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"Anus Scanning Camera": Just How Much Federal Pork And Waste Are Your Tax Dollars Funding

"Anus Scanning Camera": Just How Much Federal Pork And Waste Are Your Tax Dollars Funding By Adam Andrzejewski of Open The Books Substack The ever-rising national debt just surpassed $30 trillion this year – at least $91,613 for every person in the U.S. So, just how much federal waste, silliness, weird or unnecessary spending are your tax dollars funding? Delving into the trillions of dollars in annual spending, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com, recently examined Washington’s discretionary spending—beyond such big-ticket items as health, welfare and defense. We found staggering examples and highlighted some of the worst in our new oversight report, Where’s The Pork? Dead people paid billions: 2.2 million deceased people received $3.6 billion in economic stimulus checks. The government asked for it back, but dead people are notoriously bad about paying up. The federal government is equally bad about clawing it back. How did this happen? Well, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) didn’t check the Social Security Administration’s “deceased persons” list. Why have a deceased persons list if you don’t check the list before cutting the check? The Do Not Pay list–Got Paid: The Small Business Administration (SBA) doled out 57,000 Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) forgivable loans to entities on the Do Not Pay list housed at Treasury. Again, why have a do not pay list if you are not going to check it. Cost to taxpayers? $3.6 billion. We found that the federal government is literally gambling away hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars – on pigeons. National Institutes of Health (NIH) doled out a $463,330 grant to researchers at Reed College (Portland, Oregon) to “create a token-based economy where pigeons are taught to gamble with slot machines.” The pigeons were given tokens, and could choose whether to spend, save or gamble them. No explanation in how the gambling habits of pigeon translate to humans. Then, there are the crappy projects. For example, the National Science Foundation gave a $556,584 grant that in-part funded a study of beasts pooping – yes, The Hydrodynamics of Defecation. Animal bowel movements were measured, studied, and documented, including the release of four very gross videos. Nearly $7 million was spent on technology to film your butt – while you’re on the toilet. National Cancer Institute gave this grant to Sanford University, whose researchers admitted, “To fully reap the benefits of the smart toilet, users must make their peace with a camera that scans their anus.” These grants defy imagination, however, there are many others. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases spent $478,188 in an attempt turn monkeys transgender, the National Science Foundation gave a $300,000 grant for a virtual reality penguin study and gave Harvard $75,000 grant to “blow lizards off trees with leaf blowers.” Somehow, Congress still has their hidden slush fund for workplace disputes. First uncovered during the early days of the #MeToo movement, the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights paid $18.2 million since 1997 to settle 291 case of workplace disputes. It’s beyond time to open those books. When flashing back to egregious spending examples in recent years, we uncovered: In 2018, the U.S. Air Force spent $1,280 per “hot cup” to keep coffee warm for their fighter pilots. Then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley asked the Air Force for an audit, which found it spent $300,000 on the expensive cups over three years. This waste was stopped. In 2016, we found that Veterans Affairs spent $20 million on a high-end luxury art portfolio during a period when sick veterans were dying because the agency claimed a lack of budget to hire enough doctors. It was 27 foot Christmas trees costing $21,000; six-figure artwork; and $700,000 sculptures. The VA secretary apologized. Since 2020, federal spending has been especially wasteful, as the political class used the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to spend wildly on anything and everything under the sun. Musician and former presidential candidate Kanye West, who claims a net worth of $3.2 billion, took $2.4 million in coronavirus relief from the PPP for his clothing and sneaker company, Yeezy LLC. And a legal loophole in the PPP was used by 125 defense firms with strong ties to the Communist Chinese Party to collect between $200 million and $400 million meant to help American small businesses. It’s an open question whether or not Chinese hackers funded an entire year of China’s military budget ($206 billion) by stealing U.S. unemployment aid. Primarily Chinese and Russian hackers stole up to $400 billion. It’s the largest public fraud in U.S. history. Unfortunately, wasteful spending isn’t anything new. Beginning in 1975, then-Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the Golden Fleece Award to showcase wasteful and nonsensical spending. Proxmire gave an early Fleece to the Federal Aviation Administration for spending $57,800 on a study of the physical measurements of 432 flight attendants ($314,028 inflation adjusted). The study measured the length of the buttocks and the “knee-to-knee breath” of flight attendants while sitting. If he were still alive and in office today, Proxmire would find a target-rich environment for his Golden Fleece award. Tyler Durden Mon, 06/27/2022 - 13:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 27th, 2022

How To Get Rich From Nothing To Millions

The desire to become rich is universal. ‌But‌ ‌that‌ ‌probably impossible if you start with very little or no money. ‌After all, there’s an old saying “you have to have money to make money.” ‌If you don’t already have some cash to work with, you might think you’ll never be able to build significant wealth. […] The desire to become rich is universal. ‌But‌ ‌that‌ ‌probably impossible if you start with very little or no money. ‌After all, there’s an old saying “you have to have money to make money.” ‌If you don’t already have some cash to work with, you might think you’ll never be able to build significant wealth. However, this isn’t entirely true. ‌In spite of having little money to spare, there are steps you can take to ‌‌‌amass ‌a‌ ‌certain‌ ‌amount‌ ‌of wealth‌ ‌over‌ ‌time. That’s not to say that it won’t be easy. Depending on your geographic location, amount of debt, and income, this will be more challenging for some. Still, it’s possible. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Don’t believe me? Well, Andrew Carnegie, Oprah, Larry Ellison, Dolly Parton, Sheldon Adelson, George Soros, Ralph Lauren, and Shahid Khan all have inspiring rags to riches stories. Some grew up in poverty or had to overcome personal adversity, while others began their careers working below minimum wage. Simply put,‌ if you want to become a millionaire, ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌start‌ ‌somewhere. You may feel as if you are behind others, but be sure not to compare yourself with‌ ‌others. ‌Put your focus on what you can control, like your own finances. After you get started, building wealth may not be as difficult as you thought. With that in mins, let’s look at some steps‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌you‌ ‌started from getting rich from nothing to millions. Change your mindset. Changing your money mindset will affect how you see money, as well as how you relate to‌ ‌it. What’s more, it’s been determined that a positive attitude towards money can alleviate‌ ‌financial stress. Why is that a good thing? ‌As a result of avoiding financial stress, you’re‌ ‌likely‌ ‌to: Budget your money Conserve‌ ‌money Plan your shopping before you go Make sure you’re‌ ‌prepared‌ ‌for‌ ‌unexpected‌ ‌expenses For your financial situation to improve, you need to be able to do those things. In short, to know how to get rich from nothing, it’s important to adopt the right mindset. ‌After all, having the confidence that you possess the skills necessary to make money, then following through on the plan, is how you will succeed. ‌As a result, you will need plenty of patience to stay committed. Do the math. After that, crunch the numbers to determine what it takes to reach your seven-figure goal, suggests Grant Cardone, author of “The Millionaire Booklet: How To Get Super Rich.” “For any goal to be achievable, you must believe in its possibility as a realistic and doable goal,” writes Cardone. “The way to do this is simply by doing Million Dollar Math. How many different ways can you collect one million dollars?” According to Cardone, if you can convince 5,000 people to buy a $200 product, you will have $1 million. ‌Alternatively, if 5,000 people paid you $17 a month for a year, then you would also get ‌to‌ ‌$1‌ ‌million. ‌Even though these examples are highly simplified, Cardone’s point remains: “Do the math to create possibility, then create strategy,” says Cardone. Take a financial inventory. You need to know where you’re starting from before you can become rich. ‌An inventory of your financial assets can help you determine if you’re truly starting from 0‌ ‌(or‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌negative)‌ ‌with wealth‌ ‌creation. But, what exactly is a financial inventory? It’s simply an individual financial inventory is a list of all of one’s assets and liabilities. ‌If you want to figure this out, you might list everything you own on one side: A‌ ‌house Cars or other vehicles Bank accounts Investment accounts Collectibles, antiques or other heirlooms Life insurance policies On the other side, you’d list what you owe, including: A mortgage Auto‌ or personal ‌loans A student’s loan Credit cards The cost of medical care Taxes Loans for for your business Using a net worth calculator, you can plug the numbers from both sides in. ‌Using this indicator can show you how close, or how far, you are to reaching your long-term goals for becoming wealthy. Live below your means. Despite the misconception, you don’t have to be a ‌penny pincher or miss out on life experiences when you live below your means. ‌Actually, it “simply means that you’re spending less or equal than you’re making each month,” explains Deanna Ritchie in a previous Due article. “As a result, you aren’t putting yourself into debt by living off of plastic. And more importantly, this will help you create a more stable financial future.” “Of course, living within your means requires discipline and a little sacrifice,” adds Deanna. “However, if you stick with it, you’ll reap the following rewards, in addition to avoiding debt:” Anxiety and stress are reduced. Besides making you more successful, it’s also good for your health. Your credit score won’t be a concern for you. The‌ ‌ability‌ ‌to‌ ‌accumulate‌ ‌wealth. There will be more freedom for you. You’ll be financially secure. Living within your means. The question is how can one truly live within their means without depriving themselves? ‌Let me offer a few suggestions: Use the 50/30/20 rule to create a budget. ‌Spend a half of your income on necessities such as food and shelter, a third on wants, and a quarter on saving. Automate your savings to save money before you spend it. ‌Put another way, put a percentage of your paycheck into a savings or retirement account with automatic deposits. Don’t waste your money on unused expenses, such as gym memberships. Stop‌ ‌trying to keep up with ‌the‌ ‌Joneses. ‌Despite their apparent financial prosperity, they may be hiding their true financial status. They could, in fact, be deeply in ‌debt. Refrain from immediate‌ ‌gratification. ‌If you want to avoid paying full price for groceries, clothing, electronics, or travel, you might wait for a sale. Take advantage of‌ ‌tax‌ ‌deductions. A tax deduction reduces the amount of income that is taxable at the federal and state level. It is often advantageous to invest in retirement plans, make charitable contributions, and contribute to college funding if you are subject to taxes. Restructure‌ ‌your‌ ‌debt. ‌Conveniently repay your debt. ‌Debt consolidation or negotiating a better interest rate with lenders are two examples. Just say “no.” Furthermore, Jeff Rose, CFP® and founder of Good Financial Cents, suggests getting comfortable saying “no”‌ ‌to‌ ‌yourself. “This is important when you are shopping, or just out and about,” he ‌emphasizes. He urges avoiding impulse buys in this instance. ‌For example, buying something you like because it’s not too pricey. “Even worse is the ability to purchase things online nowadays and have it delivered to your doorstep in just a few days,” he adds. “If you do that several times a week, the spending can really add up.” “One trick is to enforce a ‘72 Hour Rule’ on any purchases, especially online items,” he ‌recommends. “If you really think you need to buy , after you add it to your cart make yourself wait 72 hours before you purchase it.” ‌You will be able to tell after three days if you need or if you just want the item (and do not need it). Start saving early. The‌ ‌simplest‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌‌‌maximize ‌your‌ ‌savings‌? ‌Start‌ ‌as early as possible. In this way, you can leverage the power of compound interest. ‌Let’s say that you’re twenty years‌ ‌old. ‌Contributing $6,000 annually ($500 a month) for 40 years would result in your total investment being‌ ‌$240,000. Assuming a 7% return, the investment would have grown to more than $1.37 million due to compounding. ‌So, if you saved $500 a month, you would be a millionaire by the age of 57. Enhance‌ ‌your‌ ‌current‌ ‌income. By boosting your income, you can begin the journey towards becoming wealthy. ‌A great way and simple to do this is to ask for a raise at your present‌ ‌job. ‌It’s important that you have an excellent work record and have worked for the company for a while before before asking, though. ‌It is possible that if you are a good employee, they will increase your salary in order to keep you from looking for another position. What if your salary request is denied? ‌Well,‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌working for your current employer for a long period of time and have done a good job, now is the time to move on to‌ ‌greener‌ ‌pastures. ‌Upgrade your resume and start looking for an opportunity that can give you the pay bump you deserve. If you want to get a better-paying job, you may also consider furthering your education. ‌As an alternative to taking out student loans for college, however, you can consider a career in the trades. Some examples would be an electrician, plumber, HVAC tech, dental assistant, or hairdresser. Also, trade career programs are usually less expensive and take less time to complete than colleges. Create multiple income streams. The old saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket applies to your income. ‌In fact, a millionaire typically ‌has‌ ‌seven‌ ‌streams‌ ‌of‌ ‌income. Why? ‌You create financial stability and grow your wealth faster when you diversify your income. With a side hustle as well as your day job, you can create two income streams instead of relying solely on one. ‌Your side hustle will still provide you with income if you do lose your job for some reason. ‌You‌ ‌can‌ ‌even‌ ‌expand your side hustle to a small business if it’s profitable. Your main job, a side job, passive income, investment accounts, interest from savings accounts, and rental properties are all examples of income streams. ‌The possibilities are endless. To become wealthy, you should establish multiple streams of income. It is important to understand that many get-rich-quick schemes are in fact just that — schemes. Therefore, instead of looking for a get rich quick scheme, focus on building multiple income stream. Invest wisely. Investing your money is a major step towards getting rich from nothing. ‌No matter what your financial situation is, you still can invest‌ ‌to‌ ‌‌‌begin ‌‌‌accumulating ‌wealth. Additionally, you will want to eventually diversify your investments, just as you create multiple income streams. Again, having multiple sources of income allows you to generate more income. Among them are: Stocks Bonds ETFs and mutual funds 401(k) IRAs Real estate Businesses Precious metals Environment, social and governance Just like with savings, investing early will help you build wealth faster. Just don’t let your fear of the stock marker hold you back. Work with a brokerage or robo-advisor to get you started. Avoid inflation. As I’m sure you’re well aware of right now, the price of everyday items rises automatically when inflation hits. ‌Overcoming this hurdle will be a challenge. But it’s doable. Perhaps you should look elsewhere for a less expensive option instead of that very expensive house. ‌Even though you’ll still get equity, it won’t put you in debt. Lifestyle inflation affects those living on minimum wage as well. ‌Even if you can’t trim out a lot of expenses, you can ‌become‌ ‌a‌ ‌millionaire. ‌Just be creative and persistent. If you received a salary increase at your job, you might have chosen to upgrade your vehicle instead of saving all that money. ‌Self-made‌ ‌millionaires‌ ‌avoid this kind of spending. Rather, they save this additional money. Or, they use it to pay down their debt. Almost everyone’s number one concern is food. ‌Food is essential, and your favorite brands may be more expensive than off-brand ones. ‌If you fit within a certain income bracket, you may be eligible for EBT or to receive food stamps from the government. Moreover, this can make it easier for you to save money while you buy food. Meal planning and making freezer meals are other ways to save money on food. If your wallet is hurting at the pump, you can save money on fuel using a gas app to find the best prices. Surround yourself with supporters. Because they are familiar, we often surround ourselves with naysayers and people who keep us down. ‌For anyone who wants to become something they aren’t, it is necessary to surround themselves with people who are already there or are en route. No matter how unlikely your ideas might sound, these people will support you instead of discouraging them. ‌Motivated people help each other achieve their goals and can be an inspiration. In the absence of anyone close to you or in your life who fits this description, do the next best thing. Read about someone who does. ‌Reading‌ ‌biographies‌ ‌of‌ ‌people‌ ‌with similar accomplishments keeps you motivated and on track. Perhaps you’ll even come up with ideas of your own based on their business savvy. ‌Consider people who were not born into wealth and privilege; rather, look for people who had an average life before becoming successful. Ask for help. When it comes to your finances, it’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed. Case in point, planning for your retirement. With so many investment options and uncertainty, this can be ‌quite stressful. ‌In fact, 60% of working people are uneasy about planning their retirement. ‌In light of these numbers, it’s not surprising that only 25% of Americans say they are confident that they are planning for retirement correctly. This is why it’s so important to seek professional help. ‌Unfortunately, in America, only 29% use a financial advisor, while 65% do not. To ensure you’re making the right financial decisions, you should work with a qualified ‌advisor. A financial advisor can assist you in choosing investments, setting up a budget, and establishing a plan‌ ‌to‌ ‌reach‌ ‌your‌ ‌goals. ‌You can use that money once you’re ready to start investing it, and they can help you maximize its value. Don’t check out. “This is my most important tip,” Melissa Houston writes in Forbes. “Hiring financial help such as accountants and financial advisors does not leave you with the right to check out of the financial activity in your business.” “Nobody will care about your money as much as you do, so never give your financial power away,” adds Houston. ‌Invest the time to educate yourself on money management. Why? When you do, you can see what’s going on and know when an investment isn’t helping you achieve your goals. To sum it up, learning how to get rich is a process. ‌Despite the best financial habits, investments or business ideas, even the most successful ones can‌ ‌fail‌. ‌However, if you get educated and get assistance, you will be more likely to succeed, says Houston. Frequently Asked Questions How many millionaires are there in America? In their latest Global Wealth Report, Credit Suisse estimates there are ‌22 million‌ ‌millionaires‌ ‌in‌ ‌America. ‌That’s means almost 6.5% of the total population is millionaires. And, the amount of millionaires are growing. Why do I want to be a millionaire? Wanting to be a millionaire and knowing the why of becoming a millionaire are two completely different things. ‌For something to be accomplished, one must first understand why they want ‌it. Wanting to be a millionaire just to have a lot of money probably won’t provide you with the necessary drive to achieve it. Instead,‌ ‌take the time to examine why you would like to achieve‌ ‌your‌ ‌goals: Are you looking for financial stability by becoming a millionaire? Do you want to‌ ‌travel‌ ‌more? Are you looking to‌ ‌have‌ ‌more‌ ‌freedom? Is it to‌ ‌give‌ ‌back‌ ‌to‌ ‌your community? It’s also worth watching Simon Sinek’s TED talk on why a clear why is key to success in business. ‌Maybe you can find your own answer there. What’s the easiest way to become a millionaire? Using compound interest as soon as possible is the best way to become a millionaire. ‌Investing early will help you accumulate interest more quickly. ‌Investing early will also increase your interest income. As a rule of thumb, you should save‌ ‌15%‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌income. ‌If you cut down on unnecessary expenses and get professional financial advice, you can also reach your million-dollar goal. ‌And, if possible, get a second job if you can upgrade your skills. In order to become a millionaire, how much do I have to invest? In order to become a millionaire, you must invest a certain amount of money based on your current situation. ‌ For instance, younger people have more time to accumulate wealth and a greater tolerance for risk, so they are able to sock away less money. ‌You’ll have to save more money every month if you wait until you’re older. How can I become rich with nothing? You can’t become rich doing nothing unless you come from a very wealthy family, expect to win the lottery, or a successful business idea. ‌If you want to become a millionaire, then you’ll need discipline, a plan, and, possibly, the help of a registered professional who can ‌guide you throughout your journey. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Annuity Expert by Nasdaq. He is the Founder and CEO of Due. Updated on May 26, 2022, 2:17 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 26th, 2022

"They Shut Us Down": Michigan Businesses Sue Whitmer For Losses Due To COVID Lockdowns

"They Shut Us Down": Michigan Businesses Sue Whitmer For Losses Due To COVID Lockdowns Authored by Steven Kovac via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), A coalition of five bowling alleys and family entertainment centers is suing Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, for losses incurred due to her mandatory COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in Clawson, Mich., on March 18, 2019. (Paul Sancya/AP) Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon is also a defendant in the case. The plaintiffs allege that the shutdowns imposed by Whitmer and Gordon were a “taking” of their businesses without just compensation in violation of both the state and the U.S. Constitution. The case has been winding its way through the federal courts since January 2021. Fred Kautz runs the lane oiler at Kautz Shore Lanes in Lexington, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times) The coalition lost the first round of the legal battle when the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan ruled against it. Oral arguments were recently held before a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit. Plaintiff’s chief counsel David Kallman told The Epoch Times after the appeals court hearing, “The oral arguments from both sides were vigorous. The judges asked a lot of questions. It was the kind of proceeding that makes you proud to be a lawyer. “Even the defense acknowledges that we are presenting ‘novel’ arguments. “Michigan is the only state in the nation where a governor’s public health emergency powers were overturned as unconstitutional. “If we lose in the court of appeals, we will take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Scott Bennett, executive director of the Independent Bowling and Entertainment Centers Association, told The Epoch Times, “The governor’s actions were devastating to our industry. “Things went from ‘two weeks to slow the spread’ to indefinite shutdowns.” Bennett said that the forced closures were not based on solid scientific proof that bowling alleys and family entertainment centers would spread the virus any more than the Walmart stores or the GM plants that were allowed to remain open. “They were allowed to operate with hundreds and even thousands of people in them but we had to shut down. We feel our industry was unfairly singled-out. “We cannot stand for a repeat of such arbitrary treatment and don’t want the people of Michigan to forget what was done to them.” With the recent uptick in COVID cases and the approaching mid-term elections, Bennett said his members that survived the 2020 shutdowns feel like it can happen all over again. “It’s like operating day-to-day with a hammer held over your head. The uncertainty is altering business plans. The value of our businesses is dropping through the floor,” Bennett said. Brian and Mindy Hill work the counter at their bowling alley in Imlay City, Mich. on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times) Fred Kautz, the proprietor of Kautz’s Shore Lanes in Lexington, Michigan, started working in the family business when he was 13. The business has 12 bowling lanes, a bar, an arcade, a restaurant, and living quarters upstairs. “We’ve owned this place for 42 years. For me and my family, it’s more than a place to work. It’s a way of life. And it has become an institution in our community—a real gathering place,” said Kautz. He said he is still smarting from what happened after Whitmer’s executive actions were ruled unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court in the fall of 2020. “We got a little reprieve. We thought we were in the clear until she came back with another round of forced closures, this time under the authority of the Michigan Department of Public Health. “The first 30 days knocked us right on our butts. But we were willing to cooperate, to do our part. We were all scared and we did not want to see harm come to anybody. “We lost a lot of money at the time. We are coming back slowly, but our overall revenue is still down 20 percent from pre-pandemic days. That’s hard to make up. “In the spring of 2020, I tried to do what was recommended and go along. Never again! “If my Dad was still alive, he’d have never closed at all,” said Kautz. Brian and Mindy Hill, owners of I.C. Strikes, a 16-lane bowling alley, bar, and snack bar in Imlay City said their business was hit hard by the shutdowns. Brian was the town barber for 25 years, before purchasing the bowling alley where he learned to bowl as a child. “We took over in December 2018. We’d saved up money to buy this place and make some upgrades. When COVID hit, we were forced to close down. It took all the money we saved for improvements just to survive,” said Brian. The Hills said they never thought they’d see the day when their own government could do something like that to them. Mary Bacon, assistant manager of Jump City, a family recreation center, cleans an arcade machine in Imlay City, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times) “They shut us down. They took away our livelihood with no end date in sight. Then they wanted to loan us money. Think about that. They first put us in a situation where we had zero income to pay our previous debt. And then they wanted to loan us more money. “Lots of small business people lost their businesses but kept their debt. It ruined them,” said Brian. The Hills did apply for and receive a Small Business Administration loan at 3.25 percent interest for 30 years, and they participated in the Paycheck Protection Program which helped their business survive. Up the road from the Hill’s bowling alley is Jump City, a large indoor recreation center offering an array of bouncy houses and arcade games for children. Assistant manager Mary Bacon told The Epoch Times, “We lost a lot of business. We were forced to close for 15 months and had to make our payments with no income.” Bacon remembers the morning of March 16, 2020, when many area businesses were gearing up for big St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. “By afternoon everybody had to close. All that food went to waste. “The shutdown was supposed to be for a couple of weeks. Nobody foresaw it would drag on for a year and three months. “Oh, they said we could open again, but they so severely restricted the number of customers that we lost all of our big birthday parties. With so few kids allowed in, we couldn’t operate. We were losing too much money.” Bacon said people are coming back to the center but are still scared, even though the games and bouncy houses are continuously cleaned and sanitized. Navaeh Smalstig, 8, climbs out of a bouncy house at Jump City in Imlay City, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times) Before the pandemic, Danny Brown owned a roller rink in Grand Blanc and Owasso, two south-central Michigan towns. “The lockdowns forced us to sell the Owasso rink for less than half of what we paid for it. We will be trying to make up our loss for years to come.” Brown, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told The Epoch Times, “To keep going I had to decide to triple our debt. Since the shutdown, I am three-quarters of a million dollars deeper in debt. “Small businesses put everything on the line. All of our personal and family money. I am personally responsible for our debt. If I die my children will have to pay it.” Brown said Michigan’s government acted without a real understanding and regarded the state’s small businesses as “nonessential throwaways.” “One of the reasons we filed suit is to push the government to think differently,” he said. According to Brown, family entertainment centers like skating rinks, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, miniature golf, and go-cart tracks have been nearly wiped out. “A few years ago, there were 3,500 roller skating rinks in the United States. Now there are 700. There were five rinks in Genesee County, now there are two.” he said. Brown attributes the decrease to years of ongoing government mandates and interference that led up to the COVID-19 lockdowns. “They took, they stole our businesses!” he said. Donn Slimmen, another plaintiff in the case, owns Spartan West Bowling in the west Michigan resort town of Ludington. “The lockdown just about killed us. It was 14 to 15 months of agony. Our bank payments and utility bills didn’t stop. We went from being two to three months behind to more months behind. “We entered into survival mode. We ate a lot of pork and beans and hotdogs. We’re still trying to work ourselves out of the hole. By the end of this summer, we might be solvent again. “We were lucky to survive. We are still hanging on by threads,” said Slimmen. Along with 16 bowling lanes, Slimmen operates a full-service restaurant. “It’s never come back. Pre-pandemic, we’d serve 200 customers at an ordinary Friday fish fry. Now our best night is 100. “Our restaurant went from a thriving seated-guest business to a take-out operation grossing only two to three percent of the seated sales. “We were spending $400 to take in proceeds of $100. “The politicians and bureaucrats don’t understand. They never cleaned a toilet seat or climbed into a bowling machine to fix it,” said Slimmen. Slimmen blames Gov.Gretchen Whitmer for the plight of his community and the state. “You didn’t see Republican governors closing businesses. Their states did so much better. “Drive through downtown Ludington or Muskegon and look at all the boarded-up storefronts. So many places are out of business. Michigan is in terrible shape,” Slimmen said. The Tomassoni family has been in the bowling business for 84 years in the western Upper Peninsula town of Iron Mountain, Michigan. “We had to close bowling and our banquet facility a total of 161 days in two different periods of time in 2020. After the second shutdown, we could operate at 25 percent occupancy and only during restricted hours. No wedding receptions, no special events. It was a disaster. “It ripped my heart out. I am so bitter towards my government,” said owner Pete Tomassoni. Tomassoni’s business suffered further because of its proximity to Wisconsin which is only minutes away. “Wisconsin closed for just 30 days. For the most part, they were wide open. That really hurt us. “Our governor was picking and choosing which of our state’s businesses could operate. To force a business to close with no notice and without proven science is straight out wrong. “I think that she came down so hard on small business because we, by and large, lean to the right. “The state dangled the threat of yanking business licenses to keep people in line. “Some of our businesses tried to defy the state and stayed open Tyler Durden Wed, 05/18/2022 - 21:25.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 18th, 2022

Rand Paul Delays Vote On $40 Billion Ukraine Package, Calls For Spending Oversight

