above is non-existent '-- including no information on auto-immune diseases. But, hey, according to the FDA's VRBPAC, they are as safe as ordinary childhood vaccines. I mean, VAERS isn't showing any safety signals, right?
But there is still more digging to do. The CDC response letter and the SOP document say the FDA did do data mining. So we will be filing a FOIA with FDA for that information as well. We are also going to try to get the informal signal detection/assessment documents/e-mails they have.
People who are willing to defend the CDC's negligence will tell you that PRR's are outmoded and that the CDC is now using more sophisticated methods using other data sources such as the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), as discussed in the documents here . That is true, they farmed out their pharmacovigilance duties to external researchers. Picking apart those other studies to show their weaknesses is beyond the scope of this article, but you can be certain that they all have huge methodological weaknesses.
All of that is irrelevant to the key point: they stated they were going to calculate PRRs. They even say it in their revised SOP document dated Feb 2, 2022. They didn't. VAERS is supposed to be the early warning system, our first line of defense. It takes more time to analyze VSD even using their 'Rapid Cycle Analysis' (RCA), and it is far from perfect '-- it completely failed to capture the myocarditis signal. And the tables they generated using VAERS reports are essentially meaningless from a pharmacovigilance perspective without doing any kind of disproportionality analysis such as calculating PRRs.
You can see all the tables the CDC provided in response to the FOIA request here:
Here is the original FOIA request:
And here is their response letter:
Get Woke, Go Broke: SpaceX Fires Employees Who Wrote A Letter Blasting Elon Musk's 'Behavior' And 'Values' | The Daily Wire
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 14:50
SpaceX employees circulated an open letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk for his ''behavior in the public sphere.'' Those employees now find themselves out of a job, according to a Friday report from The New York Times.
''Elon's behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,'' the letter, first obtained by The Verge, asserted. ''As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX '-- every tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company.''
The employees also said that ''it is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission, or our values,'' exhorting SpaceX to ''swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon's personal brand.''
Those responsible for the Wednesday letter were fired by Thursday afternoon, the Times reported on the basis of three employees' confirmation and an email obtained from SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.
''The letter, solicitations and general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views,'' Shotwell wrote. ''We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism.''
The incident occurred weeks after a flight attendant accused Musk of exposing himself to her several years ago, touching her, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage. Shotwell likewise dismissed the allegations to the company.
''Personally, I believe the allegations to be false; not because I work for Elon, but because I have worked closely with him for 20 years and never seen nor heard anything resembling these allegations,'' Shotwell said.
The letter also came as Musk made headlines for announcing that he cast his ballot for Mayra Flores '-- a Mexican-American Republican congressional candidate who won a historically Democratic district in southern Texas '-- after earlier announcing that he would vote Republican in this year's midterm elections. When asked online about who he was leaning toward supporting in the 2024 presidential election, Musk pointed to ''DeSantis.''
Musk has been critical of other technology firms for their tendency toward radical progressivism. When Netflix shares plummeted earlier this year, Musk pinned the blame on the ''woke mind virus'' and affirmed that it represents ''the biggest threat'' to civilization.
Musk is also in the midst of purchasing Twitter for $44 billion and taking it private. He told the social media giant's employees in a Thursday meeting that users should be able to post ''pretty outrageous things'' as the platform prioritizes ''freedom of speech,'' but not necessarily ''freedom of reach.''
Musk has frequently encouraged Silicon Valley '-- and the United States at large '-- to reaffirm a commitment to free expression.
''I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans,'' Musk said in April, noting that the ''extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.''
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 14:10
1872-3 The Slaughter of the Buffalo "When the buffalo are extinctthey, too, must dwindle away."Francis Parkman Slaughtered for the hide, Harper's Weekly 12th December 1874 ''The suddenness of it all was appalling. As much as it strains today's imagination, the white men slaughtered their buffalo in hundreds of thousands, utterly obliterating in one season's kill the southern Kansas herds on which the Cheyennes and Arapahoes had, in large measure, subsisted.'' (1). ''they kill my buffalo, and when I see that, my heart feels like bursting. I feel sorry'..... has the white man become a child that he should kill recklessly and not eat? When the red men slay game they do so that they live and not starve.'' (2) Between 1872 and 1873 over three million buffalo were killed. The reason was purely economic, but the result was to destroy the basis of the way of life of the peoples who inhabited the area where the annihilation took place: the southern plains. ''Everything the Kiowas had came from the buffalo. Our tipis were made of Buffalo hides, so were our clothes and moccasins. We ate buffalo meat. Our containers were made of hide, or of bladders or stomachs. The buffalo were the life of the Kiowas.'' Old Lady Horse, Kiowa (3) Before 1870 some buffalo were killed by the new Americans but the impact on the numbers of the buffalo was minimal. Some were shot for sport, some out of ennui from passing trains, others were shot for meat, for example to feed railroad workers.
''Large private hunts could be arranged for people of sufficient importance or money. Several with important guests came out to hunt under the guidance of the Wild Bill Hickock of the romantic magazine and newspaper stories.'' (4) The effect on the vast herds of all this was negligible.
William F Cody, was employed to supply the Kansas Pacific railroad with meat in 1867. He was reckoned to have killed 4,862 in eight months, thereby earning his nickname, ''Buffalo Bill''. But even he could hardly have made any noticeable difference in their numbers.
Cody, operating before the introduction of the Sharps in 1870, used a Springfield 'needle gun', so named because of their long firing pins, and used a technique similar to the native Americans in which he contained the herd within a valley. Once the lead buffaloes were shot the others turned back and were then encouraged to mill about aimlessly in a circle by shooting any deviating from the circling movement. Where native Americans achieved a modest degree of success with bows and arrows, Buffalo Bill was deadly in his efficient despatch of the magnificent beasts.
''On this morning the buffaloes were very accommodating, and I soon had them running in a beautiful circle, when I dropped them thick and fast, until I had killed thirty-eight; which finished my run.'' (5) A technical advance in weaponry made it possible for the slaughter to take place far enough away that there was little chance of the buffalo being warned by the scent of the exterminators. The 0.50 calibre Sharps rifle was capable of being reasonably accurately fired over distances of nearly a mile. The effect on the herd of some of their number falling over for no apparent reason was one of disinterest or mild curiosity. They did not have the faculty to reason what had happened, nor the reflex of an early warning system built up by previous experience. The result was devastating, and not just for the animals themselves, for it meant that the hunters no longer had to ''run'' the animals to kill them. They did not have to ''hunt'' at all. This misnomer was recognized in the term they applied to the proceedings: a ''stand''. The ''Big Fifty'' rifle, complete with telescopic sight was mounted on top of a tripod to give a steady aim.
''One hunter, Wylie Poe, who operated out of Fort McKavett, Texas, once killed ninety animals in a single stand without moving. Another famous hunter, Orlando ''Brick'' Bond, normally killed 250 beasts per day, keeping fifteen skinners busy in his wake.'' (6) Regardless of the actual truth behind these claims, clearly the effect of the new method of killing them was ruthless and unrelenting. Such a rate of slaughter was hardly necessary before 1870 because there was no economic reason to kill buffalo, let alone kill them in large numbers. The change came in 1871 when a new method of tanning the buffalo hide was developed and suddenly what had been of limited use became a product in demand. Just as the hunting of beaver for their fur had been clinically efficient until their population was decimated by 1840, a similar fate now befell the buffalo, in an even shorter period of time. The new tanning method was developed in New York by Wright Moar, when his brother John Moar sent him about fifty buffalo hides which he had collected with the help of a buffalo hunter named James White. This opened up the possibility for great profit to be made. Before this the buffalo hide could only be used with the hair on, tanning them took a long time and was very hard work, for it did not break down easily.
Once the process had been developed, in 1871 the buffalo hunters set up a group of buildings made of sod turves five miles west of Fort Dodge on the Santa Fe Trail. The name initially given to this town gave away its raison d' ªtre: Buffalo City, A few months later when the railroad reached it, it had become Dodge City and now became the centre of the trade, transporting the hides back east to be tanned. William Blackmore, an English traveller, had observed in 1867
''an almost unbroken herd of buffalo. The plains were blackened with them, and more than once the train had to stop to allow unusually large herds to pass.'' Five years later they were still very much in evidence: ''In 1872 we were never out of sight of the buffalo. In the following autumn, while travelling over the same district, whilst the whole country was whitened with bleached and bleaching bones, we did not meet with buffalo until we were well into Indian country, and then only in scattered bands'.... There was a continual line of putrescent carcasses so that the air was rendered pestilential and offensive to the last degree. The hunters had formed a line of camps along the banks of the river (Arkansas) and had shot down the buffaloes, night and morning, as they came to drink. I counted sixty-seven carcasses in one spot covering four acres.'' (7) This 'Indian country' was what had been 'guaranteed' as hunting land by the Treaty of Medicine Lodge Creek. The hunters knew this and at first they held back from crossing the Arkansas. However, once northern Kansas had been cleared greed reasserted itself and gradually the buffalo hunters became braver, crossing the Arkansas river and venturing as far as the border of Kansas with Indian territory. Here the eastern extremity of 'Indian territory' was a narrow buffer zone before the Red River and Texas would be reached. Aware of the Medicine Lodge Creek treaty they were reluctant to take the flagrant step of crossing into the Texas Panhandle. But despite the wariness of the hunters, the US army had no intention of upholding the terms of the treaty in favour of the Indians, who were left to harass the hunters on their own. Wright Moar and Steele Frazier scrubbed up and visited Fort Dodge to test the army's reaction to further encroachment. After trying to find out by oblique questioning without success Wright Moar asked a direct question:
''Colonel, if we cross into Texas, what will be the government's attitude towards us?''Colonel Richard Irving Dodge's answer made it abundantly clear:''Boys,'' said the Colonel, ''if I were a buffalo hunter, I would hunt where the buffalo are.'' (8) In saying so Colonel Dodge was merely expressing in practical terms the policy of the US army leaders like Sherman and Sheridan.
