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Milwaukee"s mayor, downtown business groups again seek solutions after string of shootings

With Milwaukee’s entertainment district making national news for a series of shootings the night of a Bucks playoff game, downtown business-improvement district leaders pledged to ramp up efforts to reduce mayhem, and downtown Ald. Bob Bauman criticized a decision a year ago to forego stricter security measures. Find out the details......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 14th, 2022

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot To Pump $412 Million More Into Anti-Crime Plan That Doesn’t Work

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot To Pump $412 Million More Into Anti-Crime Plan That Doesn’t Work By Mark Glennon, of Wirepoints, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is planning to pump $412 million into its community safety plan, much of it targeting 15 of the city’s most violent community areas. But the plan is already a proven failure. Furthermore, it has been subject to little transparency or accountability and its funding is unsustainable. That’s according to a great column in Thursday’s Chicago Sun-Times, based on crime data being kept by the Sun-Times and experts it interviewed. The plan, called “Our City, Our Safety,” was unveiled more than a year ago and has produced few results, and many of the communities it targeted have only gotten more dangerous, the Sun-Times reported: Fatal shootings are higher in 10 of the 15 community areas: East Garfield Park, West Pullman, North Lawndale, Greater Grand Crossing, Auburn Gresham, Englewood, Roseland, Chatham, South Shore and Chicago Lawn. Only the Austin area measured about the same as last year. Four are better: South Lawndale, West Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and West Englewood. Funding for the plan was approved by the City Council in the budget drafted by Lightfoot. It includes more than $50 million going to more than two dozen organizations for street outreach, victim services, transitional jobs, scholarships and domestic violence. Who are those neighborhood organizations and do they spend the money effectively? That’s where the transparency and accountability issues arise. More than half the money is not earmarked for any particular neighborhood, according to the Sun-Times, and “there is little information available on what exactly these groups are doing and how effective they’ve been” and it has it “has been difficult to gauge whether money spent so far has been going where it’s needed most.” Funding for the plan is temporary. Over 70% of the city’s violence prevention budget through 2024 is funded by federal American Rescue Plan money, according to those interviewed by the Sun-Times, but that was a one-time shot. “They’re not going to continue the funding,” said Professor Lance Williams with Northeastern Illinois University’s Urban Studies Department. “ Adding to the challenges, the mayor has struggled to keep key people involved in crafting the plan and carrying it out.” The more fundamental problem with the plan, not discussed by the Sun-Times, is that it is not about law enforcement and policing. It instead addresses supposed underlying causes of crime with longer term solutions, namely these, which the Sun-Times listed: $85 million on violence intervention, including victim services, street outreach and other violence reduction programs. $62 million for affordable housing and homeless programs. $80 million for assistance to families and youth jobs. $40 million for health and wellness programs. $114.6 million for community development and parks. $30 million for small business. Chicago, however, has an immediate and overwhelming plague of violence, the fast response to which must include firm policing and law enforcement, including prison for violent offenders. Crime certainly does have underlying causes that must be addressed with long term solutions. Policing is a Band-Aid on deeper problems. Some elements of the plan therefore may have merit, but the emergency is now and so is the need for policing and prosecutions. Ironically, Lightfoot effectively acknowledged that, though in a foolish way, just last week. She blamed some of the primary victims for not paying for the protection the city is failing to provide. “Some of the retailers downtown and [on] Michigan Avenue, I will tell you, I’m disappointed that they are not doing more to take safety and make it a priority, she said. “For example, we still have retailers that won’t institute plans like having security officers in their stores, making sure that they’ve got cameras that are actually operational, locking up their merchandise at night.” It should come as no surprise that the Our City, Our Safety Plan has not worked. Look through it yourself. It’s mostly social justice gibberish. “Equity” appears 30 times. “Violence is an equity issue,” it says. “Empower and heal people” is its “Pillar No 1.” “Racism” appears 105 times. “At the root of violence is systemic racism which has been pervasive throughout Chicago and its history,” it says. “Participate in local and national collaboratives to elevate policy positions,” whatever that means, is one of its strategies. Lightfoot has no real plan to stop the violence. Her’s is Otter’s Plan. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/17/2021 - 21:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 17th, 2021

Is The Woke Cultural Agenda Of Union Leaders Undermining Support For Organized Labor Groups?

Is The Woke Cultural Agenda Of Union Leaders Undermining Support For Organized Labor Groups? Authored by Batya Ungar-Sargon via Outside Voices, Doug Tansy is living the American Dream. A 44-year-old Native Alaskan, Tansy is an electrician living in Fairbanks in a house he and his wife Kristine own. Kristine has a social work degree, but for 13 years she stayed home to raise their five kids. It was something the couple could afford thanks to Tansy’s wages and benefits, secured by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. All of Tansy’s union friends have similar stories; those who chose not to have kids traveled the world on the money they earned.  Buena Park, CA, Monday, April 11, 2022 - Union organizer answers questions as Southern California grocery workers vote to approve a union contract at UFCW Local 324. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) Tansy started an apprenticeship right out of high school, a decision he calls “one of the best things I ever did for myself.” His high school pushed everyone to go to college, which Tansy did, but to pay for his first year he took a summer job working construction. It provided an instructive contrast with his college courses. “College was certainly challenging, but it didn't excite me. Construction did. It grabbed me,” Tansy told me. “I was always told ‘find what your hands want to do, and when you do, do it with all your might.’ And I did.” Tansy now serves as the assistant business manager of the IBEW in Fairbanks and as president of the Fairbanks Central Labor Council, which is sort of like the local chapter of the AFL-CIO. “I consider myself a labor person and that simply means a lot of what we do is focus on the middle class,” Tansy explained. “Putting really great wages into our economy and helping people save up to get ahead, to pay off a house.” But the union is about more than just securing a middle-class life for working class Americans. Tansy calls it a fraternity. “If I ever have trouble, I can make one phone call and that's the only call I need to make,” he says. “They will take care of the rest of it and whatever I need will be coming.” And this support system traverses ideological and ethnic divisions. The IBEW in Fairbanks has Republicans, independents, Democrats, progressives, and everything in between. Debates can get testy, especially when social issues like abortion come up in the breakroom. Tansy has also on rare occasions experienced racism. And yet there is a deep bond connecting the members of the IBEW that crosses ideological lines. This bond is the result of a simple fact: that more unites members of the union than divides them, and that what unites them is sacred. “Having good wages, good benefits, good conditions, and being treated fairly and with dignity in retirement should not be only for Republicans or Democrats or red states or blue states,” Tansy explained. “To me, these are nonpartisan issues that should be for everybody. And that's how we reach our common ground.” Tansy’s story is not unique. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans who belong to unions in the U.S. make on average 17% more than their non-unionized brothers and sisters, with a median $1,144 in weekly earnings—compared to $958 for those not unionized. It’s not just wages, either. Unions offer apprenticeships and ongoing training, a debt-free career, a pension, and workplace safety and other protections. They give workers a seat at the table and a voice to balance out the power of the businesses they work for, no mean feat at a time when the majority of working-class Americans are living lives of precarity. Working-class wages decoupled from production and stagnated in the late 70s; it’s estimated that over $47 trillion of working- and middle-class wages have been sapped from the bottom 90% of earners and redistributed to the top 1% since then. So it’s no surprise that approval of labor unions is the highest it’s been since 1965: 68% of Americans told Gallup they approve of unions last year. And yet, despite this fact, Americans aren’t signing up to join unions at record rates. Just the opposite: fewer Americans than ever belong to unions, a scant 6% of Americans working in the private sector. Many believe they are a dying institution in the U.S. Some cast this as proof of yet another case of working-class conservatives choosing a cultural stand against their economic interests. William Sproule is the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and says his union is actively engaged in combating negative stereotypes about unions when recruiting. “In the South and other parts of the country, the Southeast, even some of the middle of the country, you say the word ‘union,’ people have been basically brainwashed to think that there are people like me who are some kind of fat-cat millionaires who are stealing money from their pension funds and all this other stuff, all these bad things they try to present about unions,” Sproule says. Of course, there are political reasons unions aren’t popular in some corners of the South. Labor has for a century been affiliated with the Democratic Party and remains so. Sproule views the Democrats as much better for organized labor, and though the Carpenters Union will endorse pro-labor Republicans, right now he says it’s important that the Democrats maintain control over government. “The predominant anti-union forces do seem to come from the Republican Party,” Sproule says, citing things like punishing, anti-union “Right to Work” laws. The Carpenters Union advised its members to vote for Joe Biden based on the policies President Trump pursued that were hostile to organized labor—things like deregulations at the National Labor Relations Board and appointments of pro-business judges, among other things.  Certain pro-labor positions are undoubtedly the province of the Left, from minimum wage campaigns, to support for the NLRB and the PRO Act, to even the expansion of social security benefits. Then there’s healthcare. When employers are responsible for employee healthcare, they have immense, unfair, and corrosive leverage over their workers. The push for universal healthcare is crucial for stabilizing the downward slide of many working-class families, and it is something only Democrats bring up, however sporadically. And yet, thanks to an emergent class chasm in America, the laboring class is increasingly made up of people who find more in common with the Republican Party. In 2020, Bloomberg News found that truckers, plumbers, machinists, painters, correctional officers, and maintenance employees were among the occupations most likely to donate to Trump (Biden got the lion’s share of writers and authors, editors, therapists, business analysts, HR department staff, and bankers).  Others have blamed the fear of corporate consolidation—and corporate retaliation—for a lack of interest in unionizing. The pressures of starting a union are immense, like trying to hold an election in a one-party state, David Rolf, Founding President of Seattle-based Local 775 of the Service Employees International Union and author of The Fight for Fifteen: The Right Wage for a Working America, explained. “Sort of like if you were running to become the mayor, but before you were allowed to be the mayor, you had to first fight to establish that there should be a mayor at all. And then once you establish that there should be a mayor, then you find that your opponent is the only one with access to the electorate for eight hours a day, and that they've had the voter list for years and you just get it six weeks before the election. Also they have unlimited resources.” Meanwhile, there are numerous stories of ugly union busting and retaliation at companies like Tesla and Amazon. But even in companies where union busting is minimal, many people don't want to go to work and have a permanently conflict-based and litigious relationship with their boss, Rolf explained. And there’s the fact that things like sectoral or regional bargaining are just not part of the American worker’s lexicon. But in addition to overcoming the immense challenges of starting a union from scratch while facing corporate union busting, there’s another, less discussed reason workers give for not flocking to unions at a time when they are most in need of what unions offer: a political and class divide separating the people leading unions from the rank and file. More and more, unions are led not by people like Doug Tansy, who sees his job as overcoming partisan divides, but by people enmeshed in a progressive culture that is increasingly at odds with the values of the people the unions purport to represent. And it’s resulted in the paradox of waning union membership despite the near record level of popular support for unions. Labor is definitely having a moment. Anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 workers went on strike in October 2021. Workers at four Kellogg cereal plants ended an 11-week strike after announcing a deal had been made with the company. The first Starbucks voted to unionize a branch in Buffalo, New York, and has been followed subsequently by other branches across the nation, many of them voting unanimously. At the end of last year over 10,000 workers at John Deere ended a five-week strike after making substantial improvements to their working conditions. Those included a 20% increase in wages over the next six years as well as a return on cost-of-living adjustments and gains to their pension plan. Most recently, an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island became the first Amazon center to unionize, an effort that the corporation spent $4.3 million to combat. The COVID-19 pandemic created a much tighter labor market, which has given workers the upper hand in negotiations for the first time in decades. Expanded unemployment and stimulus checks gave many workers a cushion, some for the first time in their lives, which, combined with the absence of childcare for much of the pandemic and a shortage of workers due to illness or even death, created a real labor shortage. In some cases, that shortage has led to resignations. Over 4 million Americans quit their jobs in November, the majority of them low-wage. In other cases, it’s led to workers demanding better conditions in order to stay—and succeeding at getting them. Chris Laursen lives in Ottumwa, Iowa and has worked at John Deere as a painter for 19 years. He says the strike was a long time coming and sees in it evidence of the rebirth of the American labor movement. “The strikes like the one that we spearheaded showed working people that it is possible to take a stand and get a seat at the table and secure better wages and benefits for your families and yourselves,” Laursen says. “The cheap labor bubble’s busted. Gone are the days where you can bring in employees and not pay them anything.” Like in the IBEW, for John Deere workers, the union’s power is a non-partisan proposition. Ottumwa is the kind of factory town that went for Barack Obama in 2012 then for Trump in 2016. A 2018 rally for Bernie Sanders saw 800 people turn out—followed by one for Trump two weeks later which drew a crowd of 1,200. “Twenty years ago, if you were a Republican here, you were pretty much a closet case about it,” Laursen, who was a delegate for Bernie Sanders, says. “That's really not the case anymore.”  Key to the strike’s success was a laser-like focus on what united the striking workers over what divided them. “We didn't want to politicize the strike or have anything that could divide us, because we understood the importance of us staying together,” Laursen explained. “People who own all the stuff and the media, they want to divide the herd and get us fighting amongst each other. And it really is nonsense because we work in the same place, and our kids go to the same schools. We eat in the same restaurants. We have a lot more commonalities than we do differences.” The COVID labor market has been a boon for non-union workers, too. Latasha Exum is a health aid in a school in Cleveland. She’s in charge of evaluating children who need medical attention. Exum has been in the medical field for 10 years—she’s certified as a medical assistant—but she’s new to her current job and not sure she’ll stay (she loves children, but she worries about how much they spread germs in the age of COVID). And due to the current pressures of the job market, she’s certain that she would be able to find another one. She had no trouble finding this job and was even able to negotiate for a higher starting pay, although the supply chain crisis has made her job harder (thermometers and even band aids have been in short supply).  “Pay isn't everything as far as working conditions,” Exum explained. “Pay is one of the factors that some places are willing to wiggle and negotiate, but the conditions might not be the best.” The COVID economy hasn’t worked for everyone, though. Jenna Stocker is a former marine who worked retail at a pet store in Minneapolis throughout the pandemic. Her job was deemed essential, and she couldn’t afford to miss a paycheck, so while millions were able to work from home, she went to work every day. “I couldn’t afford to stay home and bake bread,” she said. “And those who did looked at us like we were lepers. Essential workers were looked down upon for having a job that allowed other people to stay home.” And she does mean lepers. “They didn’t want to touch us,” Stocker recalled. “When I would deliver dog food, they made me leave it outside. It was dehumanizing.” But it was also part of a larger trend Stocker has noticed, of feeling what she calls “morally wrong” for being poor or working class. There’s a smugness that’s imposed on the lower classes by those in the upper classes, and the class divide is only getting worse. Yet within the working class, divisions evaporate. “I work with a whole spectrum of people, including liberals and conservatives,” Stocker says. “It’s just not something that divides us. We have to work together. We have to make it work. Politics is not something we let divide us at work or in our friendships.” They simply don’t have that luxury. One of the things that the labor shortage has done is something the federal government failed to do: It normalized the idea of a $15 an hour wage. 80% of American workers now make at least $15 an hour—up from 60% in 2014. But that’s nothing close to a living wage for most American cities. Working-class wages have simply not kept up with production; all that extra GDP that’s come from increased production went instead to the top 1%. “Had you merely kept pace with the economy since the 1970s, a full-time, prime-age worker in America who in 2020 made $50,000 a year, that person would be making between $93,000 and a $103,000 a year without any growth in their personal income or share of GDP since the 1970s,” Rolf said. “Half of the income people should have expected to receive over that time was functionally stolen by a series of public policy and boardroom decisions that rewired the economy as upwardly sucking.” Jason Offutt is a 47-year-old from Parma, Ohio who paints lines on roads and in parking lots. He’s seen wage stagnation firsthand. Offutt took a summer job as a line painter when he was 16 and stayed with the company after he left school. He worked for a number of other companies after that, until he was finally able to buy a line-painting machine—it was a friend's, and it was in pieces—for $1,000. He put it back together by hand, and now he works for himself. “I just got tired of watching everybody else making money that I was busting my butt for,” Offutt told me. It took a while to become viable, but once Offutt got in the church directories, the jobs started to come regularly.  In the 30 years Offutt has been a line painter, he’s seen the security of working-class life collapse. “Inflation has gone up so much, even compared to when I started,” he told me. “I was making $16, $17 an hour back in my 20s and 30s, so that was pretty decent money back then, if you had one kid and didn't have too many responsibilities. But as you get older and your kids get older, your son's out working and he barely has enough to pay for his apartment, where I could work and pay for my apartment and car and still be ok. Now, if you’re working class, you've got to have two incomes, two and a half incomes, just to be an above-board person and enjoy your life. Back then, you could do great on just one income.” The percentage of American workers who have what might be called a secure job—who work at least 30 hours a week and earn $40,000 a year with health benefits and a predictable schedule—is less than one in three, and for people without a college degree, it’s just one in five. That’s what Oren Cass, executive director of American Compass and author of The Once and Future Worker, recently found in an extensive survey. “The economy has generally bifurcated into a labor market that has relatively better paying, secure jobs in what we would call knowledge industries, that have tended to see expansion and wage growth and so forth, and generally less secure jobs in shrinking or stagnating industries, that tend to be filled with people without college degrees,” says Cass. One of those people is Cyrus Tharpe, a 46-year-old hazmat truck driver from Phoenix. Tharpe has spent his entire life living below the state median household income everywhere he has lived, and he is deeply cynical about talk of a resurgent labor movement. “Everything is getting worse,” Tharpe tells me. Working class bodies are born to work until they are in too much pain to do so—and then die. “If you’re working class, you die in your early seventies. You know that and there's nothing you can do about it. This is the business model,” Tharpe says. Most of the successful strikes have been won by the tiny percentage of workers who are already unionized. But the 94% of workers in private sector jobs without union representation like himself are just out of luck; to them, attempting to unionize means an antagonistic relationship with management or retaliation from bosses or risking their jobs entirely, facing an influx of new workers flown in from elsewhere or a corporation shutting down the branch where they work. These are luxuries most American workers just can’t afford. Someone from the AFL-CIO in Arizona once reached out to Tharpe and asked if he was interested in forming a union. He said yes and asked for contact information for the lawyers who would back him up when his boss started pushing back. He never heard back from the union representative. It's exhilarating to see workers at places like Amazon and Starbucks unionize. But those jobs tend to be temporary ones—by design at a place like Amazon, which is infamous for paying people to quit. Meanwhile Starbucks workers are often younger and even college-educated. Though both are huge employers—Amazon is America’s second biggest—they also aren’t typical of working-class jobs. And there’s a question of scale, too. The efforts at the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island succeeded where others had failed in large part due to the eschewal of a national union in favor of the creation of a new one specific to the site—the Amazon Labor Union. Far from an endorsement, the success of the Staten Island Amazon warehouse is largely being viewed as a rebuke of organized labor. Moreover, there’s something of a Catch-22 to starting a union in the workplaces where people most need union protections and collective bargaining: It requires someone who paradoxically doesn’t really need the work, who will be ok if the corporate backlash is extreme and they lose their job. Gianna Reeve is a 20-year-old shift supervisor who has worked at a Starbucks in Buffalo for a year and a half. Reeve is a student at Buffalo University where she’s studying psychology, and she is active in the effort to unionize her branch, hoping to follow the lead of another Buffalo Starbucks, the first to unionize. For now, Reeve’s branch seems to have voted against unionizing, though the pro-union faction is contesting the results. Reeve came to Starbucks from Tim Hortons, which she says was grueling work. At Starbucks, employees—Starbucks calls them “partners”—seemed happy to come to work, and Reeve initially felt that they were respected by the company. But in mid-August, a coworker texted to ask if they could talk about something to do with work but “outside of work.” They met at another coffee shop that had recently unionized—a symbolic choice, it turned out—and Reeve’s coworker explained the unionization effort to her and asked if she was interested in helping out.  “I was like, yeah,” Reeve recalled. “I mean, of course, if it means better working conditions for people like my partners, then absolutely.” Reeve was thinking of the people she supervises, most of whom are older than her. She made a point of checking her privilege, pointing out the sad irony of union organizing. “I don't blame any of my partners for being scared or being against unionizing,” she told me. “I'm in a position where I'm able to say, yeah, you know what, let's do it either way. But it's a privilege. I don’t have kids. I don’t have a family I support,” she explained. “I don’t really have anything personally that tethers me. I know that I’m going to be financially and benefits-wise stable, no matter what, so it’s not really a threat they can put against me.” But it’s not just economic privilege. There is an emerging cultural disconnect between the people who most need unions and the people who sometimes run them. At the national level, union staff—especially on the political and public policy side of things—are very likely to be part of what one longtime union leader called the “revolving door of Democratic operatives in Washington.” They have often been guilty of subordinating core working-class interests to what he called “the permanent culture of progressive college-educated coastal elites.” And they are alienating the workers they're supposed to be representing—who are much more socially conservative. A YouGov/American Compass survey of 3,000 workers found that “excessive engagement in politics is the number one obstacle to a robust American labor movement.” “Among those who said they would vote against a union, the top reason cited was union political activity, followed by member dues,” the survey found. “These workers anticipate that unions will focus on politics rather than delivering concrete benefits in their workplaces, and don’t want to pay the cost.” Meanwhile, fear of retaliation was the least cited reason workers gave for why they haven’t unionized. The alliance of unions and Democratic politics often goes beyond labor issues, whether it’s the president of the AFL-CIO applauding a Netflix walkout over a Dave Chappelle special, or one of America's biggest unions endorsing Supreme Court packing, or unionization efforts drawing on slogans like Black Lives Matter to convince workers to vote yes. “When you survey workers, which is what we did, what you find is that this is the thing that they most hate about unions,” Cass told me. Jeff Salovich is a pipefitter foreman at the Minneapolis City Hall, which means he’s in charge of all the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems for local government offices, including those of the police chief, the fire chief, City Council, and the mayor. Salovich has been with the Local 539 since 2002, something he’s proud of. But he’s worried about the future of labor in America.  “I think unions are dying,” Salovich told me. And he blames what he calls “political theater.” “There's too many progressives in my mind that don't really understand unions. And although they're trying to represent unions, they're actually doing more harm to unions than they are good.” Though Salovich’s union has people from across the political spectrum, it leans conservative, and there is a divide forming between the blue-collar members and the top-down liberal culture that’s being imposed upon them. “A great majority of the people that I work with—other pipefitters and plumbers and mechanical trades—I would say at least 75% of the workers tend to lean more conservative and are more concerned about keeping their jobs instead of saying the right things or addressing people by pronouns and this and that, all the theatrics that are going on,” he said. “Whereas the people that are running things are being pressured by outside influences to succumb to that.”  For example, in the pipefitter trade, there’s a tool called a nipple that connects different pieces of pipe. But as part of what Salovich sees as progressive pressures on leadership, the word is now verboten, and if you're caught saying it, you'll get reprimanded by your boss. It’s a small example of a much larger trend, he explained. “I think there's that breaking point where people will start to leave if they feel like their dues money is going to political alliances that don't line up with their family's convictions,” he explained.  Many conservatives in the union just stay quiet, hoping this new tidal wave will blow over. But for some, even the good pay and benefits that the union provides isn’t worth it. So, they’re willing to give up their economic interests for cultural issues? “No,” Salovich explained. “Because my interests are not just limited to my paycheck. It's your life,” he said. “They don't understand that people just want to work. I'm coming from a mechanical side. As far as trade staff like painting and plumbing and carpentry and trades that people work with their hands, we don't want to have to be perfect in how we address people and how we talk or be afraid to talk or be who we are as people And the Left side, the progressives, are really pushing a lot of agendas that are not aligned with how we raise our families.” There are a lot of people willing to work for half as much as the unions are offering for peace of mind and a stress-free environment, and to not see their dues go to groups that fund Planned Parenthood. But the more progressive culture may also be contrary to their economic interests; after all, marriage has been correlated with significantly higher earnings, especially for men. They may not have the data at hand to support what they can observe in their communities, but working-class people resisting a politics that is indifferent at best and hostile at worst to traditional values like marriage are, it turns out, acting in their economic interests, too. Many union leaders are cognizant of this cultural divide, like Doug Tansy of Alaska. Tansy is a registered Democrat, but he actively works to combat the politicization of his union. “I purposely always try to get people that will check me,” he told me. “I definitely want that conservative voice at the table, debating with me and decision-making with me because, left to my own devices, I will go too far. I represent a very diverse membership and I use my conservative friends to help check me, to make me defend my ideas and to defend my choices, because I don't want to be one-sided.” But how many Tansys are there?  There’s a devastating irony to the fact that it was a bipartisan anti-worker consensus that resulted in stagnant wages and downward mobility for America’s working-class, and that it is now partisanship that is keeping a strong working class from fighting back.  Americans are often told how divided the nation is, how politically polarized, how we entombed in our own tightly sealed echo chambers. But this is not the reality for millions and millions of working-class Americans outside the few elites who make up our political and chattering classes. Political polarization is a luxury they cannot afford in a marketplace dominated by powerful, profit-maximizing corporations. With the blessing of free-market policies pushed by both political parties in the U.S., millions of good working-class jobs have been shipped overseas, jobs that once catapulted working-class Americans into the middle class and now do the same for the burgeoning middle class in China and elsewhere.  What would help America’s working class? A number of solutions came up with everyone I spoke to. Vocational training was the first. America is unique among wealthy countries in its refusal to invest in skilled trades, something that in countries like Germany and Switzerland has offset the drastic effects of offshoring manufacturing. Universal healthcare was another thing nearly everyone I spoke to agreed upon. Regional or sectoral bargaining was another option that came up, or just a larger culture of collective bargaining that isn’t tied to individual workplaces; it’s why across Northern Europe, corporations like Starbucks and Amazon are forced to deal with unions. And we need new federal labor laws that protect workers—not just businesses.  But none of these goals are achievable so long as organized labor is a political football and what one longtime union organizer and leader called a “subsidiary of the Left wing of the Democratic Party.” Rather than holding the benefits of organized labor hostage until Republican workers agree to fund groups that support Planned Parenthood, those who claim to want a strong labor movement would do better to meet workers where they are—which is increasingly on the social and political right. In other words, Americans who truly care about a stable and thriving working class, one that has access to the American Dream, would do well to learn what workers understand: that more unites us than divides us. In other words, politicians and pundits and journalists and influencers who seek to advance workers’ causes should stop trying to lead and should start following.  Batya Ungar-Sargon is the deputy opinion editor of Newsweek. She is the author of "Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy." *  *  * NOTE FROM GLENN GREENWALD: As is true with all of the Outside Voices freelance articles that we publish here, we edit and fact-check the content to ensure factual accuracy, but our publication of an article or op-ed does not necessarily mean we agree with all or even any of the views expressed by the writer, who is guaranteed editorial freedom here. The objective of our Outside Voices page is to provide a platform for high-quality reporting and analysis that is lacking within the gates of corporate journalism, and to ensure that well-informed, independent reporters and commentators have a platform to be heard. To support the independent journalism we are doing here, please obtain a gift subscription for others and/or share the article Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 19:15.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