Rand Paul Delays Vote On $40 Billion Ukraine Package, Calls For Spending Oversight Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday delayed the Senate’s vote to pass a nearly $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that would provide the nation with further military and economic assistance amid its ongoing conflict with Russia. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questions Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 11, 2022. (Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images) While leaders were unanimous in their agreement to proceed with passing the package this week, Paul refused to do so until changes are made to the legislation that will ensure an inspector general can monitor exactly how the billions of dollars are being spent. The legislation has been approved by the House and has strong bipartisan support in the Senate, and is still likely to pass. However, Paul’s objection signified a departure from the overwhelmingly supportive stance that Congress and the Biden administration have so far shown for Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues with his “special military operation.” The GOP senator, a libertarian who often opposes U.S. intervention abroad, argued that the extra spending outweighed that which the United States currently spends on multiple domestic programs, and raised concerns over how it could potentially further exacerbate federal deficits and inflation in the country, which currently stands at a 40-year-high. “My oath of office is to the U.S. Constitution, not to any foreign nation, and no matter how sympathetic the cause, my oath of office is to the national security of the United States of America,” Paul said on the floor on Thursday. “We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy … gasoline alone is up 48 percent, and energy prices are up 32 percent over the last year. Food prices have increased by nearly 9 percent. Used vehicle prices are up 35 percent for the year, and new vehicle prices have increased 12 percent or more,” he continued. Paul noted that inflation “doesn’t just come out of nowhere” while pointing to deficit spending, noting that the United States spent almost $5 trillion on “COVID-19 bailouts” which have led to sky-high levels of inflation. “Americans are feeling the pain, and Congress seems intent only on adding to that pain by shoveling more money out the door as fast as they can,” the Republican said. The approximately $39.8 billion package for Ukraine includes $6 billion for security assistance to its military and national security forces and $8.7 billion to replenish stocks of U.S. equipment sent to the country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during a visit by a U.S. congressional delegation in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 30, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/Handout via Getty Images)President Joe Biden signs the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 in the Oval Office of the White House, on May 9, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) It also contains $3.9 billion for European Command operations and would also authorize an additional $11 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority, which would allow Biden to authorize the transfer of articles and services from U.S. stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency. Biden had asked for $5 billion. Another $4 billion would go to Foreign Military Financing, providing Ukraine and other countries with additional support to build and update their capabilities. If approved, it would bring U.S. support for Ukraine since Russia invaded to nearly $54 billion, on top of the $13.6 billion in support that Congress passed in March. Paul noted that the United States has provided more than $6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, and said that if the latest amount is passed, it would see total aid equaling the entire military budget of Russia. “And it is not as if we have that money lying around. We will have to borrow that money from China to send it to Ukraine,” he said. “The cost of this package we are voting on today is more than the U.S. spent during the first year of the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan.” The senator also noted that the billions of dollars in funding towers in comparison to what the United States spends on cancer research annually—$6 billion—and is more than the government collects in gas taxes each year to build roads and bridges. It nearly equals the entire State Department budget, he said, and exceeds the budget for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy. Specifically, Paul asked that a special inspector general be created to oversee how the military aid to Ukraine is spent. But Democrats objected to Paul’s plan because it would expand the powers of an existing inspector general whose current purview is limited to Afghanistan. “Congress should evaluate the cost of going down this path,” the senator said, adding that, “the biggest threat to the United States today is debt and inflation and the destruction of the dollar” and that “we cannot save Ukraine by killing our economic strength. “So I act to modify the bill to allow for a special inspector general. This would be the inspector general that’s been overseeing the waste in Afghanistan and has done a great job.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats opposed Paul’s push to change the language and instead offered to have a vote on it, but that offer was rejected. That means lawmakers will now vote on the passage of the measure again next week in hopes of advancing it. “It’s clear from the junior senator from Kentucky’s remarks, he doesn’t want to aid Ukraine,” said Schumer on Thursday. “All he will accomplish with his actions here today is to delay that aid, not to stop it.” The Epoch Times has contacted Paul’s office for comment. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 08:16.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 13th, 2022

Whitehead: "We, The People" Are The New, Permanent Underclass In America

Whitehead: "We, The People" Are The New, Permanent Underclass In America Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rurtherford Institute, “We are now speeding down the road of wasteful spending and debt, and unless we can escape we will be smashed in inflation.” - Herbert Hoover This is financial tyranny. The U.S. government—and that includes the current administration—is spending money it doesn’t have on programs it can’t afford, and “we the taxpayers” are the ones who must foot the bill for the government’s fiscal insanity. We’ve been sold a bill of goods by politicians promising to pay down the national debt, jumpstart the economy, rebuild our infrastructure, secure our borders, ensure our security, and make us all healthy, wealthy and happy. None of that has come to pass, and yet we’re still being loaded down with debt not of our own making. Let’s talk numbers, shall we? The national debt (the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back) is $30 trillion and growing. That translates to roughly $242,000 per taxpayer. Now the Biden administration is proposing a $5.8 trillion spending budget that notably includes $813 billion for national defense, $30 billion to “fund the police,” and a plan to reduce the national deficit by roughly $1 trillion over 10 years through additional tax hikes. It’s estimated that the amount this country owes is now 130% greater than its gross domestic product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). The U.S. ranks as the 12th most indebted nation in the world, with much of that debt owed to the Federal Reserve, large investment funds and foreign governments, namely, Japan and China. Essentially, the U.S. government is funding its very existence with a credit card. In 2021, we paid more than $562 billion in interest on that public debt, which according to journalist Rob Garver, “is more than the annual budget of every individual federal agency except for the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services (which manages the Medicare and Medicaid government health insurance programs), and the Department of Defense.” According to the Committee for a Reasonable Federal Budget, the interest we’ve paid on this borrowed money is “nearly twice what the federal government will spend on transportation infrastructure, over four times as much as it will spend on K-12 education, almost four times what it will spend on housing, and over eight times what it will spend on science, space, and technology.” Clearly, the national debt isn’t going away anytime soon, especially not with government spending on the rise and interest payments making up such a large chunk of the budget. Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its wanton spending. Indeed, the national deficit (the difference between what the government spends and the revenue it takes in) remains at more than $1.5 trillion. If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now. Despite the government propaganda being peddled by the politicians and news media, however, the government isn’t spending our tax dollars to make our lives better. We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer. We’re not living the American dream. We’re living a financial nightmare. In the eyes of the government, “we the people, the voters, the consumers, and the taxpayers” are little more than pocketbooks waiting to be picked. “We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America. Consider: The government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes. Government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing. And the IRS insists on getting the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say. We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow. We have no real say, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls. If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free. It wasn’t always this way, of course. Early Americans went to war over the inalienable rights described by philosopher John Locke as the natural rights of life, liberty and property. It didn’t take long, however—a hundred years, in fact—before the American government was laying claim to the citizenry’s property by levying taxes to pay for the Civil War. As the New York Times reports, “Widespread resistance led to its repeal in 1872.” Determined to claim some of the citizenry’s wealth for its own uses, the government reinstituted the income tax in 1894. Charles Pollock challenged the tax as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Pollock’s victory was relatively short-lived. Members of Congress—united in their determination to tax the American people’s income—worked together to adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the Pollock decision. On the eve of World War I, in 1913, Congress instituted a permanent income tax by way of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and the Revenue Act of 1913. Under the Revenue Act, individuals with income exceeding $3,000 could be taxed starting at 1% up to 7% for incomes exceeding $500,000. It’s all gone downhill from there. Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes. While we’re struggling to get by, and making tough decisions about how to spend what little money actually makes it into our pockets after the federal, state and local governments take their share (this doesn’t include the stealth taxes imposed through tolls, fines and other fiscal penalties), the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens. To top it all off, all of those wars the U.S. is so eager to fight abroad are being waged with borrowed funds. As The Atlantic reports, “U.S. leaders are essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.” Of course, we’re the ones who will have to repay that borrowed debt. For instance, American taxpayers have been forced to shell out more than $5.6 trillion since 9/11 for the military industrial complex’s costly, endless so-called “war on terrorism.” That translates to roughly $23,000 per taxpayer to wage wars abroad, occupy foreign countries, provide financial aid to foreign allies, and fill the pockets of defense contractors and grease the hands of corrupt foreign dignitaries. Mind you, that staggering $6 trillion is only a portion of what the Pentagon spends on America’s military empire. The United States also spends more on foreign aid than any other nation, with nearly $300 billion disbursed over a five-year period. More than 150 countries around the world receive U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance, with most of the funds going to the Middle East, Africa and Asia. That price tag keeps growing, too. As Forbes reports, “U.S. foreign aid dwarfs the federal funds spent by 48 out of 50 state governments annually. Only the state governments of California and New York spent more federal funds than what the U.S. sent abroad each year to foreign countries.” Most recently, in response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the Biden Administration approved $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, with an additional $200 million for immediate military assistance. As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in a 1953 speech, this is how the military industrial complex will continue to get richer, while the American taxpayer will be forced to pay for programs that do little to enhance our lives, ensure our happiness and well-being, or secure our freedoms. This is no way of life. Yet it’s not just the government’s endless wars that are bleeding us dry. We’re also being forced to shell out money for surveillance systems to track our movements, money to further militarize our already militarized police, money to allow the government to raid our homes and bank accounts, money to fund schools where our kids learn nothing about freedom and everything about how to comply, and on and on. It’s tempting to say that there’s little we can do about it, except that’s not quite accurate. There are a few things we can do (demand transparency, reject cronyism and graft, insist on fair pricing and honest accounting methods, call a halt to incentive-driven government programs that prioritize profits over people), but it will require that “we the people” stop playing politics and stand united against the politicians and corporate interests who have turned our government and economy into a pay-to-play exercise in fascism. Unfortunately, we’ve become so invested in identity politics that pit us against one another and keep us powerless and divided that we’ve lost sight of the one label that unites us: we’re all Americans. Trust me, we’re all in the same boat, folks, and there’s only one real life preserver: that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution starts with those three powerful words: “We the people.” There is power in our numbers. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, that remains our greatest strength in the face of a governmental elite that continues to ride roughshod over the populace. It remains our greatest defense against a government that has claimed for itself unlimited power over the purse (taxpayer funds) and the sword (military might). Where we lose out is when we fall for the big-talking politicians who spend big at our expense. Tyler Durden Thu, 04/14/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

Planet Earth’s Future Now Rests in the Hands of Big Business

On a brisk Monday in Houston in early March, dozens of protesters gathered across the street from the giant Hilton hotel hosting CERAWeek, the energy industry’s hallmark annual conference. Their signs accused the corporate executives inside of betraying humanity in pursuit of financial return. STOP EXTRACTING OUR FUTURE, read one. PEOPLE OVER PROFIT, read another.… On a brisk Monday in Houston in early March, dozens of protesters gathered across the street from the giant Hilton hotel hosting CERAWeek, the energy industry’s hallmark annual conference. Their signs accused the corporate executives inside of betraying humanity in pursuit of financial return. STOP EXTRACTING OUR FUTURE, read one. PEOPLE OVER PROFIT, read another. Two days later, inside a standing-room-only hotel ballroom, Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. secretary of energy, offered a different message to the executives: the Biden Administration needs your help to tackle climate change. The scene encapsulated this moment in the fight to address global warming: some of the most ardent activists say that companies can’t be trusted; governments are saying they must play a role. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] They already are. The U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with private companies to bolster the clean energy supply chain, expand electric-vehicle charging, and commercialize new green technologies, among a range of other initiatives. In total, the agency is gearing up to spend tens of billions of dollars on public-private partnerships to speed up the energy transition. “I’m here to extend a hand of partnership,” Granholm told the crowd. “We want you to power this country for the next 100 years with zero-carbon technologies.” Across the Biden Administration, and around the world, government officials have increasingly focused their attention on the private sector—treating companies not just as entities to regulate but also as core partners. We “need to accelerate our transition” off fossil fuels, says Brian Deese, director of President Biden’s National Economic Council. “And that is a process that will only happen if the American private sector, including the incumbent energy producers in the United States, utilities and otherwise, are an inextricable part of that process—that’s defined our approach from the get go.” Photo illustration by C.J. Burton for TIME For some, the emergence of the private sector as a key collaborator in efforts to tackle climate change is an indication of the power of capitalism to tackle societal challenges; for others it’s a sign of capitalism’s corruption of public institutions. In the three decades since the climate crisis became part of the global agenda, scientists, activists, and politicians have largely assumed that government would need to dictate the terms of the transition. But around the world, legislative attempts to tackle climate change have repeatedly failed. Meanwhile, investors and corporate executives have become more aware of the threat climate change poses to their business and open to working to address its causes. Those developments have laid the foundation for a new approach to climate action: government and nonprofits partnering with the private sector to do more—a new structure that carries both enormous opportunity and enormous risk. Read More: This Mining Executive Is Fighting Her Own Industry to Protect the Environment Just 100 global companies were responsible for 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions over the past three decades, according to data from CDP, a nonprofit that tracks climate disclosure, and pushing the private sector to step up is already showing dividends. Last fall, more than 1,000 companies collectively worth some $23 trillion set emissions-reduction goals that line up with the Paris Agreement. “We are in the early stages of a sustainability revolution that has the magnitude and scale of the Industrial Revolution,” says Al Gore, the former U.S. Vice President who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. “In every sector of the economy, companies are competing vigorously to eliminate unnecessary waste to become radically more energy efficient, and focus on the sharp reduction of their emissions.” Despite that momentum, risks abound. Companies have an incentive to make big commitments, but they need a credible system to set the rules of the road and ensure that those pledges can be scrutinized. Even then, corporate progress is unlikely to add up to enough without clear policy that incentivizes good behavior and/or punishes bad behavior. “To catalyze business, we need governments to lead and set strong policies,” says Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple and a former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “That’s just what the science says.” Nor are companies built to address the array of social challenges—millions displaced, millions more with livelihoods destroyed, the escalating health ailments—that will arise from climate change and the transition needed to address it. “The private sector has been surprisingly aggressive on climate in the last 12 months,” says Michael Greenstone, former chief economist in Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “But that is a very misshapen approach: there’s no real substitute for a coherent climate policy.” It’s increasingly hard to imagine how we find such a policy in time. In February, the IPCC, the U.N.’s climate science body, warned of a “rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future.” Emissions need to peak by 2025 in order to have a decent chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. In a landmark report outlining the possible levers to cut global emissions, the IPCC found that private sector initiatives, if followed through, could make a “significant” contribution to that goal. The group assessed the impact of 10 private sector initiatives, and found they could result in a total of 26 gigatonnes in reduced or avoided emissions by 2030—equivalent to more than five years of U.S. carbon pollution. How this partnership between government and industry plays out will shape not just the trajectory of emissions over the coming years and decades but also the future of democratic governance and how society will manage the now inevitable social disruption that will result from climate change. To understand how we got here, it’s helpful to look back to a remarkable coincidence of history. Climate change entered public consciousness at the same time that, in the U.S., the zeitgeist turned against government’s playing a robust role in society. In 1988, when then NASA scientist James Hansen offered his now famous warning that the planet was already warming as a result of human activity, and TIME soon after named the “Endangered Earth” as “Planet of the Year,” American voters had spent eight years hearing President Ronald Reagan tell them that government lay at the root of society’s problems. So it’s perhaps no wonder that in the decades that followed, government attempts to tackle a new problem, unprecedented in scope and scale, encountered roadblocks. That effort began in earnest in 1992 as heads of government from around the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro to inaugurate a new U.N. framework to address climate change. Every year since, with the pandemic-related exception of 2020, countries have met to hash out solutions to the problem. But, in the first two decades of talks, a comprehensive solution failed to break through. In the U.S., the lagging climate policy can in large part be attributed to the then pervasive free-market ideology, which dictated that businesses exist to make a profit. From the 1990s, and into the new century, fossil-fuel companies as well as heavy industry spent millions denying the existence of the problem and funding organizations that opposed climate rules. Other firms remained on the sidelines of an issue that seemed unrelated to their core business. The results in the political arena were clear. President Bill Clinton tried to pass an energy tax in Congress, but a concerted lobbying effort from manufacturers and the energy industry doomed the plan. George W. Bush publicly questioned the science of climate change and appointed executives from the oil and gas industry into senior positions in his Administration. Barack Obama pursued comprehensive climate legislation that would have capped companies’ emissions in 2009; the legislation failed to make it to the floor of the Senate after a prominent group of businesses condemned it. Christophe Archambault—Pool/ReutersThe launch of a key climate coalition for businesses in 2017 with Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and others But around that time, many business leaders began to feel pressure to do something on climate for the first time. Prioritizing environmental, social, and corporate governance concerns in investing, or ESG for short, had risen from a niche idea in the early 1990s to a mainstream approach to investment two decades later. At that point, a growing flow of reports from financial institutions warned of the economic consequences of inaction. And key voices in the business community—from Michael Bloomberg to Bill Gates—took the message on the road, telling CEOs to take climate change seriously. From 2012 to 2014, the value of investment in the U.S. earmarked for sustainable funds that took into account ESG issues close to doubled, to nearly $7 trillion, according to data from the U.S. SIF Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable investment strategies. To foster this momentum, government leaders sought to bring business into the policymaking conversation. Their goal was to create what is often referred to as a virtuous cycle: if they could get commitments from the private sector on climate issues, they argued, it would, theoretically, push government to do more, which in turn would push companies to double down. In 2015, that approach was put into practice as a group of business leaders showed up in Paris to talk with government officials. The result: CEOs declared their commitment to reducing emissions, and the final text of the Paris Agreement created a formalized framework for involving private companies in the official U.N. process. Just a year later, the U.S. elected Donald Trump as President and began to unravel the country’s environmental rules. Five months into office, he announced that he would take the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Within hours, 20 Fortune 500 companies declared that they were “still in” the global climate deal and would cut their emissions in hopes of keeping the U.S. on track. By the time Trump left office, more than 2,300 American companies had joined the coalition. For many pushing climate action, working with the private sector became the best path forward. “More and more power is distributed in societies,” Antonio Guterres, the U.N. Secretary-General, told me in 2019, explaining his extensive outreach to the business community on climate. “If you want to achieve results, you need to mobilize those that have an influence in the way decisions are made.” The most important private-sector push came from the institutional investors at the center of the global economy, who control trillions of dollars in assets and are invested in every sector and essentially every publicly traded firm. When you own a little bit of everything, the scenarios portending climate-driven economic decline are terrifying. “We’re too big to just take all of our hundreds of billions, and try to find a nice safe place for that money,” Anne Simpson, then-director of board governance and sustainability at CalPERS, California’s $500 billion state pension fund, told me in 2019. “We’re exposed to these systemic risks, so we have to fix things.” With the U.S. government on the sidelines, these investors joined together to send a signal. When French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a climate summit in Paris in December 2017, he brought together a group of investors controlling $68 trillion in assets to launch Climate Action 100+. In the beginning, this consortium used their status as high-profile investors to push emissions reductions in 100 publicly traded companies through one-on-one engagements with high-level executives. “All of this made for a reorganization of the politics of climate,” says Laurence Tubiana, a key framer of the Paris Agreement who now heads the European Climate Foundation. “It has now crystallized into something new: a strong coalition between business, financial institutions, investors, and governments.” All these threads came to a head last year in Glasgow at the U.N. climate conference. Walking around the Scottish Events Center last November, it would have been easy to forget that the conference was ostensibly for government officials. An attendee could easily spot, among the 40,000 attendees, high-profile business leaders mingling in the hallway. And by many accounts, the most significant news involved the private sector. Six major automakers joined with national governments to declare that they would produce 100% zero-emissions passenger vehicles no later than 2035. A group of financial institutions representing $130 trillion in assets committed to aligning its investments and operations with the Paris Agreement. What sort of emissions reduction does this all add up to? The truth is no one really knows. An analysis of more than 300 member companies of the Science Based Targets initiative, a leading voluntary program for corporations to set emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement, found that, on average, each company succeeded in reducing their direct emissions annually by more than 6% between 2015 and 2019. But the global framework for emissions reduction centers on country-level commitments, and in its most recent report, the IPCC noted the ability to track corporate progress separate from national-level commitments remains “limited.” The multilateral system for addressing climate change inaugurated in Rio, created by government for government, has evolved into something else. And, in the assessment of many activists, the result has left out concerns about justice in the transition. In Glasgow, activists and civil-society groups complained about being excluded from negotiating rooms while business leaders were ushered onstage. “It now looks more like a trade summit, rather than a climate convention,” says Asad Rehman, who organized for the COP26 Coalition, a climate-justice group. These activists worry about what the resulting government decisions look like when they’re made hand in hand with businesses. “The very people who created this crisis are now positioning themselves as the people who will solve it,” says Rehman. “The decisions being made seem very much to be locking us into a particular approach to solve the crisis—and, of course, that approach is not necessarily in the best interest of the people.” Last December, just a few weeks after returning to the U.S. from Glasgow, I caught a flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C., on what United Airlines billed as the first flight operated with an engine running on only a lower-carbon alternative to jet fuel. As we approached Reagan Airport, Scott Kirby, the airline’s CEO, told me about the coalition—including companies like Deloitte, HP, and Microsoft—he has formed to help bring the fuel to market. “This is not just about United Airlines; this is about building a new industry,” Kirby told me. “To do that, we’ve got to have a lot of airlines participate, we’ve got to have partners participate… and we’ve got to have government participate.” Kirby had chosen Washington as the destination for this flight for a reason: to truly deploy the technology would require some help from the U.S. government. The Biden Administration has been eager to serve as a partner, proposing a tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel and using the bully pulpit to tout United’s work—and aviation is just the tip of the iceberg. The administration has sought to partner on climate with companies across the country and across industries. It almost goes without saying that Biden has been the most aggressive U.S. president yet on the climate issue. His administration has introduced or tightened more than 100 environmental regulations; worked with activists to address the inequalities worsened by climate change; and put climate at the center of “Build Back Better,” its signature $2 trillion spending package that failed to pass Congress last year. He has worked with activists to address the inequalities worsened by climate change. But engagement with the private sector offers a different avenue to push for emissions reduction, and, administration officials say, it has been a key part of his climate strategy. “That’s him availing every tool he’s got,” says Ali Zaidi, Biden’s Deputy National Climate Advisor, of Biden’s private sector engagement. “One of those superpowers that he has is the ability to meet people where they are and bring them along.” Jeff J Mitchell—Getty ImagesGreenpeace activists protest corporate involvement at the COP26 U.N. climate talks, in November 2021 That approach is also based in a sense of realism: the technologies we need to cut emissions over the next decade exist today and any reasonable consideration of how the world can cut carbon emissions means deploying those technologies as quickly as possible—largely by getting companies to adopt them. We need “to take the technology that DOE has spent so many years working on and actually get it in the hands of consumers,” says Jigar Shah, who runs the department’s Loan Program Office. I met Shah, who previously ran a clean energy investment fund, in a small conference room in Houston where he had been taking meetings with a range of companies to convince them to do business with his agency—and more broadly the federal government. Shah has $40 billion at his disposal to invest in promising companies and projects. The idea, he says, is if business and government work together, they can move quickly to build a low-carbon economy by restoring the country’s ability to do big things. “We actually haven’t done these big things for 30 years,” he says. “America truly has sort of lost this general understanding of, like, how does an airport add a runway? How does a road get widened? Who makes the decision on upgrading our wastewater treatment plant?” The business-oriented approach to climate change permeates the Biden Administration. Last September, I watched in the back of the room in Geneva as John Kerry, Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, pitched the Administration’s approach to CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies, presenting more than 30 slides detailing a new government program to catalyze production of clean technologies, in sectors ranging from air travel to steel manufacturing. Instead of government mandates, Kerry proposed that companies themselves take the lead by making deals to purchase clean technology. “Because we’re behind, we have got to find ways to step up,” he told the gathered CEOs. Read More: Biden Wants an American Solar Industry. But It Could Come at an Emissions Cost Kerry’s approach echoes the realism of the Biden Administration’s. The truth is that in 2022 Big Business has the power to influence—and halt—much of what the government does. “I’m convinced, unless the private sector buys into this, there won’t be a sufficient public-sector path created, because the private sector has the power to prevent that,” Kerry told me in September. “The private sector has enormous power. And our tax code reflects that in this country. And what we need is our environmental policy to reflect the reality.” It makes sense then that from the outset the Biden Administration’s climate-spending plan has focused primarily on carrots rather than sticks. That is, it included a laundry list of rewards for companies doing positive things—namely tax credits for clean energy and subsidies for technologies like electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the two key policies that would have penalized businesses for their emissions—a fee for methane emissions and a tax when power companies failed to meet emissions-reductions targets—were abandoned after industry pushback. Despite those concessions, the most influential trade groups that lobby in Washington on behalf of big businesses still refused to back the overall legislation—because it required an increase in corporate taxes. It’s a reality that climate advocates readily decry as hypocrisy, and an indicator that business isn’t serious about climate change. In the coming weeks, as negotiations for a revamped climate-spending bill accelerate, businesses will have another chance to show they are serious about climate policy. It brings to mind a key moment in a panel I moderated in April last year with Granholm, and a handful of top corporate executives’ work to reduce their companies’ emissions. “You are visionaries and you are leading, and there’s so many thousands of other businesses that can learn from your example, and there are a lot of members of Congress that could learn from your words. And it’s not to get political, but sometimes folks just need to hear,” she told them. “To the extent you can, we’d be really grateful because we feel like our hair is on fire.” They can still help, but the clock is ticking. Even before Joe Biden took office, the American auto industry had begun to adopt the President-elect’s ambition of a rapid transition to electric vehicles. Within weeks of the election, GM dropped a lawsuit that sought to block more stringent fuel-economy standards. Two months later, it said it would go all electric by 2035. Meanwhile, Biden committed to a federal-government purchase of hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles. Since then, the U.S. auto industry has become an electric-vehicle arms race, with companies left and right announcing new capital expenditures to advance the national electric-vehicle fleet. GM says it will spend $35 billion in the effort over the next few years. Ford says it’s spending $50 billion. “The biggest thing that’s happening here is there’s a realization, on the part of both labor and business now, that this is the future,” Joe Biden said as he stood with auto industry executives, union leaders and administration officials on the White House lawn last August. Last year, I traveled to Ohio and Tennessee to see firsthand how the pressing questions about this transformation were playing out on the ground in the cities and towns that have relied on the auto industry for decades. In conversations with workers and local officials, I could sense excitement, but also consternation. Building an electric vehicle requires less labor than does its old-fashioned counterpart, and there’s no guarantee that new jobs created will be covered with a union. “There’s just going to be a lot less people building cars,” Dave Green, a GM assembly worker who previously led a local UAW branch in Ohio, told me at the time. The green transition will also displace oil, gas, and coal workers. Entire cities in flood and fire zones will be dislocated. Diseases will spread more quickly. How will society manage such problems, accounting for a diverse array of interests, without a comprehensive, government-led approach to the transition? Not well, if past transitions are any indicator. Inequality soared during the Industrial Revolution, and the U.S. is still dealing with the economic fallout of globalization in the 2000s, when many blue collar jobs were outsourced. To make up for the slow pace of government policy to guarantee an equitable transition, many activists have set their sights on influencing corporations directly. In 2019, for example, hundreds of Amazon employees walked out of work, insisting that the company do more to address climate change. Across a range of industries, corporate leaders now say that climate change is a top concern for recruits. Consumers, too, have begun to push companies to change, largely through the power of their dollars, by refusing to buy from companies with poor labor and environmental practices. “It’s not perfect,” says Michael Vandenbergh, a law professor at Vanderbilt University Law School who served as chief of staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Clinton. But “it will buy us time until the public demands that government actually overcome some of the democracy deficits that we face.” As challenging as it may be in these polarizing times, overcoming that democracy deficit is necessary, not just to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels but also to protect those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and to the necessary changes ahead. It’s for that reason that the upswing in climate-activist movements—from the youth’s marching for a Green New Deal to the union members’ joining with climate activists to push for a just transition—matters beyond any policy platform. Climate change will reshape the lives of people everywhere. A truly just transition will require people to engage in the fight to fix it. —With reporting by Nik Popli and Julia Zorthian......»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 14th, 2022