''They (the hunters) have done more '...to settle the vexed Indian question than the entire regular army'.... For the sake of lasting peace, let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalos are exterminated'' General Philip Sheridan (9) The hunters did not have to ask twice. In spring 1874 they moved further south to the Canadian River, deep into the Texas Panhandle and built a base near the old settlement of Adobe Walls. Buildings and a corral were constructed of the chiefly available material: sod turves. In doing so this completely negated the terms of the Treaty of Medicine Lodge Creek. Only seven years earlier, in 1867, this had 'guaranteed' the whole area to the north of the Canadian as hunting lands of the native Americans of the southern plains. Now it had been or was about to be stripped of buffalo. The demise of the southern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche and Kiowa was nearly complete. All that remained was for them to unite to fight back in one last ditch struggle which came to be known as the Red River War.
NOTES1.James Haley, The Buffalo War 1874, page 24
2.Satanta, Kiowa, Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, page 1953.Lee Miller, From the Heart, page 2294.Mari Sandoz, The Buffalo Hunters, page 855.Buffalo Bill Cody, Autobiography6.Comanches, T R Fehrenbach page 5237.James Haley, The Buffalo War 1874, pages 23 and 24, Andrist page 1818.James Haley, The Buffalo War 1874, page 279.Lee Miller, From the Heart, page 2281872-3 The Slaughter of the Buffalo: Extra Sources
If you have a question or comment click here.
URLhttp://www.nativeamerican.co.uk(C) Chris Smallbone March 2006
Uvalde Hires Private Law Firm to Argue It Doesn't Have to Release School Shooting Public Records
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 13:54
Image: ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images
The City of Uvalde and its police department are working with a private law firm to prevent the release of nearly any record related to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in which 19 children and two teachers died, according to a letter obtained by Motherboard in response to a series of public information requests we made. The public records Uvalde is trying to suppress include body camera footage, photos, 911 calls, emails, text messages, criminal records, and more.
''The City has not voluntarily released any information to a member of the public,'' the city's lawyer, Cynthia Trevino, who works for the private law firm Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech, wrote in a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The city wrote the letter asking Paxton for a determination about what information it is required to release to the public, which is standard practice in Texas. Paxton's office will eventually rule which of the city's arguments have merit and will determine which, if any, public records it is required to release.
The letter makes clear, however, that the city and its police department want to be exempted from releasing a wide variety of records in part because it is being sued, in part because some of the records could include ''highly embarrassing information,'' in part because some of the information is ''not of legitimate concern to the public,'' in part because the information could reveal ''methods, techniques, and strategies for preventing and predicting crime,'' in part because some of the information may cause or may "regard '... emotional/mental distress," and in part because its response to the shooting is being investigated by the Texas Rangers, the FBI, and the Uvalde County District Attorney.
The letter explains that Uvalde has at least one in-house attorney (whose communications it is trying to prevent from public release), and yet, it is using outside private counsel to deal with a matter of extreme importance and public interest. Uvalde's city government and its police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Motherboard.
The city says that it has received 148 separate public records requests (including several from Motherboard), and has lumped all of them together, making a broad legal argument as to why it should not be required to respond to many of them. Earlier this week, Motherboard reported on a similar letter sent to Paxton by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which wanted to suppress body-camera footage because it could expose ''weaknesses'' in police response to crimes that criminals could exploit. (The main seeming weakness in the Uvalde response was that police, in violation of standard policy and protocol, refused to risk their lives to protect children.)
For example, the city and its police department argue that it should be exempted from releasing ''police officer training guides, policy and procedure manuals, shift change schedules, security details, and blueprints of secured facilities,'' because these could be used to decipher ''methods, techniques, and strategies for preventing and predicting crime.'' The Uvalde Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety have been pilloried by the press and the public for standing in the hallway while a gunman killed children'--against standard protocol'--and for preventing parents from entering the building to save their children. The letter also argues that the department should be exempted from releasing body camera footage simply because it could be ''information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision.''
It is impossible to say what records, in particular, the city and the police are referring to in many parts of the letter. For example, it says it cannot release an individual's criminal history because it would be "not of legitimate concern to the public," because it could be "highly embarrassing," and because it would violate their common-law right to privacy. But the letter does not talk about who the records would be about, why they wouldn't be relevant to the public, or why they would be highly embarrassing.
''They claim that the compilation of individuals' criminal history is highly embarrassing information, which is a strange cover. The embarrassing information is the inept police response,'' Christopher Schneider, a professor of sociology at Brandon University who studies police body cameras and the disclosure of footage from them, told Motherboard, noting that suspects' criminal histories are released by the police all the time without anyone having requested them. ''They have no problem using information like that against individuals of the public. The information disclosure needs to go both ways, if that's the case.'' Disciplinary or criminal records for members of the police, for example, would be obviously relevant public information in a case in which the police response has been highly criticized. "It's rather ripe to say any of this is not of legitimate public concern," he added. "The whole country is trying to figure out how to not allow this to happen again."
This is a relatively common sort of argument, but it shows yet again that the deck is stacked against the public disclosure of public records when they are inconvenient or embarrassing to the police.
''The case that's being made contains some particularly asinine stonewalling,'' Schneider said. ''It seems like the city is throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, and seeking a ruling to suppress this information from being released.''
Schneider says that lumping together all 148 public records requests, and asking for a legal ruling on everything at once, seems like a tactic to prevent the release of anything and everything.
''It appears that they're conflating all of the information requests as a justification to not release the stuff we should be seeing. If it's an officer's email to his wife, yeah, we don't need to see this. But the body-worn camera footage is of concern. They're conflating all of this information together to suppress the legitimate stuff,'' he said.
In his research, Schneider said that body-worn cameras often do not do what they're supposed to do, which is hold police accountable to the public. This is because public records laws are often written in such a way as to provide wide latitude to police to decide what the public actually gets to see, and allows them to ''regain control of the narrative'' when it is convenient for them.
''It's not a coincidence journalists run into this problem [of not being able to obtain body camera footage] over and over again,'' Schneider said. ''The law is by design, the privacy rules are by design to make it absolutely as difficult as possible to release the information.''
ORIGINAL REPORTING ON EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS IN YOUR INBOX.
Europe heatwave: Outdoor events banned in parts of France - BBC News
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 13:53
Media caption, Europe Heatwave: France heat continues to build
Outdoor public events have been banned in an area of France as a record breaking heatwave sweeps across Europe.
Concerts and large public gatherings have been called off in the Gironde department around Bordeaux.
On Thursday, parts of France hit 40C earlier in the year than ever before, with temperatures expected to peak on Saturday.
Scientists say periods of intense heat are becoming more frequent and longer lasting as a result of global warming.
Spain, Italy and the UK are also experiencing high temperatures.
In Gironde, officials said public events, including some of the official 18 June Resistance celebrations, will be prohibited from Friday at 14:00 (12:00 GMT) "until the end of the heat wave". Indoor events at venues without air-conditioning are also banned.
Private celebrations, such as weddings, will still be allowed.
"Everyone now faces a health risk", local official Fabienne Buccio told France Bleu radio.
The French interior ministry warned people to be extremely careful and not expose themselves to the weather.
State forecaster Meteo France said it was the earliest hot spell ever to hit the country, which has been caused by a mass of hot air moving from north Africa.
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Outdoor events continued in other areas of France - this man cooled down at a music festival in Clisson
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Temperatures have reached 44C in Montpellier in France
Temperatures could hit 39C in Paris and droughts have also raised the risk of wildfires, the forecaster said.
"I'm 86 years old, I was born here, but I think this is the worst heatwave I've ever seen," Jacqueline Bonnaud told the AFP news agency in the southern city of Toulouse.
The increased use of air-conditioners and fans was forcing France to import electricity from neighbouring countries, grid operator RTE said.
Image source, AFP via Getty Images
Image caption, There have been forest fires in Catalonia
In Spain, which has just experienced its hottest May since the beginning of the century, temperatures are forecast to hit highs of 43C this weekend, the Aemet weather service said.