"A World Gone Mad": Upscale LA Neighborhood Wrestles With Worsening Homeless Crisis

'A World Gone Mad': Upscale LA Neighborhood Wrestles With Worsening Homeless Crisis Authored by Jamie Joseph via The Epoch Times, Abbott Kinney Boulevard is a picture-perfect hidden gem in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, known for its boutique shops and locally-owned dining joints. The mile-long strip sings to the tune of upper-middle-class patrons who come to Venice Beach to soak in its peculiar rhythm. The neighborhood’s tight-knit community of homeowners who have lived in the area for decades are proud to reside in this unique nook of town. A woman walks down a sidewalk passing a homeless encampment in Venice, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) But over the last year, the community within this stretch of Venice grew even closer over a common frustration: the growing homeless encampments. The issue is not new to Los Angeles as a whole, which has more than 41,000 people living on its streets, according to the latest homeless count, with more than 66,000 homeless people countywide. A forecast by the Economic Roundtable estimates that number could reach nearly 90,000 by the year 2023. Venice has approximately 2,000 people living unhoused, making it the second largest congregant of homeless people in the city after Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Drugs, needles, trash, violence, fires, and encampments have become all too common to the Venice community. They say their pleas for help often fall on deaf ears when it comes to their city leaders, while tourists, homeowners, workers, and other homeless people have become victims to random assaults by a more violent crowd of transients. “It’s a world gone mad,” Venice resident Deborah Keaton told The Epoch Times. “It’s our own making too. I’m a liberal, a Democrat, and we voted for these measures that decriminalize a lot of this behavior, and so there’s no repercussions for these guys.” A man smokes a cigarette in a homeless RV encampment in Venice, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) When Keaton steps outside her home on North Venice Blvd. between Abbott Kinney and Electric Ave., her reality is not the white-picket fence experience she bought into 30 years ago when she purchased her home. An encampment, including a handful of parked RVs, has popped up adjacent to her house, making hers the closest house to the neighborhood’s new hot spot for crime and drug dealing. The transients living inside the RVs play loud music all day and night, she said. She filed a police report against the apparent ringleader of the RV encampment, Brandon Washington, because she says he approached her gate and allegedly made threats against her family. “He rang the bell, and he was wasted, and he said to me: ‘I just need to know all the evil people, is your husband evil? Because I need to kill your husband,’” Keaton said. “It was scary.” She captured the entire interaction on her Ring doorbell camera. “There’s no repercussions for these guys, and they can’t be held and they know it. A lot of these guys have been arrested 400 times,” she said. Neighbors allege Washington—who often appears to be on drugs—has prostituted women in the RVs, in addition to dealing methamphetamine to other homeless people. Keaton said in the summer a woman was hiding in her backyard, because she said Washington was “pimping her out.” These stories have become all too common in Venice. Ansar El Muhammad, who goes by “Brother Stan” in Venice, knows the plight of Washington all too well. About 20 years ago, Washington was in Muhammad’s niece’s wedding. Both were born and raised in Venice and ran in the same circles. “Even though everybody is up in arms about this, these are human beings,” Muhammad told The Epoch Times. “Brandon’s a good guy, it’s the drugs that are doing that to him. So, I understand the neighbors’ perspective.” Muhammad has become somewhat of a neighborhood protector, taking matters into his own hands. He runs H.E.L.P.E.R Foundation, a gang intervention coalition serving the Venice and Mar Vista neighborhoods. Venice neighbors say they trust him so much they call him first when there’s a safety or noise issue. The homeless trust him, too, so he is able to keep the peace. Most of the vagrants in Venice are involved in some element of gang activity, even if they are not officially part of a set, he said. Drug addiction is also rampant among the homeless, making it more difficult for them to accept resources. “So, for my friend over here, what do I do? I build rapport, I have to wait for him to say ‘Stan, I’m ready,’” he said. Other outreach workers across the county have told The Epoch Times the same thing—contact must be repeatedly made before some people accept help. Pat, an unsheltered resident in Venice Beach, told The Epoch Times earlier this year there should be more solutions by city leaders to encourage special rehab programs that would “give people a sense of accountability.” “There’s got to be a way, a path forward from sleeping on the pavement to eventually having a place. But I think all of the energy to give that path forward should come from the person in that situation,” he said. Neighbors Criticize Local Policies The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach and Services Team (LASD HOST) conducted a cleanup of the sidewalk surrounding the RVs on Sept. 8 and 9, but Keaton said they won’t enforce any measures that would force the RVs to move. She fears the trash will pile up again and attract additional criminal activity. “The LAPD says they can’t enforce it because it comes down from the mayor’s office, but according to the Sheriff’s Department, the LAPD are not supposed to take orders from the mayor’s office—but that’s the deal,” Keaton said. Venice Neighborhood Council Board member Soledad Ursua told The Epoch Times the RVs receive citations, but a homeless service provider in the area allegedly pays for the tickets. Ursua said the pandemic also changed the homeless situation by encouraging transients to move to new residential areas in the city near commercial areas. “This is different because there’s people who are totally selling drugs, they’re doing drugs, and it’s outside a residence,” Ursua said. “I’ve had to clean up human feces in my carport three times,” she added. During the summer, HOST conducted a massive cleanup and outreach effort on the Venice boardwalk. Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva deployed deputies to the area while media reports slammed city leaders for not addressing the issue. Encampment fires were at an all time high: more than 54 percent of all fires in Los Angeles were caused by encampments this year, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. The neighborhood experienced a sharp uptick in crime during the summer, too, according to statistics provided to the Venice Neighborhood Council by LAPD Capt. Steve Embrich. Year-to-date numbers showed that robberies nearly tripled since the same period last year. Homeless-related robberies were up 260 percent, homeless-related assaults with a deadly weapon were up 118 percent, property crimes and area burglaries were up 85 percent, and grand theft auto was up 74 percent. “We’ve been inundated with calls, with concerns, with images from the news, from people picking up the phone, emailing, sending us letters, about what’s going on in Venice,” Villanueva told reporters during a press conference inside the Hall of Justice on June 23. “And that is a microcosm of what’s going on throughout the entire county of Los Angeles.” Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin—who was also a local advocate for defunding the LAPD—countered Villanueva’s efforts and asked the Los Angeles Homeless and Poverty Committee to shift $5 million in budgeted aid to fund housing programs in his district. Those funds were sent to the St. Joseph Center to conduct outreach on the boardwalk. However, some tents have started popping back up on the boardwalk, with residents saying many homeless individuals have just been moved around. An unhoused member of the Venice community, Butch Say, believes most homeless people in Venice don’t want the help. Say, who described himself as a traveling nomad, told The Epoch Times during the boardwalk cleanup that most of them prefer to live on the street. “They go, ‘No, I love it out here. Nobody tells me what to do, and I run around in my underwear,” he said. “You know, whatever. They’re crazy. What can I say? It’s Venice.” Not a ‘Housing’ Problem While Los Angeles dealt with a homeless crisis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, city restrictions may have exacerbated the problem. Curfew on tents in public were rolled back and sanitation crews were cut to mitigate the spread of the virus. Other city codes were suspended, too. As a result, many homeless people—mostly addicts—flocked to the beach. In a previous interview with The Epoch Times, local bar owner Luis Perez said Venice always had a quirky community of homeless individuals, but they were largely artists and entertainers. They weren’t addicts. He said he saw homeless individuals being bussed in and dropped off on the boardwalk. As state and city leaders peddle the state-sanctioned “housing first” model, which suggests the solution to homelessness lies within building more affordable housing units, Venice Beach natives have a different perspective. “A lot of them don’t want housing. See, this is the issue—they put all this money in here for housing, but there’s less than 5 percent of this population across the city that want it. They say ‘to hell with housing,’” Muhammad said. “You know why? Because they’re addicts.” California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks with reporters at a VA facility in Brentwood, Calif., on Nov, 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) On Nov. 10, Gov. Gavin Newsom visited West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. During the press conference, Newsom told reporters that $22 billion in funds is being invested to address “the issue of affordability, housing, and homelessness, to support these efforts all across the state of California.” “Yes, I see what you see, yes I’m mindful of what is happening, but I’m also more optimistic than I’ve ever been. We are seeing progress,” he said. But residents say they look around, and the problem seems to be getting worse. “I voted for Proposition HHH. I [would] be the first one to say I want a solution. And honestly, I would probably vote for another one if I thought the money was going to be correctly spent,” said Venice Neighborhood Council Board member Robert Thibodeau. “But the thing is, where’s the light on the ground solutions? Where’s the FEMA style response, the striking sort of immediate solutions that you would have with [Hurricane] Katrina, because to me, this is Katrina.” Local business owners—the heartbeat of Venice—have been speaking out, too. Klaus Moeller, co-owner of Ben & Jerry’s on the boardwalk, told The Epoch Times in an email during the summer that “this is not a local homeless problem.” “This is a problem about out-of-state transients and drug dealers/users moving in because they can act without repercussions,” he said. Moeller added his employees have been attacked by transients on the boardwalk. Neighbors also criticized Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond passed in 2016 by Angelenos to build 10,000 supportive housing units. As of February, the city controller discovered only 489 of the bond-funded units were ready for occupancy. Because of the lack of supportive housing, a number of tiny home villages have popped up across the county as lower-cost alternative for interim housing. However, some residents say they won’t make much of a difference. “They wouldn’t move indoors. It’s not a housing crisis—it’s an addiction crisis,” Los Angeles native and new Venice resident, Kate Linden, told The Epoch Times. Linden said she emails Lt. Geff Deedrick—who leads the HOST efforts—weekly letting him know what’s going on. But the HOST team can only come in when they are given orders. Previously, Lt. Deedrick told The Epoch Times: “The HOST team provides that guardian mentality, so you can have a safe space for those discussions, but that’s where the policy makers and executives and those things, we leave that to them; we deploy at the direction of the sheriff.” A deputy from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department speaks to a homeless man sitting in front of his encampment in Venice, Calif., on June 8, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) Residents Launch Recall Campaign Many Venice neighbors who originally voted in Councilmember Bonin to represent them in the 11th district, like Keaton, are pulling back their support. Earlier this year, a recall campaign was launched, and on Nov. 10, petitioners collected enough signatures to move forward in the recall election process. They blame Bonin for the increased homelessness and lack of enforcement on street camping that they say brings gang activity into the neighborhood. On Oct. 22, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban encampments in 54 specified areas, with Bonin and Councilmember Nithya Raman the only two dissenting votes. Thibodeau said Bonin’s views are on the “radical fringe,” that aligns with special interest groups and far-left activists. Thibodeau, who identifies as a centrist, said he’s sent dozens of emails to Bonin’s office with no response. “The sad thing is lot of this has happened because of a higher level of tolerance in the community and a compassion in the community—we’ve been abused, because we’re compassionate people,” Thibodeau told The Epoch Times. “He will not enforce [camping restrictions] in his district. So, now what, he’s in charge of policing too?” During a city council meeting last month, Bonin voted not to enforce a ban on camping due to a lack of prior street engagement to notify the homeless. But according to city documents (pdf), the cost of signage and outreach would cost as much as $2 million. “There was an agreement about street engagements, and I think we need to live by that part as well,” Bonin said. “I am certain that a lot of work has been done, but it still isn’t to the level of what we committed to as a body. And I’m concerned about us losing the commitment to the street engagement strategy and not making sure that it is adequately resourced.” Adding to the residents’ frustrations, the LAPD has their hands tied due to the city’s catch-and-release policies. Homeless people who commit crimes are often back on the streets within hours if they refuse services. Thibodeau said he believes Bonin is transforming Venice into a “containment zone” by not enforcing any anti-camping ordinances. Meanwhile, Bonin is planning several large supportive housing developments in Venice Beach and Mar Vista. Bonin and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also championed A Bridge Housing supportive units in Venice for $8 million that came out of Prop. HHH funds. Residents say most of the homeless who reside in the shelter are “dual residents,” meaning they have a bed in the shelter as well as a tent on the street. “There are no new planned facilities in Pacific Palisades. Brentwood happens to have the VA but nowhere else in Brentwood … so we’re making a Containment Zone here like Skid Row,” he said. As far as the sidewalk on N. Venice Boulevard taken over by RVs and tents, Thibodeau said, “Living next to this stuff is very draining.” He said he’s thinking about organizing street protests to address the issue. Councilmember Bonin’s office did not respond to a request for comment by press deadline. Tyler Durden Sun, 11/14/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 14th, 2021

A once rising star in Florida politics who stunned Democrats with an untimely retirement says Biden should dismiss "progressive pipe dreams"