Digital Tyranny: Beware Of The Government"s Push For A Digital Currency

Digital Tyranny: Beware Of The Government's Push For A Digital Currency Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.” - Thomas Paine The government wants your money. It will beg, steal or borrow if necessary, but it wants your money any way it can get it. The government’s schemes to swindle, cheat, scam, and generally defraud taxpayers of their hard-earned dollars have run the gamut from wasteful pork barrel legislation, cronyism and graft to asset forfeiture, costly stimulus packages, and a national security complex that continues to undermine our freedoms while failing to making us any safer. Americans have also been made to pay through the nose for the government’s endless wars, subsidization of foreign nations, military empire, welfare state, roads to nowhere, bloated workforce, secret agencies, fusion centers, private prisons, biometric databases, invasive technologies, arsenal of weapons, and every other budgetary line item that is contributing to the fast-growing wealth of the corporate elite at the expense of those who are barely making ends meet—that is, we the taxpayers. This is what comes of those $1.5 trillion spending bills: someone’s got to foot the bill. Because the government’s voracious appetite for money, power and control has grown out of control, its agents have devised other means of funding its excesses and adding to its largesse through taxes disguised as fines, taxes disguised as fees, and taxes disguised as tolls, tickets and penalties. No matter how much money the government pulls in, it’s never enough, so the government has come up with a new plan to make it even easier for its agents to seize Americans’ bank accounts. Make way for the digital dollar. In an Executive Order issued on March 9, 2022, President Biden called for the federal government to consider establishing a “U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).” Similar to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, CBDCs would also be a form of digital money, but there the resemblance ends. If adopted, CBDCs would be issued by the Federal Reserve, the central banking system for the U.S. government. One CBDC digital dollar would equal the value of a physical dollar. And like the physical dollar, which ceased to be backed by gold more than 50 years ago, the CBDC would be considered a government-issued fiat currency that is backed by the strength and credit of the U.S. government. (Of course, that’s not saying much considering that much of the time, the U.S. government operates in the red.) Although government agencies have six months to weigh in on the advantages and disadvantages of a centralized digital currency, it’s as good as a done deal. For instance, three weeks before the Biden Administration made headlines with its support for a government-issued digital currency, the FBI and the Justice Department quietly moved ahead with plans for a cryptocurrency enforcement team (translation: digital money cops), a virtual asset exploitation unit tasked with investigating crypto crimes and seizing virtual assets, and a crypto czar to oversee it all. No surprises here, of course. This is how the government operates: by giving us tools to make our lives “easier” while, in the process, making it easier for the government to track, control and punish the citizenry. Indeed, this shift to a digital currency is a global trend. More than 100 other countries are considering introducing their own digital currencies. China has already adopted a government-issued digital currency, which not only allows it to surveil and seize people’s financial transactions, but can also work in tandem with its social credit score system to punish individuals for moral lapses and social transgressions (and reward them for adhering to government-sanctioned behavior). As China expert Akram Keram wrote for The Washington Post, “With digital yuan, the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] will have direct control over and access to the financial lives of individuals, without the need to strong-arm intermediary financial entities. In a digital-yuan-consumed society, the government easily could suspend the digital wallets of dissidents and human rights activists.” Where China goes, the United States eventually follows. Inevitably, a digital currency will become part of our economy and a central part of the government’s surveillance efforts. Combine that with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) initiatives that are tantamount to social media credit scores for corporations, and you will find that we’re traveling the same road as China towards digital authoritarianism. As journalist Jon Brookin warns: “Digital currency issued by a central bank can be used as a tool for government surveillance of citizens and control over their financial transactions.” As such, digital currency provides the government and its corporate partners with a mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient. This push for a digital currency dovetails with the government’s war on cash, which it has been subtly waging for some time now. Much like the war on drugs and the war on terror, this so-called “war on cash” has been sold to the public as a means of fighting terrorists, drug dealers, tax evaders and more recently, COVID-19 germs. In recent years, just the mere possession of significant amounts of cash could implicate you in suspicious activity and label you a criminal. The rationale (by police) is that cash is the currency for illegal transactions given that it’s harder to track, can be used to pay illegal immigrants, and denies the government its share of the “take,” so doing away with paper money will help law enforcement fight crime and help the government realize more revenue. According to economist Steve Forbes, “The real reason for this war on cash—start with the big bills and then work your way down—is an ugly power grab by Big Government. People will have less privacy: Electronic commerce makes it easier for Big Brother to see what we’re doing, thereby making it simpler to bar activities it doesn’t like, such as purchasing salt, sugar, big bottles of soda and Big Macs.” This is how a cashless society—easily monitored, controlled, manipulated, weaponized and locked down—plays right into the hands of the government (and its corporate partners). Despite what we know about the government and its history of corruption, bumbling, fumbling and data breaches, not to mention how easily technology can be used against us, the shift to a cashless society is really not a hard sell for a society increasingly dependent on technology for the most mundane aspects of life. In much the same way that Americans have opted into government surveillance through the convenience of GPS devices and cell phones, digital cash—the means of paying with one’s debit card, credit card or cell phone—is becoming the de facto commerce of the American police state. Not too long ago, it was estimated that smart phones would replace cash and credit cards altogether by 2020. Right on schedule, growing numbers of businesses have adopted no-cash policies, including certain airlines, hotels, rental car companies, restaurants and retail stores. In Sweden, even the homeless and churches accept digital cash. Making the case for a digital wallet, journalist Lisa Rabasca Roepe argues that there’s no longer a need for cash. “More and more retailers and grocery stores are embracing Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay,” notes Roepe. “PayPal's app is now accepted at many chain stores including Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, Home Depot, and Office Depot. Walmart and CVS have both developed their own payment apps while their competitors Target and RiteAid are working on their own apps.” So what’s really going on here? Despite all of the advantages that go along with living in a digital age—namely, convenience—it’s hard to imagine how a cashless world navigated by way of a digital wallet doesn’t signal the beginning of the end for what little privacy we have left and leave us vulnerable to the likes of government thieves, data hackers and an all-knowing, all-seeing Orwellian corpo-governmental state. First, when I say privacy, I’m not just referring to the things that you don’t want people to know about, those little things you do behind closed doors that are neither illegal nor harmful but embarrassing or intimate. I am also referring to the things that are deeply personal and which no one need know about, certainly not the government and its constabulary of busybodies, nannies, Peeping Toms, jail wardens and petty bureaucrats. Second, we’re already witnessing how easy it will be for government agents to manipulate digital wallets for their own gain in order to track your movements, monitor your activities and communications, and ultimately shut you down. For example, civil asset forfeiture schemes are becoming even more profitable for police agencies thanks to ERAD (Electronic Recovery and Access to Data) devices supplied by the Department of Homeland Security that allow police to not only determine the balance of any magnetic-stripe card (i.e., debit, credit and gift cards) but also freeze and seize any funds on pre-paid money cards. In fact, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it does not violate the Fourth Amendment for police to scan or swipe your credit card. Expect those numbers to skyrocket once digital money cops show up in full force. Third, a government-issued digital currency will give the government the ultimate control of the economy and complete access to the citizenry’s pocketbook. While the government might tout the ease with which it can deposit stimulus funds into the citizenry’s accounts, such a system could also introduce what economists refer to as “negative interest rates.” Instead of being limited by a zero bound threshold on interest rates, the government could impose negative rates on digital accounts in order to control economic growth. “If the cash is electronic, the government can just erase 2 percent of your money every year,” said David Yermack, a finance professor at New York University. Fourth, a digital currency will open Americans—and their bank accounts—up to even greater financial vulnerabilities from hackers and government agents alike. Fifth, digital authoritarianism will redefine what it means to be free in almost every aspect of our lives. Again, we must look to China to understand what awaits us. As Human Rights Watch analyst Maya Wang explains: “Chinese authorities use technology to control the population all over the country in subtler but still powerful ways. The central bank is adopting digital currency, which will allow Beijing to surveil—and control—people’s financial transactions. China is building so-called safe cities, which integrate data from intrusive surveillance systems to predict and prevent everything from fires to natural disasters and political dissent. The government believes that these intrusions, together with administrative actions, such as denying blacklisted people access to services, will nudge people toward ‘positive behaviors,’ including greater compliance with government policies and healthy habits such as exercising.” Short of returning to a pre-technological, Luddite age, there’s really no way to pull this horse back now that it’s left the gate. To our detriment, we have virtually no control over who accesses our private information, how it is stored, or how it is used. And in terms of our bargaining power over digital privacy rights, we have been reduced to a pitiful, unenviable position in which we can only hope and trust that those in power will treat our information with respect. At a minimum, before any kind of digital currency is adopted, we need stricter laws on data privacy and an Electronic Bill of Rights that protects “we the people” from predatory surveillance and data-mining business practices by the government and its corporate partners. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the ramifications of a government—any government—having this much unregulated, unaccountable power to target, track, round up and detain its citizens is beyond chilling. Tyler Durden Thu, 03/17/2022 - 05:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 17th, 2022

Insiders say RAINN, the nation"s foremost organization for victims of sexual assault, is in crisis over allegations of racism and sexism

22 current and former staffers said that RAINN, which has deep ties to Hollywood and corporate America, is facing an internal reckoning. Scott Berkowitz, RAINN's co-founder and CEO, began his career in politics, advising former Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign at just 14 years old.RAINN; Kris Connor/Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/Insider22 current and former staffers say the organization favored by Hollywood and corporate America is in crisis. 'How can RAINN be helping survivors externally, when they're traumatizing survivors and their own employees internally?'April Cisneros says the first time she was sexually assaulted at her private Christian college was in 2015, while she was playing piano in the school's conservatory. A music tutor came into the small practice room and began to touch her. The second time, one year later, she remembers waking up in a hotel room near campus after drinks with classmates. One man was forcing his hand into her pants while another ejaculated on top of her. The incidents were devastating, and further compounded by a conservative religious community that lacked empathy for her pain or a framework to understand it. "Maybe it's demons attached to you that attracted this fate," she recalls one pastor telling her. Others placed the blame on her, wondering if she set the right boundaries with men. While studying abroad at Oxford University in 2016, in an effort to get far away from what she suffered back home, Cisneros attempted to take her own life.Soon after, she Googled for help, and the website for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, flashed across her computer screen. RAINN, which was founded in 1994 as a nonprofit, bills itself as the nation's largest anti-sexual-violence organization, operating a 24-hour hotline for victims and pushing for state and federal policies to punish sex offenders and support survivors. It has deep ties to corporate America and Hollywood, partnering with Google and TikTok and media like "I May Destroy You" and "Promising Young Woman," both of which center on sexual assault. (Insider itself utilizes RAINN's hotline; our publishing system automatically appends a referral link to RAINN at the bottom of every story about sexual assault.) In 2019, it reported nearly $16 million in revenue. It says its programs have helped 3.8 million people, and 301,455 people called its hotlines last year.The organization was a beacon in a difficult time, and Cisneros soon threw herself into supporting it. She cycled 1,500 miles across the country for a fundraising drive; later, after the Trump administration rolled back Title IX protections for campus-sexual-assault victims, she decided to get involved more directly. April Cisneros biked across the US to raise money for RAINN.April Cisneros"I was so angry," Cisneros told Insider. "I just remember thinking, 'Well, why don't I just, like, go try to be a part of the solution?'" She began working for RAINN in 2018 as a communications associate.But she soon discovered that it looked very different from the inside. Instead of the supportive, inclusive victims' advocacy organization that offered her hope in the depths of her depression, Cisneros found herself in a demoralizing workplace overrun by what she described as racism and sexism. She recalled that during the filming of a video about survivors' stories, her boss asked a participant to smile while recounting a sexual assault. "If you don't," Cisneros remembered her boss saying, "it'll look like you have a bitch face."Cisneros is among 22 current and former RAINN staffers who spoke to Insider and described a roiling crisis over race and gender in the over-200-person-strong nonprofit. These people described a culture in which a routine training was beset by racist caricaturing, executives ignored employees' requests for change, and people who were deemed political risks — including sexual-assault survivors — were silenced. According to these accounts, in one instance, a supervisor badgered an employee during the time she took off to recover from an abortion. In another, an Asian staffer was replaced on a project with a white man after their boss deemed him a better fit because of his race and gender. One staffer sent a resignation letter, obtained by Insider, in which she bemoaned "toxic managerial behavioral patterns" and worried that "young employees like myself, many of them survivors themselves, are currently being treated like their rights at work do not matter, like their comfort and security and health at work doesn't matter, like the skills they bring to work are worthless."RAINN declined to make its founder and president, Scott Berkowitz, available for an interview. In a statement, the group said it had made great strides in diversifying its workplace and addressing the concerns of its employees of color. It accused the current and former staffers who came forward to Insider of providing "incomplete, misleading, and defamatory" information about "a handful of long-outdated and disproven allegations.""RAINN is proud of the work our committed staff do, day in and day out, to support survivors of sexual violence," the statement read. "As an organization, we owe it to our committed staff to provide a work environment where they feel safe, appreciated, and heard … Over the last several years, like most organizations, RAINN has worked to expand and implement comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and goals. We regularly update staff on our progress toward achieving those goals, and solicit feedback on potential areas of improvement. While there is always room to build on our efforts, we are continually working to foster an open dialogue between employees and leadership to ensure ideas and concerns can be heard and addressed."RAINN hired Clare Locke LLP, a boutique libel law firm that has gained a reputation for representing clients facing #MeToo allegations, including Matt Lauer and the former CBS News executive Jeffrey Fager, to respond to Insider's inquiries. During Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, the firm's cofounder Libby Locke came to his defense, writing: "No wonder Judge Kavanaugh is angry. Any man falsely accused of sexual assault would be."When Insider asked RAINN whether Clare Locke's work was consistent with the organization's mission and values, the firm's partner Thomas Clare emailed a statement attributed to RAINN: "Given your questions contained outright lies about RAINN and our staff, and publication of those claims is potentially defamatory, we hired defamation counsel. We recognize we have a right to legal representation, and our attorneys have helped us disprove your ridiculous and libelous allegations."Some RAINN employees fear that the corporate dysfunction has poisoned the work of the largest sexual-violence organization in the country, which they continue to view as crucial, despite their own experiences. "How can RAINN be helping survivors externally when they're traumatizing survivors and their own employees internally?" Cisneros said.How RAINN became Hollywood and corporate America's go-to partner Through savvy marketing and hard work, RAINN has become to sexual assault what Planned Parenthood is to reproductive health: the premier, full-service resource for people struggling with a crisis and the ultimate destination for donations to help people who have been victimized.The global embrace of the #MeToo movement, and the contemporary focus on the depth and pervasiveness of sexual assault, has further aided RAINN's ascension. Companies in crisis often turn to the organization to telegraph their commitment to social responsibility. After dozens of women sued Lyft, claiming they were assaulted by its drivers, the company worked with RAINN to roll out extensive safety initiatives and contributed $1.5 million to its coffers.Hollywood has also embraced the organization. RAINN was cofounded by the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tori Amos, who promoted the organization's hotline at her concerts and sat on its advisory board. In 2018, Timotheé Chalamet pledged his earnings from Woody Allen's "A Rainy Day in New York" to groups including RAINN, as did Ben Affleck from productions affiliated with Harvey Weinstein. Christina Ricci, a star of Showtime's breakout hit "Yellowjackets," has served as an official spokesperson since 2007, and the platinum-selling pop artist Taylor Swift has donated to the organization, something it publicized from its social-media accounts.—RAINN (@RAINN) April 8, 2021 But Berkowitz has largely stayed out of the public eye. He began his career as a political wunderkind, advising Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign at just 14 years old. A profile in his grandparents' hometown newspaper in Pennsylvania said he was personally responsible for collecting $100,000 in donations for Hart — a feat achieved in between classes at American University, where he was already a sophomore. After graduation, Berkowitz continued to work in and around politics. His experience in the field, he said in a 2019 interview with RAINN, taught him about the "extent of the problem" of sexual violence in the United States and the opportunity to fill this "service gap.""I knew next to nothing about the issue," Berkowitz said. "It just seemed like a good idea." Christina Ricci has been a RAINN spokeswoman since 2007.Michael Kovac/WireImage/Getty ImagesEarly on, Berkowitz ran the day-to-day operations, and his early fundraising prowess served him well. After a series of sexual assaults at the infamous Woodstock '99 festival, promoters and record labels did damage control by giving RAINN 1% of the proceeds from the festival's CD and video releases. "In raw self-interest, the money and attention that would come from it would allow RAINN to promote the hotline better, provide more counseling, print more brochures," Berkowitz told the Village Voice. RAINN's budget swelled in tandem with its brand. Total revenue rocketed from more than $1.2 million in 2009 to nearly $16 million in 2019. Berkowitz's compensation grew from $168,000 to over $481,000 over the same period. Even though RAINN's tax returns list Berkowitz as its president and indicate that he was paid nearly a half a million dollars in the year ending in May 2020, RAINN says that he is not in fact an employee and does not receive a salary. Instead, for reasons that RAINN did not explain, he is paid through A&I Publishing, a company solely owned by Berkowitz that contracts with RAINN. "Scott Berkowitz is paid solely as an independent contractor through A&I Publishing and does not receive any salary or benefits," it said. "He has never received any employee compensation from RAINN."RAINN's tax records tell a slightly different story. The group has reported paying a total of $561,500 in consulting fees for "strategic and financial oversight" to A&I Publishing from 2001 to 2006, during which time Berkowitz drew no salary from RAINN. Since 2007, though, RAINN has reported directly paying Berkowitz a total of $3,529,000. (RAINN says he "is recused from all board consideration of his compensation.")Over the same period, RAINN also began reporting payments to A&I to service $288,000 in debt that it owed the consultancy at 5% interest. RAINN's tax records don't reflect that the organization ever received any cash from A&I; instead, the loan is described in its 2006 tax return as "issuance of debt for prior year services." RAINN says the loan, which has been repaid, stems from "deferred payment for fees" that RAINN owed A&I "for a number of years."'How does an organization like RAINN make such an egregious mistake?'With the Woodstock '99 deal, Berkowitz struck on a highly successful strategy — corporate penance — and he would often return to it. But he also looked to the public sector for funding opportunities.One of RAINN's largest sources of revenue — $2 million a year — is its contract to run the Department of Defense's Safe Helpline, which offers confidential, anonymous counseling to members of the military who have been affected by sexual violence. Multiple staffers who spoke with Insider said Berkowitz was exceedingly sensitive about maintaining the contract. They said that he had gone to great lengths to stay in the Department of Defense's good graces and that they believe RAINN has at times been overly deferential to its interests. Michael Wiedenhoeft-Wilder in February 2022.Evan Jenkins for InsiderMichael Wiedenhoeft-Wilder, a former flight attendant and roller-rink operator who previously served in the Navy as a medic, said that in 1982, just months after he enlisted, a Navy physician raped him. The doctor, who outranked Wiedenhoeft-Wilder, threatened him with prison time if he came forward. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder said it was the first of multiple sexual assaults he suffered, all of which resulted in a diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder.Wiedenhoeft-Wilder stayed silent about the assault for nearly 30 years. He became depressed and experienced paranoid suspicions that the government was spying on him, ready to silence him if he ever told the truth about his assault.But decades of therapy empowered Wiedenhoeft-Wilder to eventually come forward. He discovered the Safe Helpline, which then led him to RAINN's Speakers Bureau, a roster of more than 4,000 volunteer survivors who share their stories with the media, student groups, and other organizations. When Wiedenhoeft-Wilder signed up with the bureau, his story was selected for publication on RAINN's website. In October 2019, he worked with April Cisneros, who helped manage the Speakers Bureau, to prepare the story.But the story was abruptly killed. Cisneros said Berkowitz decided to pull Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's account once he realized that it involved an officer assaulting an enlisted man."Once we actually wrote up his story, Scott was like, 'No, we're not even getting into this,'" Cisneros told Insider, adding that Berkowitz refused to send the story to the Department of Defense for review, as it routinely did with accounts of military sexual assault. Cisneros said Berkowitz told members of the communications team that promoting the testimony of a man who had been assaulted by one of his superiors could harm the military's reputation and upset the Department of Defense. Cisneros told Insider she believed that Berkowitz did not want to risk losing the government's funding.Wiedenhoeft-Wilder was shocked. He had spent time with Cisneros revisiting the details of an assault that haunted him for 30 years, all for nothing."I've spent the last several days trying to deal with the devastating news that the article about my military sexual trauma being canceled for someone else," he told Cisneros in an email on October 31 that Insider reviewed. "How does an organization like RAINN make such an egregious mistake? Do you have any idea how this mistake has affected me? It's absolutely devastating. Just one more failure for me.""I feel victimized all over again," he wrote. "What did I ever do to you people to deserve this!"Cisneros, worried about Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's mental health, forwarded the exchange to Berkowitz and Keeli Sorensen, then the vice president of victim services, she said. "Maybe you just tell him you made a mistake," Cisneros recalled Sorensen telling her. She felt Sorensen's suggestion was, in effect, to "[fall] on my sword for RAINN."Cisneros told Insider that she told Wiedenhoeft-Wilder a lie about a scheduling conflict and blamed the mix-up entirely on herself. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder didn't believe her. "I know she wasn't telling me the truth," he told Insider. "I knew it wasn't her fault. It was a really weird, very strange thing to do to someone."Cisneros was heartbroken. She felt that she'd betrayed Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's trust and was distressed because she felt an anti-sexual-violence organization had asked her to deceive a rape victim. "What's so sad is people treat him like he's so paranoid about being silenced by the military, but that paranoia is at least … legitimate," Cisneros said. "And it happened again at RAINN."Sorensen denied having any involvement in the incident and said she was "not authorized in any way to instruct Ms. Cisneros in this matter," adding that Berkowitz had "total authority" with respect to the publication of Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's story. She said she did not know why Berkowitz pulled the testimony."I had no part in the matter," Sorensen said, "but it's my recollection, based on my conversation with Ms. Cisneros, that she had promised Mr. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder that she would publish their story before having secured final approval from Mr. Berkowitz."RAINN also said that if Cisneros had promised Wiedenhoeft-Wilder a spot on its website, it had "no knowledge of that and she was not authorized to make that commitment."Cisneros disputed that. She said that she provided Berkowitz with details of Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's story before reaching out and that he approved. "Scott gave me the greenlight to move ahead with the process if [Wiedenhoeft-Wilder] expressed interest," Cisneros said."We have no recollection as to why this survivor's story did not run in the fall of 2019," RAINN said, adding that some isolated quotes from Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's interview — stripped of their military context — were shared on RAINN's social-media accounts. The statement pointed to other stories from survivors of sexual assault in the military that RAINN had published; none of those featured scenarios in which an attacker outranked their victim.Evan Jenkins for Insider"We are not aware of the Department of Defense expressing concern over RAINN's coverage of military survivors," RAINN said, "nor is it standard practice for RAINN to consult with [the department] regarding the material and resources it publishes unless they directly mention Safe Helpline. RAINN frequently publishes the stories of military survivors and will continue to do so as it works to carry out the organization's mission to eradicate sexual violence from every corner of society."Anxiety around RAINN's relationship with the Department of Defense came up again in 2019. Six former staffers said one RAINN employee felt compelled to frantically retract public comments she had made in support of Black trans victims of violence amid the Trump administration's efforts to expel trans people from the military. The woman suddenly and mysteriously departed the organization on the day her remarks were published.(The woman's identity is known to Insider, which is not naming her because doing so may expose her to professional harm. The woman declined to comment for the record.) On March 7, 2019, to mark International Women's Day, the employee was one of "8 everyday women" featured by The Lily, a women-focused website published by The Washington Post. The Lily post listed the woman's age, background, position at RAINN, and responses to a questionnaire about her favorite fast-food chains and movies. But she came to fear that her seemingly uncontroversial answer to one question could become a professional liability.InsiderThe answer came a few months after the Trump-era transgender military ban went into effect, reanimating debates over trans rights. Two sources told Insider that the woman told them that RAINN's leadership expressed alarm over her contribution to the article and was frustrated that the woman had spoken to the media without getting consent from leadership.One source told Insider that Jodi Omear, then RAINN's vice president of communications, said minutes after reading the article that it was "too controversial" and that she worried it "could jeopardize our contract with the Department of Defense." The source said Omear escalated the article to Berkowitz and the human-resources director, Claudia Kolmer, because she was confident they would feel the same.Omear told Insider that because the former staffer had been under her supervision, it would be "inappropriate" to comment on her exit from the organization.On the day the questionnaire was published, the woman called the reporter at The Lily who'd conducted the interview and asked her to remove the reference to RAINN, as well as her comments about trans people, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The writer agreed. Insider viewed an original version of the interview that contained the employee's affiliation and comments about trans rights; the version currently published online does not.Two former employees said the woman was escorted out of the office by human resources the day the story was published. RAINN said that "it is standard practice that an employee separating from the organization is accompanied by a RAINN human resources representative when leaving the premises in order to collect their office keys, security fob and other credentials," adding that it "reached a separation agreement" with the woman a week after the story was published.One staffer who sat near her described the woman as a "fabulous" employee who was heavily invested in the projects they were set to work on together."It was one of the reasons why it was so shocking," the staffer said. "Like, where'd she go?"In its statement, RAINN claimed that the woman's remarks were an unauthorized attempt to speak on behalf of the Pentagon. "[The RAINN staffer] spoke with a Washington Post reporter on-the-record, on behalf of RAINN and the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, which she was not authorized to do," the statement said. "Contractually RAINN is barred from speaking on behalf of the Department of Defense or Safe Helpline." The Lily billed the interview as an opportunity to "step inside the lives of 8 everyday women." Aside from identifying her employer and job description — a format applied to other women featured in the post — the woman's interview did not touch on RAINN or the Department of Defense. Instead, she answered questions about her favorite body part and what she would change about her upbringing if she could.Still, RAINN said, the woman broke the rules: "The issue at hand centered around a clear violation of RAINN policy. RAINN supports all transgender survivors and has worked to remove the barriers to reporting sexual violence in LGBTQ communities, and to elevate the stories of transgender survivors, particularly for transgender persons of color for whom sexual violence is all too prevalent."Asked why, if that were the case, the woman would ask The Lily specifically to remove her comments about trans victims, RAINN said it was "unaware of any evidence indicating [the woman] was pressured to retract or remove" the comments. "RAINN is always mindful of honoring its contractual obligations not to speak on behalf of the DoD and the Safe Helpline," it said. "The fact someone commented on other subject matter or issues was irrelevant."A white male staffer was deemed a better fitJackii Wang joined RAINN's public-policy team in 2019, hopeful that she could use her experience working in national congressional offices to advance legislation that would help sexual-assault survivors. But she said her boss, RAINN's vice president of public policy, Camille Cooper, instead saddled her with administrative responsibilities like writing greeting cards. Wang said Cooper regularly discounted her ideas and "berated" her when they disagreed on issues the younger staffer considered minor. It became "psychologically terrifying," Wang said. Wang didn't immediately view that as discriminatory — multiple staffers said many of Cooper's employees complained of similar treatment. But during a performance review in December 2019, Wang said, Cooper attempted to explain her perception of Wang as defiant by rattling off stereotypes that Wang felt were "very targeted towards my Asian identity.""Camille asked me questions like, you know, 'Is your family very strict?' 'Do they expect perfectionism from you?' ... 'What was your childhood like?' Do I have problems with authority because of my family background?" Wang told Insider. What started as an implication became explicit, Wang said, when Cooper announced she would pull Wang off a lobbying assignment.Jackii WangDaniel Diasgranados for InsiderAt the time, RAINN was working on a Florida bill that would close a loophole in the state's statute of limitations for teen survivors. Cooper called Wang and another staffer into her office and told the two women she had decided to send a white male colleague in Wang's place, Wang said. Wang asked why."And she was like, 'Well, you know, because he's a white male,'" Wang recalled.Wang was mortified. While she had experience working with Florida legislators, her male colleague wasn't even registered to lobby in the state. Wang and the other staffer said Cooper argued that he would connect better with white conservatives in the state."He can talk about baseball. He can really, like, connect with these men," Cooper said, according to Wang and the other staffer present. "And these men really hate women.""Her reasoning for picking a white man over me for the project is that he'll be received better," Wang said. "But if that's the logic that she's following, then, like, I guess I shouldn't work anywhere because white men are received better everywhere."Neither Cooper nor the man responded to requests for comment.Wang said she reported the incident to Kolmer, the human-resources director, and Berkowitz in March 2020, along with a detailed recounting of other complaints about Cooper's leadership. But Wang said Kolmer never took serious action. When Wang quit that June, she sent Berkowitz a blistering resignation letter. "As you know, she has harassed and bullied every single person on our team, including an intern, and has blatantly discriminated against me," Wang wrote.Berkowitz thanked Wang for her time and for informing him, and asked Kolmer to discuss the issues Wang raised. Cooper continues to serve as a vice president, the face of RAINN's policy arm.RAINN said that Wang was too junior a staffer to lead a statewide lobbying effort and called her claims of discrimination "false and defamatory.""RAINN took Wang's allegations seriously and investigated the matter thoroughly," the statement said. "Ultimately it was determined that the basis of Wang's claims of discrimination were unfounded."RAINN did not deny Wang's claim that Cooper told her a white man would connect better with conservative legislators.Cooper wasn't the only executive to receive complaints. One current staffer and one former staffer described a meeting in which Jessica Leslie, the vice president of victim services, defended Berkowitz's unwillingness to address the concerns of staffers of color."You have to understand where he's coming from," they remember Leslie saying. "I mean, he's a white man, and you're all people of color — like, he's really nervous around you."One of the staffers was furious. "We just wanted to have a conversation. We're not about to berate the man," she told Insider. "This is not true," RAINN said. Its statement said that at a Safe Helpline shift managers meeting, a group of managers asked Leslie if Berkowitz would meet with them. When Leslie asked them to craft an agenda first, RAINN said, the shift managers asked Leslie if Berkowitz wanted an agenda because he was "uncomfortable talking to women of color." "The shift managers created this narrative," RAINN said, "not Leslie."Through an attorney, Leslie said she agreed with RAINN's responses and called the allegations against her "demonstrably baseless."A racist training, a pay disparity, and an email uprisingStaffers of color told Insider that they were often underpaid compared with their white counterparts; one, a nonwhite Latina woman who asked to remain anonymous, said she made $35,000 a year and lived in public housing to keep her head above water. After she quit for a higher-paying opportunity, RAINN filled her job with a white staffer who earned roughly $20,000 more, Cisneros said, adding that the white staffer disclosed her salary. (Three additional sources with knowledge of her salary corroborated Cisneros' account.) RAINN said the salary discrepancy was a result of both the role being "restructured" to include "significantly more responsibility" and the fact that the white staffer had an advanced degree.Four current and former RAINN staffers recalled that after RAINN's white office manager left for a new job, her replacement, a Black woman named Valinshia Walker, was asked to perform janitorial tasks that were not in her predecessor's job description — including scrubbing floors on her hands and knees, washing dishes, and disinfecting conference rooms. "Let me be very clear: [Walker's predecessor] never washed dishes from the sink. Ever," one former staffer said. "Val? You would come in, and Ms. Walker was cleaning the conference room. Like, wiping down all the tables. Spraying down the chairs. Doing the kitchen, she's washing dishes from the sink … You would see her walking around with the mask on and gloves because she literally cleaned. Like a cleaning lady."Walker declined to comment for the record. "The beliefs of your sources are simply not true," RAINN said, adding that Walker was hired as the "office coordinator," which had a different set of responsibilities than the "office manager" she replaced. "Maintaining a clean office has always fallen under the responsibilities of the HR and admin staff as a whole, this includes the office manager and office coordinator," the statement said. "We are not aware of any instances where Walker was asked to handle cleaning responsibilities beyond those that were part of the office coordinator's regular duties."Staffers also recalled what became a notorious and hamfisted mandatory sexual-harassment training in early 2020 led by an outside employment attorney hired by RAINN. According to more than a dozen employees, the attorney used a series of racist stereotypes to illustrate examples during the training."So let's just say, you know, there's Nicki [Minaj] and Cardi B are employees, and they're at their desks, and they start twerking," Cisneros recalled the lawyer saying. "Is that inappropriate workplace behavior?"At one point, Cisneros said, the lawyer proposed a hypothetical scenario in which a Latino-coded man — participants recalled his name was "Jorgé" or "José"—  kissed a coworker. The lawyer asked if the behavior could be appropriate "because this is Latino culture." "Your information regarding this training is inaccurate," RAINN said. "The examples in this legal training were all past legal cases using fictitious names." It added that staff concerns "were immediately addressed and the training was subsequently modified based on their feedback."Sarcia Adkins, a shift manager for the Department of Defense Safe Helpline who attended the training, was furious. She wrote an email to multiple executives, including Sorensen, Kolmer, and Berkowitz, on March 5 demanding action from the organization. "I wanted to get up and walk out at various points and it was one of the more traumatic experiences I've had at RAINN as a woman of color," she wrote. Kolmer acknowledged her complaints and promised to meet with Adkins alongside Berkowitz and Sorensen to discuss changes to the training and her issues with the nonprofit's culture.Adkins said that Kolmer didn't follow up that March but that Sorensen did reach out to schedule a one-on-one meeting. RAINN said Adkins agreed to meet Sorensen but "did not show up, without notification or explanation," and "did not follow up after she skipped the meeting." Several months later, after a former colleague intervened, Adkins did meet with Berkowitz and Sorensen. Adkins told Insider she was underwhelmed. "They pick what they want you to talk about," she said.The dysfunction came to a head during the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd sparked a series of bitter internal conversations about RAINN's track record on race. In June 2020, Berkowitz sent an email with the subject line "A Note to the RAINN Family" to the entire staff. In it, he acknowledged the unrest and pledged to support the company's Black staffers.Sarcia Adkins replied to the email with a list of demands and copied the entire organization. She asked for mandatory cultural-competency training and a commitment to hiring Black employees for leadership positions. (RAINN says that 43% of its top seven staffers are people of color.) Adkins — who has been with RAINN since 2014 — asked Berkowitz why he hadn't reached out following the deaths of Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and dozens of other victims of police violence."RAINN has never been a place [that] acknowledges or uplifts their black staff, not just people of color, and the injustices we face in the world and within the structure of RAINN," Adkins wrote.Following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, Scott Berkowitz sent an email to staffers acknowledging the resulting unrest and pledging to support the company's Black staffers. But employees at RAINN began responding en masse, including one person who asked why a similar message was not sent after other police killings of Black people.Provided to InsiderIn 2021, in response to the outrage over the George Floyd email, the organization began internally releasing draft proposals on diversity, equity, and inclusion with goals the organization planned to achieve or had already accomplished. The laundry list of objectives, which Insider reviewed, included a plan to "develop new relationships to ensure a diverse pool of internal and external candidates for all open positions" and "collect more data to identify the causes of turnover."But people working in the organization say little has been achieved, or even attempted."Hiring practices are not getting better," said a current RAINN staffer, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. "There's been no management training. Turnover is horrendous." In its statement, RAINN recounted the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts it began implementing in 2021, including "expanded recruiting," "revised exit interviews," and "researched training on DEI-related issues.""The summer of 2020 sparked important cultural conversations in companies and organizations across the United States, RAINN among them," the statement said. "As we've seen nationwide, there is more work to be done. Over the past two years, RAINN worked with experts and garnered input from staff to develop and implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and goals … Changes implemented to date include increasing diversity within senior management to better reflect our staff diversity and the people we serve, implementing an anonymous third-party ethics hotline where employees can voice concerns without fear of reprisal, offering expanded professional development and internal promotion opportunities, and increasing health and mental health benefits for employees, the four top priorities identified by staff."As evidence of its success in addressing the concerns of its employees of color, RAINN provided Insider an email that Aniyah Carter, a staffer on the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, wrote to the vice president of communications, Heather Drevna, in June 2020. Carter, who is Black, had been one of the most outspoken staffers demanding change at RAINN after Berkowitz's George Floyd email fiasco. When Drevna sent a follow-up email to staff announcing an employee survey and more personal and sick days, Carter replied with a note of thanks."I just want to personally thank you and the senior team for this," she wrote. "It's one thing to listen to and hear us. It's another thing to take action. I am proud of the responses of my colleagues and I am grateful for the swift action from leadership. It is my sincere hope that we continue to make a necessary shift in the right direction. Please let me know if there is any way I can be of assistance."Scott Berkowitz at the "Tina The Tina Turner Musical" Cocktail Reception, co-hosted by Anna Wintour in support of RAINN, on January 31, 2020.Tiffany Sage/BFA/ReutersWhen Insider asked Carter about the email, she said any movement in the right direction quickly stalled."They sent an email and that was it," Carter told Insider. "So my 'sincere hope' was crushed. It's so insulting for me. When this first happened and you were optimistic and gave us the benefit of the doubt, you say it here," she said, mocking RAINN's use of her email. "And it's like, OK, but two years later here we still are. And I've mentioned how I'm frustrated, but you're going to take words from two years ago feeling optimistic about the future and spin it as if that applies to today? Seriously? That was very upsetting because it makes me feel like this is more about optics than, like, how your staff really feels."'OK, well, who's gonna do the press clips?'When April Cisneros arrived at RAINN, she began working for Jodi Omear. Cisneros said she quickly ran up against Omear's domineering management style, which often seemed dismissive of and belittling to other women. Besides the "bitch face" comment, Cisneros said, Omear joked about how office dress codes could reduce the risk of sexual assault by preventing people from wearing provacative outfits. "I understand we're not supposed to blame the victim," Cisneros recalled Omear saying, "but, like, what do you expect to happen if you're in a dimly lit room and people of the opposite sex [are] wearing pants with holes in them?" Omear did not deny making either comment but told Insider that when training people who lacked experience with on-camera work, she directed them to "over-exaggerate facial expressions." She also said she "advocated for casual professional attire across the organization."Cisneros' low point at RAINN occurred in January 2019, when she unexpectedly became pregnant. She decided to take a sick day to visit a doctor. She told Insider she informed Omear the day before and outlined when her unfinished work would be completed.Omear became angry, Cisneros said, demanding to know why she didn't give more notice and insisting on further details. Omear called Cisneros at 9 p.m. demanding answers. Cisneros broke down and told her boss about the surprise pregnancy. According to Cisneros, Omear replied, "OK, well, who's gonna do the press clips?"The next day, as Cisneros met with her doctor, her phone buzzed with calls and texts from Omear. Between the stress of an unplanned pregnancy and Omear's incessant check-ins, Cisneros said, she "started bawling" under the stress.  A day later, Cisneros received a prescription for a two-day medical abortion. She requested an extra day off to recover, but Omear continued to pester her, texting and calling Cisneros for updates on RAINN's monthly marketing report. Cisneros said she finished the report from home while waiting for the bleeding to die down. (A RAINN staffer who was familiar with the incident corroborated Cisneros' version of events.)Omear told Insider that it would be "inappropriate" to comment on Cisneros specifically and did not directly answer a series of questions about Cisneros' allegations. "In general, when working with communications staff, especially in a fast-paced environment on such an important issue, it is/was important to ensure that other team members were able to cover assignments to meet any potential deadlines and organizational needs," she said in an emailed statement.RAINN said that it "was not aware of this incident happening in real time" and that it "supports employees taking time off and does not support managers encroaching on sick time."Omear's conduct was the final straw for Cisneros, and she wrote to human resources to complain. Cisneros said Claudia Kolmer told her in a meeting that the conflict "was a big misunderstanding" and that she should have come clean about her pregnancy sooner. (RAINN said that Kolmer told Cisneros that different managers have different preferences about how they should be notified of sick time and that "Cisneros was never asked to share sensitive personal or medical information.")Dissatisfied, Cisneros unloaded on Omear to Kolmer, accusing her boss of making inappropriate complaints about the loud breathing of a colleague who used a wheelchair and the habit of another colleague, who was blind, of walking into Omear's office by mistake, Cisneros said. (Another former RAINN employee corroborated the complaints to Insider.) Cisneros also said she told Kolmer that Omear made lewd remarks about the attractiveness of a sexual-assault victim set to make a public-service announcement. Omear denied making the lewd comments. She also denied complaining about disabled colleagues but said that she did recall "thanking one of my staff for helping" a blind colleague "when she couldn't find her way around the office."Cisneros rallied the entire RAINN communications department to put together a detailed list of other allegations of inappropriate behavior by Omear, which she collected in a memo for Kolmer and Berkowitz.Omear left RAINN that July, ostensibly to launch her own communications consulting firm. But Cisneros said Berkowitz told her that he had pushed Omear out in response to Cisneros' efforts. "We want you to know we're letting her spin her own story," Cisneros said Berkowitz told her. "But this is a direct result of the conversation you all have with us."The experience nonetheless angered staffers. Cisneros left RAINN the next year.Another colleague, Martha Durkee-Neuman, wrote a scathing resignation letter shortly after Omear announced her exit, addressing it to Omear, Berkowitz, and Kolmer."Jodi leaving of her own accord with no accountability is not justice," Durkee-Neuman wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Insider. "It is not justice for the countless people that she has fired or driven from RAINN. It is not justice to pretend that nothing has happened, that staff were not forced to go to HR over and over and over until something was finally done." "I do not believe any of this work of justice or restoration will happen at RAINN, so unfortunately, this is no longer the right organization for me," she added."After the communications team raised concerns [about Omear] with Claudia Kolmer," RAINN said, "RAINN worked swiftly and diligently to investigate the staff's complaints. RAINN took appropriate action to address the findings of that investigation and Omear separated with RAINN shortly thereafter."Martha Durkee-Neuman's resignation letter.Martha Durkee-Neuman'What is left?' On November 19, 2021, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of charges related to the shooting deaths of two people at a civil-rights rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Some time later, Leslie, then the interim vice president of RAINN's victim-services department, addressed the organization's Black staffers. "I am deeply saddened by the pain and violence that has continued to plague our Black neighbors and communities," she wrote. "I want to recognize how this may be affecting you, as you navigate your day and the work you do at RAINN." She then touted the racial diversity of the victim-services department.Nearly 18 months had passed since the organization sent around its email about the death of George Floyd. Despite various promises and initiatives, in the eyes of many staffers, little had changed. But here it was again, another email promising to listen to staffers of color. Employees were enraged.Aniyah Carter, the Safe Helpline worker whose email RAINN provided to Insider, reminded her boss that nearly two weeks had passed since the verdict. "By now, we have already had to check in with ourselves so that we can continue our day-to-day lives," she wrote. "And while the opportunity to check in with managers is still absolutely available (and encouraged), the reminder to do so would have been more beneficial if it occurred when this took place." Carter also highlighted the gap she saw between leadership's stated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and its on-the-ground support of its employees of color, a sentiment echoed by other staffers who spoke to Insider.Daniel Diasgranados for InsiderFor Cisneros, the repeated failure of the organization to address the concerns of its staff speaks to something darker, and she is worried about how the culture at RAINN is affecting its ability to help abuse survivors."If church can't help, if school can't help, if the police can't help, if the hospital can't help, if my family can't help, my friends can't help — and now this nonprofit that is specifically saying that it's here to help people like me can't help?" she said."Like, what is left?"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 25th, 2022