There have been forest fires in Catalonia, including one which could grow to 20,000 hectares before it's contained, the regional government said.
Water is so low in large stretches of Italy's largest river, the Po, that locals can walk through the middle of the expanse of sand and wartime shipwrecks are resurfacing.
In the UK, temperatures are expected to reach 33C in southern England, while a level three heat-health alert has been issued for London.
Image source, AFP via Getty Images
Image caption, The river bed of the Po in Italy has dried up
Extreme heat isn't confined to Europe this week.
On Wednesday a third of the entire population of the United States were advised to stay indoors due to record temperatures. In India, Delhi has recorded a maximum temperature of at least 42C on 25 days this summer, the India Meteorological Department reported.
Climate change is causing global temperatures to rise. Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, released into Earth's atmosphere in large volumes are trapping the sun's heat, causing the planet to warm.
This has brought more extreme weather, including record-breaking high temperatures across the world.
US Secretly Reviews & Approves Many Israeli Airstrikes In Syria | ZeroHedge
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 13:51
Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Israel has been secretly coordinating with the US on many of its airstrikes in Syria, and senior officials at US Central Command have reviewed and approved many plans in recent years.
Israel frequently bombs Syria and frames the operations as strikes against Iran or Hezbollah, although the air raids often kill Syrian government troops and members of Iraq's Shia militias. The latest Israeli airstrikes on Syria disabled the Damascus International Airport, marking a significant escalation in the air campaign.
Israeli Air Force imageCurrent and former officials told the Journal that the main focus of the coordination is on airstrikes that pass near al-Tanf garrison, a US military base in southern Syria near the border with Jordan. The officials said that the "vast majority" of the strikes passing through that area had been approved by the US.
The Israelis started flying airstrikes near al-Tanf in 2017 to avoid Syrian air defenses. The officials said that Israel notifies CENTCOM of its plans ahead of time. The command conducts a review of the operation and also notifies the secretary of defense and joint chiefs chairman. Israel has also notified Russian forces at the Khmeimim Air Base in western Syria of planned strikes.
The report said that the US doesn't review all Israeli operations inside Syria, and doesn't help Israel pick its targets. A significant number of Israeli airstrikes in the country don't pass al-Tanf, including the strike on Damascus Airport.
The US has about 1,000 troops stationed in eastern Syria. On paper, the presence is about supporting the Kurdish-led SDF against ISIS, but the occupation is also about putting pressure on Damascus. The US maintains crippling economic sanctions on Syria, preventing the country from rebuilding after over 10 years of war.
The Journal report is the first time that the close US-Israeli coordination on airstrikes in Syria has been reported. But the US has always tacitly endorsed the operations as it never condemns them.
Map source: PBSIn 2019, Brett McGurk, the top Middle East official on President Biden's National Security Council, penned an op-ed where he outlined his ideal Syria policy after resigning from the Trump administration over unfulfilled plans to withdraw from the country. In the article, McGurk said the US should support Israeli airstrikes in Syria.
Flight cancellations top 1,300 Friday, second day of air travel woes
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 13:41
Travelers are facing the second day of misery at airports across the country.
More than 1,300 U.S. flights were canceled as of 5 p.m. EDT Friday with over 5,000 more posting delays, according to FlightAware, which tracks flights in real time.
The headaches come on the heels of one of the worst travel days yet as the peak summer vacation season heats up. More than1,750 U.S. flights were canceled Thursday.
'ºLATEST UPDATES FROM SATURDAY:US flight cancellations, delays continue: More than 2,700 flights affected so far
Nationwide, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have the most cancellations so far, with their schedules reduced by 8% and 7%, respectively, Friday. Those numbers do not include flights on their regional affiliates, which operate as American Eagle and Delta Connection.
"The vast majority of that is weather-related," said Curtis Blessing, spokesman for American Airlines. He noted that weather in the Miami area was also contributing to delays for the carrier on Friday morning.
Airlines kicked off the busy summer travel season by canceling about 2,800 flights in a five-day stretch around the Memorial Day holiday weekend, marking the start of what's likely to be a tough summer for the nation's air passengers.
Thursday and Friday's issues come in the wake of a virtual meeting between airline CEOs and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg '' a sign of the Biden administration's concern about the prospect of snarled airports and unhappy travelers this summer.
''I let them know that this is a moment when we are really counting on them to deliver reliably for the traveling public,'' Buttigieg told NBC News.
Is travel insurance worth it?:What to know before you book your next trip
What travelers need to knowIf your flight is canceled, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to rebook you on their next available service with space. If that will not work for you, the carrier is required to offer you a refund, even if you bought a nonrefundable ticket.
In the event of a delay, an airline's responsibility is a little less clear. DOT does require compensation for "significant delays" but has no official definition for what counts as "significant."
Many airlines updated their policies during the pandemic to give travelers more flexibility in rebooking or altering plans. Delta, for example, automatically rebooks passengers whose flights were canceled and sends them their new itineraries via email, text and the Fly Delta App. Customers are free to change their rebooked flight online or via Delta's digital messaging platform if the new itinerary doesn't work.
So far, airlines are not issuing preemptive change fee waivers in response to Friday's cancellations, but affected passengers will still have options to rebook.
Arriving at the airport two hours early?:You might need 3, in some cases
Why this summer is tough for travelAs COVID-19 restrictions continue to loosen, more Americans are planning to venture away from home this summer, but airlines have struggled to keep up with with the surge.
''I think every single part of the travel industry from the airlines to airport employees to security agents, they all just got caught flatfooted by this explosion in demand," said Kyle Potter, editor of the website Thrifty Traveler, which aims to familiarize people with the inner workings of the airline industry and find travel deals."It's really easy to have 20/20 vision in hindsight and tell airlines and airports 'You went way too far when travel collapsed in cutting back to the bone to stop losing money,'" but earlier in the pandemic, no one really knew how long the slump would last.
Around 50 Delta pilots protested in New York on Thursday, saying that by this fall they expect to have worked more overtime in 2022 than they did in 2018 and 2019 combined.
And Delta is not alone in staffing woes. JetBlue recently announced a plan to cut 10% of its schedule this summer in response to expected shortages in its ranks.
Travelers planning to fly this summer should make sure to check flight status with their airlines before heading to the airport and know their rights if something goes wrong.
Contributing: Associated Press
Welcoming remarks by Chair Powell at the Inaugural Conference on the International Roles of the U.S. Dollar - Federal Reserve Board
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 13:11
Good morning, and welcome to the inaugural conference on the International Roles of the U.S. Dollar. Thank you all for participating and for lending your expertise on this important topic. This conference marks the first use of our new Martin Conference Center, which I hope you enjoy.
The international financial and monetary system that emerged after World War II has been defined by the centrality of the dollar. It is the world's reserve currency and the most widely used for payments and investments. As outlined in recent work by Board staff, this global preeminence has been supported by the depth and liquidity of U.S. financial markets, the size and strength of the U.S. economy, its stability and openness to trade and capital flows, and international trust in U.S. institutions and the rule of law.1 Professor Barry Eichengreen will expand on some of these themes later this morning.
The dollar's international role holds multiple benefits. For the United States, it lowers transaction fees and borrowing costs for U.S. households, businesses, and the government. Its ubiquity helps contain uncertainty and, relatedly, the cost of hedging for domestic households and businesses. For foreign economies, the wide use of the dollar allows borrowers to have access to a broad pool of lenders and investors, which reduces their funding and transaction costs. The benefits of the dollar as the dominant reserve currency have generated an extensive academic literature. Yesterday's paper on the Treasury market by Alexandra Tabova and Frank Warnock extends that work in meaningful ways.
The Federal Reserve's strong commitment to our price stability mandate contributes to the widespread confidence in the dollar as a store of value. To that end, my colleagues and I are acutely focused on returning inflation to our 2 percent objective. Meeting our dual mandate also depends on maintaining financial stability. The Fed's commitment to both our dual mandate and financial stability encourages the international community to hold and use dollars.
The wide use of the dollar globally can also pose financial stability challenges that can materially affect households, businesses, and markets. For that reason, the Federal Reserve has played a key role in promoting financial stability and supporting the use of dollars internationally through our liquidity facilities. The central bank liquidity swap lines provide foreign central banks with the capacity to deliver U.S. dollar funding to institutions in their jurisdictions. And the Foreign and International Monetary Authorities (FIMA) Repo Facility allows approved FIMA account holders the option to temporarily exchange their U.S. Treasury securities held by the Federal Reserve for U.S. dollars. These facilities serve as liquidity backstops so that holders of dollar assets and participants in dollar funding markets can be confident that strains will be eased when these markets come under stress. That assurance, in turn, mitigates the effect of such strains on the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses. Both facilities enhance the standing of the dollar as the dominant global currency.