In a wide-ranging interview with Insider, Rep. Stephanie Murphy discusses inflation, Democrats' infrastructure bills, and new approaches for Biden. Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images Rep. Stephanie Murphy has been one of the highest-profile moderate Democratic lawmakers in Congress. Long seen as a rising star, Murphy surprised many by deciding not to seek reelection this year. Murphy spoke with Insider about infrastructure, inflation, and bipartisanship, among other issues. Democrats knew they were going to face political headwinds in 2022 as the party in power during a midterm election year.But even after a wave of lawmakers said they wouldn't seek another term in Congress, Florida's moderate Rep. Stephanie Murphy turned heads last December when she announced her retirement. Murphy is a former national security specialist at the Department of Defense who represents the Orlando-area 7th congressional district.As one of the most high-profile centrists in the House, Murphy decided that she would forgo a reelection bid to a fourth term, stunning many observers who thought she'd run in a newly-reconfigured House district or aim for a Senate run against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.Instead, Murphy opted to vacate her seat on her own terms, citing a desire to spend more time with her family. But she is not leaving without a brutally honest assessment of Congress and the direction of the Democratic Party.In a recent conversation with Insider, the 43-year-old Blue Dog lawmaker spoke of the need to help families struggling financially, and criticized the Biden administration for using the term "transitory" in discussing inflationary issues last year. She also lamented the failed Democratic push to pass a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in tandem with the nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better social-spending framework."I think a lot of my district looks at Washington and the dysfunction and the bickering and are turned off by it," Murphy said. "I always say that the only things that can help my constituents and the American people are the ideas that have the ability to be signed into law. Everything else is just talk."Congresswoman Murphy speaks with reporters about the Build Back Better legislation at the US Capitol on November 18, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesThe Build Back Better challenge While the bipartisan infrastructure framework championed by President Joe Biden was eventually signed into law in November, that only occurred after the bill was untied from the larger Build Back Better Act, which deeply frustrated progressive members within the Democratic Party.New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has spoken at-length about how she felt the process for passing the bills was flawed and caused a major rift within the Democratic caucus. Despite supporting the legislative aims of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, she joined five other progressive lawmakers in opposing the bill.Murphy is unyielding in her belief that Build Back Better — which in its previous iteration would have funded massive investments in healthcare, childcare, and climate initiatives — should have been taken up on its own without being inextricably linked to another piece of legislation.The congresswoman was openly critical of the way in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shepherded the bills in the lower chamber, which created a situation where the Senate passed the bipartisan bill last August, but Democrats continued to debate Build Back Better for months afterward, holding off an immediate bipartisan victory in lieu of working to pass the larger bill."Bills should be evaluated on their merit. And if you wed one bill to the other in order to leverage members of your own party, then maybe that's a bad strategy for trying to get legislation done," Murphy told Insider.She added: "I have always said that we should have picked a few things [in Build Back Better] and done them well. If we had focused on the climate provisions, shoring up the Affordable Care Act and providing universal pre-K, any one of those provisions would have been a historic piece of legislation."The more expansive multitrillion-dollar Build Back Better bill is all but kaput at the moment, but party leaders are hoping to salvage chunks of the legislation and pass them individually — similar to Murphy's initial sentiments.Congresswoman Murphy speaks during a meeting of the Select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack at the US Capitol, on December 13, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesPraise — and caution — for BidenAs the United States continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic — with the virus having been the underlying or contributing cause in nearly 1 million deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Murphy said during the interview that Biden has done a lot to tackle the virus in the face of many unknowns."I think President Biden did a good job at handling COVID," she added. "When he took office, we didn't know that we were going to have a Delta [variant] surge and an Omicron surge, and by passing the [$1.9 trillion] American Rescue Plan, he put shots in arms and checks in pockets that helped carry us through those two surges and has enabled us to return to a somewhat normal life."However, Murphy said, the president should continue listening to the concerns of unaffiliated voters, many of whom are worried about the direction of the country, especially as it relates to the economy."I think there are a lot of great opportunities for him to focus on kitchen-table issues that matter to independents," she told Insider. "I hope that the administration puts an increased emphasis on pragmatic solutions — as opposed to progressive pipe dreams — and actually focuses on the things that can get over the finish line."One of the most pressing national concerns — inflation — has arisen in large part because of supply-chain issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.For much of last year, Biden and several of his top economic officials said rising costs would be temporary. In October, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said inflation would be "transitory," but acknowledged that it will still take some time for prices to ease.However, Murphy said such assessments largely fall on deaf ears to everyday Americans."I think when you tell a working mom who is struggling to put the same amount of groceries into her shopping cart that inflation is just 'transitory,' you're not connecting with the concerns that she has," she said. "What does that even mean? They feel it today and to combat emotions with economic data points really created a sense that Washington wasn't attuned to the struggles of the American people."Former US President Barack Obama speaks at a Biden-Harris drive-in rally in Orlando, Florida on October 27, 2020. The former president carried Florida in both 2008 and 2012.RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty ImagesDon't discount the Sunshine StateWhile Democrats were once dominant in Florida, Republicans have ascended in the state since the 1990s.Democrats have not won a gubernatorial election in Florida since 1994, when then-Gov. Lawton Chiles won reelection to a second term. The party has narrowly lost a string of gubernatorial races in recent years — nominating moderates Alex Sink in 2010 and Charlie Crist in 2014, along with the more progressive Andrew Gillum in 2018.President Barack Obama won the state in both 2008 and 2012 in what was seen as a triumph for the party, but in 2018, the party's long-serving senator, Bill Nelson, lost a razor-thin reelection campaign to now-Republican Sen. Rick Scott. And although former President Donald Trump narrowly won the state in 2016, he expanded his victory in 2020 — winning by more than 371,000 votes — by boosting his numbers among the state's burgeoning Latino population.Democrats are also outnumbered in the Florida legislature, which has allowed Gov. Ron DeSantis — who is seen as the favorite in his reelection bid this fall and has endeared himself to Republicans across the country ahead of a potential 2024 presidential campaign — to largely enact an unabashedly conservative agenda.Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida, pointed to money and messaging as big reasons why Republicans have enjoyed electoral success at the statewide level."The Republican candidates have almost always been better funded," he told Insider. "Republicans have also been able to paint Democrats as too liberal for the state, either on taxes or when Trump ran painting Joe Biden as a communist or socialist. Part of it is also organization. The Republican Party and outside groups have typically done a better job than Democrats with registration and turnout efforts, with a few exceptions — with Barack Obama's team."Murphy, however, rejects the contention from some Democrats that Florida is no longer competitive for their party."I believe Florida still is a swing state and that's because I represent a district that very much mirrors the statewide numbers," she told Insider. "I have consistently overperformed up-ballot Democrats when I have been on the ballot with them.""But in order to win Florida, you have to have smart policies and strong politics and by smart policies, I mean, we have to craft policies that advance the needs of Floridians," she added. "And then, from a political perspective, you have to have the statewide leadership and organization to put together the money, message, and machine that's necessary to compete at the polls."Murphy then pointed to the GOP push to enact restrictive voting measures — building on the state's sweeping election bill that was signed into law last year — in making the case for why the party should continue to fight for Florida's votes."It's more important now than ever because we have to push back against Republican efforts in the state to disenfranchise voters and to make it more difficult to vote, not less," she told Insider. "There's a lot on the line right now. I think Florida will continue to be a state that determines the direction of this nation."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2022

How Atlanta, one of the fastest-growing tech hubs, is leveraging technology to improve city services and close equity gaps

AIM is helping city residents by improving access to WiFi, updating its 311 system, and involving the community in key decisions. Kazi Awal/InsiderAtlanta, Georgia.Tetra Images/Getty Images Atlanta, Georgia, is hoping to close equity gaps as it becomes a major tech hub. Atlanta Information Management is spearheading tech innovation in the city. Initiatives include free WiFi across the city and using security cameras to improve public safety. This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called "Advancing Cities." Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country. It's attracted Big Tech companies like Apple, which plans to build a tech education campus for students at historically Black colleges and universities to boost local tech talent, and Microsoft, which recently announced plans to expand its presence in Atlanta, including a data center and new campus.Jason Sankey.Courtesy of AIMBut the city still has "vast equity gaps," said Jason Sankey, the chief information officer at Atlanta Information Management (AIM). His department hopes to close those gaps by using technology to provide better, more equitable citywide services.Sankey joined AIM, an arm of the Atlanta government that was originally established as the Department of Information Technology in 2004, last summer and is currently spearheading a reset of its smart-city initiatives. Guided by an operational strategy known as Operation Excellence, which outlines five pillars for creating and delivering technology-centric services — strengthening core IT services, increasing service alignment across city departments, enhancing the user experience, modernizing systems, and investing in workforce development — AIM is collaborating with other departments, local businesses, schools like Georgia Tech, and organizations like the Metro Atlanta Chamber to build a public-private ecosystem to bring innovative technologies to the city.Operation Excellence.Courtesy of AIMAtlanta's new mayor, Andre Dickens, is a Georgia Tech graduate and was previously the chief development officer at nonprofit TechBridge and cofounded the organization's Technology Career Program, which trains underserved residents for tech jobs. Sankey said Dickens understands the role technology can play in helping Atlanta advance its innovation initiatives.Here's a look at what Sankey's team is doing to improve access to technology for all, as well as leverage technology to make the city and its services safer and more efficient.Installing kiosks and free WiFiThe interactive kiosks across the city.Courtesy of AIMOne project AIM is working on is installing dozens of interactive kiosks across the city in partnership with IKE Smart City. The kiosks offer wayfinding information, details about city services, and free WiFi, and Sankey said at least 25% of the kiosks will be installed in underserved communities. While the program is still new, the city plans to use data from the kiosks to inform future projects. AIM also works with the city's parks and recreation department to provide more than 250 computers and WiFi for citizens at 17 centers across Atlanta.Using security cameras to improve public safetyPublic safety is another priority for Atlanta, and AIM is working with the Atlanta Police Department and Atlanta Police Foundation to establish a real-time crime center, Sankey said. This allows law enforcement to view live footage from any nearby security camera when they're responding to calls. Residents and businesses can voluntarily connect their security cameras to the police network. The new system will bring Atlanta's existing video integration up to date with new technology so businesses' security cameras are more compatible with the police system. "We were reactive with our video integration center; this real-time crime center will give us the ability to be proactive when addressing crime," Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant told Fox 5 News.As of January, 4,500 cameras were integrated into the new system, and police expected to add 25,000 more over the next year. Helping residents better access city services AIM's operational strategy centers on creating innovative, reliable information technology services across the city's departments that are designed with users in mind. "We really want to engage the community to understand how they interact with technology and how they want technology delivered," Sankey said. In line with this goal, AIM plans to pilot an upgrade to Atlanta's non-emergency 311 system later this year that uses artificial intelligence and intuitive chatbots to answer residents' questions about things like trash collection and sidewalk repair. Sankey said the system will provide "real answers, not just FAQs," and came about after resident feedback revealed their frustrations with trying to use the existing system, which didn't always provide the information they need. AIM also has a team of seven business-relationship managers that partner with other city departments to identify their technology needs, create solutions, and provide seamless services to residents.Involving citizens in decisions around tech innovationWith Atlanta's tech sector growing, attracting and retaining talent and investing in existing city employees is another priority. Sankey said the city partners with local colleges and universities on internship and apprenticeship programs at the city to provide underserved groups with access to tech job training. AIM also plans to launch an office of digital transformation this year to further ensure that the city's technology solutions work for those using them. Those in this department will be involved in seeking public engagement on initiatives and forming public-private partnerships. "We want to invite community leaders as well as citizens to innovation labs so they can interact with proof-of-concept designs prior to implementation so they can tell us what the problems or the problem areas are that they're dealing with," Sankey said. Earnestness drives all of AIM's projects. "Time is the biggest challenge when it comes to technology. If we lead with a sense of urgency, that balances out this ongoing challenge," he added. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 9th, 2022

When The World Changed – Part II

This is part two and three of a multi-part series on When The World Changed. See Part I here. Universal Incomes And Social Credits John, understandably, is deeply upset with himself. His career has evaporated in front of him, and now he faces a bleak future. Of course, he should have seen it coming. He […] This is part two and three of a multi-part series on When The World Changed. See Part I here. Universal Incomes And Social Credits John, understandably, is deeply upset with himself. His career has evaporated in front of him, and now he faces a bleak future. Of course, he should have seen it coming. He did see it coming. He saw all the signs around him but failed to act soon enough. When he first went to university, activist groups were calling for radical social reform. Among their demands was the need for a universal income and a social credit system. According to them, they foresaw that artificial intelligence and robots would decimate the labour market. They predicted the polarisation of the labour market. This meant that a few elites would be employed in research and development work, because computers weren’t capable of performing their jobs. The only other employment would be in low-level jobs not worth automating. The rest of us would be out of work. Work could only be found on the extremes, or opposite poles of the labour market. The huge unemployed masses would need an income. A universal income would be paid to all adults to meet their needs. However, income is only part of the employment issue. We work to earn, but we also work to provide purpose and meaning to our life. Work gives us a sense of pride in ourselves. Without providing for this, we have a social problem on our hands as big as the lack of income. Hence the idea of the social credit system. The system encourages people to seek opportunities to contribute to their community by providing their time and skills to address problems or opportunities within their community. Social credit schemes existed in the early ’20s. People or groups would post their requirements online, to which somebody would respond and earn social credits to complete the task. The idea was to upscale this and have it managed by a government body. Social credits could then be bartered or exchange for money. People could augment their universal income with these social credits. Among the radicals proposing universal incomes and social credits, a school of thought suggested the government manage all payments to its citizens. If somebody were fortunate to be employed, their employer would pay their salary to the government. The government would then pay the worker their universal income, plus their salary, after tax deductions. Salaries would be lower because the universal income comprises part of it. For those unemployed but earning social credits, these credits would be paid to the government as well. The government would convert these into a monetary value and pay them to the individual less any tax deductions. Some believed it would be fairer, than a barter system. No matter how the system was supposed to work, it would have provided a livable income, given purpose, meaning and pride back to people whose lives were ruined through the decimation of the labour market. Equally important, the social credit system would have focused the efforts of the many unemployed on building “common good.” A society’s strength is gauged by how well it looks after common interests or the common good. Unfortunately, since the 1970s, we placed self-interest ahead of common good. As a result of this self-interest, we have destroyed the planet’s ecosystem and brought about unimaginable social turmoil. Detractors of the universal income scheme said we could not afford it, which is nonsense. Look what we’ve ended up with. They also said that with every technological advancement, rather than lose jobs, we created new ones, so there’s no need to implement the scheme. The vast difference with previous advances was that the technology was not intended to replace humans but enhance what humans did. Now we know robots have greater dexterity, strength, speed and endurance than humans. We also know that AI has advanced to such a level they far outperform the human brain, and they collaborate far better than humans. We can’t compete. What about ASI – Artificial Super Intelligence? Today we know computers are far more creative than we are in virtually every field; composing music, writing, art, designing buildings, and rockets, the list is endless. Right now, researchers are losing their jobs – obsolete and hopelessly inefficient. So, what new jobs did they think we could do? Clean and polish the computers. Robots do that better at this than us. What a disaster! John heard these “radical” voices, but choose to ignore them. However, deep down, he knew they made sense, but he didn’t want to be seen siding with radical thinkers. In any event, he will have retired or been close to retirement when the changes they predicted occurred. Therefore, not his problem. Unfortunately, for John, his chickens have come home to roost early, and he and his young family will now pay the price. He has no Universal Income or Social Credit Scheme to fall back on. I don’t know what future awaits him, apart from a bleak one. Some may say my condemnation of John is harsh. “What can one man do against powerful forces hellbent on putting profit ahead of the community?” The answer is – stand-up and fight for what you know is right. Your voice will merger with others. Soon that one voice becomes millions, and millions of voices bring about change. It all starts by taking a stand, not remaining silent. Believing it’s somebody else’s problem, is the problem. Of course, there we numerous other events and incidents which conveyed the same message as the “radical” university group. The only thing the group got wrong was their timing. They underestimated the speed of change. Change accelerates change, so it’s challenging to predict the timing of change precisely. They could not have foreseen the massive changes made in the mid to late ’20s. One of the biggest milestones reached early in the ’20s was the mass introduction of autonomous vehicles. This decimated the labour market. A large portion of the population worldwide was employed as drivers. Over a relatively short time, most lost their jobs. This brought to the fore the evils of automation, which had silently encroached on the labour market for many years. This encroachment had seen millions of productive individuals sidelined, no longer part of the employment market. The social impact of this was huge but generally kept quiet by the wealthy elite, who benefited from this automation. However, the huge job losses created through autonomous vehicles were on a scale they could not hide. Following swiftly on the heels of autonomous vehicles was the explosion in blockchain and distributed ledger technology. In essence, it introduced a super-secure method of storing, authenticating, and protecting data, which revolutionised many aspects in business transactions. This resulted in the loss of tens of millions of white-collar jobs, particularly in sectors that had previously acted as “trusted agents”, such as brokers. These tectonic changes set in motion trends that saw the decline in marriage and increased single-parent families. Men could no longer commit to marriage and buying a house, as they had no work prospects. Families are at the centre of a stable society, so this break-up of the family saw the start of the collapse of our society. An increase in drug and alcohol abuse followed, as well as gambling. These are the consequences of desperate people turning to illusive solutions, leading to their accelerated downfall. The break-up of the family and increased anti-social activities, as a result of no work, was the toxic cocktail tearing the fabric of society apart. When people lose access to legal work, they are driven to illegal opportunities. When there are so many without work, crime, in every shape and form, explodes. We have seen the proliferation of illegal micro drug and alcohol producers. These producers put just about any crap they can lay their hands on into their toxic brews. This just compounded our social and economic woes. When we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. The foundation of this problem is that we are a society who put market needs before those of people. We falsely believed our purpose was to serve the markets when markets are supposed to serve the needs of the people. This false vision was promoted by the wealthy elite because the market serves them. The economy, like democracy, is supposed to serve the people. Unfortunately, we lost our way in the 1970s with the introduction of “free-market” thinking; making markets our master. The signs of social decay were more than apparent in the early ’20s, for those who cared, and were concerned enough to look for it. By the mid-’20s autonomous vehicles and blockchains had pushed the problem into your face; something you could no longer ignore, even if you tried. You would have thought that such radical change and coverage of the problems would lead to economic and social reform. They did not. The “evils of social democracy,” such as a Universal Income, and Social Credits, were pushed harder. At the same time, the merits of free-market as our “saviour” were expounded even harder. How sick and twisted are we? However, the real sickness was the complacent attitude of the masses, who were being destroyed by free-market thinking. The smell of revolution should have been in the air. But it wasn’t. Part III As an intern, John came face-to-face with the consequences of a shrinking labour market and its social consequences. On the A&E wards, the increased incidents of violence fuelled by an upsurge in broken families, aided and abetted by drug and alcohol abuse, had soared to new all-time highs. Self-harm, attempted suicides and suicides also reached new, astronomical heights. All around him, the signs of a broken society were evident. He read the daily news feeds on his phone. He knew of the adverse effects autonomous vehicles and blockchains were having on the labour market, economy and society. He did nothing. He’s only a medical doctor. He was thankful when he received a posting to a rural surgery. Hopefully, he could close his eyes, and all these problems would disappear. Perhaps the authorities would sort them out – that’s their job. Of course, this was all wishful thinking. He knew nothing was being done, and the same problems would be felt everywhere. Rural Britain could not escape change of this magnitude. When the vast majority lose their jobs, the economy shrinks. This shrinking affects other businesses who either close or reduce staff. The downward cycle accelerates. Many small businesses go to the wall early on. This included farmers. Being self-employed during an economic downturn causes untold stress on its owners. As a result, new business start-ups had almost ceased. The vital supply of new business blood had dried up. John faced the same problems in his rural environment as that in the city. Hardship and misery abounded. It even affected him personally. His brother-in-law ran a successful restaurant. He gave up his profession as an architect because of the encroachment of AI. The role of the architect was being replaced by software. He didn’t see much future for himself in his profession, and he wanted to pursue his dream of running his own restaurant. In the beginning, things went well, but then slowly, the market started shrinking. There were fewer and fewer employed people who could afford to eat out. It soon got to the point the business started losing money. He closed it down and tried to get back into architecture, but with no success. He’s been unemployed for some time now, with no prospects for the future. He has no money. John and his wife help him and his family when they can, but they don’t have a lot to spare either. John had got to the point of telling him he can no longer support him, as he has done in the past. The reason being his parents require additional support as their state pension has been severely cut and their savings eroded, as investments under-perform. The economy has shrunk so significantly now that unemployment is sitting (officially) at 68%. Most believe it to be much higher. The problem with AI and automation is that computers and robots don’t buy groceries, eat out, buy clothes, travel, or go on holiday. Not as much money circulates in the economy anymore. John’s first priority has to be with his immediate family, so he was about to break the bad news to his brother-in-law. Hopefully, he would understand. But having said that, his brother-in-law used to joke, “at least you’ve got a job for life.” How wrong he was. Now the only breadwinner in the wider family is in the same boat as everybody else, except John, has a lot more debt. They will lose everything: their home, car, furniture. Possibly, the shirt on his back. Here’s the problem I face. On the one hand, I have no hesitation in condemning John’s lack of action. On the other, I feel sorry for him and believe there must be something I’m missing. What stops an intelligent, caring individual from taking timely action? If he had the hindsight I now write with; I’m sure he would have been actively involved in introducing social and economic reform. I’m convinced he would have become involved during his early university days. He would not have left himself, and his family unprotected from this nightmare. But he didn’t. I must be missing something. John is an intelligent person. He is also a caring person. Despite being fully aware of the problems and possible solutions, he did nothing to bring about change. Why? He seemed to think it was somebody else who would have to fix the problems. This doesn’t make sense to me. As a result, I’m finding it difficult to feel any sympathy for him, despite the bleak future he faces. He knew, and he did nothing, so he’s equally responsible as those who mercilessly decimated the labour market, knowingly causing social and economic havoc. In legal terms, that’s referred to as “an accessory after the facts,” making him as guilty as those who committed the “crime” of decimating the labour market and economy. It would appear that John believed he lived in a bubble. He must have thought that as long as his bubble remained secure, he and his family would be safe. All he need do was maintain the bubble, and his future was assured. If he knew that bubble would burst only sixteen years from him entering university, he would have fought tooth and nail for social and economic reform. Clearly, John thought his bubble would never burst, or only when he had retired. As soon as the U-BEscopic was introduced, he should have seen it meant the beginning of the end. Perhaps he did, but realised he had left his disagreement with the state of the economy too late. However, if that were true, then he would not have reacted in the way he did – surprised and horrified, when he learnt he had lost his job. So why do intelligent people like John and you, live in a bubble? I include you as well because had you also taken action, in the early 20’s we would not be facing the crisis of losing our last secure job, with no social or economic support in place. If you did respond, you probably left it too late. Either way, nothing has happened and we’re in a real pickle now. The “bubble syndrome” affects most, if not all the rich elite. They believe their wealth will protect them in their bubble. In the past, this may have been true. However, by changing our circumstances so radically, this has changed everything. People who made a fortune from AI and robotics are now in the process of losing it all. Without the purchasing power of the masses, we have set off a downward economic cycle which doesn’t seem to be stopping. Like John, their bubble has burst. It’s easy to be tolerant or unconcerned about matters which are unlikely to affect you. You tolerate mass job losses or unfair labour practices because they won’t affect you, or perhaps even benefit you. You tolerate or even support lenient immigration policies because the consequences are unlikely to affect you. You pay little attention to the suffering of others caused through economic downturn and their concomitant social problems because they don’t affect you. It would be an entirely different story if they affected you directly and seriously. When something is patently wrong and adversely affecting the majority of your fellow citizens, I believe you are duty-bound to take action, even while you remain unaffected. Updated on Apr 11, 2022, 5:52 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: valuewalkApr 12th, 2022