Sen. Paul Details $52 Billion Federal "Waste" In Annual "Festivus Report"

Sen. Paul Details $52 Billion Federal "Waste" In Annual 'Festivus Report' Authored by Joseph Lord via The Epoch Times, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has unveiled his annual “Festivus Report,” which tracks what he sees as “waste” spending by the federal government. According to the libertarian-leaning Kentuckian, that waste topped over $52 billion in 2021. Since arriving in the Senate amid the Tea Party wave of 2010, Paul had made the federal budget one of his foremost concerns. Like his father, 2008 and 2012 presidential candidate and former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the younger Paul has decried U.S. military adventurism, the excesses of the post-9/11 surveillance state, and the perpetually unbalanced budget of the federal government. The Festivus Report has been a staple for Paul since 2015, when he released his first edition of the report. In the 2021 report, Paul calculated that federal boondoggles added up to a total of $52,598,515,585 - an amount Paul says could have been used to give everyone on Earth around $6.78, build 13,149 miles of four-lane highway, operate Veterans’ Affairs facilities for 4.5 months, or to fund the Department of Energy for nearly two years. From ground-up ferrets to border walls for Middle Eastern countries to a federally-funded dinosaur film, these are some of the most striking examples of bizarre spending revealed by Paul. Misappropriation of COVID-19 Funds Cost $40 Billion Since January 2020, the U.S. government has spent more on relief packages for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus than it spent on World War II. And these relief packages have cost taxpayers tens billions in waste and misappropriated funds, Paul argues. By far the largest expense listed was a $36 billion loss to “improper CARES Act unemployment payments.” The CARES Act, signed into law in March 2020, was the first major pandemic stimulus bill. At the time, when uncertainty about the disease was at its peak, the bill expanded eligibility opportunities for unemployment, allowing those who normally would not qualify to receive unemployment payments. Though it has since become clear that most healthy adults under 50 years old are at little risk of severe disease, federal expenditures authorized by the CARES Act have lagged behind the science. While employers across the nation are desperate for more employees, many not-at-risk Americans have continued to collect unemployment checks under CARES Act guidelines despite being able to work at workplaces enforcing their own COVID-19 safety measures. The second largest expense detailed by Paul was also the result of COVID stimulus legislation. In total, Paul claims that the federal government spent around $4.3 billion on duplicate or ineligible Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, another relief policy that allowed employers to take loans from the federal government to ensure that their employees got paid. DoD Spends Billions on Scrapped Planes, Abandoned Buildings, and Middle Eastern Border Walls The next largest expenses come from the Department of Defense (DoD). According to Paul, the DoD has invested $3.4 billion into replacing the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, one of the military’s go-to tank-like assault vehicles that are used in part as troop transports. Efforts to replace the Bradley began in 2003, but the DoD has still not managed to build a viable replacement. The DoD also lost quite a bit of taxpayer money during the chaotic and controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ordered to leave immediately by President Joe Biden, the military left behind not only hundreds of American citizens and billions of dollars in military equipment, but also billions of dollars of U.S.-financed infrastructure and buildings. The evacuation has left around $2.4 billion of buildings sitting unused. “Why are we spending all this money to build them in the first place?” Paul wrote. “What was once a mission to seek out and destroy the people who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks has become an exercise in—well, it’s unclear exactly what.” Additionally, $549 million was spent by the DoD on military aircraft for the faraway desert nation, but these were “later thrown away” and sold as scrap for $40,257, Paul found. Since 2017, the DoD has lost $773 million on uncollected debts for allies’ use of U.S. aircraft. “DoD is responsible for billing and tracking countries’ usage of these goods and services,” Paul said of the discovery, noting that these aircraft were not supposed to be offered for free. “However, DoD apparently forgot about that part,” Paul quipped. One of the DoD’s most bizarre expenditures involves a $250 million investment into building border walls around several Middle Eastern and North African countries. At the same time, the Biden administration has left the U.S. southern border de facto open. Upon taking office, Biden canceled several non-refundable U.S.-Mexico border wall contracts negotiated by Trump, leaving the wall’s materials sitting unused along the border. Since then, illegal crossings at the southern border have reached unprecedented levels. One Million Trees for NYC, Solar Panels for Africa, and Other Climate Initiatives Still, these expenditures are relatively tame compared to others on Paul’s list. Paul also exposed how federal money has been used for several odd climate initiatives, both in the United States and abroad. For example, the federal government offered a staggering sum of $400 million to plant one million trees in New York City between 2007 and 2017, which comes out to around $400 per tree. Proponents said that the project would “make New York City more sustainable” and “protect our planet.” MillionTreesNYC Director Morgan Monaco said that there was an additional goal: “to have New Yorkers form an emotional connection to trees.” Some African nations also made off with a windfall in U.S. taxpayer funding. The Department of State, Paul says, devoted $179 million to funding green energy programs in Africa. Paul argued that this investment will actually hurt African nations more than help them. “Operating renewable energy sources like solar and hydroelectric remain more costly to [African] citizens,” Paul said. “So, by … providing $179 million for renewable energy, we’re actually going to be sticking Sub-Saharan African consumers with hefty electricity bills.” The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has also advanced some questionably costly climate programs. According to Paul’s findings, USAID has spent $11.3 million on “telling people [in Vietnam] not to burn their trash.” Another $88 million USAID went to efforts to build irrigation systems in Afghanistan. Despite the nearly $100 million investment, these have gone mostly unused by Afghan farmers. Ground-Up Ferrets for COVID Vaccines and Other Government-Funded Research Projects The federal government has also been busy in the domain of scientific research. While some federally-financed research involves things like military technology, health care innovations, and space travel, some of its projects push the frontiers of human knowledge much less than others. One of the most bizarre research projects highlighted by Paul involves $4.5 million in funding for a vaccine facility that ground up ferrets, among other inhumane tests. “Since 2010, the American taxpayer has given Triple F Farms $4.5 million [to breed and transport ferrets] to COVID-19 and influenza vaccine testing laboratories,” Paul explained. A 2011 investigation into their facility included “video recordings of ferrets dying in feces, run over by carts, thrown alive into incinerators, hanging from wire.” After these abuses became public, Triple F Farms received a $44,000 fine from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which Paul called “a minor slap on the wrist compared to the millions of dollars of your taxpayer funds they received before and after the investigation.” Recent USDA inspections have shown that these problems are ongoing. But Triple F Farms still receives federal funding despite its inhumane and illegal treatment of animals. Another federally-funded study by the National Institute on Aging, at a cost to taxpayers of $1.3 million, found that “hearing bad news decreases happiness levels.” In the same vein, the federal government financed a $352,000 experiment which concluded that “kids crave junk food and gain weight if they’re exposed to it.” Finally, the National Institutes of Health spent $465,000 on an experiment involving pigeons playing slot machines, while the Food and Drug Administration spent $337,500 on an effort to fatten eels for human consumption. Translating Books Into Georgian and Other Cultural Initiatives A slew of odd cultural initiatives are also on the federal government’s bloated checkbook. For example, the Department of State has spent $182,741 on an initiative to translate classic American books into Georgian, the language of a small central-Asian state with a population of around 3.7 million people—less than the population of Los Angeles alone. “The books used are not objectionable,” Paul emphasized, “some economics textbooks, children’s books, and American classics like All the King’s Men and Invisible Man.” “But,” he asked, “when did this become the federal government’s job?” “In the United States, nearly one third of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading,” Paul noted. “‘Some 36 million adults in the U.S. don’t have basic reading … skills above a third-grade level,’ according to estimates,” the report reads. “In case the bureaucrats have forgotten: your constituents are the American people, not foreign citizens,” Paul wrote. Similarly, the State Department has spent $200,000 on an initiative to teach French people about American culture, despite the fact that U.S. culture already has an outsized effect on French culture and language. USAID, in the same vein, has also spent $150,000 on funding free field trips to Washington for Korean children. But Paul notes that not all of the federal government’s cultural spending has been international. New York City, for instance, got a grant of $25 million as part of a COVID-19 relief program to display art projects across the city. With the money, then-Mayor Bill DeBlasio introduced the “City Arts Corps,” which paid around 3,000 artists to publicly display creative works in an effort to “resurge the cultural scene,” DeBlasio said. Another $14 million went to funding the Wilson Center, an upscale venue that’s often the scene of what Paul described as “swanky parties” for members of Congress. “If you’ve not heard of the Wilson Center, it’s a small nonpartisan foreign policy think tank in Washington D.C.,” Paul wrote. “It’s the same as a private think tank, like the Heritage Foundation or the Center for American Progress, except it receives about $14 million a year from the Federal government.” And the Wilson Center has gotten a lot of taxpayer money over the past several decades. According to Paul, this congressional party hub has received $300 million since 1976, while its aforementioned peers have received none. Finally, the National Science Foundation spent $2.5 million on “a film about dinosaurs to inspire middle schoolers.” “Yes, the government used $2-million taxpayer dollars to create a dinosaur-centric film in 2D and 3D, a 3-episode TV series, a fictional book and museum exhibits to ‘inspire’ middle schoolers to build interest in STEM,” Paul wrote. Paul’s Plan to Balance the Budget In his report, Paul also detailed what could be done to balance the budget. A few years ago, Paul introduced his “Penny Plan Balanced Budget.” According to Paul, the plan would have cut “only one penny off every dollar spent by the Federal government.” But amid record spending by the Democratic Congress, that plan will no longer be enough to balance the budget, Paul said. Now, the federal government is spending so much money that it would need to cut five pennies off of each dollar it spends to balance the budget. During early debates on democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) $3.5 trillion budget draft, Paul introduced an amendment to the bill that would have done just that. However, the amendment was defeated by a supermajority, with several Republicans joining with Democrats to strike down the proposal. Still, Paul said he would keep doing what he could to fight the problem. “The speed in which our debt is growing means we need ever more vigorous solutions to solve this growing problem,” he wrote. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/23/2021 - 15:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 23rd, 2021