The swap lines were extensively used during the Global Financial Crisis, the 2011 euro-area debt crisis, and the financial turmoil at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The paper on central bank swap lines presented yesterday by Gerardo Ferrara, Philippe Mueller, Ganesh Viswanath-Natraj, and Junxuan Wang provides novel micro-level evidence on the usefulness of swap lines in providing cross-border liquidity to support the real economy.
Looking forward, rapid changes are taking place in the global monetary system that may affect the international role of the dollar in the future. Most major economies already have or are in the process of developing instant, 24/7 payments. Our own FedNow service will be coming online in 2023. And in light of the tremendous growth in crypto-assets and stablecoins, the Federal Reserve is examining whether a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC) would improve on an already safe and efficient domestic payments system. As the Fed's white paper on this topic notes, a U.S. CBDC could also potentially help maintain the dollar's international standing.2 As we consider feedback from the paper, we will be thinking not just about the current state of the world, but also how the global financial system might evolve over the next 5 to 10 years. The paper by Jiakai Chen and Asani Sarkar, which is on today's program, and our distinguished panelists on this topic this afternoon, will provide important insights on this issue.
To summarize, I would like to stress the importance of the dollar to the U.S. and global economies and financial markets. It is critical that we understand the channels, connections, and effects of the role of the dollar.
In closing, I want to thank you all for taking the time to join our discussion on the dollar's international roles. This conference brings together world-class researchers, practitioners, and policymakers dedicated to understanding and addressing these vital issues. I look forward to their insights and I hope you enjoy the conference.
1. See Carol Bertaut, Bastian von Beschwitz, and Stephanie Curcuru (2021), "The International Role of the U.S. Dollar," FEDS Note (Washington: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 6). Return to text
2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2021), Money and Payments: The U.S. Dollar in the Age of Digital Transformation (PDF) (Washington: Board of Governors, January). Return to text
California feed and poultry producer seeks emergency order due to Union Pacific service failures - Trains
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 12:49
UP says it's working to improve service to Foster Farms, asks regulators to deny emergency service order
A Union Pacific grain train makes its way west across Wyoming in September 2018. (Trains: David Lassen)WASHINGTON '-- The largest chicken producer in the western U.S. has asked federal regulators to issue an emergency service order that would direct Union Pacific to prioritize corn shipments that thousands of dairy cattle and millions of chickens and turkeys depend upon.
''''The point has been reached when millions of chickens will be killed and other livestock will suffer because of UP's service failures,'' Foster Farms wrote in its request to the Surface Transportation Board this week.
Foster Farms' facilities in Traver and Turlock, Calif., rely on 100-car unit trains of corn that originate in the Midwest. The company produces feed from the corn, which is then distributed to dairy farms, Foster's chicken and turkey farms, and other poultry producers.
''These service failures, which began in February 2022, have resulted in numerous instances where Foster Farms has suspended its production and distribution of feed for tens of thousands of dairy cattle and tens of millions of chickens and turkeys which consume corn meal supplied by Foster Farms,'' the company told the STB. ''It has also resulted in Foster Farms incurring considerable costs in an increasingly desperate and futile attempt to try to find alternative means and transportation modes to obtain and ship the huge quantities corn its facilities must have each week that UP delivered in the past with reasonable regularity but has demonstrated, without any doubt, that it can no longer do so for the indefinite future under its current operating plans and priorities.''
Foster Farms asked the STB to direct UP to prioritize delivery of unit trains to its California facilities for at least the next 30 days. Foster Farms leases four unit trains from UP as part of the railroad's grain shuttle program.
It wants the board to prioritize the assignment of crews to its trains, as well as their movement across the system so that crews don't run afoul of hours of service regulations. It also asked the board to direct UP to provide sufficient locomotives to the trains and for UP to provide the board with daily status reports.
UP agrees that it has not lived up to its service commitments to Foster Farms, but requested that the STB deny the emergency service petition. Instead, UP asked the STB to accept several service commitments.
Among them: Adding a fifth train set to Foster Farms service until volume commitments are reached; prioritizing unit trains, crews, and locomotives bound to and from Foster Farms; and providing the STB with daily updates and participating in weekly meetings with the STB regarding service to Foster Farms.
''Foster Farms is a vitally important Union Pacific customer. However, we have failed to provide adequate service to Foster Farms,'' UP CEO Lance Fritz wrote in a June 16 letter to the board. ''I am writing to convey Union Pacific's firm and clear commitment to providing Foster Farms the service it deserves and the service we expect to provide. I am personally working directly with Foster Farms' leadership to understand their concerns and meet their needs.''
UP has made several adjustments that should improve service to Foster Farms, Bradley Moore, vice president of customer care and support, told the board. The railroad has moved crews to Roseville, Calif., from other locations on the system, has been leaving power with Foster Farms' unit trains, and has decreased unit train dwell at North Platte, Neb.
In addition, 34 new conductors will enter service at Roseville by Aug. 15.
Like the other big U.S.-based Class I railroads, UP service has suffered this year amid a shortage of train crews at key points on its system.
YouTube Removes Jan. 6 Panel Video Of Trump Claiming Election Fraud | ZeroHedge
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 12:33
Authored by Caden Pearson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
YouTube on Friday deleted a video uploaded by the Democrat-led Jan. 6 House panel that included a clip of former President Donald Trump saying the 2020 general elections were ''stolen.''
''Our election integrity policy prohibits content advancing false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, if it does not provide sufficient context,'' YouTube spokeswoman Ivy Choi said.
''We enforce our policies equally for everyone, and have removed the video uploaded by the Jan. 6 committee channel.''
A video of former U.S. President Donald Trump is seen on a screen at the second hearing held by the Jan. 6 Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 13, 2022. (Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)The video in question was used as evidence by the Jan. 6 committee and features Trump giving an interview with Fox Business during which he makes his claim.
''We had glitches where they moved thousands of votes from my account to Biden's account,'' Trump said in the now-deleted video, NY Times reported.
The video, which was uploaded on Tuesday, also reportedly included a clip of former Attorney General William Barr's testimony, who has previously stated that he does not believe the election was stolen, NY Times reported. Regardless, YouTube, owned by Google, removed the video under its misinformation policy.
The New York Post reported that the video was missing from the House panel's site on Friday.
YouTube and other Big Tech platforms have stringently enacted censorship policies regarding Trump's claims of election fraud in the 2020 general elections.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump's supporters gathered at the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of the election results. Violence broke out when some protesters entered the Capitol building.
Some Democrat lawmakers and corporate news outlets have continued to push a narrative that the violence at the Capitol was part of a ''deadly insurrection.'' But the four people who died on Jan. 6, 2021, were all apparent Trump supporters. One of them, U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, was shot by an officer, according to the U.S. Capitol Police Department.
Twitter and Facebook deplatformed Trump two days later on Jan. 8, 2021.
Trump has decried the House panel as being ''highly partisan.'' The panel is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, both of whom are outspoken critics of Trump who had voted to impeach him and who were picked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
''It is a one-sided, highly partisan Witch Hunt, the likes of which has never been seen in Congress before,'' Trump wrote. ''I am hereby demanding EQUAL TIME to spell out the massive Voter Fraud & Dem Security Breach!''
On Monday, Trump published a statement that laid out his argument for disputing the results of the 2020 general elections, which pointed to the vote-counting stopping on election night, other irregularities, and allegations of ballot trafficking in multiple states.
To back up his allegations of ballot trafficking, Trump cited evidence presented by the vote-monitoring organization True the Vote in the 2022 documentary ''2000 Mules,'' which alleges that illegal ballot trafficking took place on a scale significant enough to have flipped the 2020 elections.
Trump has criticized the House panel for not allowing him, or other witnesses, to present their testimony and evidence to counter the prevailing narrative of the committee that Trump was directly responsible for the breach.
The panel this week also claimed that Trump put former Vice President Mike Pence's life in mortal danger on Jan. 6, 2021.
Republicans have also repeatedly decried the hearings as partisan and unnecessary.
Stimulus checks rewired how some Americans see money
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 12:29
Ciydemimages | E+ | Getty Images
For Denise Diaz, the benefits of pandemic-era stimulus checks went beyond everyday dollars and cents. They rewired how she thinks about money.
Diaz, a mother of three who lives outside Orlando, Florida, received more than $10,000 from three rounds of "economic impact payments."
They were among the 472 million payments issued by the federal government, totaling about $803 billion. The effort amounted to an unprecedented experiment to prop up households as Covid-19 cratered the U.S. economy.
The checks (and other federal funds) are at the epicenter of a debate as to whether and to what extent the financial assistance helped fuel inflation, which is running at its hottest in about 40 years.
But they undoubtedly offered a lifeline to millions of people during the worst unemployment spell since the Great Depression. Recipients reached by CNBC used the money in various ways '-- to cover household staples, make debt payments and create rainy-day funds, for example.
Diaz, who co-directs a local nonprofit, Central Florida Jobs With Justice, used the funds to pay off a credit card and a car loan. Her credit score improved. She built an emergency fund '-- previously nonexistent '-- which the household was able to lean on when Diaz's partner lost his job earlier this year.