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma"s Political Reach

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma's Political Reach Authored by Rebecca Strong via Medium.com, They keep telling us to “trust the science.” But who paid for it? After graduating from Columbia University with a chemical engineering degree, my grandfather went on to work for Pfizer for almost two decades, culminating his career as the company’s Global Director of New Products. I was rather proud of this fact growing up — it felt as if this father figure, who raised me for several years during my childhood, had somehow played a role in saving lives. But in recent years, my perspective on Pfizer — and other companies in its class — has shifted. Blame it on the insidious big pharma corruption laid bare by whistleblowers in recent years. Blame it on the endless string of big pharma lawsuits revealing fraud, deception, and cover-ups. Blame it on the fact that I witnessed some of their most profitable drugs ruin the lives of those I love most. All I know is, that pride I once felt has been overshadowed by a sticky skepticism I just can’t seem to shake. In 1973, my grandpa and his colleagues celebrated as Pfizer crossed a milestone: the one-billion-dollar sales mark. These days, Pfizer rakes in $81 billion a year, making it the 28th most valuable company in the world. Johnson & Johnson ranks 15th, with $93.77 billion. To put things into perspective, that makes said companies wealthier than most countries in the world. And thanks to those astronomical profit margins, the Pharmaceuticals and Health Products industry is able to spend more on lobbying than any other industry in America. While big pharma lobbying can take several different forms, these companies tend to target their contributions to senior legislators in Congress — you know, the ones they need to keep in their corner, because they have the power to draft healthcare laws. Pfizer has outspent its peers in six of the last eight election cycles, coughing up almost $9.7 million. During the 2016 election, pharmaceutical companies gave more than $7 million to 97 senators at an average of $75,000 per member. They also contributed $6.3 million to president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. The question is: what did big pharma get in return? When you've got 1,500 Big Pharma lobbyists on Capitol Hill for 535 members of Congress, it's not too hard to figure out why prescription drug prices in this country are, on average, 256% HIGHER than in other major countries. — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2022 ALEC’s Off-the-Record Sway To truly grasp big pharma’s power, you need to understand how The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works. ALEC, which was founded in 1973 by conservative activists working on Ronald Reagan’s campaign, is a super secretive pay-to-play operation where corporate lobbyists — including in the pharma sector — hold confidential meetings about “model” bills. A large portion of these bills is eventually approved and become law. A rundown of ALEC’s greatest hits will tell you everything you need to know about the council’s motives and priorities. In 1995, ALEC promoted a bill that restricts consumers’ rights to sue for damages resulting from taking a particular medication. They also endorsed the Statute of Limitation Reduction Act, which put a time limit on when someone could sue after a medication-induced injury or death. Over the years, ALEC has promoted many other pharma-friendly bills that would: weaken FDA oversight of new drugs and therapies, limit FDA authority over drug advertising, and oppose regulations on financial incentives for doctors to prescribe specific drugs. But what makes these ALEC collaborations feel particularly problematic is that there’s little transparency — all of this happens behind closed doors. Congressional leaders and other committee members involved in ALEC aren’t required to publish any records of their meetings and other communications with pharma lobbyists, and the roster of ALEC members is completely confidential. All we know is that in 2020, more than two-thirds of Congress — 72 senators and 302 House of Representatives members — cashed a campaign check from a pharma company. Big Pharma Funding Research The public typically relies on an endorsement from government agencies to help them decide whether or not a new drug, vaccine, or medical device is safe and effective. And those agencies, like the FDA, count on clinical research. As already established, big pharma is notorious for getting its hooks into influential government officials. Here’s another sobering truth: The majority of scientific research is paid for by — wait for it — the pharmaceutical companies. When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published 73 studies of new drugs over the course of a single year, they found that a staggering 82% of them had been funded by the pharmaceutical company selling the product, 68% had authors who were employees of that company, and 50% had lead researchers who accepted money from a drug company. According to 2013 research conducted at the University of Arizona College of Law, even when pharma companies aren’t directly funding the research, company stockholders, consultants, directors, and officers are almost always involved in conducting them. A 2017 report by the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ also showed that about half of medical journal editors receive payments from drug companies, with the average payment per editor hovering around $28,000. But these statistics are only accurate if researchers and editors are transparent about payments from pharma. And a 2022 investigative analysis of two of the most influential medical journals found that 81% of study authors failed to disclose millions in payments from drug companies, as they’re required to do. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The number of clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry has been climbing every year since 2006, according to a John Hopkins University report, while independent studies have been harder to find. And there are some serious consequences to these conflicts of interest. Take Avandia, for instance, a diabetes drug produced by GlaxoSmithCline (GSK). Avandia was eventually linked to a dramatically increased risk of heart attacks and heart failure. And a BMJ report revealed that almost 90% of scientists who initially wrote glowing articles about Avandia had financial ties to GSK. But here’s the unnerving part: if the pharmaceutical industry is successfully biasing the science, then that means the physicians who rely on the science are biased in their prescribing decisions. Photo credit: UN Women Europe & Central Asia Where the lines get really blurry is with “ghostwriting.” Big pharma execs know citizens are way more likely to trust a report written by a board-certified doctor than one of their representatives. That’s why they pay physicians to list their names as authors — even though the MDs had little to no involvement in the research, and the report was actually written by the drug company. This practice started in the ’50s and ’60s when tobacco execs were clamoring to prove that cigarettes didn’t cause cancer (spoiler alert: they do!), so they commissioned doctors to slap their name on papers undermining the risks of smoking. It’s still a pretty common tactic today: more than one in 10 articles published in the NEJM was co-written by a ghostwriter. While a very small percentage of medical journals have clear policies against ghostwriting, it’s still technically legal —despite the fact that the consequences can be deadly. Case in point: in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Merck paid for 73 ghostwritten articles to play up the benefits of its arthritis drug Vioxx. It was later revealed that Merck failed to report all of the heart attacks experienced by trial participants. In fact, a study published in the NEJM revealed that an estimated 160,000 Americans experienced heart attacks or strokes from taking Vioxx. That research was conducted by Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, who understandably concluded the drug was not safe. But the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, which not only was responsible for initially approving Vioxx but also regulating it, tried to sweep his findings under the rug. "I was pressured to change my conclusions and recommendations, and basically threatened that if I did not change them, I would not be permitted to present the paper at the conference," he wrote in his 2004 U.S. Senate testimony on Vioxx. "One Drug Safety manager recommended that I should be barred from presenting the poster at the meeting." Eventually, the FDA issued a public health advisory about Vioxx and Merck withdrew this product. But it was a little late for repercussions — 38,000 of those Vioxx-takers who suffered heart attacks had already died. Graham called this a “profound regulatory failure,” adding that scientific standards the FDA apply to drug safety “guarantee that unsafe and deadly drugs will remain on the U.S. market.” This should come as no surprise, but research has also repeatedly shown that a paper written by a pharmaceutical company is more likely to emphasize the benefits of a drug, vaccine, or device while downplaying the dangers. (If you want to understand more about this practice, a former ghostwriter outlines all the ethical reasons why she quit this job in a PLOS Medicine report.) While adverse drug effects appear in 95% of clinical research, only 46% of published reports disclose them. Of course, all of this often ends up misleading doctors into thinking a drug is safer than it actually is. Big Pharma Influence On Doctors Pharmaceutical companies aren’t just paying medical journal editors and authors to make their products look good, either. There’s a long, sordid history of pharmaceutical companies incentivizing doctors to prescribe their products through financial rewards. For instance, Pfizer and AstraZeneca doled out a combined $100 million to doctors in 2018, with some earning anywhere from $6 million to $29 million in a year. And research has shown this strategy works: when doctors accept these gifts and payments, they’re significantly more likely to prescribe those companies’ drugs. Novartis comes to mind — the company famously spent over $100 million paying for doctors’ extravagant meals, golf outings, and more, all while also providing a generous kickback program that made them richer every time they prescribed certain blood pressure and diabetes meds. Side note: the Open Payments portal contains a nifty little database where you can find out if any of your own doctors received money from drug companies. Knowing that my mother was put on a laundry list of meds after a near-fatal car accident, I was curious — so I did a quick search for her providers. While her PCP only banked a modest amount from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, her previous psychiatrist — who prescribed a cocktail of contraindicated medications without treating her in person — collected quadruple-digit payments from pharmaceutical companies. And her pain care specialist, who prescribed her jaw-dropping doses of opioid pain medication for more than 20 years (far longer than the 5-day safety guideline), was raking in thousands from Purdue Pharma, AKA the opioid crisis’ kingpin. Purdue is now infamous for its wildly aggressive OxyContin campaign in the ’90s. At the time, the company billed it as a non-addictive wonder drug for pain sufferers. Internal emails show Pursue sales representatives were instructed to “sell, sell, sell” OxyContin, and the more they were able to push, the more they were rewarded with promotions and bonuses. With the stakes so high, these reps stopped at nothing to get doctors on board — even going so far as to send boxes of doughnuts spelling out “OxyContin” to unconvinced physicians. Purdue had stumbled upon the perfect system for generating tons of profit — off of other people’s pain. Documentation later proved that not only was Purdue aware it was highly addictive and that many people were abusing it, but that they also encouraged doctors to continue prescribing increasingly higher doses of it (and sent them on lavish luxury vacations for some motivation). In testimony to Congress, Purdue exec Paul Goldenheim played dumb about OxyContin addiction and overdose rates, but emails that were later exposed showed that he requested his colleagues remove all mentions of addiction from their correspondence about the drug. Even after it was proven in court that Purdue fraudulently marketed OxyContin while concealing its addictive nature, no one from the company spent a single day behind bars. Instead, the company got a slap on the wrist and a $600 million fine for a misdemeanor, the equivalent of a speeding ticket compared to the $9 billion they made off OxyContin up until 2006. Meanwhile, thanks to Purdue’s recklessness, more than 247,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2009. And that’s not even factoring in all the people who died of heroin overdoses once OxyContin was no longer attainable to them. The NIH reports that 80% of people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids. Former sales rep Carol Panara told me in an interview that when she looks back on her time at Purdue, it all feels like a “bad dream.” Panara started working for Purdue in 2008, one year after the company pled guilty to “misbranding” charges for OxyContin. At this point, Purdue was “regrouping and expanding,” says Panara, and to that end, had developed a clever new approach for making money off OxyContin: sales reps were now targeting general practitioners and family doctors, rather than just pain management specialists. On top of that, Purdue soon introduced three new strengths for OxyContin: 15, 30, and 60 milligrams, creating smaller increments Panara believes were aimed at making doctors feel more comfortable increasing their patients’ dosages. According to Panara, there were internal company rankings for sales reps based on the number of prescriptions for each OxyContin dosing strength in their territory. “They were sneaky about it,” she said. “Their plan was to go in and sell these doctors on the idea of starting with 10 milligrams, which is very low, knowing full well that once they get started down that path — that’s all they need. Because eventually, they’re going to build a tolerance and need a higher dose.” Occasionally, doctors expressed concerns about a patient becoming addicted, but Purdue had already developed a way around that. Sales reps like Panara were taught to reassure those doctors that someone in pain might experience addiction-like symptoms called “pseudoaddiction,” but that didn’t mean they were truly addicted. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support that this concept is legit, of course. But the most disturbing part? Reps were trained to tell doctors that “pseudoaddiction” signaled the patient’s pain wasn’t being managed well enough, and the solution was simply to prescribe a higher dose of OxyContin. Panara finally quit Purdue in 2013. One of the breaking points was when two pharmacies in her territory were robbed at gunpoint specifically for OxyContin. In 2020, Purdue pled guilty to three criminal charges in an $8.3 billion deal, but the company is now under court protection after filing for bankruptcy. Despite all the damage that’s been done, the FDA’s policies for approving opioids remain essentially unchanged. Photo credit: Jennifer Durban Purdue probably wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if it weren’t for an FDA examiner named Curtis Wright, and his assistant Douglas Kramer. While Purdue was pursuing Wright’s stamp of approval on OxyContin, Wright took an outright sketchy approach to their application, instructing the company to mail documents to his home office rather than the FDA, and enlisting Purdue employees to help him review trials about the safety of the drug. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that the FDA have access to at least two randomized controlled trials before deeming a drug as safe and effective, but in the case of OxyContin, it got approved with data from just one measly two-week study — in osteoarthritis patients, no less. When both Wright and Kramer left the FDA, they went on to work for none other than (drumroll, please) Purdue, with Wright earning three times his FDA salary. By the way — this is just one example of the FDA’s notoriously incestuous relationship with big pharma, often referred to as “the revolving door”. In fact, a 2018 Science report revealed that 11 out of 16 FDA reviewers ended up at the same companies they had been regulating products for. While doing an independent investigation, “Empire of Pain” author and New Yorker columnist Patrick Radden Keefe tried to gain access to documentation of Wright’s communications with Purdue during the OxyContin approval process. “The FDA came back and said, ‘Oh, it’s the weirdest thing, but we don’t have anything. It’s all either been lost or destroyed,’” Keefe told Fortune in an interview. “But it’s not just the FDA. It’s Congress, it’s the Department of Justice, it’s big parts of the medical establishment … the sheer amount of money involved, I think, has meant that a lot of the checks that should be in place in society to not just achieve justice, but also to protect us as consumers, were not there because they had been co-opted.” Big pharma may be to blame for creating the opioids that caused this public health catastrophe, but the FDA deserves just as much scrutiny — because its countless failures also played a part in enabling it. And many of those more recent fails happened under the supervision of Dr. Janet Woodcock. Woodcock was named FDA’s acting commissioner mere hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president. She would have been a logical choice, being an FDA vet of 35 years, but then again it’s impossible to forget that she played a starring role in the FDA’s perpetuating the opioid epidemic. She’s also known for overruling her own scientific advisors when they vote against approving a drug. Not only did Woodcock approve OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old, but she also gave the green light to several other highly controversial extended-release opioid pain drugs without sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy. One of those was Zohydro: in 2011, the FDA’s advisory committee voted 11:2 against approving it due to safety concerns about inappropriate use, but Woodcock went ahead and pushed it through, anyway. Under Woodcock’s supervision, the FDA also approved Opana, which is twice as powerful as OxyContin — only to then beg the drug maker to take it off the market 10 years later due to “abuse and manipulation.” And then there was Dsuvia, a potent painkiller 1,000 times stronger than morphine and 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. According to a head of one of the FDA’s advisory committees, the U.S. military had helped to develop this particular drug, and Woodcock said there was “pressure from the Pentagon” to push it through approvals. The FBI, members of congress, public health advocates, and patient safety experts alike called this decision into question, pointing out that with hundreds of opioids already on the market there’s no need for another — particularly one that comes with such high risks. Most recently, Woodcock served as the therapeutics lead for Operation Warp Speed, overseeing COVID-19 vaccine development. Big Pharma Lawsuits, Scandals, and Cover-Ups While the OxyContin craze is undoubtedly one of the highest-profile examples of big pharma’s deception, there are dozens of other stories like this. Here are a few standouts: In the 1980s, Bayer continued selling blood clotting products to third-world countries even though they were fully aware those products had been contaminated with HIV. The reason? The “financial investment in the product was considered too high to destroy the inventory.” Predictably, about 20,000 of the hemophiliacs who were infused with these tainted products then tested positive for HIV and eventually developed AIDS, and many later died of it. In 2004, Johnson & Johnson was slapped with a series of lawsuits for illegally promoting off-label use of their heartburn drug Propulsid for children despite internal company emails confirming major safety concerns (as in, deaths during the drug trials). Documentation from the lawsuits showed that dozens of studies sponsored by Johnson & Johnson highlighting the risks of this drug were never published. The FDA estimates that GSK’s Avandia caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007. Internal documents from GSK prove that when they began studying the effects of the drug as early as 1999, they discovered it caused a higher risk of heart attacks than a similar drug it was meant to replace. Rather than publish these findings, they spent a decade illegally concealing them (and meanwhile, banking $3.2 billion annually for this drug by 2006). Finally, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study linked Avandia to a 43% increased risk of heart attacks, and a 64% increased risk of death from heart disease. Avandia is still FDA approved and available in the U.S. In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history at that time, for paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and promoting off-label uses of its drugs. Specifically, a former employee revealed that Pfizer reps were encouraged and incentivized to sell Bextra and 12 other drugs for conditions they were never FDA approved for, and at doses up to eight times what’s recommended. “I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives,” the whistleblower said. When it was discovered that AstraZeneca was promoting the antipsychotic medication Seroquel for uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective, the company was hit with a $520 million fine in 2010. For years, AstraZeneca had been encouraging psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe Seroquel for a vast range of seemingly unrelated off-label conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, ADHD, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness. AstraZeneca also violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by paying doctors to spread the word about these unapproved uses of Seroquel via promotional lectures and while traveling to resort locations. In 2012, GSK paid a $3 billion fine for bribing doctors by flying them and their spouses to five-star resorts, and for illegally promoting drugs for off-label uses. What’s worse — GSK withheld clinical trial results that showed its antidepressant Paxil not only doesn’t work for adolescents and children but more alarmingly, that it can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in this group. A 1998 GSK internal memo revealed that the company intentionally concealed this data to minimize any “potential negative commercial impact.” In 2021, an ex-AstraZeneca sales rep sued her former employer, claiming they fired her for refusing to promote drugs for uses that weren’t FDA-approved. The employee alleges that on multiple occasions, she expressed concerns to her boss about “misleading” information that didn’t have enough support from medical research, and off-label promotions of certain drugs. Her supervisor reportedly not only ignored these concerns but pressured her to approve statements she didn’t agree with and threatened to remove her from regional and national positions if she didn’t comply. According to the plaintiff, she missed out on a raise and a bonus because she refused to break the law. At the top of 2022, a panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and GE Healthcare, which claims they helped finance terrorist attacks against U.S. service members and other Americans in Iraq. The suit alleges that from 2005–2011, these companies regularly offered bribes (including free drugs and medical devices) totaling millions of dollars annually to Iraq’s Ministry of Health in order to secure drug contracts. These corrupt payments then allegedly funded weapons and training for the Mahdi Army, which until 2008, was largely considered one of the most dangerous groups in Iraq. Another especially worrisome factor is that pharmaceutical companies are conducting an ever-increasing number of clinical trials in third-world countries, where people may be less educated, and there are also far fewer safety regulations. Pfizer’s 1996 experimental trials with Trovan on Nigerian children with meningitis — without informed consent — is just one nauseating example. When a former medical director in Pfizer’s central research division warned the company both before and after the study that their methods in this trial were “improper and unsafe,” he was promptly fired. Families of the Nigerian children who died or were left blind, brain damaged, or paralyzed after the study sued Pfizer, and the company ultimately settled out of court. In 1998, the FDA approved Trovan only for adults. The drug was later banned from European markets due to reports of fatal liver disease and restricted to strictly emergency care in the U.S. Pfizer still denies any wrongdoing. “Nurse prepares to vaccinate children” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to dive a little further down the rabbit hole — and I’ll warn you, it’s a deep one — a quick Google search for “big pharma lawsuits” will reveal the industry’s dark track record of bribery, dishonesty, and fraud. In fact, big pharma happens to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government when it comes to the False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Lincoln Law.” During our interview, Panara told me she has friends still working for big pharma who would be willing to speak out about crooked activity they’ve observed, but are too afraid of being blacklisted by the industry. A newly proposed update to the False Claims Act would help to protect and support whistleblowers in their efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies liable, by helping to prevent that kind of retaliation and making it harder for the companies charged to dismiss these cases. It should come as no surprise that Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and a flock of other big pharma firms are currently lobbying to block the update. Naturally, they wouldn’t want to make it any easier for ex-employees to expose their wrongdoings, potentially costing them billions more in fines. Something to keep in mind: these are the same people who produced, marketed, and are profiting from the COVID-19 vaccines. The same people who manipulate research, pay off decision-makers to push their drugs, cover up negative research results to avoid financial losses, and knowingly put innocent citizens in harm’s way. The same people who told America: “Take as much OxyContin as you want around the clock! It’s very safe and not addictive!” (while laughing all the way to the bank). So, ask yourself this: if a partner, friend, or family member repeatedly lied to you — and not just little white lies, but big ones that put your health and safety at risk — would you continue to trust them? Backing the Big Four: Big Pharma and the FDA, WHO, NIH, CDC I know what you’re thinking. Big pharma is amoral and the FDA’s devastating slips are a dime a dozen — old news. But what about agencies and organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)? Don’t they have an obligation to provide unbiased guidance to protect citizens? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. The WHO’s guidance is undeniably influential across the globe. For most of this organization’s history, dating back to 1948, it could not receive donations from pharmaceutical companies — only member states. But that changed in 2005 when the WHO updated its financial policy to permit private money into its system. Since then, the WHO has accepted many financial contributions from big pharma. In fact, it’s only 20% financed by member states today, with a whopping 80% of financing coming from private donors. For instance, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now one of its main contributors, providing up to 13% of its funds — about $250–300 million a year. Nowadays, the BMGF provides more donations to the WHO than the entire United States. Dr. Arata Kochi, former head of WHO’s malaria program, expressed concerns to director-general Dr. Margaret Chan in 2007 that taking the BMGF’s money could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences” including “stifling a diversity of views among scientists.” “The big concerns are that the Gates Foundation isn’t fully transparent and accountable,” Lawrence Gostin, director of WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told Devex in an interview. “By wielding such influence, it could steer WHO priorities … It would enable a single rich philanthropist to set the global health agenda.” Photo credit: National Institutes of Health Take a peek at the WHO’s list of donors and you’ll find a few other familiar names like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. The NIH has the same problem, it seems. Science journalist Paul Thacker, who previously examined financial links between physicians and pharma companies as a lead investigator of the United States Senate Committee, wrote in The Washington Post that this agency “often ignored” very “obvious” conflicts of interest. He also claimed that “its industry ties go back decades.” In 2018, it was discovered that a $100 million alcohol consumption study run by NIH scientists was funded mostly by beer and liquor companies. Emails proved that NIH researchers were in frequent contact with those companies while designing the study — which, here’s a shocker — were aimed at highlighting the benefits and not the risks of moderate drinking. So, the NIH ultimately had to squash the trial. And then there’s the CDC. It used to be that this agency couldn’t take contributions from pharmaceutical companies, but in 1992 they found a loophole: new legislation passed by Congress allowed them to accept private funding through a nonprofit called the CDC Foundation. From 2014 through 2018 alone, the CDC Foundation received $79.6 million from corporations like Pfizer, Biogen, and Merck. Of course, if a pharmaceutical company wants to get a drug, vaccine, or other product approved, they really need to cozy up to the FDA. That explains why in 2017, pharma companies paid for a whopping 75% of the FDA’s scientific review budgets, up from 27% in 1993. It wasn’t always like this. But in 1992, an act of Congress changed the FDA’s funding stream, enlisting pharma companies to pay “user fees,” which help the FDA speed up the approval process for their drugs. A 2018 Science investigation found that 40 out of 107 physician advisors on the FDA’s committees received more than $10,000 from big pharma companies trying to get their drugs approved, with some banking up to $1 million or more. The FDA claims it has a well-functioning system to identify and prevent these possible conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, their system only works for spotting payments before advisory panels meet, and the Science investigation showed many FDA panel members get their payments after the fact. It’s a little like “you scratch my back now, and I’ll scratch your back once I get what I want” — drug companies promise FDA employees a future bonus contingent on whether things go their way. Here’s why this dynamic proves problematic: a 2000 investigation revealed that when the FDA approved the rotavirus vaccine in 1998, it didn’t exactly do its due diligence. That probably had something to do with the fact that committee members had financial ties to the manufacturer, Merck — many owned tens of thousands of dollars of stock in the company, or even held patents on the vaccine itself. Later, the Adverse Event Reporting System revealed that the vaccine was causing serious bowel obstructions in some children, and it was finally pulled from the U.S. market in October 1999. Then, in June of 2021, the FDA overruled concerns raised by its very own scientific advisory committee to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm — a move widely criticized by physicians. The drug not only showed very little efficacy but also potentially serious side effects like brain bleeding and swelling, in clinical trials. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a Harvard Medical School professor who was on the FDA’s scientific advisory committee, called it the “worst drug approval” in recent history, and noted that meetings between the FDA and Biogen had a “strange dynamic” suggesting an unusually close relationship. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told CNN that he believes the FDA started working in “inappropriately close collaboration with Biogen” back in 2019. “They were not objective, unbiased regulators,” he added in the CNN interview. “It seems as if the decision was preordained.” That brings me to perhaps the biggest conflict of interest yet: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID is just one of many institutes that comprises the NIH — and the NIH owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine — as well as thousands more pharma patents to boot. The NIAID is poised to earn millions of dollars from Moderna’s vaccine revenue, with individual officials also receiving up to $150,000 annually. Operation Warp Speed In December of 2020, Pfizer became the first company to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine. EUAs — which allow the distribution of an unapproved drug or other product during a declared public health emergency — are actually a pretty new thing: the first one was issued in 2005 so military personnel could get an anthrax vaccine. To get a full FDA approval, there needs to be substantial evidence that the product is safe and effective. But for an EUA, the FDA just needs to determine that it may be effective. Since EUAs are granted so quickly, the FDA doesn’t have enough time to gather all the information they’d usually need to approve a drug or vaccine. “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Event” by The White House is licensed under CC PDM 1.0 Pfizer CEO and chairman Albert Bourla has said his company was “operating at the speed of science” to bring a vaccine to market. However, a 2021 report in The BMJ revealed that this speed might have come at the expense of “data integrity and patient safety.” Brook Jackson, regional director for the Ventavia Research Group, which carried out these trials, told The BMJ that her former company “falsified data, unblinded patients, and employed inadequately trained vaccinators” in Pfizer’s pivotal phase 3 trial. Just some of the other concerning events witnessed included: adverse events not being reported correctly or at all, lack of reporting on protocol deviations, informed consent errors, and mislabeling of lab specimens. An audio recording of Ventavia employees from September 2020 revealed that they were so overwhelmed by issues arising during the study that they became unable to “quantify the types and number of errors” when assessing quality control. One Ventavia employee told The BMJ she’d never once seen a research environment as disorderly as Ventavia’s Pfizer vaccine trial, while another called it a “crazy mess.” Over the course of her two-decades-long career, Jackson has worked on hundreds of clinical trials, and two of her areas of expertise happen to be immunology and infectious diseases. She told me that from her first day on the Pfizer trial in September of 2020, she discovered “such egregious misconduct” that she recommended they stop enrolling participants into the study to do an internal audit. “To my complete shock and horror, Ventavia agreed to pause enrollment but then devised a plan to conceal what I found and to keep ICON and Pfizer in the dark,” Jackson said during our interview. “The site was in full clean-up mode. When missing data points were discovered the information was fabricated, including forged signatures on the informed consent forms.” A screenshot Jackson shared with me shows she was invited to a meeting titled “COVID 1001 Clean up Call” on Sept. 21, 2020. She refused to participate in the call. Jackson repeatedly warned her superiors about patient safety concerns and data integrity issues. “I knew that the entire world was counting on clinical researchers to develop a safe and effective vaccine and I did not want to be a part of that failure by not reporting what I saw,” she told me. When her employer failed to act, Jackson filed a complaint with the FDA on Sept. 25, and Ventavia fired her hours later that same day under the pretense that she was “not a good fit.” After reviewing her concerns over the phone, she claims the FDA never followed up or inspected the Ventavia site. Ten weeks later, the FDA authorized the EUA for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Pfizer hired Ventavia to handle the research for four more vaccine clinical trials, including one involving children and young adults, one for pregnant women, and another for the booster. Not only that, but Ventavia handled the clinical trials for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. Jackson is currently pursuing a False Claims Act lawsuit against Pfizer and Ventavia Research Group. Last year, Pfizer banked nearly $37 billion from its COVID vaccine, making it one of the most lucrative products in global history. Its overall revenues doubled in 2021 to reach $81.3 billion, and it’s slated to reach a record-breaking $98-$102 billion this year. “Corporations like Pfizer should never have been put in charge of a global vaccination rollout, because it was inevitable they would make life-and-death decisions based on what’s in the short-term interest of their shareholders,” writes Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. As previously mentioned, it’s super common for pharmaceutical companies to fund the research on their own products. Here’s why that’s scary. One 1999 meta-analysis showed that industry-funded research is eight times less likely to achieve unfavorable results compared to independent trials. In other words, if a pharmaceutical company wants to prove that a medication, supplement, vaccine, or device is safe and effective, they’ll find a way. With that in mind, I recently examined the 2020 study on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to see if there were any conflicts of interest. Lo and behold, the lengthy attached disclosure form shows that of the 29 authors, 18 are employees of Pfizer and hold stock in the company, one received a research grant from Pfizer during the study, and two reported being paid “personal fees” by Pfizer. In another 2021 study on the Pfizer vaccine, seven of the 15 authors are employees of and hold stock in Pfizer. The other eight authors received financial support from Pfizer during the study. Photo credit: Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash) via Unsplash As of the day I’m writing this, about 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 76% have gotten at least one dose. The FDA has repeatedly promised “full transparency” when it comes to these vaccines. Yet in December of 2021, the FDA asked for permission to wait 75 years before releasing information pertaining to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, including safety data, effectiveness data, and adverse reaction reports. That means no one would see this information until the year 2096 — conveniently, after many of us have departed this crazy world. To recap: the FDA only needed 10 weeks to review the 329,000 pages worth of data before approving the EUA for the vaccine — but apparently, they need three-quarters of a century to publicize it. In response to the FDA’s ludicrous request, PHMPT — a group of over 200 medical and public health experts from Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCLA, and other institutions — filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding that the FDA produce this data sooner. And their efforts paid off: U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman issued an order for the FDA to produce 12,000 pages by Jan. 31, and then at least 55,000 pages per month thereafter. In his statement to the FDA, Pittman quoted the late John F. Kennedy: “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” As for why the FDA wanted to keep this data hidden, the first batch of documentation revealed that there were more than 1,200 vaccine-related deaths in just the first 90 days after the Pfizer vaccine was introduced. Of 32 pregnancies with a known outcome, 28 resulted in fetal death. The CDC also recently unveiled data showing a total of 1,088,560 reports of adverse events from COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 28, 2022. That data included 23,149 reports of deaths and 183,311 reports of serious injuries. There were 4,993 reported adverse events in pregnant women after getting vaccinated, including 1,597 reports of miscarriage or premature birth. A 2022 study published in JAMA, meanwhile, revealed that there have been more than 1,900 reported cases of myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle — mostly in people 30 and under, within 7 days of getting the vaccine. In those cases, 96% of people were hospitalized. “It is understandable that the FDA does not want independent scientists to review the documents it relied upon to license Pfizer’s vaccine given that it is not as effective as the FDA originally claimed, does not prevent transmission, does not prevent against certain emerging variants, can cause serious heart inflammation in younger individuals, and has numerous other undisputed safety issues,” writes Aaron Siri, the attorney representing PHMPT in its lawsuit against the FDA. Siri told me in an email that his office phone has been ringing off the hook in recent months. “We are overwhelmed by inquiries from individuals calling about an injury from a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. By the way — it’s worth noting that adverse effects caused by COVID-19 vaccinations are still not covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are protected under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which grants them total immunity from liability with their vaccines. And no matter what happens to you, you can’t sue the FDA for authorizing the EUA, or your employer for requiring you to get it, either. Billions of taxpayer dollars went to fund the research and development of these vaccines, and in Moderna’s case, licensing its vaccine was made possible entirely by public funds. But apparently, that still warrants citizens no insurance. Should something go wrong, you’re basically on your own. Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine business model: government gives them billions, gives them immunity for any injuries or if doesn't work, promotes their products for free, and mandates their products. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it is our current reality. — Aaron Siri (@AaronSiriSG) February 2, 2022 The Hypocrisy of “Misinformation” I find it interesting that “misinformation” has become such a pervasive term lately, but more alarmingly, that it’s become an excuse for blatant censorship on social media and in journalism. It’s impossible not to wonder what’s driving this movement to control the narrative. In a world where we still very clearly don’t have all the answers, why shouldn’t we be open to exploring all the possibilities? And while we’re on the subject, what about all of the COVID-related untruths that have been spread by our leaders and officials? Why should they get a free pass? Photo credit: @upgradeur_life, www.instagram.com/upgradeur_life Fauci, President Biden, and the CDC’s Rochelle Walensky all promised us with total confidence the vaccine would prevent us from getting or spreading COVID, something we now know is a myth. (In fact, the CDC recently had to change its very definition of “vaccine ” to promise “protection” from a disease rather than “immunity”— an important distinction). At one point, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and former Governor Andrew Cuomo prepared a social media campaign with misleading messaging that the vaccine was “approved by the FDA” and “went through the same rigorous approval process that all vaccines go through,” when in reality the FDA only authorized the vaccines under an EUA, and the vaccines were still undergoing clinical trials. While the NYS DOH eventually responded to pressures to remove these false claims, a few weeks later the Department posted on Facebook that “no serious side effects related to the vaccines have been reported,” when in actuality, roughly 16,000 reports of adverse events and over 3,000 reports of serious adverse events related to a COVID-19 vaccination had been reported in the first two months of use. One would think we’d hold the people in power to the same level of accountability — if not more — than an average citizen. So, in the interest of avoiding hypocrisy, should we “cancel” all these experts and leaders for their “misinformation,” too? Vaccine-hesitant people have been fired from their jobs, refused from restaurants, denied the right to travel and see their families, banned from social media channels, and blatantly shamed and villainized in the media. Some have even lost custody of their children. These people are frequently labeled “anti-vax,” which is misleading given that many (like the NBA’s Jonathan Isaac) have made it repeatedly clear they are not against all vaccines, but simply making a personal choice not to get this one. (As such, I’ll suggest switching to a more accurate label: “pro-choice.”) Fauci has repeatedly said federally mandating the vaccine would not be “appropriate” or “enforceable” and doing so would be “encroaching upon a person’s freedom to make their own choice.” So it’s remarkable that still, some individual employers and U.S. states, like my beloved Massachusetts, have taken it upon themselves to enforce some of these mandates, anyway. Meanwhile, a Feb. 7 bulletin posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicates that if you spread information that undermines public trust in a government institution (like the CDC or FDA), you could be considered a terrorist. In case you were wondering about the current state of free speech. The definition of institutional oppression is “the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” It is defined as occurring when established laws and practices “systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups.” Sound familiar? As you continue to watch the persecution of the unvaccinated unfold, remember this. Historically, when society has oppressed a particular group of people whether due to their gender, race, social class, religious beliefs, or sexuality, it’s always been because they pose some kind of threat to the status quo. The same is true for today’s unvaccinated. Since we know the vaccine doesn’t prevent the spread of COVID, however, this much is clear: the unvaccinated don’t pose a threat to the health and safety of their fellow citizens — but rather, to the bottom line of powerful pharmaceutical giants and the many global organizations they finance. And with more than $100 billion on the line in 2021 alone, I can understand the motivation to silence them. The unvaccinated have been called selfish. Stupid. Fauci has said it’s “almost inexplicable” that they are still resisting. But is it? What if these people aren’t crazy or uncaring, but rather have — unsurprisingly so — lost their faith in the agencies that are supposed to protect them? Can you blame them? Citizens are being bullied into getting a vaccine that was created, evaluated, and authorized in under a year, with no access to the bulk of the safety data for said vaccine, and no rights whatsoever to pursue legal action if they experience adverse effects from it. What these people need right now is to know they can depend on their fellow citizens to respect their choices, not fuel the segregation by launching a full-fledged witch hunt. Instead, for some inexplicable reason I imagine stems from fear, many continue rallying around big pharma rather than each other. A 2022 Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports survey of Democratic voters found that 59% of respondents support a government policy requiring unvaccinated individuals to remain confined in their home at all times, 55% support handing a fine to anyone who won’t get the vaccine, and 48% think the government should flat out imprison people who publicly question the efficacy of the vaccines on social media, TV, or online in digital publications. Even Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Photo credit: DJ Paine on Unsplash Let me be very clear. While there are a lot of bad actors out there — there are also a lot of well-meaning people in the science and medical industries, too. I’m lucky enough to know some of them. There are doctors who fend off pharma reps’ influence and take an extremely cautious approach to prescribing. Medical journal authors who fiercely pursue transparency and truth — as is evident in “The Influence of Money on Medical Science,” a report by the first female editor of JAMA. Pharmacists, like Dan Schneider, who refuse to fill prescriptions they deem risky or irresponsible. Whistleblowers, like Graham and Jackson, who tenaciously call attention to safety issues for pharma products in the approval pipeline. And I’m certain there are many people in the pharmaceutical industry, like Panara and my grandfather, who pursued this field with the goal of helping others, not just earning a six- or seven-figure salary. We need more of these people. Sadly, it seems they are outliers who exist in a corrupt, deep-rooted system of quid-pro-quo relationships. They can only do so much. I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should get the vaccine or booster doses. What you put in your body is not for me — or anyone else — to decide. It’s not a simple choice, but rather one that may depend on your physical condition, medical history, age, religious beliefs, and level of risk tolerance. My grandfather passed away in 2008, and lately, I find myself missing him more than ever, wishing I could talk to him about the pandemic and hear what he makes of all this madness. I don’t really know how he’d feel about the COVID vaccine, or whether he would have gotten it or encouraged me to. What I do know is that he’d listen to my concerns, and he’d carefully consider them. He would remind me my feelings are valid. His eyes would light up and he’d grin with amusement as I fervidly expressed my frustration. He’d tell me to keep pushing forward, digging deeper, asking questions. In his endearing Bronx accent, he used to always say: “go get ‘em, kid.” If I stop typing for a moment and listen hard enough, I can almost hear him saying it now. People keep saying “trust the science.” But when trust is broken, it must be earned back. And as long as our legislative system, public health agencies, physicians, and research journals keep accepting pharmaceutical money (with strings attached) — and our justice system keeps letting these companies off the hook when their negligence causes harm, there’s no reason for big pharma to change. They’re holding the bag, and money is power. I have a dream that one day, we’ll live in a world where we are armed with all the thorough, unbiased data necessary to make informed decisions about our health. Alas, we’re not even close. What that means is that it’s up to you to educate yourself as much as possible, and remain ever-vigilant in evaluating information before forming an opinion. You can start by reading clinical trials yourself, rather than relying on the media to translate them for you. Scroll to the bottom of every single study to the “conflicts of interest” section and find out who funded it. Look at how many subjects were involved. Confirm whether or not blinding was used to eliminate bias. You may also choose to follow Public Citizen’s Health Research Group’s rule whenever possible: that means avoiding a new drug until five years after an FDA approval (not an EUA, an actual approval) — when there’s enough data on the long-term safety and effectiveness to establish that the benefits outweigh the risks. When it comes to the news, you can seek out independent, nonprofit outlets, which are less likely to be biased due to pharma funding. And most importantly, when it appears an organization is making concerted efforts to conceal information from you — like the FDA recently did with the COVID vaccine — it’s time to ask yourself: why? What are they trying to hide? In the 2019 film “Dark Waters” — which is based on the true story of one of the greatest corporate cover-ups in American history — Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott says: “The system is rigged. They want us to think it’ll protect us, but that’s a lie. We protect us. We do. Nobody else. Not the companies. Not the scientists. Not the government. Us.” Words to live by. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/09/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