Our Shopping Obsession Is Causing a Literal Stink

Box factories are enjoying a revival since the pandemic spurred more online shopping, but neighborhoods downwind of box makers say the smell is making life miserable The world is on a spending spree, and no matter what you’re buying, it’s probably going to have been in a box at some point along its route to you. That means companies are rushing to build pulp mills and box factories to meet demand, and many of them are in the United States. About 40 billion boxes—equal to 407 billion square feet, which is roughly the size of Switzerland —were shipped in the U.S. in 2020, surpassing the previous record from 1999 set amidst a hot economy and burgeoning e-commerce. This year is likely to beat that record; in the first nine months of 2021, box shipments were up 3.9% from 2020, according to the Fibre Box Association. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] But making paper products is a smelly operation, and as more box factories expand into U.S. neighborhoods, there’s come a pushback from people who don’t want to be downwind of an American manufacturing revival. In South Carolina, three groups of plaintiffs filed lawsuits this summer against New-Indy, a company that converted a paper mill to make containerboard, saying the conversion has made the air dangerous and unhealthy; the state received more than 17,000 complaints of noxious odors from citizens near the New-Indy plant in the first half of this year, which it calls “an unprecedented number.” New York state fined a Niagara Falls paper mill $375,000 in September for “intolerable odors” that it said impacted the health of the surrounding neighborhood, especially in the summer; the mill, Cascades Containerboard Packaging, agreed to spend millions of dollars in equipment upgrades. The mill says the smell comes from sludge created when the plant processes recycled paper into cardboard, and this recycled sludge was generated at higher rates this year to meet higher demand for boxes. David Goldman—APThe Midwest Paper Group mill in Combined Locks, Wis., is seen from across the the river in Little Chute, Wis., on Aug. 18, 2020. The mill is one of many that switched its focus from producing paper to cardboard for boxes as online shopping soared. And in Kalamazoo, Mich., residents filed a lawsuit against paperboard maker Graphic Packaging International after they say the company started production on a machine that would increase output by 500,000 tons a year; the residents say the mill has “discharged discrete and offensive noxious odors, air particulates, and fugitive dust” into the air. Adding to the tensions: many of these odor-emitting factories are in communities of color, which by virtue of zoning laws find themselves tucked against industrial zones. People of color account for the bulk of exposure to industrial pollutants in the United States, according to a study published in April in ScienceAdvances. How the pandemic changed shopping The complaints about the box factories coincide with the reversal of a long-term trend in the U.S. that saw mills shutting down as demand for printer paper and newspapers waned. Now, shuttered mills that once printed newspapers and magazines in places like Old Town, Maine and Port Angeles, Wash., are reopening to make pulp and containerboard—the liner and brown paper used to make a cardboard box. There are even new mills opening in places like Green Bay, Wisc. and Wapakoneta, Ohio, and new mills planned in places like Henderson, Ky. Though e-commerce has long driven an increase in the boxes passing through the average American’s home, until now it had not led to a huge uptick in box production; the boxes being sent to people’s homes were merely in lieu of the boxes carrying goods to brick and mortar stores. The pandemic changed that. Read more: I Tried Buying Only Used Holiday Gifts. It Changed How I Think About Shopping “There was this extraordinary shift from spending on services to spending on goods,” says Adam Josephson, a paper and packaging analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets. “Higher purchases of goods leads to higher use of boxes.” Now, people are buying so much stuff—a record $16.3 trillion in October in the U.S. alone—that there’s more demand for boxes than ever before. E-commerce and mail order use seven times more corrugated cardboard per dollar of sales than traditional retail does, according to Fastmarkets RISI, which tracks the industry. The new and updated mills in the U.S.—30 since 2017 by the count of the Northeast Recycling Council—are a boon to efforts to jumpstart American manufacturing and create new jobs in a long dwindling industry. But the manufacturing process can create hydrogen sulfide and other substances that smell like rotten eggs. In some places where mills have come on line or increased production, residents say that the problem goes beyond stench and that the operations, running at full capacity, are polluting the air and water. The downside of ‘Made in America’ For decades, Americans have bought things made from minerals extracted elsewhere, assembled in faraway factories where the stench and pollution impacted someone else. Now that more boxes are being made in the United States, some residents are confronting one of the pitfalls to making things in America again. “It started as rotten eggs but recently it’s been a sweet port-a-potty, urinal cake smell,” says Kerri Bishop, 34, who runs a Facebook group for people trying to do something about the smell in Catawba, S.C., where the New-Indy mill is located. “I don’t really leave my house—it’s worse when I go outside, and I never know when it’s going to hit,” she says. Bishop, who moved her family to South Carolina from Rochester, N.Y., in 2016, says that before the conversion, the mill would make the air smell like rotten eggs a few times a year, but it didn’t bother her. Then, New-Indy Containerboard, a joint venture part-owned by the Kraft Group, bought the mill in 2018 and converted it to making brown paper for containerboard. The mill began high-volume production in February of 2021, and people working within a 30-mile radius started complaining of strong odors and physical reactions, according to the lawsuit. As Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots and New-Indy Containerboard, headed to his plane, he drove by me, photojournalist Chelsea Pomales, and our big @wcnc sign. We hope Mr. Kraft will follow through and call us. pic.twitter.com/ntV39RZQPn — Brandon Goldner (@BrandonWCNC) November 7, 2021 In order to start making brown paper at the mill, New-Indy had to apply for a new permit; the permit application estimated that hydrogen sulfide emissions would not significantly increase because of the conversion, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, or DHEC. The state began receiving thousands of complaints about foul odors in the vicinity in February 2021; when it investigated, it found the odors were coming from the mill. When it asked for information about current sludge management at the facility, the state says, New-Indy provided documents from 2014 and 2017, before the conversion. “It started as rotten eggs, but recently it’s been a sweet port-a-potty, urinal cake smell.” In May 2021, the EPA issued an emergency order under the Clean Air Act requiring the company to reduce hydrogen sulfide emissions and install air quality monitors on its fence line. But for Bishop and other residents, that’s not enough; the company was only required to install a few monitors, and air quality has not improved since May, she says. She and other residents blame the odor on something called a steam-stripper, which treats foul condensate; they say that because of the increased volume at the plant, the steam-stripper can’t handle all the waste the company is producing. Bishop has a cranial nerve disorder, which means the smells hit her even harder, making her physically ill; she gets dizzy and starts seeing spots, she says. Her youngest son developed a rash on his face. She and others say that the environmental agencies are monitoring for the wrong chemicals and that the wastewater the mill is sending into surrounding lagoons is contaminating the groundwater. They say that the problem isn’t just the smell, but that the mill is polluting the air, causing nausea, rashes, and other health problems. Other residents say they can’t take their dogs outside when the smell hits, that they can’t sleep at night; one woman says she keeps a gas mask by her bed to wear when the air seems particularly dirty. New-Indy declined to comment for this story. Paul Hennessy—NurPhoto/Getty ImagesBoaters pass near the Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper mill on Dec. 14, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. The China connection There’s another reason that there’s a boom in paper mills in the U.S. In 2018, China stopped accepting most types of recycled material from the U.S., including paper and cardboard. That created an opportunity for paper mills that previously couldn’t compete with China on cost. There was cardboard available to recycle, so mills just had to be retrofitted to turn that cardboard into more cardboard. “The Chinese import restrictions changed the recycling equation and spurred a revitalization of the U.S. mill industry,” says Colin Staub, senior reporter at Resource Recycling, who compiled a map of more than two dozen conversions and new mills announced across the U.S. “We’re certainly seeing more interest in buying and opening paper mills.” China consumes 107 million tons of paper per year, but it has fewer trees to use for pulp and less of a recycling infrastructure than the U.S. Its import restrictions mean that it can primarily import pulp, not cardboard, so some Chinese companies are funding new mills in the U.S. to make pulp that can then be sent overseas. A Chinese company, Nine Dragons, reopened the shuttered mill in Old Town, Maine to make pulp to export to China for boxes. (The mill spilled more than 30,700 gallons of chemicals into the Penobscot River in 2020, violating state and federal laws, causing a rise in the river’s PH level and prompting the Penobscot Nation to advocate for greater stewardship of the river.) Of course, the pulp mills and containerboard factories opening now are much more sustainable than the mills of the past. These mills are an important part of the circular economy in which nothing is thrown away and everything is reused; without mills to recycle cardboard, it would be going to a landfill. Jon Cherry—Getty Images Amanda Eversole, a UPS employee and package handler, watches boxes rush past after clearing a chute jam on Dec. 6, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. But the communities hosting these mills often don’t want to have to bear the brunt of our obsession with shopping. “They’re causing pollution that’s never going to leave; they’re turning their own community into a superfund site,” says Jackie Lane, a marine biologist who lives near an International Paper mill in Cantonment, Fla., that she and others say has long polluted Perdido Bay. International Paper failed to meet its wastewater treatment plant permit limits for toxicity on 19 documented occasions from 2015 to 2019, according to a final consent order executed by the state in May. The consent order fines International Paper $190,000 in penalties and requires it to pay a $10,000 fine every time it fails certain water quality tests, an order Lane says is a slap on the wrist. International Paper said in a statement that its monitoring, done in coordination with the state, has shown that the wetlands are “biologically rich and diverse” and that it works closely with the state to preserve the wetlands. International Paper employs more than 500 Alabama and Florida residents, the company said. ‘Environmental racism’ Most of the new and improved paper mills are on sites that have long held paper mills—it’s much easier to get the permits and infrastructure on an existing site than to build a new factory. But that’s meant that because of historical zoning practices that located polluting plants near Black neighborhoods, it’s minority neighborhoods who are subject to much of this pollution. Earlier this year, a former resident filed a complaint against the city of Kalamazoo with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, alleging that leaders discriminated against Black residents by approving a tax break that allowed Graphic Packaging to expand in a predominantly Black neighborhood. The city also agreed to cut down 721 trees for the company, according to the complaint. George Rose—Getty ImagesHoliday shopping contributes to a backlog of boxes outside a U.S. Post Office in Solvang, Calif., on Nov. 27, 2021. Brandi Crawford-Johnson, the plaintiff, also filed a complaint against Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, alleging that it discriminated against a predominantly Black neighborhood when it approved changes to an air permit allowing Graphic Packaging to expand in November of 2020. In November, the EPA’s Civil Rights Compliance Office said that it would investigate this complaint. “It’s environmental racism,” says Crawford-Johnson, who after moving to the neighborhood was shocked to learn how many of her neighbors had asthma and other health problems. Graphic Packaging said in a statement that the expansion is not yet fully operational and that it has taken several steps over the years to mitigate potential odors. Though it does not comment on pending litigation, the company that there are several other local manufacturers and a city wastewater treatment plant near its operations, and the odors are caused by “a number of complex factors.” And in Brunswick, Georgia, which is 55% Black, residents have long been accustomed to the smell of rotten eggs from a nearby Georgia-Pacific pulp mill. But starting in December of 2020, residents started having such severe health reactions to the smell that some called 911 because they couldn’t breathe in their homes, says Rachael Thompson, the executive director of the Glynn Environmental Coalition. “I feel like if this were a Caucasian neighborhood and community, more would be done about it,” one resident who called 911, Spanline Dixon, told The Current, a news site covering coastal Georgia. Brunswick is home to four Superfund sites, but the University of Georgia worked with the Glynn Environmental Coalition to analyze weather reports and track what was upstream from the odor complaints. The study showed definitively a direct correlation between the mill and the odors, Thompson says. Her group has received 130 complaints since last year; the only time it did not receive any complaints was during a month the mill was temporarily closed. A Georgia-Pacific spokesman said, in an email, that the company is aware of the odor complaints and shares the community’s concern. The company is working with the state environmental regulatory agency and other stakeholders to identify and mitigate the potential sources of the odor, the spokesman said. More from TIME Read more: How American Shoppers Broke the Supply Chain Tensions between growing demand for paper and the environmental problems that causes aren’t limited to the U.S. In Indonesia, more than 30 community groups sent a letter to Asia Pulp & Paper in August arguing that the mill’s plan to triple pulp production will risk the respiratory health of millions of people. And a community in Nova Scotia is divided after a paper company is taking legal action to reopen a mill that was shut in 2020 after community concerns about its wastewater discharge. One thing’s for sure, says Joshua Martin, director of the Environmental Paper Network—these conflicts are likely to mount as the world consumes more packaging. The problem isn’t just that mills create bad odors; despite high cardboard recycling rates, trees are still cut down to make packaging—around 3 billion a year, according to EPN. Although cardboard is easier to recycle than other products like plastic, it can only be recycled about 5-7 times before it can’t be used any more. Recycled cardboard is often mixed with virgin pulp to make boxes. The U.S. drives that demand—it consumes 202 kg of paper and paperboard per capita, compared to Africa’s 6 kg per capita, Latin America’s 44 kg per capita, and Asia’s 44 kg per capita, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. “If the entire world used the amount of paper as America currently does, it would be completely unsustainable,” he says. The only way to reverse this trend, he says, is to change the way we buy things to have less dependence on paper and packaging. Consumers can send messages to companies by patronizing businesses that use packaging certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; they can try brands like Loop that deliver groceries in reusable packaging, which Loop then collects. Perhaps the easiest solution, though, is to buy less stuff that you’re going to toss soon—disposable coffee cups or takeout packaging or multiple e-commerce orders. “It’s this culture of disposability and single-use, no matter what the product is made from, that needs to change,” he says. It’s something Kerri Bishop, the South Carolina resident, is taking to heart. Bishop spent her career working in manufacturing and says she didn’t join the class-action lawsuit and didn’t even want the mill to shut down at first. She just hoped they would upgrade their equipment. Now, though, she’s worried she moved to a state that values manufacturing and jobs more than the quality of life and health of its residents. She’s considering getting a home air filtration system. Once a frequent Amazon shopper, she tired of ordering a few different things and having them arrive in many different boxes, even if she tried to get them to all come the same day. She’d heard from a local politician that the New-Indy boxes were being used by Amazon, so she started boycotting the online retailer. She lifted the boycott for the holidays, as higher prices and supply chain problems made it hard to buy things elsewhere, but Bishop says she plans to stop shopping at Amazon again in January.    .....»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 17th, 2021

Our Shopping Obsession Is a Boon to Box Makers, But Not to Their Neighbors

Box factories smell, and the neighborhoods near them say ramped-up production to meet online shopping needs is making life miserable The world is on a spending spree, and no matter what you’re buying, it’s probably going to have been in a box at some point along its route to you. That means companies are rushing to build pulp mills and box factories to meet demand, and many of them are in the United States. About 40 billion boxes—equal to 407 billion square feet, which is roughly the size of Switzerland —were shipped in the U.S. in 2020, surpassing the previous record from 1999 set amidst a hot economy and burgeoning e-commerce. This year is likely to beat that record; in the first nine months of 2021, box shipments were up 3.9% from 2020, according to the Fibre Box Association. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] But making paper products is a smelly operation, and as more box factories expand into U.S. neighborhoods, there’s come a pushback from people who don’t want to be downwind of an American manufacturing revival. In South Carolina, three groups of plaintiffs filed lawsuits this summer against New-Indy, a company that converted a paper mill to make containerboard, saying the conversion has made the air dangerous and unhealthy; the state received more than 17,000 complaints of noxious odors from citizens near the New-Indy plant in the first half of this year, which it calls “an unprecedented number.” New York state fined a Niagara Falls paper mill $375,000 in September for “intolerable odors” that it said impacted the health of the surrounding neighborhood, especially in the summer; the mill, Cascades Containerboard Packaging, agreed to spend millions of dollars in equipment upgrades. The mill says the smell comes from sludge created when the plant processes recycled paper into cardboard, and this recycled sludge was generated at higher rates this year to meet higher demand for boxes. David Goldman—APThe Midwest Paper Group mill in Combined Locks, Wis., is seen from across the the river in Little Chute, Wis., on Aug. 18, 2020. The mill is one of many that switched its focus from producing paper to cardboard for boxes as online shopping soared. And in Kalamazoo, Mich., residents filed a lawsuit against paperboard maker Graphic Packaging International after they say the company started production on a machine that would increase output by 500,000 tons a year; the residents say the mill has “discharged discrete and offensive noxious odors, air particulates, and fugitive dust” into the air. Adding to the tensions: many of these odor-emitting factories are in communities of color, which by virtue of zoning laws find themselves tucked against industrial zones. People of color account for the bulk of exposure to industrial pollutants in the United States, according to a study published in April in ScienceAdvances. How the pandemic changed shopping The complaints about the box factories coincide with the reversal of a long-term trend in the U.S. that saw mills shutting down as demand for printer paper and newspapers waned. Now, shuttered mills that once printed newspapers and magazines in places like Old Town, Maine and Port Angeles, Wash., are reopening to make pulp and containerboard—the liner and brown paper used to make a cardboard box. There are even new mills opening in places like Green Bay, Wisc. and Wapakoneta, Ohio, and new mills planned in places like Henderson, Ky. Though e-commerce has long driven an increase in the boxes passing through the average American’s home, until now it had not led to a huge uptick in box production; the boxes being sent to people’s homes were merely in lieu of the boxes carrying goods to brick and mortar stores. The pandemic changed that. Read more: I Tried Buying Only Used Holiday Gifts. It Changed How I Think About Shopping “There was this extraordinary shift from spending on services to spending on goods,” says Adam Josephson, a paper and packaging analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets. “Higher purchases of goods leads to higher use of boxes.” Now, people are buying so much stuff—a record $16.3 trillion in October in the U.S. alone—that there’s more demand for boxes than ever before. E-commerce and mail order use seven times more corrugated cardboard per dollar of sales than traditional retail does, according to Fastmarkets RISI, which tracks the industry. The new and updated mills in the U.S.—30 since 2017 by the count of the Northeast Recycling Council—are a boon to efforts to jumpstart American manufacturing and create new jobs in a long dwindling industry. But the manufacturing process can create hydrogen sulfide and other substances that smell like rotten eggs. In some places where mills have come on line or increased production, residents say that the problem goes beyond stench and that the operations, running at full capacity, are polluting the air and water. The downside of ‘Made in America’ For decades, Americans have bought things made from minerals extracted elsewhere, assembled in faraway factories where the stench and pollution impacted someone else. Now that more boxes are being made in the United States, some residents are confronting one of the pitfalls to making things in America again. “It started as rotten eggs but recently it’s been a sweet port-a-potty, urinal cake smell,” says Kerri Bishop, 34, who runs a Facebook group for people trying to do something about the smell in Catawba, S.C., where the New-Indy mill is located. “I don’t really leave my house—it’s worse when I go outside, and I never know when it’s going to hit,” she says. Bishop, who moved her family to South Carolina from Rochester, N.Y., in 2016, says that before the conversion, the mill would make the air smell like rotten eggs a few times a year, but it didn’t bother her. Then, New-Indy Containerboard, a joint venture part-owned by the Kraft Group, bought the mill in 2018 and converted it to making brown paper for containerboard. The mill began high-volume production in February of 2021, and people working within a 30-mile radius started complaining of strong odors and physical reactions, according to the lawsuit. As Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots and New-Indy Containerboard, headed to his plane, he drove by me, photojournalist Chelsea Pomales, and our big @wcnc sign. We hope Mr. Kraft will follow through and call us. pic.twitter.com/ntV39RZQPn — Brandon Goldner (@BrandonWCNC) November 7, 2021 In order to start making brown paper at the mill, New-Indy had to apply for a new permit; the permit application estimated that hydrogen sulfide emissions would not significantly increase because of the conversion, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, or DHEC. The state began receiving thousands of complaints about foul odors in the vicinity in February 2021; when it investigated, it found the odors were coming from the mill. When it asked for information about current sludge management at the facility, the state says, New-Indy provided documents from 2014 and 2017, before the conversion. “It started as rotten eggs, but recently it’s been a sweet port-a-potty, urinal cake smell.” In May 2021, the EPA issued an emergency order under the Clean Air Act requiring the company to reduce hydrogen sulfide emissions and install air quality monitors on its fence line. But for Bishop and other residents, that’s not enough; the company was only required to install a few monitors, and air quality has not improved since May, she says. She and other residents blame the odor on something called a steam-stripper, which treats foul condensate; they say that because of the increased volume at the plant, the steam-stripper can’t handle all the waste the company is producing. Bishop has a cranial nerve disorder, which means the smells hit her even harder, making her physically ill; she gets dizzy and starts seeing spots, she says. Her youngest son developed a rash on his face. She and others say that the environmental agencies are monitoring for the wrong chemicals and that the wastewater the mill is sending into surrounding lagoons is contaminating the groundwater. They say that the problem isn’t just the smell, but that the mill is polluting the air, causing nausea, rashes, and other health problems. Other residents say they can’t take their dogs outside when the smell hits, that they can’t sleep at night; one woman says she keeps a gas mask by her bed to wear when the air seems particularly dirty. New-Indy declined to comment for this story. Paul Hennessy—NurPhoto/Getty ImagesBoaters pass near the Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper mill on Dec. 14, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. The China connection There’s another reason that there’s a boom in paper mills in the U.S. In 2018, China stopped accepting most types of recycled material from the U.S., including paper and cardboard. That created an opportunity for paper mills that previously couldn’t compete with China on cost. There was cardboard available to recycle, so mills just had to be retrofitted to turn that cardboard into more cardboard. “The Chinese import restrictions changed the recycling equation and spurred a revitalization of the U.S. mill industry,” says Colin Staub, senior reporter at Resource Recycling, who compiled a map of more than two dozen conversions and new mills announced across the U.S. “We’re certainly seeing more interest in buying and opening paper mills.” China consumes 107 million tons of paper per year, but it has fewer trees to use for pulp and less of a recycling infrastructure than the U.S. Its import restrictions mean that it can primarily import pulp, not cardboard, so some Chinese companies are funding new mills in the U.S. to make pulp that can then be sent overseas. A Chinese company, Nine Dragons, reopened the shuttered mill in Old Town, Maine to make pulp to export to China for boxes. (The mill spilled more than 30,700 gallons of chemicals into the Penobscot River in 2020, violating state and federal laws, causing a rise in the river’s PH level and prompting the Penobscot Nation to advocate for greater stewardship of the river.) Of course, the pulp mills and containerboard factories opening now are much more sustainable than the mills of the past. These mills are an important part of the circular economy in which nothing is thrown away and everything is reused; without mills to recycle cardboard, it would be going to a landfill. Jon Cherry—Getty Images Amanda Eversole, a UPS employee and package handler, watches boxes rush past after clearing a chute jam on Dec. 6, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. But the communities hosting these mills often don’t want to have to bear the brunt of our obsession with shopping. “They’re causing pollution that’s never going to leave; they’re turning their own community into a superfund site,” says Jackie Lane, a marine biologist who lives near an International Paper mill in Cantonment, Fla., that she and others say has long polluted Perdido Bay. International Paper failed to meet its wastewater treatment plant permit limits for toxicity on 19 documented occasions from 2015 to 2019, according to a final consent order executed by the state in May. The consent order fines International Paper $190,000 in penalties and requires it to pay a $10,000 fine every time it fails certain water quality tests, an order Lane says is a slap on the wrist. International Paper said in a statement that its monitoring, done in coordination with the state, has shown that the wetlands are “biologically rich and diverse” and that it works closely with the state to preserve the wetlands. International Paper employs more than 500 Alabama and Florida residents, the company said. ‘Environmental racism’ Most of the new and improved paper mills are on sites that have long held paper mills—it’s much easier to get the permits and infrastructure on an existing site than to build a new factory. But that’s meant that because of historical zoning practices that located polluting plants near Black neighborhoods, it’s minority neighborhoods who are subject to much of this pollution. Earlier this year, a former resident filed a complaint against the city of Kalamazoo with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, alleging that leaders discriminated against Black residents by approving a tax break that allowed Graphic Packaging to expand in a predominantly Black neighborhood. The city also agreed to cut down 721 trees for the company, according to the complaint. George Rose—Getty ImagesHoliday shopping contributes to a backlog of boxes outside a U.S. Post Office in Solvang, Calif., on Nov. 27, 2021. Brandi Crawford-Johnson, the plaintiff, also filed a complaint against Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, alleging that it discriminated against a predominantly Black neighborhood when it approved changes to an air permit allowing Graphic Packaging to expand in November of 2020. In November, the EPA’s Civil Rights Compliance Office said that it would investigate this complaint. “It’s environmental racism,” says Crawford-Johnson, who after moving to the neighborhood was shocked to learn how many of her neighbors had asthma and other health problems. Graphic Packaging said in a statement that the expansion is not yet fully operational and that it has taken several steps over the years to mitigate potential odors. Though it does not comment on pending litigation, the company that there are several other local manufacturers and a city wastewater treatment plant near its operations, and the odors are caused by “a number of complex factors.” And in Brunswick, Georgia, which is 55% Black, residents have long been accustomed to the smell of rotten eggs from a nearby Georgia-Pacific pulp mill. But starting in December of 2020, residents started having such severe health reactions to the smell that some called 911 because they couldn’t breathe in their homes, says Rachael Thompson, the executive director of the Glynn Environmental Coalition. “I feel like if this were a Caucasian neighborhood and community, more would be done about it,” one resident who called 911, Spanline Dixon, told The Current, a news site covering coastal Georgia. Brunswick is home to four Superfund sites, but the University of Georgia worked with the Glynn Environmental Coalition to analyze weather reports and track what was upstream from the odor complaints. The study showed definitively a direct correlation between the mill and the odors, Thompson says. Her group has received 130 complaints since last year; the only time it did not receive any complaints was during a month the mill was temporarily closed. A Georgia-Pacific spokesman said, in an email, that the company is aware of the odor complaints and shares the community’s concern. The company is working with the state environmental regulatory agency and other stakeholders to identify and mitigate the potential sources of the odor, the spokesman said. Read more: How American Shoppers Broke the Supply Chain Tensions between growing demand for paper and the environmental problems that causes aren’t limited to the U.S. In Indonesia, more than 30 community groups sent a letter to Asia Pulp & Paper in August arguing that the mill’s plan to triple pulp production will risk the respiratory health of millions of people. And a community in Nova Scotia is divided after a paper company is taking legal action to reopen a mill that was shut in 2020 after community concerns about its wastewater discharge. One thing’s for sure, says Joshua Martin, director of the Environmental Paper Network—these conflicts are likely to mount as the world consumes more packaging. The problem isn’t just that mills create bad odors; despite high cardboard recycling rates, trees are still cut down to make packaging—around 3 billion a year, according to EPN. Although cardboard is easier to recycle than other products like plastic, it can only be recycled about 5-7 times before it can’t be used any more. Recycled cardboard is often mixed with virgin pulp to make boxes. The U.S. drives that demand—it consumes 202 kg of paper and paperboard per capita, compared to Africa’s 6 kg per capita, Latin America’s 44 kg per capita, and Asia’s 44 kg per capita, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. “If the entire world used the amount of paper as America currently does, it would be completely unsustainable,” he says. The only way to reverse this trend, he says, is to change the way we buy things to have less dependence on paper and packaging. Consumers can send messages to companies by patronizing businesses that use packaging certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; they can try brands like Loop that deliver groceries in reusable packaging, which Loop then collects. Perhaps the easiest solution, though, is to buy less stuff that you’re going to toss soon—disposable coffee cups or takeout packaging or multiple e-commerce orders. “It’s this culture of disposability and single-use, no matter what the product is made from, that needs to change,” he says. It’s something Kerri Bishop, the South Carolina resident, is taking to heart. Bishop spent her career working in manufacturing and says she didn’t join the class-action lawsuit and didn’t even want the mill to shut down at first. She just hoped they would upgrade their equipment. Now, though, she’s worried she moved to a state that values manufacturing and jobs more than the quality of life and health of its residents. She’s considering getting a home air filtration system. Once a frequent Amazon shopper, she tired of ordering a few different things and having them arrive in many different boxes, even if she tried to get them to all come the same day. She’d heard from a local politician that the New-Indy boxes were being used by Amazon, so she started boycotting the online retailer. She lifted the boycott for the holidays, as higher prices and supply chain problems made it hard to buy things elsewhere, but Bishop says she plans to stop shopping at Amazon again in January.    .....»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 15th, 2021

Deere Reports Net Income of $1.283 Billion for Fourth Quarter, $5.963 Billion for Fiscal Year