Consequently, Diaz, 41, feels more financially stable than during any other period of her adulthood.
The financial buffer and associated peace of mind also changed her psychology. She automated bill payments (for utilities, a second family car and credit cards, for example) for the first time.
"We weren't doing that [before]," Diaz said. "Because you never knew what could happen [financially], so I never trusted it."
These days, Diaz thinks more about budgeting. Homeownership seems within reach after years of renting.
"The stimulus changed how I think about what's possible, personal spending habits and the way in which I manage my money," she said.
'Tough to make a dent'The stimulus checks were the result of legislation '-- the CARES Act, Consolidated Appropriations Act and American Rescue Plan Act '-- Congress passed in 2020 and 2021 to manage the fallout from Covid-19.
Households received payments of up to $1,200, $600 and $1,400 a person, respectively. Qualifications such as income limits and payment amounts for dependents changed over those three funding tranches.
Census Bureau survey data shows most households used the funds for food and household products, and to make utility, rent, vehicle, mortgage and other debt payments. To a lesser extent, households used them for clothing, savings and investments and recreational goods.
Salaam Bhatti and Hina Latif, a married couple living in Richmond, Virginia, used a chunk of their funds to reduce credit card debt, which has proven difficult in recent years, especially after having kids. (They have a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old.)
Bhatti and Latif paid off several thousand dollars of the debt during the pandemic and have about $30,000 left, they said.
"It's been tough to make a dent," Bhatti, 36, said. "Sometimes it just feels like you're not making any progress."
More from Personal Finance:Credit card balances rise after stimulus checks helped cut debtBeware of scams involving jobs, stimulus checks, tax refundsHow effective were those stimulus checks?
The couple had a gross income of about $75,000 during the pandemic. Bhatti was the public benefits attorney at the Virginia Poverty Law Center (he's now the deputy director), and Latif teaches online at the College of DuPage in Illinois.
Prior to getting the stimulus payments, the duo used a "debt shuffle" approach to stay afloat, Bhatti said. That included taking advantage of multiple balance-transfer offers that carried periods of zero interest, he said.
They also used stimulus funds to help cover higher household costs for groceries and other items like diapers.
The stimulus changed how I think about what's possible, personal spending habits and the way in which I manage my money.
stimulus check recipient in Florida
Bhatti and Latif, like Diaz, also received monthly payments of the enhanced child tax credit '-- up to $250 or $300 per child, depending on age '-- that lasted for six months starting in July 2021.
"Costs increased with our new baby so it often feels like we're scooping water out of a boat with a hole in it," Bhatti said. "We are not living extravagantly by any means, but because the bulk of our income [is] going to the debt, we are pretty much living paycheck to paycheck."
'Every dollar really matters'Nestor Moto Jr., 27, largely used his stimulus payments to chip away at student loans. The Long Beach, California, resident received about $4,000 from federal and state-issued payments.
He used about half for loans and 10% for savings. The remainder helped Moto, an office manager for an accounting firm, pay bills (phone and car insurance, for example) when his employer reduced his full-time schedule to about 10 hours a week earlier in the pandemic.
"They really helped me catch up on my student loans," said Moto, who graduated from California State University Long Beach with a bachelor's degree in political science. He still owes about $10,000 of an $18,000 initial balance.
Moto wanted to reduce his debt even though the federal government paused payments and interest for the last two-plus years. He's not expecting the Biden administration to wipe out his outstanding debt.
Sometimes it just feels like you're not making any progress.
stimulus check recipient in Virginia
"I saved money," Moto added. "[The stimulus] really helped put into perspective how much money I make a month and week and how much I spend.
"It showed me how much every dollar really matters."
While grateful for the financial assistance, Bhatti feels a slight letdown after getting a brush with financial freedom. The U.S. economy has rebounded significantly since early 2021, when lawmakers passed the last broad pandemic aid package for individuals; another doesn't appear likely despite ongoing financial pressures for some households.
"It feels like such a tease," Bhatti said of the stimulus payments. "It felt like dangling a carrot in front of you, the government saying, 'We know we can help you.' And then eventually choosing not to."
Box Office: 'Jurassic World Dominion' Beating 'Lightyear' With $67M+ '' Deadline
Sun, 19 Jun 2022 12:28
Disney/PixarSATURDAY PM: In a Saturday matinee brawl at the box office between a Disney Pixar space ranger and Universal/Amblin dinosaurs, the prehistoric beasts win. Industry estimates show Jurassic World Dominion swallowed up Saturday over Lightyear, $21.8M to $15.7M. Lightyear will be lucky to hit $50M for the 3-day (these estimates do not come from Disney), if it has a robust Father's Day as Dominion will also steal the Friday-Sunday frame with $58.3M, -60% ''not far from 2018 Fallen Kingdom's second weekend -58% decline. All in with the 4-day holiday, Dominion is looking at $67.6M. This will put the Coin Trevorrow directed, co-written and produced sixth Jurassic title at $258.7M, 6% behind Fallen Kingdom's 11-day running cume.
Seriously, a mindboggling result here given the great diagnostics on Lightyear: 61% gave it a definite recommend to Dominion's 57% in its opening weekend. Plus Lightyear scored 85% positive to Dominion's 73% in exits. We've heard grumbles that some of the die-hard Toy Story fans are put off by Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz Lightyear vs. franchise vet Tim Allen. However, the exits don't necessarily show anything negative in that regard: 20% came out for Evans vs. 16% for Chris Pratt in Dominion's opening weekend. Forty-five percent of those polled bought tickets to Lightyear because it was part of a franchise they loved, which isn't far from the 43% who bought tickets to Dominion for that same exact reason.
ParamountAlso, let's behold the unstoppable sound barrier breaking power of Paramount's Top Gun: Maverick. The Tom Cruise pic's fourth weekend stands at $43.1M, which is the third best fourth weekend ever for a major motion picture behind American Sniper ($89.1M) and Avatar ($50.1M). You could even argue it's the second best for a movie in its fourth weekend, as American Sniper went wide in weekend 4 after a platform holiday release. Heck, Top Gun 2's fourth weekend is even higher than Spider-Man: No Way Home which did $32.6M. Top Gun 2's ease here is a 17% dip from weekend 3 with an expected Sunday EOD running total of $465.3M after a $15.3M Saturday, +40% over Friday (just $400K shy of Lightyear).
We'll have more updates in the AM.
SATURDAY AM: Well, this wasn't suppose to happen. Disney's Lightyear, despite an A- CinemaScore and 4 stars/85% positive on PostTrak, is coming in way under its $70M-$85M projection, with a $51M-$55M 3-day weekend to Universal/Amblin's second weekend of Jurassic World Dominion with $57.1M, -61%. Jurassic could even reach $66.3M through the four-day Juneteenth holiday.
''Lightyear'' Disney/PixarWhat the hell happened here? Despite the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating of the Toy Story franchise at 77% Certified Fresh, it's clear no one in great quantity is going to see the origin story of Buzz Lightyear. Understand that a Pixar movie and a Jurassic movie have played in close proximity to each other on the calendar before, and they both walked away with an embarrassment of riches. While we've mentioned that spinoffs always open lower than the core franchise films (take your pick: Fantastic Beasts vs. Harry Potter, Hobbs & Shaw vs. Fast & Furious and Bumblebee vs. Transformers), this could be a case of going to the Toy Story well too soon, too fast, despite the fact that theater closures and a pandemic stood between now and the last Toy Story 4 three years ago.
Like Universal with Dominion, it's not like Disney didn't market Lightyear, and if you comb through the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes, a majority of them seemed to enjoy it.
L to R: Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) in Jurassic World Dominion UniversalIt's clear the majority of Toy Story fans are not out in abundance. Remember that movie is an ensemble pic in all its toy characters, an appealing factor for all the parents that grew up with those icons like slinky dog and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Also limiting audiences here with Lightyear is that there's not much for girls to hook their hats on; the outer space aspect makes this spinoff a big driver for boys, hence the turnout of more boys than girls.
Also, families in an inflation economy might be choosing their battles in a streaming laden marketplace: They'll go see Jurassic on the big screen, which won't be in the homes for a while, but might wait to see an nth Toy Story movie on Disney+.
While the box office economics on a $200M animated movie aren't great from Disney's POV, particularly in regards to the official and internal studio projections, and the Toy Story franchise itself, exhibition sees a different side of the coin after going through their own depression in 2020-21: $51M-$55M is a damn good opening. More reason for exhibitors to sing ''We're in The Money'' from 42nd Street is the fact that the three-day weekend is ringing up an estimated $161.1M, 18% ahead of the same weekend in 2019, the benchmark year for determining whether the domestic box office has returned to healthy levels.
K-12 schools are off at 95% on Monday, so we'll see if Lightyear can find an extra set of jet fuel today through Monday.