What"s Behind The Renewed Drone Attacks On The UAE?

What's Behind The Renewed Drone Attacks On The UAE? By Global Risk Inisghts, Submitted by OilPrice.com, The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been exposed to a recent wave of drone and missile strikes from Houthi militants in Yemen. These attacks are in retaliation to a change in the UAE’s strategy in its intervention in Yemen’s civil war. The UAE’s robust defense systems have been able to thwart Houthi attacks. However, the UAE’s continued intervention in Yemen risks provoking Houthi rebels into adopting military tactics that target civilians. The mere risk of such an attack would negatively affect the UAE’s perception of security, which is crucial for the UAE’s success as an economic powerhouse in the Middle East.  A not-so-local Civil War Since 2014, Yemen has been ensnared in a Civil War with multiple international participants. The conflict began when the Houthis, an Iran-backed Shia militia from Yemen’s North, violently attempted to overthrow the internationally recognized government of President Saleh. As the Houthi insurgency accelerated, Sunni-majority countries in the Gulf intervened in a coalition to support government forces.  Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have engaged in hostilities through a military campaign that has seen the use of airstrikes and the backing of local militias to prevent a Houthi takeover. The involvement of regional powers has essentially turned the civil war into a proxy war between Sunni Gulf states and Iran. The protracted conflict has destroyed the country and created what the United Nations has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. By late 2020, the conflict in Yemen was heading toward a stalemate with the coalition forces being unable to end Houthi control over the capital city, Sana’a. As a result, the UAE announced it would start disengaging from the war. However, in late 2021, the Houthis moved toward the oil-rich governorate of Marib. To prevent the group from controlling oil rents, the UAE renewed its involvement in the conflict by backing the Giant’s Brigade, a local Sunni militia, to fight against Houthi advancements. Houthi Response to the UAE In response to revamped UAE intervention, the Houthis, and other groups sympathetic to their struggle, have retaliated through a campaign of attacks against the UAE using low-cost missile and drone systems. On February 2, 2022, the UAE’s Defense Ministry announced that it had successfully destroyed three drones heading toward the UAE with “hostile intent”. The attempted attack was claimed by the Iraqi True Promise Brigades, a relatively unknown terrorist organization that sympathizes with the struggle of the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The attempted strike in February is just the latest in a string of attacks. On January 31, 2022, an official spokesperson announced that the country’s defense forces had successfully repelled a ballistic missile strike originating from Yemen. A similar incident happened on January 24, when U.S. Central Command announced that it had stopped two ballistic missiles launched from Yemen and headed toward the capital Abu Dhabi. On January 17, drones laced with explosives flew into an oil storage facility on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The attack came at the hands of Houthi rebels in Yemen and left three people dead, and destroyed three petroleum tanker trucks. Is the UAE safe? While this recent wave of attacks is worrying, the UAE’s defensive capabilities ensure that it can protect itself from a barrage of aerial attacks from abroad. However, these attacks and the UAE’s reaction to them risk undermining the perception of the country’s security.  For decades, the UAE has been an island of stability in a region noted for political and economic turmoil. The country ranks as one of the safest countries and its pro-business environment has attracted foreign investment that has turned the UAE into a hub for international commerce. While domestic stability is ensured through authoritative governance, defense from foreign threats is possible through initiatives that have provided the UAE with sophisticated weapons systems. In recent years, the UAE has spent billions on state-of-the-art security systems to defend its borders. This has included U.S. manufactured THAAD and Patriot PAC-3 missile systems. On January 16, just a day before the lethal Houthi drone strike, the UAE signed a $3.5 billion deal with South Korean weapons manufacturers to provide surface-to-air missile systems. Alongside these purchases, the US cooperates with the UAE by providing air and naval power. Indeed, the UAE’s focus on protecting itself makes some security analysts believe it is one of the best-defended countries in the world. These defense systems ensure the well-being of the UAE’s infrastructure and population. Yet, they are not as effective in protecting the perception of safety, a necessity in the growth of the UAE’s economically vital business and tourism sector. Following the January 17th drone strike that killed three, UAE markets dipped as investors feared further attacks. When the Houthi launched more strikes, local markets again slumped despite being intercepted by the UAE’s defenses. Forecast The analysis above shows that whilst the UAE is militarily superior and can repel any material threat posed by the Houthis, the mere perception of a threat is sufficient to erode the domestic perception of stability and therefore influence the UAE’s business climate. This illustrates a particular vulnerability that the Houthis can exploit: fear. The Houthis do not need to score a massive attack on the country’s heavy industry to damage its economy. Rather, a targeted attack on the country’s softer targets can shatter the country’s perception of safety inducing reputational costs that are harder to repair. The Houthis will utilize terrorism against the UAE so long as they remain engaged.  Indeed, the likelihood of Houthi terrorism in the UAE is more pronounced than ever given its offensive posture in the war in Yemen. In response to Houthi aerial attacks, the UAE has bombed locations in Yemen said to store weapons intended for the UAE. This action, coupled with continued intervention in the civil war, will possibly goad the Houthis to seek retribution. Hampered by a reduced weapons stockpile that, regardless, is ineffective against Emirati defenses, the Houthis may turn to terror tactics that can skirt past expensive missile defense systems.  The Houthis have already implemented terror tactics such as suicide bombings in Yemen. Therefore, it is foreseeable that similar tactics be exported to the UAE. Attacks against civilians in the lavish shopping malls and hotels of Abu Dhabi and Dubai would rock the country’s economy, impacting the sectors of the economy that rely most on the perception of security to flourish. In particular,  the tourism sector, which is particularly susceptible to terrorism and accounts for 12.2 percent of the UAE’s GDP, may be the worst impacted sector as a result of potential Houthi terror attacks. Knowing full well the cost a terror attack would induce on the UAE economy, it can be expected that the UAE may seek to mitigate this threat by deploying more police throughout major cities. While effective, this defensive presence comes with its own series of costs. The image of armed troops on busy street corners and outside landmarks might make civilians feel protected, but in doing so it evidences the existence of a threat. With threat comes the concern, one which complicates the idea of UAE as a pillar of stability and security in a region otherwise known for the opposite.  Tyler Durden Tue, 04/05/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 6th, 2022

25 HR leaders building the world"s most innovative, inclusive workplaces amid upheaval in corporate America

Meet the human-resources managers helping employees learn critical job skills, develop into effective leaders, and advance quickly in their careers. Kazi Awal/InsiderInsider compiled its third annual "HR Innovators" list of 25 prominent figures. Some of this year's most innovative HR leaders (shown above, starting from the left) are Sara Cooper, Karsten Vagner, Shirley J. Knowles, and Elaine Mak.Rachel Mendelson/Insider The "Great Resignation" and the transition to hybrid work have put tremendous pressure on HR. Insider put out an open call for talent heads who are leading successfully during the pandemic. Our list spans industries and includes human-resources leaders from Cisco, Maven, and Wiley. Insider recently undertook a search for human-resources leaders executing the most creative and ambitious plans for their companies.For a third year in a row, we asked our readers to tell us about HR stars. Then, we picked 25 who really impressed us. We looked for execs who bettered their companies through new policies regarding worker safety and wellness amid the pandemic, the "Great Resignation," and louder calls for diversity and inclusion. These talent professionals work across industries and at organizations of all sizes, including Cisco, Meta, and Wiley.Women hold most HR positions, and our list reflects that, with Insider featuring only a handful of people who are men or nonbinary. This was unintentional but not surprising.With workplace dynamics in flux, these executives are shaping the future of corporate America. They're building long-term policies around flexible work, finding new ways to attract talent, and addressing inequities that leave certain demographics at a disadvantage.Their accomplishments include promoting 30% of the workforce in one year, building early-career programs for underrepresented talent, and helping employees find programs to meet their educational goals. Cassie Whitlock, BambooHR's director of HR, said, "The pandemic elevated core 'human' needs that have always existed in business but were, for some, easy to ignore."In no particular order, here are the top 25 innovators in HR and their exclusive insights on reimagining work. These responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.Shirley J. Knowles, chief inclusion and diversity officer at Progress SoftwareShirley J. Knowles.Courtesy of Shirley J KnowlesCompany: Progress is a software company that offers custom software for creating and deploying business applications.Skills they've used to be successful in HR: Authenticity is an important core value. In conversations about diversity and inclusion, I use real-world scenarios — including my own experiences — to illustrate why this work is essential. I don't use buzzwords that many people are unclear of. I talk about things in a way that anyone can understand.How they've supported employees during the coronavirus pandemic: I have taken a particular interest in the well-being of our employees, specifically their mental and emotional health. We offer fitness classes, meditation sessions, and mental-health training led by a Harvard professor who is also a licensed mental-health counselor.By offering exercises that focus on burnout, avoiding isolation, and finding meaning in work and one's personal life, I am helping employees find balance while trying to navigate through the ongoing pandemic.Francine Katsoudas, executive vice president and chief people, policy, and purpose officer at CiscoFrancine Katsoudas.Courtesy of Francine KatsoudasCompany: Cisco develops, manufactures, and sells networking hardware, telecom equipment, and other IT services and products.How they've been supporting their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: In early 2020, right before the pandemic, we established our Social Justice Beliefs and Actions at Cisco outlining our ambitious goals for addressing injustice and establishing a framework to hold the company accountable to its commitments.Although we didn't know it at the time, this blueprint would guide our approach to social-justice issues that arose over the course of the pandemic. While these beliefs and actions were first focused on supporting the Black community, they have become an invaluable working guide to how we as a company respond to injustice and address inequities overall.Initiatives they've taken to address the effects of the Great Resignation: Every quarter, we conduct "engagement pulses" to check in with employees about top-of-mind issues and concerns. We've found that employees who aren't invited to participate in an engagement-pulse meeting are 21 times as likely to leave Cisco than their invited counterparts.We've also done more work to understand people's career trajectories within Cisco, examining the velocity of promotions for groups and individuals. As a result, we're proud to have promoted 30% of our workforce over the past 12 months.Books, podcasts, shows, or movies that inspire them: I'm reading "Black Magic: What Black Leaders Learned from Trauma and Triumph'' by Chad Sanders, who is powerful and inspiring. It was recommended to me by a leader here at Cisco. He said that it reminded him of his experience in corporate America. So by reading it, I have gotten to feel more proximate to his experience and journey, and that has been a wonderful gift.McKensie Mack, CEO at MMGMcKensie Mack.Courtesy of McKensie MackCompany: McKensie Mack Group is a research- and change-management firm that centers on racial and social justice.What initiatives they have taken to address the Great Resignation: Last year, in collaboration with Project Include, we published research on the impact of COVID-19 on remote workers. We developed and shared resources and guiding principles for leaders looking for support and education in reframing how they think about work, benefits, and productivity. Skills they've used to be successful in HR: My training and education as a transformative justice facilitator help me bring a restorative framework to the ways I work with people, de-escalate when situations get tense or uncomfortable, and seek noncarceral and nonpunitive approaches to working with people who make mistakes or cause harm.My knowledge of power, privilege, and positionality has been valuable in HR.Cassie Whitlock, director of HR at BambooHRCassie Whitlock.Courtesy of Cassie WhitlockCompany: BambooHR provides HR software for businesses. Skills they've used to be successful in HR: Understanding data and analysis has been essential in elevating my impact across the organization. Using data has helped me identify and solve complex challenges around screening and hiring, role progression, designing department structures, employee engagement, and retention. Data is the language of business, and it's critical in HR. How they've been supporting their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: Diversity starts with hiring practices. We had already implemented essential diversity, equity, and inclusion hiring practices like gender decoding on our job ads, diversity representation in the screening process, scorecards for consistent and equitable screening criteria, and antibias training for all hiring managers and interviewers. We also looked at internal diversity to understand how to best support employees. We adapted some roles to help working parents juggle remote work and homeschooling. We offered paid time off for employees who contracted COVID-19 or had to provide care for a family member with the virus. It was also essential to create income stability for employees with personal or family health risk factors.Sara Cooper, chief people officer at JobberSara Cooper.Courtesy of Sara CooperCompany: Jobber provides job tracking and customer-management software for home-service businesses.How the events of the pandemic affected their view of HR's role: The pandemic required HR leaders to be very quick on their feet, to make fast decisions often with little information and in an environment changing by the day. There was no pandemic playbook.The most successful companies did this by creating plans that took into account the evolving information almost daily and listening to their employees and customers. How they've supported employees during the coronavirus pandemic: We realized early in the pandemic that performance during this time had to be approached in a very different way.For example, we implemented "wellness Fridays" in the summers of 2020 and 2021, which provided employees with Fridays off to focus on self-care. In addition, we offered various programs for folks who needed to reduce their hours or take job-protected leaves to focus on themselves or their families. When we eventually reopen our offices, we will be moving to a hybrid structure.I realized early on that there's no single solution for every company but that the key to creating a thriving hybrid environment requires the input of the company's most important stakeholders: its employees.Danielle McMahan, chief people and business-operations officer at WileyDanielle McMahan.WileyCompany: Wiley is a global leader in scientific research and career-connected education.Initiatives they've taken to address the effects of the Great Resignation: We offer employees over 1,000 flexible and affordable degree and nondegree programs, including bachelor's and master's programs. As a global leader in research and education, we practice what we preach to unlock potential and support lifelong learning.How the events of the pandemic affected their view of HR's role: We transformed our department to become more people-centric: focusing on people rather than processes. To formally acknowledge this shift, we said goodbye to "human resources" and renamed our department the People Organization. Our employees are at the center of all that we do.Their favorite interview question: "Tell me your story." I love to hear people's career journeys, and it allows the candidate to reflect on what roles they've held in the past and how those roles inform the type of job they're looking for today.Through these stories, I also typically get to know the candidate personally. I am able to learn what is important to them and what they value. Susan LaMonica, chief human-resources officer, head of corporate social responsibility at Citizens Financial GroupSusan LaMonica.Courtesy of Susan LaMonicaCompany: Citizens Financial Group is one of the nation's oldest and largest financial institutions offering a wide variety of retail and commercial banking products.How they've been supporting their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: I've played a role in introducing initiatives such as the TalentUp program, which aims to reshape Citizens' workforce and prepare it for continual innovation focused on talent acquisition, reskilling and upskilling, mobility, and redeployment, partnerships, and expanding the talent pipeline.As a result of the program, in 2020, there were nearly 100 new hires sourced directly from early-career programs, with a significant segment identifying as women and people of color. With my main focus being democratization, I have ensured managers have the training and resources available to create equitable and inclusive environments for all colleagues. My team also began tying accountability goals to performance reviews to ensure managers prioritize democratization within their teams while understanding and working to eliminate biases at work.Books, podcasts, shows, or movies that inspire them: "How I Built This" with Guy Raz on NPR is my favorite podcast. Each episode highlights a well-known entrepreneur and their journey. I enjoy learning about the people and the journey behind many successful companies and brands. I'm inspired by the vision and tenacity of these entrepreneurs, many of whom had repeated failures.Ashley Alexander, head of people at FrontAshley Alexander.Front via InkHouseCompany: Front is a software company that develops a shared email inbox and calendar product. How they've supported employees during the coronavirus pandemic: Once we made the decision to transition to remote work, my mission was to ensure that our employees felt supported and connected. We doubled down on activities that fostered a sense of community, like our weekly all-hands meetings on Zoom, ask-me-anything sessions with our executives, and virtual companywide off-site activities.Why they pursued a career in HR: I got into HR because I wanted to help people, but throughout the course of my career, this idea has dramatically expanded. I now view my role as an employee advocate. I strive to demystify why things happen at a company the way they happen. I've found that even if they aren't happy with everything that happens in a company, if they understand our choices, ultimately, they can respect them.Lori Goler, head of people at MetaLori Goler.Courtesy of Lori GolerWhat their company does: Meta is the parent company of Facebook.How they've supported employees during the pandemic: We were the first tech company to shut down our offices, and employees began to work from home. We established an emergency-paid-leave program designed to give people time off for "in the moment emergencies," including eldercare, childcare, and school closures. We developed and executed a global return-to-office health strategy across 60 sites to enable a safe transition for those coming back to the office and created an office-deferral program for those who were not yet ready to return.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: Meta committed publicly to have at least 50% of our workforce composed of underrepresented groups by 2024 and to increase the number of US-based leaders who are people of color by 30%. We announced in our eighth annual diversity report that in 2021, we increased representation of women, underrepresented minorities, and people with disabilities and veterans to 45.6% of our workforce. This will continue to be a focus for us.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: This year, we introduced a number of new benefits, including a wellness-reimbursement benefit of up to $3,000 annually that people can use for expenses like financial planning, tuition reimbursement, fitness equipment and services, childcare for children over the age of 5, and eldercare. We also launched "choice days," which gives people an additional two days off per year to use however they choose, and we increased our 401(k)-match program to help people save more for retirement.Kali Beyah, global chief talent officer at HugeKali Beyah.HugeWhat their company does: Huge is a digital design and marketing agency. Clients include Google, Coca-Cola, and Unilever.How they've supported employees during the pandemic: Whether giving mental-health days, reimagining our return to the office, extending summer Fridays, flexing for childcare, shifting to "no-meeting Fridays," or continuing to invest in development, transparency, wellness workshops/resources, and DEI — we've taken a holistic and evolving approach.The constant as we evolve is that we listen to our people regularly, and we are authentic in our responses.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: We are reimagining the future of work as the world not only encounters the "Great Resignation" but also the "Great Reevaluation." Our reimagining includes things such as "Huge holidays" (closure and collective recharging three weeks a year), "Huge summer" (work from anywhere in July), "no-meeting Fridays," and summer Fridays.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: We have an opportunity to reimagine work and the role it plays in people's lives — and we have an exciting opportunity to debunk false binaries and prove that people and businesses can both thrive.Lauren Nuttall, vice president of people at Boulevard LabsLauren Nuttall.Courtesy of Lauren NuttallCompany: Boulevard is a client-experience platform built for appointment-based self-care businesses.How they've supported employees during the coronavirus pandemic: I opted to take Boulevard 100% remote early on in the pandemic in March 2020. However, as the pandemic persisted into 2021, I realized that with the significant paradigm shift around the viability of remote work, coupled with the growing employee (and candidate) interest in staying fully remote, we needed to deepen our commitment.That meant giving up our physical office space altogether and allowing all employees to move wherever they want in the US without it negatively impacting their existing compensation package. Additionally, the need for better virtual access to mental health and high-quality medical care prompted the decision to bring on One Medical to provide complimentary subscriptions to all employees and their dependents.How they've been supporting their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: One of the programs that I'm most proud of was a virtual-speaker series where we sought to highlight and amplify underrepresented voices within the beauty and wellness industry.We invited a massage-business owner that catered specifically to LGBTQIA+ clientele for one of the sessions. This created a dialogue around how even limited pronoun options within a booking workflow can be harmful and resulted in us making actual changes to our product to better represent our customers and their clients. Surfacing these opportunities to educate and create dialogue can have incredible ripple effects.Tanya Reu-Narvaez, executive vice president and chief people officer at RealogyTanya Reu-Narvaez.Courtesy of Tanya Reu-NarvaezWhat their company does: Realogy is a real-estate-services firm that owns brokerages including Century 21, Sotheby's International Realty, and Corcoran. How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: To help increase representation in the industry, we established a new partnership with the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America and expanded the Inclusive Ownership program, an industry-first initiative designed to attract brokerage owners from underrepresented communities to launch their own franchise businesses.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: We have a Go Further Today program where we've made small but impactful changes that decrease meeting and email fatigue and increase efficiency by working smarter.We have no internal meetings on Fridays, encourage employees to make smart decisions about whether to accept or decline meetings, and embrace an "exhale, then email" philosophy to help mitigate the pressure of email overload we're all facing. These are small but mighty changes that make a significant difference for our teams.Noa Geller, vice president of HR at Papaya GlobalNoa Geller.Eyal TouegWhat their company does: Papaya Global is a cloud-based payroll platform. How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: We added a learning and development budget for every employee to choose the development course that is meaningful and impactful to them. Driven from our employee-engagement survey, we took initiatives to support work-life balance, such as a work-from-anywhere benefit, allowing our employees to work up to one month per year outside of their home region.Also driven from our engagement survey, we are implementing more trainings around best practices and tools to ease the burnout that is a part of a hypergrowth company during COVID times.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: During the pandemic, the HR role became an even more crucial role within every organization. We were proactively working to support COVID policies and work-from-home best practices, and many of these things were unprecedented.HR managers really had to be innovative and creative — and in a very short amount of time. We have supported managers in learning how to manage remotely, how to navigate illnesses and emotional distress among their employees, as well as help employees remain connected to their teams and the company, while not only fully remote but often completely isolated.Tara Ataya, chief people and diversity officer at HootsuiteTara Ataya.HootsuiteWhat their company does: Hootsuite is a social-media-management platform whose clients include Ikea and Costco.How they've supported employees during the pandemic: We restructured the global offices to be used as creative hubs, built for collaboration and social connection, with a special focus on health and mental wellness.In addition, employees were granted the autonomy and benefits they needed to reshape their work environment to choose what works best for them by restructuring our workplace policy so every employee can choose if they wish to work full time in office, remote, or take a hybrid approach.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: During the pandemic, we built on our partnership with the Black Professionals in Tech Network in Canada to help end systemic racism in the technology sector by providing Black professionals with equal access to opportunities in tech, an expanded peer network, and support in accelerating career growth.This helped foster a stronger sense of belonging in the workplace by joining an allyship training with the Black Professionals in Tech Network, along with 125 Hootsuite employees, including all members of the executive team, about best practices for sourcing Black talent.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: The pandemic shifted HR teams from being the best-kept secret superpower to the front-and-center compass for navigating through the most difficult time many organizations and generations have ever faced. The role of HR is one of strategy, that is adept at navigating uncertainty with agility and enables the business to drive meaningful business results with people in mind.Félix Manuel Chinea, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging manager at DoximityFélix Manuel Chinea.Courtesy of Félix Manuel ChineaWhat their company does: Doximity is a professional medical network for physicians. The company went public in June.How they've supported employees during the pandemic: My focus during the pandemic has been to make DEI initiatives at Doximity meaningful, impactful, and tangible across the whole organization.By aligning DEI with our company mission and values, we are able to both directly support our employees and empower them to make a meaningful impact in their communities during and beyond the pandemic.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: The Great Resignation has given us an opportunity to reflect on what makes working at our company fulfilling. Our organizational purpose at Doximity is to connect medical professionals and build clinical tools that will ultimately impact patient care. Amid a global pandemic and demand for racial justice, I believe our purpose allows us the opportunity to both attract and retain top talent and make a meaningful impact on health equity across historically marginalized communities.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: Both the pandemic and recent demands for racial justice have highlighted the long-standing need for all leaders to develop solutions and cultures that recognize the full humanity of employees.While every person is responsible for fostering an equitable and inclusive culture, DEI leaders must develop a strategic understanding of how to integrate these concepts into their company's organizational structure.Gloria Chen, chief people officer at AdobeGloria Chen.Courtesy of Gloria ChenWhat their company does: Adobe is a global software company. How they've supported employees during the pandemic: What I am most proud of during the pandemic is not what the company has done for our employees but what our employees have done for each other.When India was overcome by the Delta surge, and our employees and their families were ravaged by COVID, our employees created a phone tree to locate hospital beds, located oxygen to bring to hospitals, and cooked and delivered meals to families in quarantine. Our employees were truly our heroes.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: In 2020, our diversity and inclusion team and our Black Employee Network launched the Taking Action Initiative task force to explore and drive actions we could take to make meaningful change internally and externally to the company.The effort led to strategic partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and a sponsorship program to support career advancement for underrepresented individuals.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: Having stepped into the role of chief people officer in February 2020, my entire HR experience has been shaped by the pandemic.I learned that the basics of human needs — physical and mental health, a sense of security, and connectedness — cannot be taken for granted in a professional setting. During the pandemic, we lost one of our beloved cofounders. That gave me a tremendous sense of responsibility as a longtime Adobe employee to carry the torch for the values that they instilled in us.Kim Seymour, chief people officer at WW InternationalKim Seymour.WWWhat their company does: WW International (formerly known as Weight Watchers) offers a program for weight loss and wellness.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts during the pandemic: WW recently released an extensive report titled "Black Women & Wellness" to shed light on the disparities and biases that Black women face within the healthcare system today.The report showcases what is being done by changemakers within their communities to create safe spaces, better access to healthcare, and underscore why Black women deserve health, wellness, and quality healthcare.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: Some of our most recent investments to address potential employee burnout include offering Sibly for resilience, One Medical for convenient medical care, and ClassPass for fitness goals. All of our employees at WW are also members and have access to the WW program.In addition to a personal-well-being allowance of $1,000 per employee, my team also created "flex Fridays," which allows employees to start their weekend early by redistributing the hours they work the remainder of that week, whether that's a Zoom-free Friday afternoon or signing off early.Manish Mehta, global head of human resources at BlackRockManish Mehta.Courtesy of Manish MehtaWhat their company does: BlackRock is a global investment manager that employs 16,000 people and manages more than $10 trillion in assets.How they've supported their company's DEI efforts: We are fortunate to have over 80% of our employees participate in one of our 15 global employee, professional, and social impact networks.Each network is sponsored by one or more of our Global Executive Committee members who engage with them to help navigate important cultural and strategic topics. I am a sponsor of our Asian and Middle Eastern Professionals network, which was formally launched in 2021.How they've addressed the Great Resignation at their company: We supported and enabled managers through training modules on delivering feedback, effectively setting objectives and managing performance, motivating and managing teams, and having productive conversations on returning our people to the office.We sustained our focus on career development. This includes career pathing in areas like technology, development programs for our emerging vice-president leaders, and our Black and Latinx managing directors and directors, and increasing our sponsorship programs.How the pandemic changed their view of HR's role: I have seen the difference HR can make in people's lives. Helping people navigate the loss of a loved one or a colleague, supporting the family of an employee we've lost, recognizing and helping those suffering from mental-health challenges, being there to listen and act when an employee does not feel like they belong, growing our benefits to respond to what employees are dealing with in their lives — these are just some of the things that HR does that are not always seen.Karsten Vagner, senior vice president of people at Maven ClinicKarsten Vagner.Courtesy of Karsten VagnerWhat their company does: Maven Clinic is a virtual platform that provides support across fertility, pregnancy, adoption, parenting, and pediatrics.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: Some of the companywide initiatives and programs included Donut, a Slack-integrated app, to help employees maintain that serendipitous connection they've all come to love at the office.We also experimented with other virtual events, like weekly "coffeehouse cabaret" sessions with Broadway talent over Google Hangouts, cooking challenges, a companywide talent show, Halloween in April for employees' children, and more. How they've supported their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: Working with Maven's people team, the company created employee working groups devoted to getting feedback about various aspects of Maven's business. While it was rewarding to see employee feedback come to life, what I'm most proud of is the fact that neither I nor the executive team did this work in a silo.Our DEI program was completely ground up and centered on employee needs. And it continues to be to this day. The work our organization has done — in recruiting, partnerships, volunteering, product— it's all been led by our employees.How they've supported their employees during the Great Resignation: To combat work-related stress, Maven introduced new programs to support employees' mental health, including group sessions with Maven's mental-health providers and career coaches, mandatory mental-health days, twice-a-week no-meeting blocks, and several weeks where employees had time to recharge and unwind.Elaine Mak, chief people officer at ValimailElaine Mak.Courtesy of Elaine MakWhat their company does: Valimail is a cloud-native platform for validating and authenticating sender identity to avoid phishing, spoofing, and brand hijacking.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: As the pandemic unfolded, it was an opportunity to lay a strategic foundation on Valimail's organizational design to serve a dual purpose: Drive talent acquisition and retention and seat people at the table to become an integral voice in making decisions that affect them.In 18 months, my team has refreshed Valimail's company mission, values, and strategy to explicitly prioritize and resource people and DEI efforts. My team has also pivoted the leadership model to a cross-functional structure that distributes power, agency, and autonomy of decision-makers across levels.I've also led the people team to expand and diversify the leadership team at Valimail to ensure appropriate voices and perspectives have a seat at the table to inform strategic decisions. How they've supported their company's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts during the pandemic: We empowered a DEI committee resourced with an executive sponsor and budget focused on wellness initially to address burnout. Along with other company efforts, we have the foundation to execute a strategic road map on DEI education and development and further cement DEI at the heart of our business and people strategy.Lastly, our efforts in people and DEI culminated in an employer-brand makeover that authentically reflects a day-to-day reality where people-first is core to our culture.Kerris Hougardy, vice president of people at AdaKerris Hougardy.AdaWhat their company does: Ada is an automation platform that powers brand interactions between companies and their customers.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: Ada's first priority during the pandemic was to assess the health and safety of its employees and to implement an immediate change to the work environment.The transition to a full-remote, digital-first culture required Ada to ensure its employees could work and communicate effectively.Our employee-relations team is on hand to support anyone going through work or personal issues. We have a wellness fund for each employee to get access to support — mental health and physical, access to ClassPass, and lunch and learns where they can listen to speakers around burnout and resiliency.How have the events of the pandemic affected your view of HR's role? HR is no longer only about hiring and firing employees, but about supporting and engaging with employees as whole humans.People should be able to show up authentically and do their best work, to feel acceptance and belonging, and to feel supported with life's ups and downs.Cheryl Johnson, chief human-resources officer at PaylocityCheryl Johnson.Courtesy of Cheryl JohnsonWhat their company does: Paylocity provides cloud-based payroll- and human-capital-management software.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: My HR leaders collaborated with Paylocity's Diversity Leadership Council to ensure that company benefits intentionally built an inclusive and equitable culture for current and future employees and their families.The group also confirmed that medical plans aligned with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People.For financial flexibility, we rolled out a loan program, offering interest-free loans to any employees in need, along with on-demand payment for early access to earned wages if needed. At the same time, we introduced voluntary furloughs for up to 90 days and implemented an international work program to allow employees to work abroad for up to 90 days.How they've supported their employees during the Great Resignation: We formed task forces to understand why people were leaving but, more importantly, why people were staying. Recently our HR team has found success socializing "stay interviews," which help managers to improve their direct-report relationships, keep at-risk talent, and provide broader insights to build culture and connection.Giving employees greater transparency helps them spot career opportunities and paths to growth. Our HR team is implementing succession planning efforts to identify and develop key talent and give employees more freedom to impact how, where, and when they work. Dave Carhart, vice president of people at LatticeDave Carhart.Courtesy of Dave CarhartWhat their company does: Lattice is a people-management platform that helps leaders build engaged, high-performing teams.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: Work was stressful in "normal" pre-COVID times, but the pandemic has created new levels of burnout and exhaustion.Recognizing this, in 2020, I oversaw the rollout of Lattice "recharge days," a number of designated days where the entire company is off on the same day with the explicit goal of stepping away from work mentally. The recharge days has since been made permanent, with six annual recharge days added to our annual calendar on top of national holidays and flexible PTO. How have the events of the pandemic affected your view of HR's role? It's reminded us how critical it is to lead with empathy and represent a very human voice within our workplaces. We are asking people to bring their whole selves and all of their energy and commitment.With that will also come their personal passions, their family commitments, and the individual challenges that they are facing. We need to embrace all of that and come with support for the whole person and their family, too.Marlee Raber Proukou, director of people operations at JetsonMarlee Raber Proukou.Courtesy of Marlee ProukouWhat their company does: Jetson is a personal-mobility-devices company that sells electric bikes, electric scooters, and hoverboards.How they've supported their employees during the Great Resignation: In addition to navigating a global pandemic, our employees have had to adjust to the company's rapid growth, resulting in many being spread thin and approaching burnout.We've tried to address this two ways — focusing on both recruitment and employee appreciation. We built a larger people-operations team to increase our recruitment efforts, bringing in much needed full-time and contract hires to assist with our ever-increasing workload so our employees can enjoy more of a balance.Through bigger efforts, like rewarding our employees with promotions, bonuses, and raises to smaller changes like our new "all-star award" — a peer-nominated cash award presented monthly to an employee who is impacting their teammates — we continuously try to let our employees know we are grateful for them.How have the events of the pandemic affected your view of HR's role? The role has evolved from what many people thought of as traditional HR functions, like payroll and benefits administration, to encompass more people-centric priorities like supporting employees' work-life balance, ensuring a work environment that is both productive and safe, and creating an increasingly diverse workforce.In today's world, a successful HR team is quick-thinking, strategic, and empathetic. Most importantly, we are working to understand and support our employee's personal and professional experiences in what has been an extremely turbulent two years.Karen Craggs-Milne, vice president of ESG at ThoughtExchangeKaren Craggs-Milne.Courtesy of Karen Craggs-MilneWhat their company does: ThoughtExchange is a patented antibias enterprise tool that leaders use to gain insights that inform decision-making.How they've supported their employees during the coronavirus pandemic: With the pandemic causing a global shift to remote work, and recognizing the diverse circumstances of the company's employee base, we brought an equity lens to the people team's COVID-response initiatives.By asking diverse employees what they needed most to navigate the pandemic and how to best support employee well-being across different employee populations, we helped ThoughtExchange identify tailored solutions that made a big difference to employees.Listening to its employees, we offered financial support during school closures so parents could hire tutors, purchase memberships to educational sites or resources, and continue to ensure their children's educational needs were met.What are the skills you have used to be successful in HR? Empathy and patience are arguably the two most important characteristics to grasp when being a leader in HR.Employees want to feel heard and recognized during their time at an organization, and leveraging the ability to understand where all opinions are coming from, and then negotiating the best collective outcomes, is key to maintaining top talent that feels safe and valued within their work environment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 18th, 2022