MOLINE, Ill., Nov. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Fourth-quarter net income rises on net sales gain of 19%, demonstrating solid execution and benefits of operating model. UAW contract agreement shows commitment to Deere's workforce. Full-year 2022 earnings forecast to be $6.5 to $7.0 billion, reflecting healthy demand. Deere & Company (NYSE:DE) reported net income of $1.283 billion for the fourth quarter ended October 31, 2021, or $4.12 per share, compared with net income of $757 million, or $2.39 per share, for the quarter ended November 1, 2020. For fiscal year 2021, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $5.963 billion, or $18.99 per share, compared with $2.751 billion, or $8.69 per share, in fiscal 2020. Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 16 percent, to $11.327 billion, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021 and rose 24 percent, to $44.024 billion, for the full year. Equipment operations net sales were $10.276 billion for the quarter and $39.737 billion for the year, compared with corresponding totals of $8.659 billion and $31.272 billion in 2020. "Deere's strong fourth-quarter and full-year performance was delivered by our dedicated employees, dealers, and suppliers throughout the world, who have helped safely maintain our operations and serve customers," said John C. May, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our results reflect strong end-market demand and our ability to continue serving customers while managing supply-chain issues and conducting contract negotiations with our largest union. Last week's ratification of a 6-year agreement with the UAW brings our highly skilled employees back to work building the finest products in our industries. The agreement shows our ongoing commitment to delivering best-in-class wages and benefits." Company Outlook & Summary Net income attributable to Deere & Company for fiscal 2022 is forecasted to be in a range of $6.5 billion to $7.0 billion. "Looking ahead, we expect demand for farm and construction equipment to continue benefiting from positive fundamentals, including favorable crop prices, economic growth, and increased investment in infrastructure," May said. "At the same time, we anticipate supply-chain pressures will continue to pose challenges in our industries. We are working closely with our suppliers to address these issues and ensure that our customers can deliver essential food and infrastructure more profitably and sustainably." Deere & Company Fourth Quarter Full Year $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change 2021 2020 % Change Net sales and revenues $ 11,327 $ 9,731 16% $ 44,024 $ 35,540 24% Net income $ 1,283 $ 757 69% $ 5,963 $ 2,751 117% Fully diluted EPS $ 4.12 $ 2.39 $ 18.99 $ 8.69 Net income in the fourth quarter and full-year 2020 was negatively affected by impairment charges and employee-separation costs of $211 million and $458 million after-tax, respectively. In addition, net income was unfavorably affected by discrete adjustments to the provision for income taxes in both periods of 2020. Equipment Operations Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net sales $ 10,276 $ 8,659 19% Operating profit $ 1,393 $ 1,056 32% Net income $ 1,056 $ 571 85% For a discussion of net sales and operating profit results, see the production and precision agriculture, small agriculture and turf, and construction and forestry sections below. Production & Precision Agriculture Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net sales $ 4,661 $ 3,801 23% Operating profit $ 777 $ 578 34% Operating margin 16.7% 15.2% Production and precision agriculture sales increased for the quarter due to higher shipment volumes and price realization. Operating profit rose primarily due to price realization and improved shipment volumes / mix. These items were partially offset by higher production costs. Results for fourth-quarter 2020 were negatively impacted by employee-separation expenses.   Small Agriculture & Turf Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net sales $ 2,809 $ 2,397 17% Operating profit $ 346 $ 282 23% Operating margin 12.3% 11.8% Small agriculture and turf sales increased for the quarter due to higher shipment volumes and price realization. Operating profit rose primarily due to improved shipment volumes / mix and price realization. These items were partially offset by higher production costs and higher research and development and selling, administrative, and general expenses. Employee-separation expenses and impairments negatively impacted the fourth quarter of 2020.   Construction & Forestry Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net sales $ 2,806 $ 2,461 14% Operating profit $ 270 $ 196 38% Operating margin 9.6% 8.0% Construction & Forestry sales moved higher for the quarter primarily due to higher shipment volumes and price realization. Operating profit improved mainly due to price realization and higher sales volume / mix. Partially offsetting these factors were increases in production costs and higher selling, administrative, and general and research and development expenses. Fourth-quarter 2020 results were adversely affected by employee-separation expenses and impairments.   Financial Services Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net income $ 227 $ 186 22% Net income for financial services in the quarter rose mainly due to income earned on a higher average portfolio and favorable financing spreads, as well as improvements on operating-lease residual values. These factors were partially offset by a higher provision for credit losses. Results in 2020 also were affected by employee-separation costs. Industry Outlook for Fiscal 2022 Agriculture & Turf U.S. & Canada: Large Ag Up ~ 15% Small Ag & Turf  ~ Flat Europe Up ~ 5% South America (Tractors & Combines) Up ~ 5% Asia  ~ Flat Construction & Forestry U.S. & Canada: Construction Equipment Up 5 to 10% Compact Construction Equipment Up 5 to 10% Global Forestry Up 10 to 15%   Deere Segment Outlook for Fiscal 2022 Currency Price $ in millions Net Sales Translation Realization Production & Precision Ag Up 20 to 25% 0% +9% Small Ag & Turf Up 15 to 20% -1% +7% Construction & Forestry Up 10 to 15% 0% +8% Financial Services Net Income $870 Financial Services. Fiscal-year 2022 net income attributable to Deere & Company for the financial services operations is forecast to be approximately $870 million. Results are expected to be slightly lower than fiscal 2021 due to a higher provision for credit losses, lower gains on operating-lease residual values, and higher selling, general, and administrative expenses. These factors are expected to be partially offset by income earned on a higher average portfolio. John Deere Capital Corporation The following is disclosed on behalf of the company's financial services subsidiary, John Deere Capital Corporation (JDCC), in connection with the disclosure requirements applicable to its periodic issuance of debt securities in the public market. Fourth Quarter Full Year $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change 2021 2020 % Change Revenue $ 673 $ 693 -3% $ 2,688 $ 2,808 -4% Net income $ 181 $ 154 18% $ 711 $ 425 67% Ending portfolio balance $ 41,488 $ 38,726 7% Net income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021 was higher than in the fourth quarter of 2020 primarily due to income earned on higher average portfolio balances and improvements on operating-lease residual values. These factors were partially offset by a higher provision for credit losses. Fourth-quarter 2020 results were also negatively impacted by employee-separation expenses. Full-year 2021 net income was higher than in 2020 due to improvements on operating-lease residual values, a lower provision for credit losses, favorable financing spreads, and income earned on a higher average portfolio. Full-year 2020 results also included impairments on lease residual values. Safe Harbor Statement Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995:  Statements under "Company Outlook & Summary," "Industry Outlook for Fiscal 2022," "Deere Segment Outlook (Fiscal 2022)," and other forward-looking statements herein that relate to future events, expectations, and trends involve factors that are subject to change and risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. Some of these risks and uncertainties could affect particular lines of business, while others could affect all of the company's businesses. The company's agricultural equipment businesses are subject to a number of uncertainties, including certain factors that affect farmers' confidence and financial condition. These factors include demand for agricultural products; world grain stocks; weather conditions and the effects of climate change; soil conditions; harvest yields; prices for commodities and livestock; crop and livestock production expenses; availability of transport for crops (including as a result of reduced state and local transportation budgets); trade restrictions and tariffs (e.g., China); global trade agreements; the level of farm product exports (including concerns about genetically modified organisms); the growth and sustainability of non-food uses for some crops (including ethanol and biodiesel production); real estate values; available acreage for farming; land ownership policies of governments; changes in government farm programs and policies; international reaction to such programs; changes in and effects of crop insurance programs; changes in environmental regulations and their impact on farming practices; animal diseases (e.g., African swine fever) and their effects on poultry, beef, and pork consumption and prices and on livestock feed demand; crop pests and diseases; and the impact of the COVID pandemic on the agricultural industry including demand for, and production and exports of, agricultural products, and commodity prices.  The production and precision agriculture business is dependent on agricultural conditions, and relies in part on hardware and software, guidance, connectivity and digital solutions, and automation and machine intelligence. Many factors contribute to the company's precision agriculture sales and results, including the impact to customers' profitability and/or sustainability outcomes; the rate of adoption and use by customers; availability of technological innovations; speed of research and development; effectiveness of partnerships with third parties; and the dealer channel's ability to support and service precision technology solutions. Factors affecting the company's small agriculture and turf equipment operations include agricultural conditions; consumer confidence; weather conditions and the effects of climate change; customer profitability; labor supply; consumer borrowing patterns; consumer purchasing preferences; housing starts and supply; infrastructure investment; spending by municipalities and golf courses; and consumable input costs. Factors affecting the company's construction and forestry equipment operations include consumer spending patterns; real estate and housing prices; the number of housing starts; interest rates; commodity prices such as oil and gas; the levels of public and non-residential construction; and investment in infrastructure. Prices for pulp, paper, lumber, and structural panels affect sales of forestry equipment. Many of the factors affecting the production and precision agriculture, small agriculture and turf, and construction and forestry segments have been and may continue to be impacted by global economic conditions, including those resulting from the COVID pandemic and responses to the pandemic taken by governments and other authorities. All of the company's businesses and its results are affected by general economic conditions in the global markets and industries in which the company operates; customer confidence in general economic conditions; government spending and taxing; foreign currency exchange rates and their volatility, especially fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar; interest rates (including the availability of IBOR reference rates); inflation and deflation rates; changes in weather and climate patterns; the political and social stability of the global markets in which the company operates; the effects of, or response to, terrorism and security threats; wars and other conflicts; natural disasters; and the spread of major epidemics or pandemics (including the COVID pandemic) and government and industry responses to such epidemics or pandemics, such as travel restrictions and extended shut downs of businesses. Continued uncertainties related to the magnitude, duration, and persistent effects of the COVID pandemic may significantly adversely affect the company's business and outlook. These uncertainties include, among other things: the duration and impact of the resurgence in COVID cases in any country, state, or region; the emergence, contagiousness, and threat of new and different strains of virus; the availability, acceptance, and effectiveness of vaccines; additional closures as mandated or otherwise made necessary by governmental authorities; disruptions in the supply chain, including those caused by industry capacity constraints, material availability, and global logistics delays and constraints arising from, among other things, the transportation capacity of ocean shipping containers, and a prolonged delay in resumption of operations by one or more key suppliers, or the failure of any key suppliers; an increasingly competitive labor market due to a sustained labor shortage or increased turnover caused by COVID pandemic; the company's ability to meet commitments to customers on a timely basis as a result of increased costs and supply and transportation challenges; increased logistics costs; additional operating costs due to continued remote working arrangements, adherence to social distancing guidelines, and other COVID-related challenges; increased risk of cyber-attacks on network connections used in remote working arrangements; increased privacy-related risks due to processing health-related personal information; legal claims related to personal protective equipment designed, made, or provided by the company or alleged exposure to COVID on company premises; absence of employees due to illness; and the impact of the pandemic on the company's customers and dealers. The sustainability of the economic recovery observed in 2021 remains unclear and significant volatility could continue for a prolonged period. These factors, and others that are currently unknown or considered immaterial, could materially and adversely affect our business, liquidity, results of operations, and financial position. Significant changes in market liquidity conditions, changes in the company's credit ratings, and any failure to comply with financial covenants in credit agreements could impact access to funding and funding costs, which could reduce the company's earnings and cash flows. Financial market conditions could also negatively impact customer access to capital for purchases of the company's products and customer confidence and purchase decisions, financing and repayment practices, and the number and size of customer delinquencies and defaults. A debt crisis in Europe, Latin America, or elsewhere could negatively impact currencies, global financial markets, social and political stability, funding sources and costs, asset and obligation values, customers, suppliers, demand for equipment, and company operations and results. The company's investment management activities could be impaired by changes in the equity, bond, and other financial markets, which would negatively affect earnings. Continued effects of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union could adversely affect business activity, political stability, and economic conditions in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and elsewhere. The economic conditions and outlook could be further adversely affected by (i) uncertainty regarding any new or modified trade arrangements between the United Kingdom and the European Union and/or other countries; (ii) the risk that one or more other European Union countries could come under increasing pressure to leave the European Union; or (iii) the risk that the euro as the single currency of the eurozone could cease to exist. Any of these developments could affect our businesses, liquidity, results of operations, and financial position. Additional factors that could materially affect the company's operations, access to capital, expenses, and results include changes in, uncertainty surrounding, and the impact of governmental trade, banking, monetary, and fiscal policies, including financial regulatory reform and its effects on the consumer finance industry, derivatives, funding costs, and other areas; the potential default of the U.S. federal government if Congress fails to pass a fiscal 2022 budget resolution; governmental programs, policies, and tariffs for the benefit of certain industries or sectors; sanctions in particular jurisdictions; retaliatory actions to such changes in trade, banking, monetary, and fiscal policies; actions by central banks; actions by financial and securities regulators; actions by environmental, health, and safety regulatory agencies, including those related to engine emissions, carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and the effects of climate change; changes to GPS radio frequency bands or their permitted uses; changes in labor and immigration regulations; changes to accounting standards; changes in tax rates, estimates, laws, and regulations and company actions related thereto; changes to and compliance with privacy, banking, and other regulations; changes to and compliance with economic sanctions and export controls laws and regulations; compliance with U.S. and foreign laws when expanding to new markets and otherwise; and actions by other regulatory bodies. Other factors that could materially affect the company's results include production, design, and technological innovations and difficulties, including capacity and supply constraints and prices; the loss of or challenges to intellectual property rights, whether through theft, infringement, counterfeiting, or otherwise; the availability and prices of strategically sourced materials, components, and whole goods; delays or disruptions in the company's supply chain or the loss of liquidity by suppliers; disruptions of infrastructures that support communications, operations, or distribution; the failure of customers, dealers, suppliers, or the company to comply with laws, regulations, and company policy pertaining to employment, human rights, health, safety, the environment, sanctions, export controls, anti-corruption, privacy and data protection, and other ethical business practices; introduction of legislation that could affect the company's business model and intellectual property, such as right to repair or right to modify; events that damage the company's reputation or brand; significant investigations, claims, lawsuits, or other legal proceedings; start-up of new plants and products; the success of new product initiatives or business strategies; changes in customer product preferences and sales mix; gaps or limitations in rural broadband coverage, capacity, and speed needed to support technology solutions; oil and energy prices, supplies, and volatility; the availability and cost of freight; actions of competitors in the various industries in which the company competes, particularly price discounting; dealer practices, especially as to levels of new and used field inventories; changes in demand and pricing for used equipment and resulting impacts on lease residual values; labor relations and contracts, including work stoppages and other disruptions; changes in the ability to attract, develop, engage, and retain qualified personnel; acquisitions and divestitures of businesses; greater-than-anticipated transaction costs; the integration of new businesses; the failure or delay in closing or realizing anticipated benefits of acquisitions, joint ventures, or divestitures; the inability to deliver precision technology and agricultural solutions to customers; the implementation of the smart industrial operating model and other organizational changes; the failure to realize anticipated savings or benefits of cost reduction, productivity, or efficiency efforts; difficulties related to the conversion and implementation of enterprise resource planning systems; security breaches, cybersecurity attacks, technology failures, and other disruptions to the information technology infrastructure of the company and its suppliers and dealers; security breaches with respect to the company's products; changes in company-declared dividends and common stock issuances and repurchases; changes in the level and funding of employee retirement benefits; changes in market values of investment assets, compensation, retirement, discount, and mortality rates which impact retirement benefit costs; and significant changes in health care costs. The liquidity and ongoing profitability of John Deere Capital Corporation and the company's other financial services subsidiaries depend largely on timely access to capital in order to meet future cash flow requirements, and to fund operations, costs, and purchases of the company's products. If general economic conditions deteriorate or capital markets become more volatile, funding could be unavailable or insufficient. Additionally, customer confidence levels may result in declines in credit applications and increases in delinquencies and default rates, which could materially impact write-offs and provisions for credit losses. The company's forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions relating to the factors described above, which are sometimes based upon estimates and data prepared by government agencies. Such estimates and data are often revised. The company, except as required by law, undertakes no obligation to update or revise its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new developments or otherwise. Further information concerning the company and its businesses, including factors that could materially affect the company's financial results, is included in the company's other filings with the SEC (including, but not limited to, the factors discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors of the company's most recent annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q).   DEERE & COMPANY FOURTH QUARTER 2021 PRESS RELEASE (In millions of dollars) Unaudited Three Months Ended Years Ended October 31 November 1 % October 31 November 1 % 2021 2020 Change 2021 2020 Change Net sales and revenues: Production & precision ag net sales $ 4,661 $ 3,801 +23 $ 16,509 $ 12,962 +27 Small ag & turf net sales 2,809 2,397 +17 11,860 9,363 +27 Construction & forestry net sales 2,806 2,461 +14 11,368 8,947 +27 Financial services 869 891 -2 3,548 3,589 -1 Other revenues 182 181 +1 739 679 +9 Total net sales and revenues $ 11,327 $ 9,731 +16 $ 44,024 $ 35,540 +24 Operating profit: * Production & precision ag $ 777 $ 578 +34 $ 3,334 $ 1,969 +69 Small ag & turf 346 282 +23 2,045 1,000 +105 Construction & forestry 270 196 +38 1,489 590 +152 Financial services 299 249 +20 1,144 746 +53 Total operating profit 1,692 1,305 +30 8,012 4,305 +86 Reconciling items ** (78) (219) -64 (390) (472) -17 Income taxes (331) (329) +1 (1,659) (1,082) +53 Net income attributable to Deere & Company $ 1,283 $ 757 +69 $ 5,963 $ 2,751 +117 * Operating profit is income from continuing operations before corporate expenses, certain external interest expense, certain foreign exchange gains and losses, and income taxes. Operating profit of the financial services segment includes the effect of interest expense and foreign exchange gains or losses. ** Reconciling items are primarily corporate expenses, certain external interest expense, certain foreign exchange gains and losses, pension and postretirement benefit costs excluding the service cost component, and net income attributable to noncontrolling interests.   DEERE & COMPANY STATEMENT OF CONSOLIDATED INCOME For the Three Months Ended October 31, 2021 and November 1, 2020 (In millions of dollars and shares except per share amounts) Unaudited  2021 2020 Net Sales and Revenues Net sales $ 10,276 $ 8,659 Finance and interest income 828 867 Other income 223 205 Total 11,327 9,731 Costs and Expenses Cost of sales 7,809 6,470 Research and development expenses 450 443 Selling, administrative and general expenses 936 1,011 Interest expense 210 278 Other operating expenses 309 414 Total 9,714 8,616 Income of Consolidated Group before Income Taxes 1,613 1,115 Provision for income taxes 330 329 Income of Consolidated Group 1,283 786 Equity in income (loss) of unconsolidated affiliates 1 (28) Net Income 1,284 758 Less: Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests 1 1 Net Income Attributable to Deere & Company $ 1,283 $ 757 Per Share Data Basic $ 4.15 $ 2.41 Diluted $ 4.12 $ 2.39 Average Shares Outstanding Basic 309.1 314.1 Diluted 311.5 317.1 See Condensed Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.   DEERE & COMPANY STATEMENT OF CONSOLIDATED INCOME For the Years Ended October 31, 2021 and November 1, 2020 (In millions of dollars and shares except per share amounts) Unaudited 2021 2020 Net Sales and Revenues Net sales $ 39,737 $ 31,272 Finance and interest income 3,296 3,450 Other income 991 818 Total 44,024 35,540 Costs and Expenses Cost of sales 29,116 23,677 Research and development expenses 1,587 1,644 Selling, administrative and general expenses 3,383 3,477 Interest expense 993 1,247 Other operating expenses 1,343 1,612 Total 36,422 31,657 Income of Consolidated Group before Income Taxes 7,602 3,883 Provision for income taxes 1,658 1,082 Income of Consolidated Group 5,944 2,801 Equity in income (loss) of unconsolidated affiliates 21 (48) Net Income 5,965 2,753 Less: Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests 2 2 Net Income Attributable to Deere & Company $ 5,963 $ 2,751 Per Share Data Basic $ 19.14 $ 8.77 Diluted $ 18.99 $ 8.69 Average Shares Outstanding Basic 311.6 313.5 Diluted 314.0 316.6 See Condensed Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.   DEERE & COMPANY CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET As of October 31, 2021 and November 1, 2020 (In millions of dollars) Unaudited  2021 2020 Assets Cash and cash equivalents $ 8,017 $ 7,066 Marketable securities 728 641 Receivables from unconsolidated affiliates 27 31 Trade accounts and notes receivable - net 4,208 4,171 Financing receivables - net 33,799 29,750 Financing receivables securitized - net 4,659 4,703 Other receivables 1,738 1,220 Equipment on operating leases - net 6,988 7,298 Inventories 6,781 4,999 Property and equipment - net 5,820 5,817 Investments in unconsolidated affiliates 175 193 Goodwill 3,291 3,081 Other intangible assets - net 1,275 1,327 Retirement benefits 3,601 863 Deferred income taxes 1,037 1,499 Other assets 1,970 2,432 Total Assets $ 84,114 $ 75,091 Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity Liabilities Short-term borrowings $ 10,919 $ 8,582 Short-term securitization borrowings 4,605 4,682 Payables to unconsolidated affiliates 143 105 Accounts payable and accrued expenses 12,205 10,112 Deferred income taxes 576 519 Long-term borrowings 32,888 32,734 Retirement benefits and other liabilities 4,344 5,413 Total liabilities 65,680 62,147 Stockholders' Equity Total Deere & Company stockholders' equity 18,431 12,937 Noncontrolling interests 3 7 Total stockholders' equity 18,434 12,944 Total Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity $ 84,114 $ 75,091 See Condensed Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.   DEERE & COMPANY STATEMENT OF CONSOLIDATED CASH FLOWS For the Years Ended October 31, 2021 and November 1, 2020 (In millions of dollars) Unaudited 2021 2020 Cash Flows from Operating Activities Net income $ 5,965 $ 2,753 Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash provided by operating activities: Provision (credit) for credit losses (6) 110 Provision for depreciation and amortization 2,050 2,118 Impairment charges 50 194 Share-based compensation expense 82 81 Loss on sales of businesses and unconsolidated affiliates 24 Undistributed earnings of unconsolidated affiliates 2 (7) Credit for deferred income taxes (441) (11) Changes in assets and liabilities: Trade, notes, and financing receivables related to sales 969 2,009 Inventories (2,497) 397 Accounts payable and accrued expenses 1,884 (7) Accrued income taxes payable/receivable 11 8 Retirement benefits 29 (537) Other (372) 351 Net cash provided by operating activities 7,726 7,483 Cash Flows from Investing Activities Collections of receivables (excluding receivables related to sales) 18,959 17,381 Proceeds from maturities and sales of marketable securities 109 93 Proceeds from sales of equipment on operating leases 2,094 1,783 Cost of receivables acquired (excluding receivables related to sales) (23,653) (19,965) Acquisitions of businesses, net of cash acquired (244) (66).....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaNov 24th, 2021

A Fat, Comfortable Military Is A "Woke" Military

A Fat, Comfortable Military Is A "Woke" Military Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, Over the past decade federal military and intelligence agencies have increasingly embraced so-called woke campaigns and policy positions. Specifically, these government agencies have taken explicitly ideological positions in promoting “pride month” and more recruitment of larger numbers of gay and transgender personnel explicitly for purposes of increasing “diversity.” Actual military concerns appear to be receding into the background even as the US military establishment has recently lost yet another war and blown trillions of taxpayer dollars. For example, as early as 2014, the CIA was bragging that it “has participated in the DC Capital Pride Festival for the past three years … and is active in advancing LGBT diversity and inclusion efforts throughout the Intelligence Community.” More recently, the CIA in May 2021 released a series of recruitment videos clearly focused on recruiting personnel which would allow the agency to check certain diversity boxes. Also, in May of this year, the US Army released a recruitment video celebrating a lesbian wedding and a pride march. In November, the navy launched the USNS Harvey Milk, named after the famed gay rights activist and icon.  For more astute observers of government institutions, of course, none of this will be surprising. Military and intelligence agencies are fundamentally nothing more than tax-funded bureaucratic agencies, and as such are political organizations. They will identify which way the political winds are blowing in Washington and then pander to the groups most likely to increase their budgets and privileges. The latest effort at “woke” politics is simply public relations designed to maximize budgets and increase influence. Moreover, because the US military establishment so rarely faces any real political scrutiny or fiscal discipline, it need not concern itself with efficiency or serving customers, as a private firm must. Instead, military and intelligence bureaucracies are free to spend time on political and ideological concerns instead.  Left versus Right on the Embrace of “Woke” Interestingly, it has been the Left that has offered the most insightful criticism of the drive for embracing diversity in Langley and at the Pentagon. Glenn Greenwald, for instance, identified the CIA diversity drive for what it is: a cynical ploy designed to appeal to a corporate center-left elite that fancies itself the defender of “tolerance” while it bombs children with drones. Similarly, Alan Macleod scoffs about Pentagon claims that LGBT women are “’shattering stereotypes’ by joining the world’s largest killing machine.” When it comes to the military, at least some elements on the left knows a con when they see one. On the right, the preferred critique centers on whether or not the woke PR campaign has anything to do with providing military defense services. For example, Robert Berg at National Review writes that the new emphasis on diversity is pursued “at the cost of mission readiness.” That's true in the sense that the woke campaigns contribute nothing to securing the lives and property of the taxpayers. But none of the Right's milquetoast protests will amount to any meaningful reform because the Right is never willing to use the Congress’s number one tool for reining in the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies: the federal budget. Yes, the Heritage Foundation may whine on occasion about Pride Month at the Pentagon, but we all know that in the end, the Heritage Foundation will call loudly for ever-larger budgets for the US’s military establishment, no matter what. They may even use their alleged outrage about wokeness to push the lie that the Pentagon endured “damaging cuts” during the Obama years. So, by pushing wokeism, the Pentagon and the CIA win either way. The conservatives will never actually endanger the military and intelligence budgets, and the Left will embrace the new “tolerant” military-industrial complex all the more. This, however, is exactly what we should expect from military defense agencies that are inherently more concerned with political goals than geostrategic ones. This isn’t peculiar to modern times or to the United States, of course. Any military establishment that enjoys big budgets and a high amount of public approval—as is clearly the case in the United States—will feel little need to focus on military readiness or economic efficiency. This is further compounded when a regime is—as is also the case in the United States—fundamentally secure and faces no credible existential threats. Politics, Not Economics, Drives Military Policy Because military spending is allocated politically rather than through the marketplace—there really is no way to calculate the value provided by military forces. When market demand plays so little of a role in the allocation of resources, “value” becomes a function of the ability of military personnel to cater to the whims of policymakers who make budget decisions. Moreover, the more the military establishment is insulated from the consumers and taxpayers, the more military and intelligence agencies are likely to engage in ideological flights of fancy unconnected to military defense. Military expertise is not what lies behind most decisions from military and intelligence personnel. Rather, military bureaucrats are incentivized to make decisions that bring political benefit. In his essay “Secession and the Production of Defense,” Jörg Guido Hülsmann explains how in a functional marketplace the people paying the bills—i.e., the taxpayers—are able to guide the allocation of resources in the market through the use of their dollars. This is apparent in all relatively free markets like real estate, insurance, or shoes. In military and intelligence “markets,” on the other hand, the money extracted from the end user—“the people”—is used by policymakers for political purposes. So, the real “clients” of military and intelligence bureaucrats are politicians, not taxpayers. Hülsmann writes: The possibility to ignore the needs of the consumers gives the producers [i.e., the Pentagon and the CIA] the opportunity to produce goods that only they consider important. Ultimately, Freed from the need to serve consumers as efficiently as possible, the producers of defense services now have a bigger margin for wasteful behavior…. The effects of compulsory funding are similarly devastating. It reduces the necessity for the military agencies to satisfy customer needs. As a consequence, as we have seen, the various military executives can start satisfying their own needs, both in respect to the services they produce and in respect to the selection of personnel. The end result is that military and intelligence personnel seek out “experts” who are really just experts in having the correct opinions: Moreover, rather than hiring the most capable personnel, they start hiring the fellows who know the best jokes, or the children of their schoolmates, or people who share their political, sexual, religious, and other preferences. Or they might hire particularly ruthless individuals, who despise common morality. Also, rather than organizing the defense units in the most militarily efficient way, they acquiesce to other considerations. For example, the recent admission to the U.S. military of females and homosexual males does not seem to be based on military, but political, expediency. Restoring Some Control to the Taxpayers What is the answer to this? The first of course, would be to restore some fiscal discipline at the federal level. Washington’s knee-jerk habit of relentlessly increasing military and intelligence budgets must end. For example, when the CIA (and also the FBI, among others) failed spectacularly on 9/11, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies received only more power and larger budgets. In Afghanistan, after twenty years of Pentagon generals insisting that victory was right around the corner, they face no blowback. There is absolutely no incentive for these bureaucratic agencies to actually improve their wasteful use of resources. At a bare minimum, federal military spending ought to be cut by $1 trillion (in 2022 dollars) over ten years, as recently contemplated by the Congressional Budget Office. But more radical changes must be pursued as well.  As Angelo Codevilla has shown, the CIA is a dysfunctional and partisan organization, incapable of achieving its stated goals. Codevilla concludes: “[A]s regards strategic intelligence, CIA is usually worse than useless.” The CIA is actually an impediment to the effective use and sharing of intelligence information. It should simply be abolished. As far as the Pentagon goes, one key move to reining in federal power, waste, and social policy antics is decentralizing military power. A first step in this direction is winning the passage of the “Defend the Guard” legislation now being contemplated in numerous state legislatures. This movement restores to state governments some control over the use of the National Guard, providing a limited veto on deployments and federal military adventurism. Yet far more power must be shifted toward American decisionmakers—both public and private—outside Washington, DC, and closer to the taxpayers if the US's military establishment is to face any real accountability. Otherwise, the usual tiny number of reliable Washington insiders will ensure the Pentagon and the intelligence “community” remains fat, comfortable, and insulated from any public discontent. In itself, the military move to wokeness is actually a minor affair, and only one example of how little the military does that is critical to military defense. Rather, the woke movement is part of the larger problem of a military that is overfunded and thus disconnected from all fiscal discipline and what might be loosely termed “customer service.” Tyler Durden Wed, 11/10/2021 - 21:25.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 10th, 2021

Democrats are set to unveil a new billionaire"s tax and some of the wealthiest Americans are glad. Here are some of the ultrawealthy who want higher taxes.