Of those who turned out for Lightyear, 52% were men, 48% females. Some 61% of those who bought tickets were between 18-34. Men over 25 were dominant at 30%, giving the film its best grade of 87% positive. Females under 25 at 24% also gave it 87%. Females over 25 repped 24% of the audience and graded the Pixar film with an 85%. Men under 25 at 23% gave the film a 79% grade.
Diversity demos were 46% Caucasian, 28% Hispanic and Latino, 10% Black, and 11% Asian. Lightyear's best territories were in the West and Southwest, where eight of its top ten runs came from. Imax and PLF screens are contributing close to a quarter of the box office to date.
ParamountThrowing an extra monkey wrench into the Father's Day weekend box office against the competition is the holdover power of Paramount's Top Gun: Maverick, the ultimate movie to take your dad to. The movie is eyeing a glorious 4th weekend of $40M, -23%, for a running total of $462.1M; just $37.9M from a half billion stateside.
In tenth place is Focus Features' release of Jim Archer's Sundance premiere Brian and Charles in 279 locations. Pic is eyeing $197K for 3-days, $220K for 4 days for an theater average of $706.
1.) Jurassic World Dominion (Uni) 4,697 (+21) theaters, Fri $15.7M (-74%), 3-day $57.1M (-61%)/4-day $66.2M/Total $257.3M/Wk 2
2.) Lightyear (Dis) 4,255 theaters, Fri $20.7M/3-day $51M-$55M, 4-day est $59.8M/Wk 1
3.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 4,262 (-489) theaters, Fri $10.96M (-23%), 3-day $40M (-23%), 4-day $46.5M, Total $468.6M/Wk 4
4.) Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Dis) 2,465 (-880) theaters, Fri $1.1M (-23%), 3-day $4.2M (-19%), 4-day $4.4M, Total $405.2M/Wk 7
5.) Bob's Burgers (20th/Dis) 1,350 (-1,255) theaters, Fri $349K (-51%), 3-day $1.18M (-51%), 4-day $1.3M, Total $30M/Wk 4
6.) The Bad Guys (Uni) 1,477 (-939) theaters, Fri $270K (-63%), 3-day $950K (-63%), 4-day $1.1M, Total $94.3M /Wk 9
7.) Everything, Everywhere All at Once (A24) 679 (-755) theaters, Fri $260K (-27%), 3-day $984K (-25%), 4-day $1.08M, Total $65M/Wk 13
8.) Downton Abbey '' A New Era (Foc) 1,179 (-832) theaters, Fri $260K (-50%), 3-day $850K (-52%), 4-day $990K, Total: $42.3M/Wk 5
9.) Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Par) 439 (-628) theaters $53K, 3-day $200K (-73%), 4-day $240K, Total $190.4M/Wk 11
10.) Brian and Charles (Foc) 279 theaters, Fri $73K, 3-day $197K, 4-day $220K, Wk 1
''Lightyear'' Disney/PixarFRIDAY AFTERNOON: Friday is clearly in favor of Disney/Pixar's Lightyear with $23M, that includes the $5.2M previews. However, there's some suspense from Universal/Amblin's Jurassic World Dominion possibly sinking its teeth into the cartoon astronaut.
Current 3-day outlook for Lightyear is $55M+ and Jurassic World Dominion is at $53.4M, but there's a projection that the latter cold clear $61M over 4-days sending its running total to $253M.
Still too early to say Lightyear is underperforming for Saturday matinees and Sunday Father's Day business are its greatest strengths. At this early stage, we heard that hourlies are progressing better than Sonic the Hedgehog 2's during its first Friday in April. Should that momentum continue through the rest of this afternoon, then there's a chance Lightyear gets to $60M.
In last night's PostTrak exits, Lightyear notched four stars with overall audiences and a 62% recommend. The audience make-up was 67% general, 16% parents and 17% kids under 12. Parents gave the movie 4 1/2 stars whereas kids under 12 gave it 5 stars. Boys outnumbered girls, 61% to 39%. Of the general audience, 53% where men, 47% women.
FRIDAY AM: Pixar's return to the big screen, Lightyear, did $5.2M between fan Wednesday previews and Thursday night shows, which is just under the $6.3M that Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog 2 did back in April over its first two days of previews.
Lightyear's Wednesday fan screenings started at 6PM, while Thursday showtimes began at 3PM. The sci-fi origin story of space ranger Buzz Lightyear is booked at 4,255 theaters and is expected to do between $70M-$85M. Global start is being eyed at $135M, with the overseas footprint being 43 material markets, representing 79% of international. Rotten Tomatoes reviews are at 80% certified fresh which is below the high 90%-100% range of the Toy Story movies. If the family film is going to overindex, it boil down to Father's Day traffic, not to mention, the Juneteenth holiday being celebrated on Monday. To date during the pandemic, Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog 2 owns the best opening for a family movie at $72.1M.
Lightyear is well ahead of the Tuesday pre-holiday previews of Universal/Illumination's Sing 2 ($1.6M) and Disney's Encanto ($1.5M). Presales for Lightyear were estimated to be around $10M as of yesterday, just under Sonic the Hedgehog 2's $12M-$14M.
Universal/Amblin's Jurassic World Dominion led all movies in regular release yesterday with $8.66M, -13% from Wednesday at 4,676. The movie will share Imax screens with Lightyear this weekend, but cede them in its third weekend fully to the Disney/Pixar film. First week's take for Dominion is $191.1M, 7% behind the first week of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Paramount/Skydance's Top Gun: Maverick saw $6.2M yesterday, -6% from Wednesday for a third week of $78.7M and running total of $422.1M.
Disney/Marvel's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness did an estimated $614K, for a $7.9M sixth week and $400.8M running total.
Universal/DreamWorks Animation's The Bad Guys grossed $282K, -24%, for a $4M eighth week, and $93.2M running total.
Disney's The Bob's Burgers Movies made an estimated $280K, for a $3.9M third week and running total of $28.7M.
White House plan to send gas rebates complicated by chip shortages - The Washington Post
Sat, 18 Jun 2022 21:44
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Senior White House aides are exploring new ideas to respond to high gas prices and are looking again at some that they had previously discarded, desperate to show that the administration is trying to address voter frustration about rising costs at the pump.
Those efforts, though, come amid early signs of a broader slowdown in the economy, which could ease inflationary pressures but also lead to higher joblessness and slower growth. On Friday, oil prices suddenly dropped to a four-week low '-- a decline likely to push down gas prices '-- the latest indicator of a potential recession after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates this week to try to contain inflation.
The week's staggering decline in the stock market '-- coupled with weaker-than-expected jobless claims and retail sales data '-- also reflects the risks in the central bank's move to crush inflation by tightening monetary conditions. Wall Street recorded its worst week since March 2020, the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, as investors struggle to adjust to the Fed's dramatic move.
Still, Biden officials are taking a second look at whether the federal government could send rebate cards out to millions of American drivers to help them pay at gas stations '-- an idea they examined months ago before ruling it out. Aides had found that shortages in the U.S. chip industry would make it hard to produce enough rebate cards, two people familiar with the matter said. White House officials also fear there would be no way to prevent consumers from using them for purchases other than gasoline, according to another person familiar with the discussions. Even if the administration embraces the proposal, it would probably require congressional approval and face long odds among lawmakers wary of spending more money.
Biden aides have also looked in recent days at invoking the Defense Production Act to move diesel and other refined products should localized shortages materialize, two people familiar with the matter said. Diesel prices have risen markedly, posing a major threat to the nation's trucking and shipping industries, although experts say shortages appear to remain unlikely for now.
But energy markets hinted at the potential downsides of an economy that cools too quickly, with crude oil prices falling on Friday. ''The good news is that crude oil prices, which drive gas prices, had a big down day,'' said Bob McNally, a former energy official in the Bush administration. ''But the reason for it is a bad reason '-- that people are fearing a recession.''
Gas prices have been one of the most visible signs of inflation. The White House has taken a number of actions to try to address the problem, such as committing to a historic release of the nation's oil reserves and, on Wednesday, sending a letter to the nation's refineries calling for more production and criticizing their profits. President Biden has also tried to increase production internationally, prodding the world's oil producers and coordinating the release from national reserves with U.S. allies.
But those measures appear not to have helped substantially. The average gas price nationally rose above $5 a gallon for the first time this weekend, a roughly 11 percent increase from just last month, according to AAA, although some industry analysts say it could fall back to $4.55 in the weeks ahead. Polling suggests widespread frustration with rising prices, increasing the likelihood that voters punish Democrats this fall and give Republicans control of at least one house of Congress next year.
White House officials have scrambled in recent days to again review all potential federal policy responses. Officials have also discussed telling governors to lower or waive their gas taxes, another person familiar with internal administration discussions said.
States eye gas tax pauses as fuel prices soar
The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks, stressed that these measures were being explored in a preliminary way and that no final decisions had been made.
The attempts to explore out-of-the-box solutions to gas prices reflects the paucity of available solutions to the administration, as well as the extent of the challenge they pose. White House spokesmen have said all options are on the table, but one White House official said the rebate proposal '-- pushed by some Democrats in Congress '-- was unlikely to advance due to the logistical difficulties. Critics also say the idea could backfire by further pushing up prices by adding to consumer demand.