Shellenberger: Why We Will Save California (And Why Newsom Doesn"t Care)

Shellenberger: Why We Will Save California (And Why Newsom Doesn't Care) Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, Like a lot of Californians, I have a full and happy life. My wife and I own a home in the Berkeley Hills from which we enjoy watching the fog roll underneath the Golden Gate bridge, and blanket the bay. Our children are healthy and happy. We enjoy a safe and comfortable living as researchers and writers, seemingly far from the chaos and suffering in California’s downtowns. But over the last few years, the rising chaos and suffering have increasingly troubled me. In 2018 I ran for governor to make the case for abundant housing to address homelessness. In 2019, I called for a State of Emergency on homelessness and mandatory psychiatric care or rehab for addicts and the mentally ill who break the law.  And in 2021, I co-founded a statewide coalition with parents of homeless drug addicts, parents of children killed by fentanyl, and recovering addicts, to advocate for a statewide psychiatric and addiction care system (“Cal-Psych”), a crackdown on open air and online drug markets, and a change from the state’s de facto “camp anywhere” policy to a ban on illegal camping. I thought we were making progress. In September, I button-holed Governor Gavin Newsom in San Francisco, and told him about Cal-Psych, explaining that it was a way to centralize psychiatric and addiction care. He told me, “I look forward to talking more about it!” When Joe Rogan asked me in October if I thought Newsom cared, I defended the governor, saying that I thought he did. But Newsom has failed to increase housing, refused to fight for universal health care, and has rejected the idea of a statewide psychiatric and addiction care system, choosing instead to double down on the same policies that created the homelessness crisis in the first place Today, Gov. @GavinNewsom will characterize his proposal for dealing with mentally ill homeless as "unprecedented" In truth, Newsom is proposing to waste more money on a system that HIS MOST SENIOR ADVISOR SAYS CAN'T WORK pic.twitter.com/VK8evvp2fE — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) March 8, 2022 As a result, chaos and suffering are increasing nearly everywhere in California, even in small towns. Half of all fires in California’s cities are in homeless encampments, even though the unsheltered homeless are less than 0.005 percent of the state’s population. Firefighters and EMTs revive, at great cost, fentanyl addicts who overdose and nearly die — and then put the poor souls right back on the street again. And violent crime is rising because the police are understaffed and demoralized. California spends much more than other states on homelessness and mental illness and yet has worse outcomes. Homelessness increased 31 percent in California, over the last decade, while it declined 18 percent in the rest of the country. Recently, a drug-addicted 16-year-old girl, the age of my daughter, was allegedly raped, repeatedly, before overdosing on fentanyl, in an open drug scene in downtown San Francisco. Why won’t Governor Gavin Newsom take action to shut down the open drug scenes, and restore order? And what must be done?  Why Newsom Doesn’t Care In October, HarperCollins published San Fransicko, which assembles a significant body of evidence to show that what we call “homelessness” results primarily from untreated mental illness and addiction, not poverty and high rents. That book, my reporting on Substack, and my video interviews, helped change the national conversation. In mid-December of last year, San Francisco Mayor London Breed called for a crackdown on open air drug dealing and even “tough love.” Shortly after, I was invited to address the city’s Commonwealth Club.  But a few days before my Commonwealth Club talk I discovered, and was the first to report, that Mayor London Breed had secretly and illegally created a supervised fentanyl and meth use site in United Nations Plaza in downtown San Francisco. The site was part of a new, so-called “Linkage Center,” the centerpiece of the mayor’s plan to supposedly direct homeless addicts to rehab, but the site has only worsened open air drug use, drug dealing, and violent crime, and sent just a handful of people to rehab. The bottom line is that San Francisco city government has put the business interests of violent drug dealers above the needs of vulnerable 16 year-old homeless female drug addicts. When cities can no longer properly govern themselves, it is the role of the governor to intervene, but instead of using his State of the State address last week to lay out a vision for California to realize its incredible potential, Newsom was dehumanizing, disrespectful, and dishonest, and not just on the issue of homelessness. At a time when just nine percent of African American students, and 12 percent of Latino students in Los Angeles public schools are proficient in eighth-grade math, Newsom began by patronizingly praising his appointees for their racial identies, sexual preferences, and immigration status, not their achievements.  In his speech, the governor talked tough on forest fires — even though he cut the budget for fighting them, and the area treated for fire prevention declined by half, during his time in office. Newsom took credit for job growth even though California has a 6.5 percent unemployment rate, which is three percentage points higher than the national average, and three times higher than other states. We Californians have the highest income tax, highest gasoline tax, and highest sales tax in the United States, and yet suffer blackouts and abysmal public services. California’s residential electricity prices grew three times faster than they did in the rest of the U.S., in 2021. Last summer Newsom issued emergency rules allowing for the burning of dirty diesel fuel to prevent blackouts for 2.5 million people, and yet is moving full-speed ahead with plans to shut down Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which provides reliable, pollution-free power for three million Californians, and whose closure could result in catastrophic blackouts. In other words, Newsom gave the speech a presidential candidate would make to Democratic primary voters in Iowa — not the speech a governor who cared about California would make. Naturally, Newsom made no mention of the two issues he had campaigned on in 2018, universal health care and adding 500,000 new housing units a year. It’s easy to see why. Health care legislation recently failed due to his lack of care, courage, and clarity. And new annual housing construction has been just one-fifth of what he promised, for the same reasons. Nor did Newsom discuss the shocking failure of California’s public schools. We spend more per capita than most other states and yet under half of our public school students are proficient in reading while just one-third are proficient in math. Those are the statistics of a failed state, and a failing civilization. Newsom refuses to do what must be done because that requires standing up to the interest groups he believes he needs to become president. “He wants to be on the biggest stage,” confessed a former Newsom aide to The Los Angeles Times. “The obvious what-next for a governor of California is president of the United States.” The governor’s political ambitions stand in stark contrast to the gritty realities on the street. While Newsom and his aides were pitching to reporters last week that his State of the State speech would be “upbeat,” the parents of the 16 year-old girl killed by fentanyl dealers were quietly grieving her death. Courage To Care “We have got to find the courage to care for California.” @ShellenbergerMD on what his message will be to voters as he hits the campaign trail to @NikkiLaurenzo on #InsideCAPolitics pic.twitter.com/nwyIUGzb2Q— Inside California Politics (@CAinsider) March 13, 2022 The suffering and chaos resulting from California’s vacuum of leadership led me to once again decide to run for governor. I am heartbroken at the humanitarian disaster in the streets, angry that the politicians keep making things worse, and inspired by our vision for saving California. It is fair to say that I am an underdog. Newsom defeated last year’s recall election by an astonishing margin: 62 - 38 percent. He has $25 million in the bank. And he is gifted at dividing Californians, and demonizing his opponents, in ways that distract from his failures. But I am not a longshot. I would not have decided to run again if I didn’t feel we could come in second place in the open primary election on June 7, proceed to the November 8 general election, and defeat Newsom. By then, I will have won a mandate to implement Cal-Psych and finally solve the homeless crisis which Newsom has, over the last 20 years, made worse.  Newsom and the interest groups that control him will no doubt attempt to demonize me with liberal voters, but I have long supported LGBTQ rights, the right of women to make their own decision on abortion, strong gun safety laws, universal health care, decriminalized marijuana and psychedelics for medical and spiritual purposes, and strong action on climate change, alongside more funding for the police, the continued operation of our last nuclear plant, and mandatory treatment of addicts and the untreated mentally ill homeless as an alternative to jail or prison when they break the law. Under my leadership, California will deal with the homeless drug addiction and mental illness crisis in a humane and efficient way and give us the momentum to build the societal consensus we need to achieve changes on other, long-delayed reforms around energy, water, and the environment, and schools, housing, and infrastructure.  My parents were teachers and my mother a representative of the teachers union. As governor I will work with all parties, including interest groups like the teachers union. But I will not be hostage to them. I will fight for the higher-quality, better scheduled, and more personalized education system our children need. That will require that parents have more choices. But it will also require consequences for the schools that are failing to educate our children I believe that most Californians are sick and tired of being divided, whether by Left and Right, or by race and sex, and will support an agenda that brings us together. We need law and order, but we also need psychiatric care. We need more housing, but we also need to protect our quality of life. We need cheap and reliable energy, but we also need to make progress on climate change. I am a lifelong Democrat but changed my party affiliation to “No Party Preference” last year out of disgust with both parties. Initial polling show our agenda draws equal numbers of independents, Democrats, and Republicans. As such, not only can not only win, we can create the governing majority California needs. None of this will be easy and in fact will be hard. I expect my name to be dragged through the mud, and I don’t expect it to be pleasant. But it’s hard things, not soft ones, that bring out our best, as individuals as as movements. And I am heartened by the overwhelming response from my friends and supporters to my announcement. My family and I will be fine, no matter what happens. Indeed, our lives will be more comfortable if we lose than if we win. But the lives of the people suffering around us won’t be fine no matter what. Many more people on the street will die, often in gruesome fashion, unnecessarily. In the end, our lives are not our own. All of us, not just Helen, our movement, and me, are being called to serve. With this announcement, we are answering the call. We hope you will, too.  Tyler Durden Mon, 03/14/2022 - 20:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 14th, 2022

Ottawa declares state of emergency over Canadian trucker protests that have blockaded the city for 10 days

"The situation at this point is completely out of control," the Ottawa mayor said, adding: "They have far more people than we have police officers." Truckers lineup their trucks on Metcalfe Street as they honk their horns on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images The "Freedom Convoy" has evolved into an occupation that's lasted 10 days and is still going. Demonstrators are blocking roads in the city center in an attempt to get vaccine mandates lifted. The Ottawa mayor said the protest is "completely out of control."  The mayor of Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to the 10-day occupation of the Canadian capital in protest of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truckers and other restrictions."Declaring a state of emergency reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations," Mayor Jim Watson's office said in a statement.Watson also said during a radio interview on Sunday that "the situation at this point is completely out of control," adding: "They have far more people than we have police officers."Much of the city center has been shut down by the occupation since thousands of people began arriving last weekend for the protest, which has grown to include different groups demonstrating against a variety of public health measures.Hundreds of large trucks, vehicles, and tents are blocking city streets, while protesters have used sleds and wagons to carry gas canisters so trucks in the protest zone around Parliament can refuel, CTV News reported.Trucks parked in downtown Ottawa continue to protest Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions, on February 4, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.Dave Chan/AFP/Getty ImagesThe "Freedom Convoy" initially set out to protest vaccine mandates for truckers who travel over the US-Canada border. Some truckers traveled across the country for a week before arriving in the capital. Canada's mandate, imposed on January 15, requires truckers to present proof of vaccination in order to cross the border. Truckers without a vaccine are required to quarantine and take a COVID-19 test when they return from the US. A similar mandate for US truckers was imposed on January 22.Ottawa Police said in a statement on Sunday that seven people had been arrested and 100 were issued tickets in relation to the ongoing demonstrations. The arrests have been for mischief and property damage to a business. The statement said there were a total of 60 criminal investigations related to the protest.Police also issued a warning that anyone caught bringing fuel to trucks participating in the demonstration could be arrested and charged.Convoy organizers have said they will remain until the vaccine mandates are lifted, but the Canadian government shows no signs of relenting.Supporters arrive at Parliament Hill for the Freedom Truck Convoy to protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Ottawa, Canada, on January 29, 2022.Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images"We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot ... in the (2021) election and we're simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians," Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said on TV Sunday, according to Reuters.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was moved from his home as a safety precaution when the protest began last weekend, has been largely quiet on the demonstration. Trudeau has said the protesters represent a "fringe minority.""Almost 90% of truckers in Canada are already vaccinated, and the best way to continue to prevent supply chain disruptions is to ensure that everyone gets vaccinated," he said at a press conference last week.Trudeau, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, has been participating in meetings virtually.Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 7th, 2022