The group includes Mark Cuban, George Soros, Ray Dalio, Abigail Disney, members of the Pritzker and Gund families, and a Facebook cofounder. 'Shark Tank' star Mark Cuban Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images To pay for Biden's social spending agenda, Democrats are considering a new tax targeting billionaires. Billionaires including Mark Cuban, Marc Benioff, Ray Dalio, and George Soros have publicly called for higher taxes on the wealthy. A wealth tax would make ultrawealthy Americans pay the government a small percentage of their net worth each year. In 2020, Bill Gates' New Year's resolution was to get the federal government to raise taxes on the ultrawealthy - including himself. Now, that wish might come true, as Democrats eye higher taxes on America's billionaires."We've updated our tax system before to keep up with changing times, and we need to do it again, starting with raising taxes on people like me," Gates wrote on his blog at the time.That's exactly what Democrats are planning to propose this week. A plan authored by Sen. Ron Wyden would target the unrealized gains - value that assets like stock accrue - of billionaires every year. It's not quite an outright wealth tax, but it comes close. And it would pay for the social safety net bill Democrats hope to vote on this week that includes expansions to healthcare and childcare for Americans.While Elon Musk ripped the plan on Twitter, other billionaires from Warren Buffett to George Soros have proposed a wealth tax as a way to combat America's growing wealth gap and fund healthcare and education initiatives. In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, a group of 18 ultrawealthy Americans, including Abigail Disney and members of the Pritzker and Gund families, published an open letter asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax.Politicians, too, rolled out proposals on this front: A wealth tax like the one proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren would make ultrawealthy Americans pay the federal government a small percentage of their net worth each year. Bernie Sanders unveiled a wealth-tax plan that is even more aggressive than Warren's.Inequality exacerbated by the pandemic has more strenuously renewed calls for a wealth tax, as America's billionaires added $2.1 trillion to their fortunes as millions dealt with with pandemic-induced unemployment and poverty. Mounting inequality isn't a new issue: In 2018, income inequality in the US reached its highest level in more than half a century. The ultrawealthy actually paid a smaller portion of their income in taxes than average Americans in 2018, an analysis of tax data by the University of California at Berkeley's Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found.While the idea of using a wealth tax to solve America's inequality problem has gained traction in recent years, proposals have been hampered by questions over the effectiveness and the constitutionality of such a tax, Business Insider previously reported.Keep reading to learn more about some of the most high-profile billionaires and multimillionaires who have publicly supported raising taxes on the 1%, listed in chronological order. The founder of Jimmy John's says it's "bullshit" that wealthy people are taking out loans to live on that are free of taxes. Irene Jiang / Business Insider Jimmy John Liautaud told The Daily Beast that he knows a lot of people have "accumulated massive, massive wealth" — and then borrow money. As ProPublica reported, taking out loans against large fortunes is one method that the ultra-wealthy employ to reduce how much they owe in taxes, since loans aren't taxed."That's tax free. And I think it's bullshit," Liautaud told the Daily Beast.When it comes to gains for assets, he said: "Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, every year this shit's compounding. I paid more tax than Warren Buffett. And I'm worth 2 billion fucking dollars." Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban proposed taxing the wealthy to offset cutting payroll taxes in a November 2017 tweet. Getty/Michael Kovac —Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 24, 2017Now best known for his appearances on ABC's "Shark Tank," Cuban built a $4.5 billion fortune through a lifetime of business deals, including the $5.7 billion sale of Broadcast.com, and his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks, Business Insider reported. Bill Gates has said he's paid over $10 billion in taxes over his lifetime - but he doesn't think that's enough. Bill Gates speaks ahead of former U.S. President Barack Obama at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event on September 20, 2017 in New York City. Yana Paskova/Getty Images "I need to pay higher taxes," Gates said in a 2018 interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "I've paid more taxes, over $10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes."In a December 30, 2019, post on his blog, Gates Notes, Gates proposed raising the estate tax and removing the cap on the amount of income subject to Medicare taxes. He also suggested closing the carried interest loophole that allows fund managers to pay lower capital gains rates on their incomes and making state and local taxes fairer, Market Insider's Theron Mohamed previously reported."That's why I'm for a tax system in which, if you have more money, you pay a higher percentage in taxes," Gates wrote. "And I think the rich should pay more than they currently do, and that includes Melinda and me." On CNBC's Squawk Box, Warren Buffett said raising billionaires' taxes is the best way to help "a guy who is a wonderful citizen" but "just doesn't have market skills." Bill Pugliano/Getty "The wealthy are definitely undertaxed relative to the general population," Buffett said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" in February 2019. Buffett has suggested that Congress expand income tax credits for low-income Americans, raising taxes on high earners in the process, CNBC reported. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he "should be paying higher taxes" at a CNN town hall in February, but called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposed 70% marginal tax rate for millionaires "punitive." Howard Schultz. Owen Hoffmann / Contributor / Getty Images Schultz built a $3.8 billion fortune running the coffee chain, Business Insider previously reported. While Schultz left Starbucks in 2018, he still held onto more than 37.7 million shares — or roughly 3% — of the company's stock. When asked if the wealthy should pay more in taxes on "60 Minutes," billionaire hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio replied: "Of course." Hollis Johnson/Business Insider In the "60 Minutes" segment, Dalio said he thinks the American dream is lost and referred to the wealth gap as a "national emergency." Dalio, 70, founded his hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, in his apartment in 1975, Business Insider reported. It now has $150 billion in assets under management. Dalio has a net worth of $20 billion, Forbes estimates. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of The Walt Disney Company cofounder Roy Disney, has made a name for herself as one of the biggest advocates for closing America's wealth gap. Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images The granddaughter of The Walt Disney Co. cofounder Roy Disney has made a name for herself as one of the company's most outspoken critics. The 59-year-old heiress has criticized the salary of Disney CEO Bob Iger and defended Meryl Streep after she called Walt Disney a "bigot," according to CNN Business.Disney has a net worth of $120 million, she said in July 2019. "The internet says I have half a billion dollars and I might have something close to that if I'd been investing aggressively," Disney told the Financial Times.She testified in support of Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax in April 2021, and called out the methods the ultra-wealthy use to evade taxes in a June essay for the Atlantic.Disney was one of 18 ultrawealthy Americas to sign an open letter in June asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax. The letter isn't the first time that Disney has spoken out about tax reform. Disney criticized the 2017 Republican tax bill in a NowThis video, saying the bill unfairly benefited the wealthy. Heiress Agnes Gund and her daughter Catherine Gund also signed the wealth tax letter. Catherine Gund, left, with her mother, Agnes Gund, and Stanley Whitney Getty Images / Sean Zanni / Contributor In 2015, Forbes estimated that the Gund family had a net worth of $3.4 billion and ranked them among the 100 wealthiest families in America.Agnes Gund, 83, used the fortune she inherited from her father, the president of an Ohio-based bank, to become a philanthropist in arts and social justice, according to The New York Times. Agnes Gund received the National Medal of the Arts in 1997 from President Bill Clinton for her work, which included serving as the president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.Catherine Gund, 56, is an Emmy-winning film director and producer. Gund founded nonprofit production studio Aubin Pictures in 1996, according to her previous biography on the studio's website. The Gunds weren't the only family who signed the letter together. So did Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and his husband, political activist Sean Eldridge. Chris Hughes Facebook Page Hughes is a cofounder of Facebook. He left the social network in 2007 to become the online organizer for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Despite calling for Facebook to be broken up in May 2019, Hughes had a stake in the company worth $850 million, Newsweek reports. In 2016, Forbes put Hughes' net worth at $430 million.In April 2021, Hughes told CNBC that Americans are "throwing out the idea that markets were ever free" and that it's time for a new capitalism.Eldridge is a political activist and former congressional candidate in New York, according to Vanity Fair. Eldridge was born in Canada. Ian and Liesel Pritzker Simmons signed the letter together. Ian Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, poses at his office in Cambridge, Mass., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. A handful of billionaires and multimillionaires are making a renewed push for the government to raise their taxes and siphon away some of their holdings. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer "This is really a conservative position about increasing the stability of the economy in the long term and having an efficient source of taxation," Simmons told the Associated Press.Simmons, 44, serves as the cofounder and principal of impact investing firm Blue Haven Initiative alongside his wife and fellow signatory, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, according to the firm's website. Simmons is the heir to a family fortune that stems from the construction of locks on the Erie Canal, according to Forbes.Pritzker Simmons, an heir to the Pritzker family fortune, has a net worth of $600 million, according to a 2013 Forbes article. Simmons, now 35, is also a cofounder and principal of Blue Haven Initiative.As a child, she starred in several big-name Hollywood productions, including "A Little Princess" and "Air Force One," alongside Harrison Ford. In 2002, Forbes reports, she sued her father and the Pritzker family and came away from it with a $500 million payout. Simmons called retired Massachusetts real-estate developer Robert Bowditch and convinced him to sign the letter, too. Shutterstock "Charitable giving by itself simply cannot provide enough money to support public goods and services, such as public education, roads and bridges, clean air," Bowditch told the Associated Press in October 2019. "It has to be done by taxes."Bowditch has previously advocated for raising taxes on the wealthy: In 2010, he signed an open letter to President Obama asking him to allow tax cuts for millionaires to expire, according to a CBS affiliate in Boston. Billionaire financier George Soros signed the letter with his son, Alexander Soros. Manny Carabel/WireImage According to his personal website, Alexander Soros, 35, serves as deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, a nonprofit founded by his father. George Soros told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin he supports a wealth tax even though it creates "a moral problem" for him. Yunus Kaymaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images "I am in favor of taxing the rich," George Soros, 89, told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin in October 2019, "including a wealth tax. A financier makes people suspicious ... and it does create a moral problem for me. As I became so successful, it basically put a self-imposed constraint on me that actually interfered with making money."The philanthropist made his fortune running Quantum Fund, which was once the largest hedge fund in the world. Soros has a net worth of $8.3 billion, Business Insider reported. Investor Nick Hanauer believes a wealth tax would be good for America's economy. Courtesy of Nick Hanauer "A wealth tax would not just be fair — it would be pro-growth," Hanauer wrote in an essay advocating for a wealth tax published on Business Insider. "And don't let the trickle-downers tell you otherwise."Hanauer, 62, was an early investor in Amazon, according to his personal website. Business Insider previously reported that Hanauer is a longtime critic of America's income inequality.Business Insider's Rich Feloni reported that Hanauer has said he's not a billionaire, but that, as both he and his wife have signed The Giving Pledge, their combined net worth at least approaches the $1 billion threshold. Heiress and attorney Molly Munger told the Associated Press that seeing empty Newport Beach mansions from her family's boat on Memorial Day made her consider a wealth tax. Lacy O'Toole/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images "It's just too much to watch that happen at the top and see what is happening at the bottom," Munger told the Associated Press in October 2019. "Isn't it a waste when beautiful homes on the beach are empty for most of the summer?"Munger, 71, is the oldest daughter of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger. Munger is a Harvard Law graduate who works as a civil rights attorney in Pasadena, California, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2012, she advocated for a tax hike in California to boost funding for the state's public schools. Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in June 2019 advocating for a wealth tax, saying American capitalism "isn't working." AP Broad doesn't believe that his philanthropic work and other policies including a $15 minimum wage, expanding access to health care, and reforming public education are doing enough to help low-income Americans, he wrote in The New York Times."It's time to start talking seriously about a wealth tax," Broad wrote in The Times. "I simply believe it's time for those of us with great wealth to commit to reducing income inequality, starting with the demand to be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else."Broad built a $6.9 billion fortune after cofounding home builder Kaufman & Broad, according to Forbes. Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff proposed a wealth tax in an October New York Times essay. Kimberley White/Getty Images "Local efforts — like the tax I supported last year on San Francisco's largest companies to address our city's urgent homelessness crisis — will help," Benioff wrote in The New York Times in October 2019. "Nationally, increasing taxes on high-income individuals like myself would help generate the trillions of dollars that we desperately need to improve education and health care and fight climate change."Benioff built a $6.5 billion fortune after founding software developer Salesforce. Benioff currently serves as the company's CEO. Michael Bloomberg has made raising taxes on the wealthy a key part of his 2020 presidential campaign. FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg addresses a news conference after launching his presidential bid in Norfolk, Virginia Reuters Bloomberg has included promises to support "taxing wealthy people like me" in ads since launching his campaign in November, Bloomberg News reported at the time.As Politico reported, Bloomberg ultimately proposed a 5% surtax for people earning over $5 million annually — as well as an increase to the capital gains rate and corporate tax rate. But Bloomberg said during his campaign that he believes that Warren and Sanders' wealth tax "just doesn't work," he said at campaign stop in Phoenix in November. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 26th, 2021

Democrats are set to unveil a new billionaire"s tax. Here"s a look at the wealthiest Americans who want to pay more.

The group includes Mark Cuban, George Soros, Ray Dalio, Abigail Disney, members of the Pritzker and Gund families, and a Facebook cofounder. 'Shark Tank' star Mark Cuban Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images To pay for Biden's social spending agenda, Democrats are considering a new tax targeting billionaires. Billionaires including Mark Cuban, Marc Benioff, Ray Dalio, and George Soros have publicly called for higher taxes on the wealthy. A wealth tax would make ultrawealthy Americans pay the government a small percentage of their net worth each year. In 2020, Bill Gates' New Year's resolution was to get the federal government to raise taxes on the ultrawealthy - including himself. Now, that wish might come true, as Democrats eye higher taxes on America's billionaires."We've updated our tax system before to keep up with changing times, and we need to do it again, starting with raising taxes on people like me," Gates wrote on his blog at the time.That's exactly what Democrats are planning to propose this week. A plan authored by Sen. Ron Wyden would target the unrealized gains - value that assets like stock accrue - of billionaires every year. It's not quite an outright wealth tax, but it comes close. And it would pay for the social safety net bill Democrats hope to vote on this week that includes expansions to healthcare and childcare for Americans.While Elon Musk ripped the plan on Twitter, other billionaires from Warren Buffett to George Soros have proposed a wealth tax as a way to combat America's growing wealth gap and fund healthcare and education initiatives. In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, a group of 18 ultrawealthy Americans, including Abigail Disney and members of the Pritzker and Gund families, published an open letter asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax.Politicians, too, rolled out proposals on this front: A wealth tax like the one proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren would make ultrawealthy Americans pay the federal government a small percentage of their net worth each year. Bernie Sanders unveiled a wealth-tax plan that is even more aggressive than Warren's.Inequality exacerbated by the pandemic has more strenuously renewed calls for a wealth tax, as America's billionaires added $2.1 trillion to their fortunes as millions dealt with with pandemic-induced unemployment and poverty. Mounting inequality isn't a new issue: In 2018, income inequality in the US reached its highest level in more than half a century. The ultrawealthy actually paid a smaller portion of their income in taxes than average Americans in 2018, an analysis of tax data by the University of California at Berkeley's Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found.While the idea of using a wealth tax to solve America's inequality problem has gained traction in recent years, proposals have been hampered by questions over the effectiveness and the constitutionality of such a tax, Business Insider previously reported.Keep reading to learn more about some of the most high-profile billionaires and multimillionaires who have publicly supported raising taxes on the 1%, listed in chronological order. The founder of Jimmy John's says it's "bullshit" that wealthy people are taking out loans to live on that are free of taxes. Irene Jiang / Business Insider Jimmy John Liautaud told The Daily Beast that he knows a lot of people have "accumulated massive, massive wealth" — and then borrow money. As ProPublica reported, taking out loans against large fortunes is one method that the ultra-wealthy employ to reduce how much they owe in taxes, since loans aren't taxed."That's tax free. And I think it's bullshit," Liautaud told the Daily Beast.When it comes to gains for assets, he said: "Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, every year this shit's compounding. I paid more tax than Warren Buffett. And I'm worth 2 billion fucking dollars." Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban proposed taxing the wealthy to offset cutting payroll taxes in a November 2017 tweet. Getty/Michael Kovac —Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 24, 2017Now best known for his appearances on ABC's "Shark Tank," Cuban built a $4.5 billion fortune through a lifetime of business deals, including the $5.7 billion sale of Broadcast.com, and his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks, Business Insider reported. Bill Gates has said he's paid over $10 billion in taxes over his lifetime - but he doesn't think that's enough. Bill Gates speaks ahead of former U.S. President Barack Obama at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event on September 20, 2017 in New York City. Yana Paskova/Getty Images "I need to pay higher taxes," Gates said in a 2018 interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "I've paid more taxes, over $10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes."In a December 30, 2019, post on his blog, Gates Notes, Gates proposed raising the estate tax and removing the cap on the amount of income subject to Medicare taxes. He also suggested closing the carried interest loophole that allows fund managers to pay lower capital gains rates on their incomes and making state and local taxes fairer, Market Insider's Theron Mohamed previously reported."That's why I'm for a tax system in which, if you have more money, you pay a higher percentage in taxes," Gates wrote. "And I think the rich should pay more than they currently do, and that includes Melinda and me." On CNBC's Squawk Box, Warren Buffett said raising billionaires' taxes is the best way to help "a guy who is a wonderful citizen" but "just doesn't have market skills." Bill Pugliano/Getty "The wealthy are definitely undertaxed relative to the general population," Buffett said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" in February 2019. Buffett has suggested that Congress expand income tax credits for low-income Americans, raising taxes on high earners in the process, CNBC reported. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he "should be paying higher taxes" at a CNN town hall in February, but called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposed 70% marginal tax rate for millionaires "punitive." Howard Schultz. Owen Hoffmann / Contributor / Getty Images Schultz built a $3.8 billion fortune running the coffee chain, Business Insider previously reported. While Schultz left Starbucks in 2018, he still held onto more than 37.7 million shares — or roughly 3% — of the company's stock. When asked if the wealthy should pay more in taxes on "60 Minutes," billionaire hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio replied: "Of course." Hollis Johnson/Business Insider In the "60 Minutes" segment, Dalio said he thinks the American dream is lost and referred to the wealth gap as a "national emergency." Dalio, 70, founded his hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, in his apartment in 1975, Business Insider reported. It now has $150 billion in assets under management. Dalio has a net worth of $20 billion, Forbes estimates. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of The Walt Disney Company cofounder Roy Disney, has made a name for herself as one of the biggest advocates for closing America's wealth gap. Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images The granddaughter of The Walt Disney Co. cofounder Roy Disney has made a name for herself as one of the company's most outspoken critics. The 59-year-old heiress has criticized the salary of Disney CEO Bob Iger and defended Meryl Streep after she called Walt Disney a "bigot," according to CNN Business.Disney has a net worth of $120 million, she said in July 2019. "The internet says I have half a billion dollars and I might have something close to that if I'd been investing aggressively," Disney told the Financial Times.She testified in support of Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax in April 2021, and called out the methods the ultra-wealthy use to evade taxes in a June essay for the Atlantic.Disney was one of 18 ultrawealthy Americas to sign an open letter in June asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax. The letter isn't the first time that Disney has spoken out about tax reform. Disney criticized the 2017 Republican tax bill in a NowThis video, saying the bill unfairly benefited the wealthy. Heiress Agnes Gund and her daughter Catherine Gund also signed the wealth tax letter. Catherine Gund, left, with her mother, Agnes Gund, and Stanley Whitney Getty Images / Sean Zanni / Contributor In 2015, Forbes estimated that the Gund family had a net worth of $3.4 billion and ranked them among the 100 wealthiest families in America.Agnes Gund, 83, used the fortune she inherited from her father, the president of an Ohio-based bank, to become a philanthropist in arts and social justice, according to The New York Times. Agnes Gund received the National Medal of the Arts in 1997 from President Bill Clinton for her work, which included serving as the president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.Catherine Gund, 56, is an Emmy-winning film director and producer. Gund founded nonprofit production studio Aubin Pictures in 1996, according to her previous biography on the studio's website. The Gunds weren't the only family who signed the letter together. So did Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and his husband, political activist Sean Eldridge. Chris Hughes Facebook Page Hughes is a cofounder of Facebook. He left the social network in 2007 to become the online organizer for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Despite calling for Facebook to be broken up in May 2019, Hughes had a stake in the company worth $850 million, Newsweek reports. In 2016, Forbes put Hughes' net worth at $430 million.In April 2021, Hughes told CNBC that Americans are "throwing out the idea that markets were ever free" and that it's time for a new capitalism.Eldridge is a political activist and former congressional candidate in New York, according to Vanity Fair. Eldridge was born in Canada. Ian and Liesel Pritzker Simmons signed the letter together. Ian Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, poses at his office in Cambridge, Mass., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. A handful of billionaires and multimillionaires are making a renewed push for the government to raise their taxes and siphon away some of their holdings. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer "This is really a conservative position about increasing the stability of the economy in the long term and having an efficient source of taxation," Simmons told the Associated Press.Simmons, 44, serves as the cofounder and principal of impact investing firm Blue Haven Initiative alongside his wife and fellow signatory, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, according to the firm's website. Simmons is the heir to a family fortune that stems from the construction of locks on the Erie Canal, according to Forbes.Pritzker Simmons, an heir to the Pritzker family fortune, has a net worth of $600 million, according to a 2013 Forbes article. Simmons, now 35, is also a cofounder and principal of Blue Haven Initiative.As a child, she starred in several big-name Hollywood productions, including "A Little Princess" and "Air Force One," alongside Harrison Ford. In 2002, Forbes reports, she sued her father and the Pritzker family and came away from it with a $500 million payout. Simmons called retired Massachusetts real-estate developer Robert Bowditch and convinced him to sign the letter, too. Shutterstock "Charitable giving by itself simply cannot provide enough money to support public goods and services, such as public education, roads and bridges, clean air," Bowditch told the Associated Press in October 2019. "It has to be done by taxes."Bowditch has previously advocated for raising taxes on the wealthy: In 2010, he signed an open letter to President Obama asking him to allow tax cuts for millionaires to expire, according to a CBS affiliate in Boston. Billionaire financier George Soros signed the letter with his son, Alexander Soros. Manny Carabel/WireImage According to his personal website, Alexander Soros, 35, serves as deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, a nonprofit founded by his father. George Soros told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin he supports a wealth tax even though it creates "a moral problem" for him. Yunus Kaymaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images "I am in favor of taxing the rich," George Soros, 89, told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin in October 2019, "including a wealth tax. A financier makes people suspicious ... and it does create a moral problem for me. As I became so successful, it basically put a self-imposed constraint on me that actually interfered with making money."The philanthropist made his fortune running Quantum Fund, which was once the largest hedge fund in the world. Soros has a net worth of $8.3 billion, Business Insider reported. Investor Nick Hanauer believes a wealth tax would be good for America's economy. Courtesy of Nick Hanauer "A wealth tax would not just be fair — it would be pro-growth," Hanauer wrote in an essay advocating for a wealth tax published on Business Insider. "And don't let the trickle-downers tell you otherwise."Hanauer, 62, was an early investor in Amazon, according to his personal website. Business Insider previously reported that Hanauer is a longtime critic of America's income inequality.Business Insider's Rich Feloni reported that Hanauer has said he's not a billionaire, but that, as both he and his wife have signed The Giving Pledge, their combined net worth at least approaches the $1 billion threshold. Heiress and attorney Molly Munger told the Associated Press that seeing empty Newport Beach mansions from her family's boat on Memorial Day made her consider a wealth tax. Lacy O'Toole/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images "It's just too much to watch that happen at the top and see what is happening at the bottom," Munger told the Associated Press in October 2019. "Isn't it a waste when beautiful homes on the beach are empty for most of the summer?"Munger, 71, is the oldest daughter of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger. Munger is a Harvard Law graduate who works as a civil rights attorney in Pasadena, California, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2012, she advocated for a tax hike in California to boost funding for the state's public schools. Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in June 2019 advocating for a wealth tax, saying American capitalism "isn't working." AP Broad doesn't believe that his philanthropic work and other policies including a $15 minimum wage, expanding access to health care, and reforming public education are doing enough to help low-income Americans, he wrote in The New York Times."It's time to start talking seriously about a wealth tax," Broad wrote in The Times. "I simply believe it's time for those of us with great wealth to commit to reducing income inequality, starting with the demand to be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else."Broad built a $6.9 billion fortune after cofounding home builder Kaufman & Broad, according to Forbes. Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff proposed a wealth tax in an October New York Times essay. Kimberley White/Getty Images "Local efforts — like the tax I supported last year on San Francisco's largest companies to address our city's urgent homelessness crisis — will help," Benioff wrote in The New York Times in October 2019. "Nationally, increasing taxes on high-income individuals like myself would help generate the trillions of dollars that we desperately need to improve education and health care and fight climate change."Benioff built a $6.5 billion fortune after founding software developer Salesforce. Benioff currently serves as the company's CEO. Michael Bloomberg has made raising taxes on the wealthy a key part of his 2020 presidential campaign. FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg addresses a news conference after launching his presidential bid in Norfolk, Virginia Reuters Bloomberg has included promises to support "taxing wealthy people like me" in ads since launching his campaign in November, Bloomberg News reported at the time.As Politico reported, Bloomberg ultimately proposed a 5% surtax for people earning over $5 million annually — as well as an increase to the capital gains rate and corporate tax rate. But Bloomberg said during his campaign that he believes that Warren and Sanders' wealth tax "just doesn't work," he said at campaign stop in Phoenix in November. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 26th, 2021

NOVAGOLD Reports Third Quarter 2021 Financial Results

Donlin Gold LLC Board Approves Additional 2021 Funding forNew Feasibility Study Prework Expanded 2021 Donlin Gold Drill Program Yields Significant High-Grade Intercepts, Some of Which Point to Potential Feeder Zones Donlin Gold Camp Remained Free of COVID-19 Key Permits Advanced and Financial Position Further Strengthened Expanded 2021 Donlin Gold drill program, consisting of 79 holes totaling approximately 24,200 meters, is nearing completion. The owners reported initial assay results from 29 holes (18 complete, 11 partial) encompassing approximately 7,500 meters of length drilled. The program has been enormously rewarding, yielding significant new high-grade intercepts in ACMA and an area between the ACMA and Lewis deposits ("Divide") that point toward the potential feeder zones of this large system. Additional assay results will be released to the market as they become available. Donlin Gold LLC Board approved an additional $3 Million in 2021 to advance studies and increase staffing in preparation for the new feasibility study. With all key Federal and most key State permits in hand, Donlin Gold continued to advance additional State permits, including receipt of final 12 water rights permits. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) Commissioner's Office completed its review of a reconsideration request and upheld the natural gas pipeline State right-of-way agreement and lease authorization ("State ROW"). NOVAGOLD received $75 million from Newmont Corporation ("Newmont"), further strengthening its already robust treasury. NOVAGOLD's third quarter cash and term deposits totaled $173.3 million. An additional payment of $25 million from Newmont comes due in 2023. VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 29, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NOVAGOLD RESOURCES INC. ("NOVAGOLD" or "the Company") ((NYSE American, TSX:NG) today released its 2021 third quarter financial results and an update on its Tier One1 Donlin Gold project ("Donlin Gold" or the "project"), which NOVAGOLD owns equally with Barrick Gold Corporation ("Barrick"). Details of the financial results for the quarter ended August 31, 2021 are presented in the consolidated financial statements and quarterly report filed September 29, 2021 on Form 10-Q with the SEC that is available on the Company's website at www.novagold.com, on EDGAR at www.sec.gov, and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. All amounts are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated and all mineral resource and mineral reserve estimates are shown on a 100% project basis. Third Quarter Highlights and Updates The 2021 Donlin Gold drill program site activities are wrapping up for the year. Assays from 29 holes (18 complete and 11 partial), encompassing approximately 7,500 meters of drilling, were disclosed in a joint Barrick-NOVAGOLD media release dated September 2, 2021. The drilling was completed in late September, consisting of 79 holes totaling approximately 24,200 meters. The program revealed significant high-grade drill-hole intercepts, particularly in ACMA and in the Divide zone, pointing toward potential feeder zones of this large system. Examples of high-grade drill-hole intercepts include drill-hole DC-1970 intersected 92.02 m grading 7.8 g/t gold; drill-hole DC21-1963A intersected 40.97 m grading 10.5 g/t gold; and drill-hole DC-1969 intersected 47.78 m grading 9.0 g/t gold. For a more extensive description of recent drill results, please refer to a joint Barrick-NOVAGOLD media release dated September 2, 2021. In order to minimize the risks posed by COVID-19, NOVAGOLD is continuing to maintain a wide-ranging set of health and safety policies at its offices, and, in conjunction with Barrick, at Donlin Gold. These measures are designed to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees, contractors and all individuals associated with the Company. In August 2021, Donlin Gold enhanced its Community and Workforce Protection Plan to ensure the safety and well-being of its workforce, employees' families, and local communities for the remainder of the 2021 field season. Employees and contractors are subject to mandatory COVID-19 testing prior to traveling to camp as well as upon arrival. Donlin Gold employed a local workforce from 20 Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) communities for the 2021 season – approximately 70% of Donlin Gold direct hires for this year's drill program were Alaska Natives. Donlin Gold, together with its Native Corporation partners Calista Corporation ("Calista") and The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC), carried out a wide range of community engagement and support initiatives during the quarter: In August 2021, Donlin Gold partnered with the Delta Backhaul Company, Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), and other regional partners on the fourth "In It For The Long Haul" backhaul project to collect, remove, and safely dispose of approximately 180,000 pounds of household hazardous and electronic waste from 26 Y-K villages. Finalized a Shared Value Statement with Upper Kalskag for a total of eight Shared Value Statements in the Y-K region. Advancing State permitting, methodically: All 12 water rights permits were finalized and issued by ADNR's Division of Mining Land and Water on June 29, 2021. In July, the water rights permit issuance was administratively appealed by an Environmental Non-Governmental Organization (ENGO) representing five tribal groups in the Y-K region. A decision on the appeal is anticipated in 2022. In April 2020, the ADNR's Division of Oil and Gas agreed to reconsider its decision on the State ROW for the buried natural gas pipeline. On July 19, 2021, the ADNR Commissioner completed the reconsideration and upheld the State ROW. In September, two appeals of the State ROW were filed in Alaska Superior Court, one by an ENGO representing several tribal groups and one by an outdoor recreational business owner in the pipeline area. In June 2021, the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 certification (the "401 Certification") of the CWA Section 404 permit was appealed in Alaska Superior Court by an ENGO representing Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC). President's Message Fulfilling Commitments and Embarking on a New Era at Donlin Gold As we reach the fall and onset of winter in Alaska, we can look back on many achievements in the last quarter and the year to date: nearing the successful completion of the expanded 2021 drill program; the excitement and indications of the potential feeder zones for the ACMA and Lewis deposits; the fulfillment of commitments made and enrichment of relationships with our partnerships at Barrick, Calista, and TKC; and, the approval by the Donlin Gold LLC Board of additional funding in 2021 in preparation for a new feasibility study for the Donlin Gold project. Barrick and NOVAGOLD executives had very productive meetings jointly reviewing the 2021 drill results to date and ongoing technical work during their Anchorage and Donlin Gold project site visit in early September 2021. The Donlin Gold LLC Board subsequently approved an additional $3 million for 2021 to advance studies and increase staffing needed to lay the foundation for a new feasibility study. Activities for the 2021 drill program at the Donlin Gold project are now wrapping up. There were four drill rigs operating at the project site in the ACMA and Lewis deposits for the approximately 24,200-meter, 79-hole program. The owners reported initial assay results from 29 holes (18 complete, 11 partial) for approximately 7,500 meters of length drilled to-date. Some notable high-grade gold intercepts were encountered. These were similar to the high-grade gold intercepts that we saw in previous drill programs. Our geologic knowledge of the deposits also improved. The program yielded significant results that point toward the potential feeder zones of this large system. With drilling for the 2021 program completed in late September, additional assay results will be released as they become available. Donlin Gold is being prepared to be a model mine for the industry. Recent results are only reinforcing the conviction that it will be a generational mine with an exceptionally long mine life already currently measured in decades. With approximately 39 million ounces of gold in measured and indicated mineral resources grading 2.24 grams per tonne2, Donlin Gold's scale and grade, at twice the industry average3, in a safe, Tier One jurisdiction4 such as Alaska, is simply unparalleled and brings with it the coveted stability of a mineral land package that few development-stage projects can boast. It has been essential for the partners to focus on the drill program, permitting, and modeling work to advance the project up the value chain. While all of this effort forms a solid foundation for a new feasibility study, we have never ignored one of the project's most important attributes: Donlin Gold's truly exceptional exploration potential. It is notable that the project's gold endowment is contained within only three kilometers of an eight-kilometer mineralized belt, and that even this only represents five percent of the total mineral land package. And, as we often say, the next Donlin could be found at Donlin as we continue to produce some of the best assay results for an open-pit gold project in the industry. Increased Health and Safety Protocols at Camp Pay Dividends for All Health and safety are top priorities. With that in mind, NOVAGOLD has implemented a broad range of policies designed to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees, contractors, and members of the community where the Company is operating. Throughout the pandemic, Donlin Gold has worked with all of its community partners in Alaska and in the Y-K region to make sure that the program is effective. In fact, in the third quarter, Donlin Gold further enhanced health and safety protocols in light of the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Y-K region. We are pleased to report that we have not had any COVID-19 cases to date at the project site; however, restrictions are in place for the Donlin Gold Anchorage office following two positive cases. All Donlin Gold employees who may have been exposed were tested, are quarantining, and are currently working remotely in accordance with the Donlin Gold COVID-19 Mitigation Plan protocols. Partnerships Strengthened by Challenging Times As a neighbor to villages in the Y-K region and as a team made up of people from the area, Donlin Gold strives to aid communities with support and resources, particularly when health and safety are of concern. Donlin Gold continues to make progress in formalizing its community relationships and finding common ground with Shared Value Statements with eight villages from the Y-K region (Akiak, Sleetmute, Napaimute, Crooked Creek, Napaskiak, Nikolai, Tuluksak, and Upper Kalskag) that confirm current engagement with key local communities. These agreements include educational, environmental, and social initiatives to help provide support for these villages. The Y-K is an area of Alaska the size of Idaho with 52 sparsely populated villages, each village with its own character, its own independent needs, and inter-dependence. These have been emphasized in the past two years as the pandemic, travel restrictions, and poor fishing seasons have led to increased need for assistance. The Donlin Gold project's success at the local level can in part be attributed to local community involvement in the project. This commitment is at the core of both Barrick's and NOVAGOLD's philosophy on how the project should develop in partnership with our Alaska Native Corporation partners' goals. Approximately 70% of Donlin Gold direct hires for this year's drill program are Alaska Natives and we are pleased to report that for the 2021 season, Donlin Gold hired employees from 20 Y-K communities. In an area marked by high unemployment and fewer job choices than in urban environments, the work experience and skills training that Donlin Gold provides is significant and appreciated by the workforce. Donlin Gold is committed to supporting the needs of its community partners. As an example, in August, Donlin Gold held the fourth "In It For The Long Haul" backhaul project that removed and consolidated approximately 180,000 pounds of hazardous and electronic waste from 26 villages throughout the Y-K region, that was then packed into containers and shipped to Anchorage and Seattle for recycling and proper disposal. As well, volunteers received instruction about proper waste handling and packaging techniques. Measured by scale and reach, it was the most successful backhaul yet. Also, Donlin Gold sponsored the annual 2021 Clean-up Green-up program throughout the summer with a record 50-plus Tribes and municipalities participating. These partnerships, activities, and programs demonstrate our longstanding and deep-rooted commitment to sustainable and responsible development for the benefit of all stakeholders in the Y-K region. Methodically Advancing Permits in a Sustainable Manner One word that keeps coming up in conversation with our existing and potential investors is how "methodical" we have been in taking Donlin Gold up the value chain. This description of our reliability comes as no surprise to our long-term investors. For the past decade, the NOVAGOLD management team, with its rare pedigree in large-scale engineering, construction, Alaska permitting, and open-pit operational expertise, has alongside Barrick and with the Donlin Gold teams quietly, diligently, and successfully permitted what will one day be one of the largest gold producing mines in the world. Working with two U.S. federal administrations, the Donlin Gold project team gained the first-ever joint Federal Record of Decision between the Bureau of Land Management and the Army Corps of Engineers for a mining project, and received its key State permits and authorizations in 2018. These achievements reflect a healthy partnership among NOVAGOLD, Barrick, and our Native Corporation partners at Calista and TKC. During the third quarter, Donlin Gold, together with Calista and TKC, continued to provide support to State agencies in their efforts to advance remaining permits and approvals needed for the project. Several key permit advancements were made for the project in the quarter. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) Commissioner issued his decision to uphold the State's 401 Certification on May 27, 2021. The decision was appealed by an ENGO representing ONC on June 28, 2021, in Alaska's Superior Court as part of an ongoing appeal process initiated by an ENGO. The appeal focused on three narrow issues related to compliance with the State's water quality standards near the mine site. Final water ...Full story available on Benzinga.com.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 29th, 2021