Other proposals floated by policy experts include suspending the Jones Act, which would reduce shipping costs and make it cheaper to get gasoline from the Gulf Coast to the Eastern Seaboard, imposing price controls and banning exports of U.S. energy. But all these ideas have their own political and practical downsides, with the Jones Act supported by influential union groups and economists warning that any supply restrictions could exacerbate the problem. One person said the White House has also looked at limits on fuel exports, an idea first reported on Thursday by Bloomberg News, although that proposal does not appear to have gained much traction.
''Not only is there not an extant solution, but nobody thinks there's going to be a compelling solution,'' an outside economic adviser to the White House said. ''They're fighting about narrative rather than fighting about substance, because realistically, what are they going to do?''
Inside Biden's frustration with soaring prices
Biden on Wednesday defended his administration's record, arguing it is doing everything possible to lower families' costs '-- including at the pump '-- in the face of immense head winds.
''I'm doing everything in my power to blunt [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's gas price hike,'' Biden said. ''We're going to work to bring down gas and food prices. We can save families money and other items.''
The run-up in gas prices has many factors, but it was intensified by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions on the Kremlin, which disrupted supply from what had been the world's third-largest oil producer. Russian output has fallen by more than 1 million barrels per day due to export sanctions that complicate sales and import sanctions that hurt production, according to Rory Johnston, an analyst at Commodity Context. Refineries necessary to turn oil into gas and other products are stretched to their limits, with Russian refineries knocked offline and U.S. refining capacity down roughly 5 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration.
At the outset of the invasion, senior Biden aides said they believed Americans were willing to pay higher prices at the pump to punish Russia. But it is unclear if that calculus was correct, with Republican lawmakers continuing to hammer the White House for high gas prices despite their support of the sanctions.
Why City Life Has Gotten Way More Expensive - The Atlantic
Sat, 18 Jun 2022 17:56
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Several weeks ago, I needed a ride home after some late-night drinks about two miles from my place in Washington, D.C. I pulled up the Uber app and entered my address. When the price on the screen popped up, I assumed I'd entered the wrong street, and perhaps the wrong state. I carefully retyped. But the same price appeared on the screen: $50.
That's outrageous, I thought; $50 for a 10-minute ride? Then I kept thinking. Aren't gas prices and inflation near half-century highs? Isn't the labor market so tight that low-paid workers are switching jobs at historic rates? Isn't nominal wage growth rising fastest for the kind of workers most likely to drive for Uber? Yes, yes, and yes.
But something beyond rising energy and labor costs led to that startling price tag. With markets falling and interest rates rising, start-ups and money-losing tech companies are changing the way they do business. In a recent letter to employees, Uber's CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, said the firm needs to ''make sure our unit economics work before we go big.'' That's chief-executive speak for: We gave Derek a nice discount for a while, but the party's over and now it costs $50 for him to get home.
For the past decade, people like me'--youngish, urbanish, professionalish'--got a sweetheart deal from Uber, the Uber-for-X clones, and that whole mosaic of urban amenities in travel, delivery, food, and retail that vaguely pretended to be tech companies. Almost each time you or I ordered a pizza or hailed a taxi, the company behind that app lost money. In effect, these start-ups, backed by venture capital, were paying us, the consumers, to buy their products.
It was as if Silicon Valley had made a secret pact to subsidize the lifestyles of urban Millennials. As I pointed out three years ago, if you woke up on a Casper mattress, worked out with a Peloton, Ubered to a WeWork, ordered on DoorDash for lunch, took a Lyft home, and ordered dinner through Postmates only to realize your partner had already started on a Blue Apron meal, your household had, in one day, interacted with eight unprofitable companies that collectively lost about $15 billion in one year.
These start-ups weren't nonprofits, charities, or state-run socialist enterprises. Eventually, they had to do a capitalism and turn a profit. But for years, it made a strange kind of sense for them to not be profitable. With interest rates near zero, many investors were eager to put their money into long-shot bets. If they could get in on the ground floor of the next Amazon, it would be the one-in-a-million bet that covered every other loss. So they encouraged start-up founders to expand aggressively, even if that meant losing a ton of money on new consumers to grow their total user base.
Consider this simplified example. Let's say that the ingredient, labor, and transportation costs of a pizza delivery in New York City average $20. If a company charges $25 for the average NYC delivery, it will make a profit. But if a start-up charges $10 for the same thing, it will lose money but get a lot more pizza orders. More pizza orders means more total customers, which means more overall revenue. This arrangement is tailor-made for a low-rate environment, in which investors are attracted to long-term growth more than short-term profit. As long as money was cheap and Silicon Valley told itself the next world-conquering consumer-tech firm was one funding round away, the best way for a start-up to make money from venture capitalists was to lose money acquiring a gazillion customers.
I call this arrangement the Millennial Consumer Subsidy. Now the subsidy is ending. Rising interest rates turned off the spigot for money-losing start-ups, which, combined with energy inflation and rising wages for low-income workers, has forced Uber, Lyft, and all the rest to make their services more expensive. Meanwhile, global supply chains haven't been able to keep up with domestic consumer demand, which means delivery times for major items like furniture and kitchen equipment have bloomed from ''three to five days'' to ''sometime between this fall and the heat death of the universe.'' That means higher prices, higher margins, fewer discounts, and longer wait times for a microgeneration of yuppies used to low prices and instant deliveries. The golden age of bougie on-demand urban-tech discounting has come to a close.
I should underscore that the old ways were made possible by an era of lower demand and weaker labor markets, which was not a winning combination for most workers. Many people drove an Uber or delivered Thai food because they didn't have competing job offers that would clearly pay more per week. Today, job openings are historically plentiful and nominal wages are rising fastest for low-income workers. That virtuous adjustment has shown up in higher Uber and DoorDash prices.
This isn't the end of the story. With inflation raging, the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates several more times in the next six months, and could tip the U.S. economy into a recession. If that happens, oil prices will likely fall and rising unemployment could put more Uber drivers back on the road. At that point, ride-share prices would fall again.
But the heavily discounted prices of the 2010s aren't coming back. The Millennial Consumer Subsidy is over, and for the foreseeable future, metro residents will have to go about living the old-fashioned way: by paying what things actually cost.
Tether: The Coin That Could Wreck Crypto - The New York Times
Sat, 18 Jun 2022 17:27
SAN FRANCISCO '-- Cryptocurrency prices are plummeting. A so-called stablecoin lost all its value in a matter of days. A newfangled crypto bank halted withdrawals. And investors have been plunged into financial ruin.
Now the crypto industry is grappling with an even grimmer prospect: The worst may be yet to come.
Concern is mounting over another potential vulnerability in the crypto market: Tether, a company whose namesake currency is a linchpin of crypto trading worldwide. Long one of the most scrutinized companies in the industry, Tether is facing heightened pressure from regulators, investors, economists and growing legions of skeptics, who argue it could be another domino to fall in an even bigger crash.
''Tether is really the lifeblood of the crypto ecosystem,'' said Hilary Allen, a finance expert at American University. ''If it imploded, then the entire facade falls down.''
Tether is the dominant issuer of stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency pegged to a stable asset like the U.S. dollar. Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether, whose monetary value can fluctuate widely, stablecoins are typically designed to maintain a constant price of $1 and are backed by large reserves of funds or other financial engineering. That consistency allows crypto traders to conduct safe, predictable transactions without relying on banks or other financial gatekeepers.
But many of these coins are stable in name only. Last month, when cryptocurrencies melted down, the crash was triggered partly by the failure of TerraUSD, a stablecoin with a $1 peg that was algorithmically linked to a sister cryptocurrency called Luna. When the price of Luna plummeted, TerraUSD also fell, creating a ''death spiral'' that shook the broader market.
By contrast, Tether claims its stablecoins are backed by cash and other traditional assets, making its reserves essential to the health of the crypto market. In theory, anyone who wants to exchange Tethers for U.S. dollars can do so quickly and easily.
But the company's financial statements show that a significant portion of its reserves are tied up in unsecured corporate debt known as commercial paper. Such financial instruments are riskier and harder to quickly convert into cash, especially during financial turmoil. In 2021, New York's attorney general fined Tether $18.5 million and said the company had lied about its reserves, calling it ''a stablecoin without stability.''
Critics say Tether essentially acts as a loosely regulated bank. Traders hand over millions of dollars and, in return, receive millions of stablecoins, which they use to bet on more volatile cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Dogecoin. Tether currently has 70 billion coins in circulation, making it more than three times the size of TerraUSD before the crash.
In a worst-case scenario, critics say, a downturn could spark the crypto equivalent of a bank run. Traders might all rush to exchange their Tethers for dollars, only to discover that Tether could not fulfill those orders. Investors would lose billions of dollars, forcing them to sell their other crypto holdings, causing a potentially devastating panic that might spill into non-crypto markets.
Tether got a taste of that scenario last month. As cryptocurrencies plummeted, a flood of investors asked to exchange their Tethers for dollars, forcing the company to pay out about an eighth of its reserves, or $10 billion, over the course of a week and a half. On cryptocurrency exchanges, Tether briefly wavered from its $1 peg.
Ultimately, the company said, it met the demand. Tether went on a victory lap, proclaiming that it had weathered the crisis ''flawlessly.''
Image Paolo Ardoino, Tether's chief technology officer, in Amsterdam this month. ''We're not fooling around, and we take risk management extremely seriously,'' he said. Credit... Jussi Puikkonen for The New York Times The crash was ''the best story that could have happened to Tether,'' Paolo Ardoino, the company's chief technology officer, said in an interview. ''We're not fooling around, and we take risk management extremely seriously.''
Then on Sunday, the crypto bank Celsius Network announced it was halting withdrawals, causing digital currency prices to crash again. Tether had invested in Celsius in 2020 and lent it about $1 billion in Tethers, according to Bloomberg News; the company said this week that it currently had ''zero exposure'' to Celsius apart from a small investment. Still, as the market reeled, investors pulled out about $1.6 billion from Tether.
More skeptics are speaking up. Last month, a top U.S. banking official called for new rules governing Tether and its competitors, saying the TerraUSD crash highlighted the risks of loosely regulated stablecoins. Some traders are now putting their funds into alternate stablecoins, amid fears that the next crash could test whether Tether has adequate reserves.
''They had enough collateral to weather this run, but that doesn't mean they have enough to weather the next run,'' said Bruce Mizrach, an economics professor at Rutgers University who studies cryptocurrencies.
Even by crypto's often-surreal standards, Tether has a peculiar history. The company was founded in 2014 by Brock Pierce, a cryptocurrency evangelist who, as a child actor, starred in the ''Mighty Ducks'' movies. He and his partner, Reeve Collins, later handed control of the firm to a former plastic surgeon named Giancarlo Devasini, who has stored some of Tether's assets in a bank in the Bahamas run by one of the creators of the ''Inspector Gadget'' cartoon.
Tether has grown rapidly. Last year, it issued roughly 50 billion stablecoins, more than tripling the worldwide supply. ''If we have to redeem till the last cent, we can do it,'' Mr. Ardoino said in the interview.
The company is operated by about 50 employees in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Its chief executive, JL van der Velde, is a Dutch businessman whose LinkedIn profile suggests he is based in Hong Kong; the company declined to confirm his location. He and Mr. Devasini, the chief operating officer, rarely speak publicly. Tether's public face is Mr. Ardoino, who describes his colleagues as ''normal people'' amazed by the company's growth.
''They didn't think initially that it would maybe go so big,'' Mr. Ardoino said. ''They weren't prepared to be public persons. There's nothing bad about it.''
At times, Tether has insisted that its stablecoins were fully backed by U.S. dollars. But last year, the New York attorney general, Letitia James, called those claims ''a lie.''
A few years earlier, a cryptocurrency exchange affiliated with Tether had lost $850 million in a business deal gone sour. To cover the losses, the exchange, Bitfinex, took loans from Tether's reserves, leaving the stablecoin partly unbacked, according to Ms. James's investigation.
Tether settled with the New York attorney general, paying $18.5 million in penalties without admitting wrongdoing. A Tether spokeswoman said the issue with the company's reserves boiled down to a ''communications misstep.''
Last October, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission found that over a 26-month ''sample period'' between 2016 and 2018, Tether had held sufficient reserves in its accounts only a quarter of the time. The company paid a $41 million fine to the commission.
Since the New York settlement, Tether has issued periodic statements disclosing the composition of its reserves. But its announcements have done little to quash skepticism.
Last month, Tether revealed that about a quarter of its reserves, or $20 billion, consisted of commercial paper, down $4 billion from February. At the same time, it increased its exposure to money market funds, which may invest in commercial paper, to about $7 billion from $3 billion. Tether also revealed that $5 billion of its reserves were tied up in ''other investments,'' including digital currencies. Critics argued that the report was essentially a wash, with the project still lacking the kind of stability that many investors expect.
(The Tether spokeswoman said the company's commercial-paper portfolio would ''gradually decrease to zero without any incurrences of losses.'')
Tether remains by far the most popular stablecoin. But over the last month, the number of Tethers in circulation has declined more than 7 percent. The circulation of USDC, a stablecoin that is supposedly fully backed by cash and U.S. Treasurys,has increased roughly 4 percent.
''I can't say I'm as confident about Tether as I am with USDC,'' said Sam Kazemian, who runs Frax, another stablecoin project.
Concerns about Tether have spread to Washington. When Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified before Congress last month, she noted Tether's wavering from its $1 peg and called for greater regulation of stablecoins.
The growth of stablecoins presents ''the same kind of risks that we have known for centuries in connection with bank runs,'' she said.
Mr. Ardoino said Tether was eager to work with regulators to devise a global framework governing disclosures that stablecoin issuers must make about their reserves. But Tether has resisted more aggressive proposals, which would subject it to regulatory requirements like those of traditional banks.
''Everyone's freaking out '-- like, 'I lost my life savings,''' said Mr. Collins, who founded Tether with Mr. Pierce and now runs a crypto venture called BLOCKv. ''That's a tragedy, but it's just as much of a tragedy when someone says, 'I went to a casino and lost my life savings.' But that doesn't mean let's regulate casinos out of existence.''
musiccasting - Onboarding musicians to Podcasting 2.0 and Value for Value
Fri, 17 Jun 2022 19:12
Onboarding musicians to Podcasting 2.0 and Value for ValueHello, you're one of our first visitors! Please look around and come back again, as the site will be developing in the coming weeks and months.
Here's a 25-minute presentation on Podcasting 2.0 and Value for Value:
(0:32) Applications of crowdsourcing(3:12) Amanda Palmer: To ask without shame (2013)(4:55) Adam Curry: Podcasting (2000) in the RSS specification (2004)(5:30) First podcast index, absorbed into iTunes(6:09) Creating an RSS file(7:12) Podcasting 2.0 (2020)(8:21) Incorporation of the Lightning network(8:50) Micropayments(9:25) Chapters(9:43) Medium tag(10:03) valueRecipient tag(11:12) Music album as podcast: Stay Awhile(11:41) How to get a modern podcast app(11:57) Value for Value and the No Agenda Show(13:02) My first V4V projects(13:13) Curiocaster: Podcasting 2.0 player that runs in your browser(13:40) Setting up a Lightning node on a Raspberry Pi computer (RaspiBlitz)(14:25) Satoshis (100 million Satoshis = 1 Bitcoin)(16:51) Public key goes into Value block(16:56) Helipad monitors incoming donations(19:34) Demo of sending sats (from Curiocaster) and then seeing them come into the node (in Helipad)(22:21) musiccasting.org - --onboarding musicians to Podcasting 2.0 and Value for Value(23:00) Podcasting 2.0 podcast with background tracks for some of the songs that are included in Jim Beloff's classic, THE DAILY UKULELE, published by Hal Leonard.(23:26) SongSync app---Value for Value project to support synchronizing lyrics on phones(24:17) ClosingPodcasting 2.0Podcast Index is a software developer focused partnership that provides tools and data to anyone who aspires to create new and exciting Podcast experiences without the heavy lifting of indexing, aggregation and data management.Podcasting 2.0 podcast: Dave and Adam's board meeting for developers, hosting companies, and content creatorsAbleKraft podcast: Able and Spencer report on their pioneering work with Decentralized Music (DeMu) to support music production with avant-garde distributionExploring the new standard for podcast RSS feedspodcastindex.social: get a Mastodon account and follow @adam to see the conversation among developersThe No Agenda Show. The mothership for value for value podcasting, where Adam and John have a conversation about politics; and producers contribute time, treasure, and talent. Value for Valuevalue4value.io: How to receive Bitcoin in real-time for your podcast, from the podfather, Adam CurryAmanda Palmer's Ted Talk "The Art of Asking"Stephan van Rooden's "The Value for Value Model"Podcasts using the value tagRaspiBlitzBuild your own Lightning & Bitcoin Fullnode on a Raspberry Pi with a nice Display. This is the place to go to get the instructions and software.Build a Self-Custodial Lightning NodeLightning network node setup tutorialLNbits: Lightning wallet and account systemMusic ProjectsStay Awhile: one of the first Podcasting 2.0 albums, from Able and Sir Spencer. Robert Willey's Four music albums and a podcast of playalong tracksSigns of New Growth: James Staller, Steven Smith, and Anthony Balatti making music the Podcasting 2.0 wayLovely Thinking's SongSync app: share lyrics between phones during singalongs, using value for value approachThanksAdam Curry and Dave Jones - for their vision, inspiration, dedication, and leadershipSir Spencer> - for his help understanding the system and opening a channelJosh Chen - for his help getting my albums working on his JustCasthosting service