The Inflation Reduction Act Includes a Bonanza for the Carbon Capture Industry

Some environmentalists are skeptical that the industry can deliver real emissions cuts Thanks to Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.), there isn’t much in the way of consequences for big CO2 emitters in Democrats’ new climate bill. But there are huge new rewards for high-emitting companies to pump their greenhouse gasses underground, and for facilities that propose to remove emissions directly from the atmosphere. Those provisions have the startups, investors, and legacy oil companies proposing to provide that service over the moon. “We’re definitely going from a curiosity to a priority,” says Steve Lowenthal, chief commercial officer of Frontier Carbon Solutions, a carbon capture startup. “This changes the game.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The Inflation Reduction Act, which passed the Senate on Monday and is poised to pass the House on Friday, includes a dramatic change in a crucial tax credit for the carbon capture industry—increasing the government subsidy for capturing CO2 from polluting sources from $50 to $85 per metric ton. Developers say that raising that incentive could tip many projects that once weren’t worth the investment over the financial finish line. The new bill also simplifies the process for receiving those tax credits, and opens the subsidy to smaller carbon capture projects, which together essentially fulfill a full industry wishlist for new carbon capture legislation. “The fact that [the legislation] actually happened isn’t a big surprise,” says Adrian Corless, CEO of CarbonCapture, a direct air capture startup. “The fact that it actually came out in such a good form and actually came out [so soon] is much better than we expected.” Read more: The Inflation Reduction Act Is About to Jumpstart U.S. Climate Policy and Change the World Formerly, the tax incentive, known as 45Q, only paid enough to convince investors to fund the easiest carbon capture projects, like pipelines to capture CO2 from ethanol processing facilities, which emit almost pure CO2 from tanks where corn is fermented into vehicle fuel. Emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities contribute hugely to climate change, but the actual gas escaping from their smoke stacks contains a much lower percentage of CO2 (coal plant emissions, for example are about 13% CO2), and the fact that that CO2 has to be first separated out from the other gasses makes it much more expensive to capture it and store it underground. But raising the incentive to $85 per ton means projects that capture carbon dioxide from industrial facilities with lower CO2 concentrations, like natural gas processing facilities and cement plants, could become financially viable. “It really can’t be [overstated] how meaningful 85 [dollars per ton] is to the industry at large,” says Lowenthal. The package also gives a good deal of government support to a fledgling industry proposing to remove carbon dioxide directly from the air, increasing tax credits for removing CO2 from the atmosphere to $180 per ton. “It’s going to make it easy for us to raise the capital to build the project earlier and to build it faster,” says Corless Massive Industry Boost The new bill comes on top of last year’s infrastructure law, which doled out a huge helping of government support for the sector, including $100 million for the Department of Energy to design pipelines to transport compressed CO2 emissions to underground storage sites, $2.1 billion in loans and grants for the private sector to build the pipelines, and $3.5 billion to construct four “hub” facilities to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (although together those facilities will be able to sequester less than 0.1% of the CO2 the U.S. emits each year). Taken together, the measures could help the fledgling industry grow 13-fold by 2035, according to the Carbon Capture Coalition, an industry group representing startups and oil majors like Shell. “Together with the historic investments made in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this package would provide the most transformative and far-reaching policy support in the world for the economywide deployment of carbon management technologies,” wrote the coalition’s external affairs manager Madelyn Morrison in a July 28 press release. Oil company Shell, which has eyed carbon capture as a potential growth avenue, lauded the changes as well. “We see the Inflation Reduction Act’s carbon capture-related provisions as key to developing projects that will help reduce emissions in critical industrial sectors,” the company’s media representatives said in a statement to TIME. Read more: The Inflation Reduction Act’s Name Says A Lot About The Climate Fight International players have also taken note. “It will establish the United States as the place to be to deploy such technologies,” says Christoph Gebald, co-founder of Swiss direct air carbon capture company Climeworks, which opened the first commercial CO2 removal plant in Iceland last year. “And I am very convinced that this will also kick off a spiral of action from investors.” Environmentalists Remain Skeptical Not everyone sees the industry’s likely expansion as a good thing. Until now, carbon capture technology has never really ramped up in a big way, despite years of talk by emitters. Many projects have ended in expensive failures, while others never were able to achieve the emissions cuts they promised when the energy costs of running the carbon capture equipment were factored in. Carbon capture funding is one of the few climate provisions that tends to get bipartisan support, but many environmentalists have long portrayed it as a costly distraction from urgently needed emissions cuts, as well as a handout to oil companies that tout the technology as a new revenue stream. That’s especially true of a controversial provision in the tax code that gives incentives to companies that pump the captured carbon underground in order to extract more oil, rather than just to permanently store it. (The new climate bill raises the government’s reward for this so-called “enhanced oil recovery” to $60 per ton.) Many in the environmental world, however, agree that we will need some carbon capture to decarbonize hard-to-abate industries like cement production, and that we will need to scale up atmospheric carbon removal technology in the decades ahead in order to have any hope of reaching net-zero targets. But those efforts also won’t do much if they’re not also accompanied by dramatic emissions cuts across society. Jim Walsh, policy director at Food and Water Watch, says the new legislation relies too heavily on carbon capture. A popular emissions analysis of the legislation from Princeton University’s REPEAT Project counts on companies to quickly scale up carbon capture projects that promise to deliver a fifth of total U.S. emissions cuts by 2030, even though the technology hasn’t been able to achieve significant climate benefits in the past. “The Inflation Reduction Act does not deliver mandates to cut pollution. It creates incentives that may drive up private investment, and it delivers billions to fossil fuel corporations based on the notion that their climate pollution can be somehow captured,” he wrote in an Aug. 11 statement. “This is a dangerous bet.” Fueling Local Battles The incentives and proposed expansion to the industry are likely to also set off local controversies. In Iowa, plans to build massive new pipelines to transport carbon dioxide have become a political flashpoint over the past year. Activists and landowners are facing off against investors and a pro-carbon capture governorship over plans to build massive pipelines to transport carbon dioxide released from ethanol plants to underground storage sites in North Dakota and Illinois. Proponents of the pipelines say they will make a serious dent in Iowa’s greenhouse gas emissions and help benefit farmers who grow corn that serves as a feedstock in the state’s ethanol industry. But opponents, including local environmentalist groups, say the pipelines put Iowans at risk of dangerous CO2 leaks, and prop up an obsolete, high polluting ethanol industry while trampling on local farmers who will have to allow developers to build through their land. Last week, this battle reached a new pitch, when one of the developers, Summit Carbon Solutions, notified state regulators that it would begin filing for eminent domain in order to take control of private land it needs to build the pipeline. “Summit showed their true colors today,” wrote Food & Water Watch organizer Emma Schmit in an Aug. 5 press release. “Summit may seek eminent domain but [it] is our public institutions, accountable to the people, that will be responsible for the final decision.” The genesis of Summit’s project goes back to a 2018 change in the 45Q tax credit, which raised the payment from about $24 per ton to $50, giving the developers an economic incentive to start building the pipeline. Speaking with TIME in February, Summit executives said another increase in 45Q, like the one the Senate just passed, might push them to look at building even more pipelines to capture emissions from farther-flung ethanol plants. That would seem likely to throw even more fuel on the fire in Iowa—potentially the first of many such clashes as federal funding helps the industry scale up in the years ahead......»»

Category: topSource: timeAug 12th, 2022

Trump Allies Are Attacking Biden For a Plan to Hire 87,000 New IRS Agents That Doesn’t Exist

The IRS will get nearly $80 billion in new funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, but most of it won't go to hiring new agents. Since news broke on Monday that the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s South Florida home, Republican members of Congress and right-wing media figures have launched a new line of attack against Democrats: that the Internal Revenue Service intends to use nearly $80 billion in new funding to pursue similar intrusions on average Americans. Those dollars, Trump allies are saying, will go toward the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents. “Do you make $75,000 or less?” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you—with 710,000 new audits for Americans who earn less than $75k.” Richard Grenell, Trump’s former Acting Director of National Intelligence, wrote on the social media platform: “The FBI raids Trump’s house and the Democrats vote to add 87,000 new IRS agents to go after Americans. Wake up, America.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Other high-profile conservatives have insinuated that the Biden administration intends to direct those additional auditors to dig up dirt on the President’s political opponents. “After todays raid on Mar A Lago what do you think the left plans to use those 87,000 new IRS agents for?” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio. It’s a notion that has taken off like wildfire, signaling what is likely to be a prominent broadside from Republicans against Democrats in the midterm elections. There’s only one problem. It’s not true. The Inflation Reduction Act, a landmark climate, health care and tax package that passed the Senate on Sunday and is expected to head to Biden’s desk after the House approves it on Friday, includes roughly $78 billion for the IRS to be phased in over 10 years. A Treasury Department report from May 2021 estimated that such an investment would enable the agency to hire roughly 87,000 employees by 2031. But most of those hires would not be Internal Revenue agents, and wouldn’t be new positions. According to a Treasury Department official, the funds would cover a wide range of positions including IT technicians and taxpayer services support staff, as well as experienced auditors who would be largely tasked with cracking down on corporate and high-income tax evaders. “It is wholly inaccurate to describe any of these resources as being about increasing audit scrutiny of the middle class or small businesses,” Natasha Sarin, a counselor for tax policy and implementation at the Treasury Department, tells TIME. At the same time, more than half of the agency’s current employees are eligible for retirement and are expected to leave the agency within the next five years. “There’s a big wave of attrition that’s coming and a lot of these resources are just about filling those positions,” says Sarin, an economist who has studied tax avoidance extensively and who was tapped by the Biden administration to beef up the IRS’s auditing power. In all, the IRS might net roughly 20,000 to 30,000 more employees from the new funding, enough to restore the tax-collecting agency’s staff to where it was roughly a decade ago. The IRS currently has roughly 78,000 employees. According to John Koskinen, who served as IRS commissioner from 2013 to 2017, that’s down from around 100,000 when he first started. By the time he resigned four years later, he said, it was clear that the agency was in the grip of a systematic attempt by the GOP to weaken it. “Nobody loves tax collectors,” Koskinen tells TIME. It’s an effort that goes back to 2010, when Republicans took back control of the House of Representatives and immediately instituted a series of crippling cuts on the IRS. Since then, overall funding for the IRS has fallen further, by more than 20 percent, while enforcement funding has dropped by 31 percent. That’s made it easier for high-net-worth tax cheats and major corporations to avoid federal taxes to the tune of billions of dollars. “The largest corporations in the United States with over $20 billion of assets have had their rate of audits go from nearly 100% to 50%,” says Janet Holtzblattt, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “Among wealthy individuals who had a positive income of a million dollars or more, the audit rate fell from 8.4% in 2010 to 2.4% in 2019.” Meanwhile, the employee shortage only made it harder for average Americans to reach IRS customer support, which has been inundated with requests far beyond what the staff could handle. “I used to say there’s no Democratic or Republican way to run the IRS,” Koskinen says. “The people who are significantly disadvantaged are the average taxpayers who have a simple question and can’t get through. Those are Republicans as well as independents and Democrats.” As of last month, the IRS backlog included 10.2 million unprocessed individual returns. Funding from the Inflation Reduction Act will also go toward tech modernization. The IRS currently uses technology from the 1960s, called COBOL, to process and intake individual tax returns. According to government officials, the agency has struggled to find workers who are still equipped to code under the antiquated system. The increased funding for the IRS is a key part of Democrats’ plan to pay for the Inflation Reduction Act. By going more forcefully after tax cheats and increasing compliance, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the agency will increase revenue by $204 billion over the next decade. Yet while the IRS may be in desperate need of more funding, it’s not exactly most Americans’ favorite government institution. Nobody likes to fork over a big check to Uncle Sam. Which is a big reason why Republicans are likely to keep hammering this point in the coming months, and potentially pointing to 87,000 new IRS agents who will never materialize. “I think a lot of people are going to be upset by this across the country and across the political spectrum,” Hogan Gidley, Trump’s former White House deputy press secretary, tells TIME, when asked about IRS funding. He falsely described the Biden administration’s plan as hiring “85,000 IRS agents to come after mom-and-pop businesses.” But if Gidley’s right, Americans will only be angry because of what Republicans are telling them about the IRS—not what’s actually happening there......»»

Category: topSource: timeAug 10th, 2022

Giuliani denies buying airline tickets in dispute with Georgia prosecutors who just cited his travel receipts as the reason he needs to testify ASAP in their Trump investigation

Rudy Giuliani again professed ignorance about his travel arrangements amid a dispute with Georgia prosecutors over the timing of grand jury testimony. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.Spencer Platt/Getty Images A dispute over Rudy Giuliani's grand jury testimony focused on whether he could travel to Georgia. Giuliani said a medical procedure prevented him from flying, but prosecutors cited travel receipts. Trump's personal lawyer denied buying airplane tickets and professed ignorance about the travel purchases. Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday denied purchasing plane tickets that local prosecutors in Georgia had cited in their bid to get the former New York City mayor's testimony before a grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to reverse the state's 2020 election results.A week before his scheduled appearance before that grand jury, Giuliani said a recent medical procedure prevented him from traveling by plane and necessitated a delay of his testimony.But, in a new court filing, local prosecutors in the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said they had obtained records showing that Giuliani paid in cash for multiple airline tickets — "including tickets to Rome, Italy, and Zurich, Switzerland" — for flights between July 22 and July 29.In a court filing Tuesday, Giuliani's lawyers said he had not traveled by plane to any location following his recent "surgical procedure.""First, and foremost, conspicuously absent from the state's pleading is the fact that no such travel ever occurred," wrote Giuliani's lawyer William Thomas Jr. "Secondly, Mr. Giuliani never purchased airline tickets in case, or otherwise."Thomas wrote that Giuliani had been invited to attend a conference overseas and said that, "presumably," the event organizers or some other third-party could have purchased tickets on his behalf — "but that is unknown to Mr. Giuliani or his counsel."During his travel overseas, Giuliani was scheduled to give a speech in Rome, his lawyer added. But Giuliani, "based solely on his health, canceled his speech in Rome," Thomas wrote in the court filing."Mr. Giuliani has no knowledge of anyone else purchasing tickets for him to travel to Rome, but in any event he did not go."The filing came just hours before a court hearing Tuesday — the same day Giuliani was set to appear before the grand jury — on his request to delay his testimony. It marked just the latest instance of Giuliani professing to lack knowledge about the planning and funding of his international travel.Last week, the New York Times reported that the company of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash covered tens of thousands of dollars of Giuliani's travel expenses in the summer of 2019, a period federal investigators scrutinized during a criminal inquiry into his ties to Ukraine. The nearly three-year inquiry, which examined whether Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials, is unlikely to result in charges, the Times reported.While that investigation appears to be fading away, Giuliani is coming under intensifying scrutiny from the Fulton County district attorney's office. Giuliani has emerged as a key figure in that inquiry, in which local prosecutors are examining a now infamous phone call Trump made to Georgia's secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, urging him to "find" enough votes to reverse his loss to then-President-elect Joe Biden.Giuliani was among the president's allies who participated in a scheme to create so-called alternate slates of pro-Trump electors in key battleground states the former president lost in 2020, including Georgia. Court filings have shown that Willis' office informed all 16 pro-Trump electors in Georgia that they could face charges in connection with the criminal investigation.Federal prosecutors have also been examining Giuliani's role in creating alternate slates of pro-Trump electors, and the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has highlighted his role spreading false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 9th, 2022

How the Inflation Reduction Act does — and doesn"t — reduce inflation

Drug-price negotiation and clean-energy rebates are set to lower costs for Americans over the next decade. But that relief won't be immediate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia (left) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York have arrived at a surprise inflation deal that the Senate will start considering on August 6.Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo The Inflation Reduction Act aims to cool the US's rampant price growth, but expect its effects to be limited. Drug-price negotiation and clean-energy rebates will lower costs for millions of Americans through 2031. Yet the overall impact on inflation will be minor and take years to be felt, analysts say. Depending on who you listen to, the Inflation Reduction Act is either a panacea for the country's year-long price surge or a wasteful spending plan that'll do little to cool inflation.Neither side of the debate is entirely wrong.Senate Democrats passed their party's large-scale economic plan on Sunday, teeing up the measure for House approval and a signature from President Joe Biden. The package includes funding for clean-energy projects, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and improving IRS enforcement. It also aims to counter high inflation by paying down the federal budget deficit by taxing profitable firms that currently pay nothing to the government.The bill's passage hinged on its inflation-fighting features. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — the holdout Democrat who blocked his party's previous spending proposals — only backed the package once he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shifted the plan's focus to cooling price growth.Yet different analyses of the IRA offer different forecasts for where — and when — the plan will actually cool inflation.Drug costs and energy prices will show the biggest differencesAnalysts largely agree on where the bulk of the IRA's inflation relief will show up. The plan allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies for the first time, opening the door for millions of Americans to enjoy significantly lower costs for crucial medicine."To seniors who've faced the indignity of rationing medications or skipping them altogether, this bill is for you," Schumer said on the Senate floor soon after the IRA's passage on Sunday.Drug-price negotiation will also put downward pressure on inflation by cutting down on the government's budget deficit. The measure will cut $3 billion from the deficit in fiscal 2023 and another $2 billion from the following fiscal year, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.Cutting the government's spending lowers overall demand in the economy, as there's less cash moving throughout the system. As such, the drug-price-negotiation measure eases both upfront costs for Americans and inflation pressures throughout the economy, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said in its own analysis.The IRA's 15% minimum tax on profitable corporations achieves a similar effect, the CBO said in a letter to Sen. Lindsay Graham. The tax is the IRA's single-largest deficit reducer and makes up for much of the bill's spending measures.Energy reforms in the IRA are also set to pull inflation lower in the coming years. Funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies can lower the average household's energy costs by more than $300 per year once their effects are fully felt later in the decade, economists at Moody's Analytics said last week. Various tax rebates, such as those for electric vehicles and roof-installed solar panels, will also lower costs.Relief is years away — and some new taxes could keep inflation highThe IRA is set to reach Biden's desk in a matter of days, but many of its inflation-fighting effects won't be felt for some time. The package won't have a significant effect on overall inflation until halfway through the decade, the team at Moody's said, as the new corporate taxes and other deficit reducers will take time to slow growth.Drug-price negotiation won't start until 2026 as well, further delaying the downward pressure it will ultimately place on inflation. The IRA's impact will become "more meaningful later in the decade" as those measures and others go into effect, Moody's said.Other analysts don't see the IRA having any significant effect at all on inflation. The package will produce "a very small increase in inflation for the first few years" due to government spending on extended Obamacare subsidies and climate projects, according to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, a research initiative at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.The IRA will then lower overall inflation by a quarter of a percentage point by the late 2020s. The estimates are so close to zero, however, that the model indicates "a very low level of confidence" that Democrats' plan will have any impact on inflation.A small tax revived in the IRA could even saddle Americans with higher prices in the near-term, the conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform said in an August 1 statement. The IRA reinstates a 16.4-cents-per-barrel fee on crude oil and other petroleum imports that aims to pay for the cleaning of hazardous waste sites. Yet the tax "will be paid by consumers in the form of higher gas and energy costs," ATR said.The bill's relief, then, likely won't be felt for some time. Yet with gas prices still falling and overall inflation expected to have cooled through July, Americans might not even notice.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 8th, 2022

Semiconductors Emerge As Battleground In US-China Race

Semiconductors Emerge As Battleground In US-China Race Authored by Jessica Mao via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), 300-millimeter wafers are pictured in a machine for coating with gold in a clean room during the mass production of semiconductor chips at the Bosch's semiconductor plant in Dresden, eastern Germany, on July 12, 2022. (Photo by Jens Schlueter/AFP via Getty Images) As every aspect of modern life becomes more and more digitized, not just the economies of nations but their sovereign influence will rely more and more on the command of technology. Although the United States and China are not engaged in traditional warfare, they are engaged in a war of ideas, trade, and technology, especially in semiconductor hegemony, where both sides are battling for supply and advancement. In recent years, the United States has made a series of moves to hinder and outpace Chinese development in semiconductors, including persuading Asian semiconductor powerhouses to join its alliance, passing a massive spending bill to aid domestic chip production, and banning exports of high-end chipmaking equipment to China. In late July, the United States expanded its bans on exports to China of equipment that can make semiconductors up to 14 nanometers in size, according to major U.S. chipmaking equipment suppliers, such as Lam Research Corp. and KLA, who were notified by the government about the expanded restrictions. Previously, the United States had banned the sale of equipment that can produce chips of 10 nm or smaller to Chinese chip manufacturers. Generally in semiconductor fabrication, the smaller the process technology, the more advanced the chip. The smaller the technology node, the higher the transistor density and the lower the chip power consumption, resulting in higher performance. However, the smaller manufacturing process requires more advanced material and equipment, and will incur a greater cost in R&D and production. Semiconductors are seen on a circuit board that powers a Samsung video camera at the Samsung MOBILE-ization media and analyst event in San Jose, Calif., on March 23, 2011. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) The development follows a historic $52 billion bill passed by U.S. congress on July 27 to aid domestic chip makers in research, development, and production volume. One of the conditions is that the companies receiving the funds will not increase advanced chip production in mainland China. The U.S. Department of Commerce said the tightening policies impair “PRC efforts to manufacture advanced semiconductors to address significant national security risks to the United States.” Meanwhile, the United States is also reportedly planning to ban the exports of U.S. chipmaking equipment that produces advanced NAND chips to major Chinese chipmakers, such as Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp (YMTC). YMTC is a state-owned company and China’s only storage NAND flash memory manufacturer competing with major U.S. manufacturers. Its global market share is about 5 percent. In a report released by the White House in June 2021, YMTC was identified as the “national champion” enterprise of the Chinese regime, having received $24 billion in subsidies from the Chinese government. NAND chips are used to store data in a wide range of electronic devices such as smartphones and personal computers, as well as in the data centers of companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. If the NAND chip initiatives are officially issued, they will be the first time that the United States uses trade restrictions to contain China’s ability to produce non-military use memory chips, broadening the scope of protecting the U.S.’s national security and dealing a massive blow to Chins’s memory chip industry. On Aug. 1, U.S. senators, including Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), requested that the Department of Commerce add YMTC to the U.S. trade blacklist. The move could further hamper the growth of China’s semiconductor industry and protect American companies; the only two U.S. memory chip makers, Western Digital and Micron Technology. The two account for about a quarter of the NAND chip market share. According to a Bloomberg report, the United States is also pushing the Netherlands and Japan to stop the chipmaking equipment suppliers, ASML and Nikon, from selling lithography machines to China. The move could potentially deal a severe blow to major Chinese chipmakers such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) and Hua Hong Semiconductor Ltd. US CHIPS Act On July 26, the U.S. Senate voted to advance its Chips and Science Bill aimed at boosting domestic semiconductor production and improving technological competitiveness with China. The bill was later passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 28 and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Aug. 2. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks alongside a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, including (L-R) Roger Wicker (R-Miss.); Mark Warner (D-Va.); Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), following the passage of the CHIPS Act, providing domestic semiconductor manufacturers with $52 billion in subsidies to cut reliance on foreign sourcing, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 27, 2022. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) The legislation will provide $280 billion in funding to prop up and kickstart domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research; the price tag is far above previous legislation that aimed to provide just $52 billion to manufacturers. Officially dubbed the CHIPS [Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America] Act of 2022, the measure would provide tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks to technology corporations in an effort to spur new market growth, as well as funding for government-backed tech research. Proponents of the legislation have long said that it’s necessary in order to maintain a competitive edge with China, which is pouring money into its own domestic chip production. The legislation also clarifies that entities receiving U.S. government funding are prohibited from engaging in transactions involving substantial expansion of semiconductor manufacturing in China or any other foreign country of concern for at least ten years after the Act takes effect. These restrictions are designed to prevent chipmakers from significantly expanding the production of chips more advanced than 28nm in China within the next decade. Even though the 28-nanometer chips are a few generations behind today’s advanced semiconductors, they are still widely used in cars, lower-end smartphones, appliances, and more. Chip 4 Alliance The United States has also been working to persuade Asian semiconductor powerhouses to participate in its “Chip 4 alliance.” The U.S.-led alliance aims to strengthen cooperation in the semiconductors industry among the United States and the East Asian powerhouses of Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan to build a secure supply chain that excludes China. Taiwan and Japan have already agreed to participate in the Chip 4 alliance proposed by the United States this March, pending South Korea’s decision to join. The United States has reportedly given South Korea a deadline to decide whether it will join the “Chip 4 alliance” by Aug. 31, according to local South Korean reports citing unnamed sources in Washington. Read more here... Tyler Durden Mon, 08/08/2022 - 16:50.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 8th, 2022