All Private Employers in NYC Will Have to Require COVID-19 Vaccination by Dec. 27

NEW YORK — From multinational banks to corner grocery stores, all private employers in New York City will have to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor announced Monday, imposing one of the most aggressive vaccine rules in the nation. The move by Mayor Bill de Blasio comes as cases are climbing… NEW YORK — From multinational banks to corner grocery stores, all private employers in New York City will have to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor announced Monday, imposing one of the most aggressive vaccine rules in the nation. The move by Mayor Bill de Blasio comes as cases are climbing again in the U.S. and the worrisome but little-understood omicron variant is gaining a toehold in New York and elsewhere around the country. “We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us,” he said. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] De Blasio, a Democrat with just weeks left in office as leader of the nation’s largest city, said the mandate will take effect Dec. 27, with in-person workers needing to provide proof they have received at least one dose of the vaccine. And they will not be allowed to get out of the requirement by agreeing to regular COVID-19 testing instead. The measure will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses, ranging from big corporations to mom-and-pop businesses in the city of 8.8 million people, according to a spokesperson for the mayor. The city’s private-sector workforce is 3.7 million. De Blasio said the measure is aimed at staving off a spike of infections amid holiday gatherings and as cold weather drives more people indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread. Vaccine rules across states and cities vary widely, with some states resisting any mandates and others requiring the shots for government employees or certain sectors that run a particularly high risk, such as health care workers. But no state has announced a broad private-sector mandate as New York City has, according to the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy. President Joe Biden sought to impose a less far-reaching mandate nationally, requiring employees of businesses with 100 or more workers to either get vaccinated or undergo regular testing. But federal courts have put that on hold ahead of the Jan. 4 deadline. De Blasio said he expects his new mandate to survive any legal challenges. Workers will be able to ask for religious or medical exemptions. Also, the mayor announced that anyone 12 or older who wants to dine indoors at a restaurant, go to a gym or see a show will have to produce proof of having received two shots of the vaccine, up from the current requirement of one dose. In addition, children ages 5 to 11 will have to show proof of at least one shot, de Blasio said. De Blasio said he will release more details next week about how the mandate will be enforced. About 5.9 million adults in New York City have gotten at least a first dose, out of 7 million people age 18 and up. That translates to 84%. About 5.8 million New Yorkers of all ages are fully vaccinated. Cases of the omicron variant have been reported in about one-third of the states, but scientists cannot say for certain yet whether it is more dangerous than previous versions. The delta variant still accounts for nearly all infections in the U.S., and a rise in cases in recent weeks has swamped hospitals, especially in the Midwest and New England. Health experts have strongly urged people to get their shots and a booster, saying they believe the vaccine will still offer protection against the new form of the virus. “Vaccination is the central weapon in this war against COVID. It’s the one thing that has worked every single time across the board,” de Blasio said at a virtual news conference. “A lot of folks to me in the private sector have said to me they believe in vaccination, but they’re not quite sure how they can do it themselves,” he continued. “Well, we’re going to do it.” Vaccinations are already required in New York City for hospital and nursing home workers and for city employees, including teachers, police officers and firefighters. A vaccination mandate for employees of private and religious schools was announced last week. De Blasio, who leaves office at the end of the month and has indicated he may seek the nomination for governor of New York next year, has sought to portray himself as a national leader in the fight against COVID-19. His other vaccine mandates have largely survived legal challenges, and he has credited the policy with raising vaccination rates among the reluctant. The new mandate takes effect days before de Blasio leaves office and Democrat Eric Adams is due to be sworn in. Evan Thies, a spokesman for Adams, said in a statement that the mayor-elect “will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals.” The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which includes some 30,000 businesses big and small, said it supports the tightened measures. But other industry groups said the plan would add to the strain on businesses still struggling to recover from the pandemic and find enough employees. Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, a leading business group, said it is unclear who will enforce the mandate and whether it is even legal. “It is hard to imagine that the mayor can do what the president is being challenged to accomplish,” Wylde said. Associated Press writer Bobby Caina Calvan contributed to this report. ___ This story has been corrected to reflect that the deadline for the mandate is Dec. 27......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 6th, 2021

A Tale Of Two Cities: Kenosha Vs. Waukesha

A Tale Of Two Cities: Kenosha Vs. Waukesha Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com, Both Wisconsin towns, Kenosha, and Waukesha, about 50 miles apart by car, were the recent sites of multiple deaths. The violence in both made national news. Yet in contradictory ways both reflected the common themes of America’s current legal, media, and societal corruption.   The relevant public prosecutors in both were in the news for alleged ideological bias. Specifically, they habitually calibrated the charging, indicting, and trying (or not) of defendants through ideological lenses and community pressure rather than on the basis of the facts and the law.   Kyle Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old armed youth who volunteered to protect business properties at the height of the August 2020 arson, riots, and looting in Kenosha. He was pursued and attacked by three members from a larger group who chased the armed youth, presumably either to disarm, injure, or kill him—or perhaps all three.  Rittenhouse variously was assaulted, kicked, and had a firearm pointed at him. In reaction, he fatally shot two of his pursuing attackers and wounded a third. Kenosha prosecutors reviewed videos of the altercations. They saw clearly that Rittenhouse was running away from his assailants. He was variously rushed by one assailant, kicked by another, and struck with a skateboard by still another. Again, a final pursuer pointed a gun at him at close range.   No matter. The Kenosha district attorney’s office charged Rittenhouse with several felonies including two first-degree homicide charges. All four whom Rittenhouse fired at—whether he missed, wounded, or fatally shot—had lengthy arrest records. Three were convicted felons; the fourth had a long arrest record.  Given the lengthy and quite horrific rap sheet of Rittenhouse’s first attacker Joseph Rosenbaum (including multiple counts of pedophiliac rape), it is difficult to understand why the latter was not in jail (he had been released earlier that day from a mental facility to which he had been committed after a failed suicide attempt). The common denominator to the various prior convictions of his other three assailants was that they should have led to consequences far worse, given that many of their arrest charges were dropped, or bail was sometimes waived, or plea bargaining turned serious charges into merely bothersome ones. The release of violent offenders on little or no bail seems now thematic in Wisconsin.  Shortly after the August 2020 shootings, the media, Joe Biden, and most of the left-wing commentariat had claimed Rittenhouse was a “white supremacist,” even though there was no evidence of such a libel, then or now. Remember, the Kenosha shootings took place just nine weeks before the November presidential elections, at a time when the Left was framing the incumbent Trump as a “white supremacist” and Joe Biden a “healer.”   The Racist Construct  The shootings were immediately declared to be “racial.” Yet both the shooter Rittenhouse and all of his attackers who were wounded or killed were white (a fourth assailant, an African-American who kicked Rittenhouse while he was on the ground escaped without injury).   What followed in the media was the most egregious example of concocted fictions since the Russian collusion hoax. Rittenhouse was falsely accused of crossing “state lines” (plural), while unlawfully armed with an “illegal automatic weapon.”   In truth, he did not buy the Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle, much less bring it into nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin from nearby Antioch, Illinois. It was legal for Rittenhouse to possess and use the firearm. The gun itself was not unlawful. He did not purchase it but had been given it by a friend. And Kenosha was his alternate home in that it was where his father and other relatives lived. Rittenhouse, then, was constructed as the proverbial white supremacist of the sort warned about by the likes of Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley.  At various times during the trial, the prosecuting attorneys called Rittenhouse a coward. They claimed he should have faced the pursuing mob of at least a dozen and willingly taking a beating from them face-to-face, in at least one case at gunpoint. The jury inter alia was told that the ongoing arson and other violent acts were not serious crimes, and that the three who attacked Rittenhouse were near-heroic victims.   Protestors outside the courthouse tried to intimidate the defense and jurors. A journalist sought to follow the jury bus, ostensibly to divulge their identities or to intimidate them (MSNBC was subsequently banned from the courtroom).   The piece de resistance was the lead DA’s pointing an empty semi-automatic weapon at the jury, with his finger on the trigger—all in the aftermath of Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting with an “empty” loaded gun of two bystanders on a film set.   The DA apparently wished to scare the jury into a guilty verdict through the sensation of having a rifle pointed at them. Given the jury appears post facto to have been made up of reasonable people, that puerile gambit probably backfired. All that the imbecilic DA confirmed by his actions was the same recklessness as those in state and city government who had permitted parts of Kenosha to burn in the first place.        There were lots of suicidal prosecutorial stunts such as these in what turned out to be a circus of sorts. The DAs also sought to deprecate the constitutionally protected Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. They bizarrely saw their key witness admitting under cross examination that he had first pointed a handgun at Kyle Rittenhouse who then understandably fired at him. And they deliberately released an inferior version of the video record of the shooting to the defense while keeping the superior one to their perceived advantage.  So, the state’s madness raised strange questions. Were the incompetent DAs simply a window into a dysfunctional Kenosha County district attorney’s office where bumbling was an institutionalized force-multiplier to bias? Were the state prosecutors deliberately inept in order to prompt a mistrial and thus a retrial/second chance of their botched case? Or were they lazily going through the motions to satisfy the mob, but did not really believe Rittenhouse was guilty? Or were they just mediocre camera-hungry wannabe celebrities, who wished to win cheap media attention for as long as the bewildered judge would put up with their bizarre antics?  The Message of Acquittal A jury unanimously cleared Rittenhouse of all charges. It apparently concluded correctly that if law enforcement and the state either could not or would not protect lives and property in Kenosha, and if because of that dereliction of duty some citizens stepped up to take up the role that the police had utterly abandoned, then as citizens they had a right to defend themselves if attacked by those committing violence.   For some time, media demand has exceeded the available supply of clear-cut cases of white oppressors and black victims, at least if the Jussie Smollett hoax, the “hands up don’t shoot” lie, and the photoshopped pictures and edited tapes of George Zimmerman are any indication.   Yet the real reason the Left strained to gin up the theme of white-on-white violence as an example of racism was their larger agenda of sending a message to middle America: no American, in times of riot, arson, and looting, should have the right to use firearms to protect property. And under no circumstances could a citizen use a gun to ward off those intending to maim or kill him. Had Rittenhouse been found guilty, there no longer would be recourse for citizens living in cities where criminals were freely given the streets.  In other words, had such a clear-cut case of self-defense morphed into a successful murder conviction, then the most powerful figure in the nation would become the local district attorney. De facto, a DA could empower a mob to loot, burn, steal, and injure by refusing to indict those arrested—even if an increasingly politicized mayor and police chief chose to allow their officers to keep the public safe. We would then assume that in this state of nature anyone protecting property during a riot would be fair game for the mob, given the target would know he could become a convicted felon by defending himself from attack.  So, the Left understood well the messaging of attacking the open city and undefended town of Kenosha and the conviction of a “murderer” Rittenhouse: accept our political agendas and premises or otherwise your culpable community will be torn apart with impunity, and any who chose to combat the violence with violence will be charged with capital crimes.  Those Criminal SUVs  Not long after one Rittenhouse was acquitted, one Darrell Brooks, Jr., an African-American with a 20-year record of serious felonies, allegedly drove his car deliberately into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, killing 6 innocents and injuring over 60.  Unlike the dishonest media reaction lying about Rittenhouse, who had no criminal record, there was initial careful restraint not to identify the career criminal Brooks as the murderous driver who weaponized his vehicle against parade-goers. Despite first-hand accounts from bystanders that the lethal driver was an African-American with dreadlocks, the media, feigning unaccustomed professionalism in this instance, withheld rush-to-judgment identification and culpability. Joe Biden—for a moment—was commendably quiet in editorializing about the racial motivations or ideology of a suspect.  For a while the media ran with its own concocted rumor that Brooks merely was fleeing from an “altercation” and apparently had mistakenly turned the wrong way into a crowd—despite videos showing the driver deliberately ramming through street barriers repeatedly to seek out targets. Intent likely explains why he killed and injured so many innocents.   Finally, the news settled into the present narrative of a “car crash,”—as if a driverless vehicle on autopilot had simply bumped into various people in the street—before burying the murders altogether on their back pages and dropping the crime from the evening news. Or as the Washington Post put it, “Here’s what we know so far on the sequence of events that led to the Waukesha tragedy caused by a SUV.”  That media-generated ruse continued even when details of Brooks’ lengthy felony record were finally released. At the time he was mowing down strangers, he had five open arrest charges, including two felonies. Brooks had been released on $1,000 bail just two days earlier, in another eerie “coincidence” after being arrested for attempting to run over a woman and her child—the same modus operandi reified at the Waukesha Christmas slaughter.   An alien from Mars who examined Brooks’s life of crime, his recent violence, and the ease with which he was serially let loose upon the public might have concluded some sort of “privilege” as the cause of exemption.  Brooks posed on social media as an incompetent but narcissistic rapper. He left a video trail not just of his mediocre recordings, but of clear evidence of virulent anti-Semitism and anti-white racism, “So when we start bakk knokkin white people TF out ion wanna hear it…the old white ppl 2, KNOKK DEM TF OUT!! PERIOD.”   As pundits strained to deny any connection between the climate of BLM anger over the Rittenhouse verdict and Brooks’ murders, Brooks’ own testimonies point to a connection, at least in the sense of hating people on the basis of their race. Indeed, regional Milwaukee BLM activist Vaun Mayes quickly alleged that the Rittenhouse acquittal had earned the homicidal payback.   A low-level Democratic functionary tweeted that the dead children of Waukesha were proper karma for Rittenhouse walking free: “I’m sad anytime anyone dies. I just believe in Karma and this came around quick on the citizens of Wisconsin.” Or as Mayes further elaborated: Brooks was an insurrectionist whose violence had jumpstarted a supposed “revolution,” his apparent euphemism for mass murder. “But it sounds possible that the revolution has started in Wisconsin. It started with this Christmas parade.” Brooks is, for a while, in jail. Yet for some crazy reason he can be freed on a $5 million bond. He awaits charges of mass homicide—although one never quite knows. The Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm is a controversial “reformer” DA, whose campaigns have been funded in part by the George Soros conglomerate.  Creepier still, in the past a prescient Chisolm had boasted about his own future to the Milwaukee Sentinel, namely that his prosecutorial and bail policies would eventually release career criminals onto the street who would “inevitably” kill some innocents. Yet he riffed that such carnage was acceptable collateral damage from his decriminalization agendas: “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into [a] treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”  One wonders whether Chisolm will take that argument to the families of the Waukesha deceased—that the loss of their loved ones was a reasonable sacrifice to ensure that misunderstood 20-year criminals like Darrell Brooks, Jr. were not kept behind bars.  So, what are we left with from these horrors of two cities?  In Kenosha the media and the Left ginned up race when there was no such component in the trial. But in Waukesha they perpetuated racial arson and smothered the truth. That is, they kept largely silent when there clearly was racial hatred—given Brooks’ own record of anti-white and anti-Semitic venom. Again, the media can turn from creation to suppression on a dime, given the common theme of ginning up racial strife and hatred.  An amoral media and Left, so far, have kept an inconvenient Waukesha “car crash” out of the mainstream news—reversing their wild sensational obsessions with Kenosha. After all, in their unhinged racialized worldview, the demonization of a 17-year-old white male, who shot three other white males, still could be squeezed for racial juice, given the larger contextual landscape of a riot over a police wounding of an African-American male.   The shooting of Jacob Blake that set off the Kenosha riots was later determined to be justified, given the armed suspect was heading toward his car, after fighting with police, who were called to the residence to protect a woman who had a restraining order against the career violent felon.  In sum, Rittenhouse had no criminal record; all four of his assailants had lengthy arrest records. Three of them were ex-felons. He had no record of the racial hatred of which he was accused.   In contrast, Brooks was an abject violent racist whom the media sought to shield. And he was a career felon, who both long ago and quite recently should have been kept behind bars so that he would not murder innocents.   How a Wisconsin ex-felon received a $1,000 bail bond and freedom to mow down innocents, after trying to run down two with his car, while another juvenile without an arrest record, with good grounds to claim self-defense, was required to post a $2 million bond (and so stayed incarcerated pending charges without running water in his cell) is a commentary on the abject implosion of the American justice system.   Rittenhouse should have never been charged; Brooks should not have been out of jail. The effort to make the former a beneficiary of white supremacy and the latter a victim of it required a level of amoral media deceit that finally was unsustainable even in this bankrupt age.  Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

San Francisco Homeless Insider Tells All

San Francisco Homeless Insider Tells All Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, Why progressives defend and finance open drug scenes... In my new book, San Fransicko, I describe why progressives create and defend what European researchers call “open drug scenes,” which are places in cities where drug dealers and buyers meet, and many addicts live in tents. Progressives call these scenes “homeless encampments,” and not only defend them but have encouraged their growth, which is why the homeless population in California grew 31 percent since 2000. This was mostly a West Coast phenomenon until recently. But now, the newly elected progressive mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu, has decided to keep open a drug scene at Mass and Cass avenues, even though it has resulted in several deaths from drug overdoses and homicides. Progressives defend their approach as compassionate. Not everybody who is homeless is an addict, they say. Many are just down on their luck. Others turn to drugs after living on the street. What they need is our help. We should not ask people living in homeless encampments to go somewhere else. Homeless shelters are often more dangerous than living on the street. We should provide the people living in tents with money, food, clean needles, and whatever else they need to stay alive and comfortable. And we should provide everyone with their own apartment unit if that’s what they want. But this “harm reduction” approach is obviously failing. Cities already do a good job taking care of temporarily homeless people not addicted to drugs. Drug dealers stab and sometimes murder addicts who don’t pay. Women forced into prostitution to support their addictions are raped. Addicts are dying from overdose and poisoning. The addicts living in the open drug scenes commit many crimes including open drug use, sleeping on sidewalks, and defecating in public. Many steal to maintain their habits. The hands-off approach has meant that addicts do not spend any amount of time in jail or hospital where they can be off of drugs, and seek recovery. Now, even a growing number of people who have worked or still work within the homeless services sector are speaking out. A longtime San Francisco homeless service provider who read San Fransicko, and said they mostly agreed with it, reached out to me to share their views. At first this person said they wanted to speak on the record. But as the interview went on, and the person criticized their colleagues, they asked to remain anonymous, fearing retribution. Why “Housing First” Failed The main progressive approach for addressing homelessness, not just in San Francisco but in progressive cities around the nation, is “Housing First,” which is the notion that taxpayers should give, no questions asked, apartment units to anyone who says they are homeless, and asks for one. What actually works to reduce the addiction that forces many people onto the streets is making housing contingent on abstinence. But Housing First advocates oppose “contingency management,” as it’s called, because, they say, “Housing is a right,” and it should not be condition on behavior change. But such a policy is absurdly unrealistic, said the San Francisco homeless expert. “To pretend that this city could build enough permanent supportive housing for every homeless person who needs it is ludicrous,” the person said. “I wish it weren’t. I wish I lived in a land where there was plenty of housing. But now people are dying on our streets and it feels like we’re not doing very much about it.” The underlying problem with Housing First is that it enables addiction. “The National Academies of Sciences review [which showed that giving people apartments did not improve health or other life outcomes] you cited shows that. San Francisco has more permanent supportive housing units per capita than any other city, and we doubled spending on homelessness, but the homeless population rose 13%, even as it went down in the US. And so we doubled our spending and the problem got worse. But if you say that, you get attacked.” How did progressives, who claim to be evidence-based, ever get so committed to Housing First? “Malcolm Gladwell’s [2006 New Yorker article] “Million Dollar Murray,” really helped popularize this idea,” the person said. “But it was based on an anecdote of one person. It works for who it works for but is not scalable. [Governor] Gavin [Newsom] made a mistake [as San Francisco’s Mayor 2004-2011] which was that we stopped investing in shelter. But that’s because all the best minds were saying, ‘This is what’s going to work.’” One of the claims made defenders of the open drug scenes is that people who live in them are mostly locals who were priced out of their homes and apartments and decided to pitch a tent on the street. In San Fransicko, I cite a significant body of evidence to show that this is false, and that many people come to San Francisco from around the U.S. for the city’s unusually high cash welfare benefits, free housing, and tolerance of open drug scenes. The insider agreed. “People come here because they think they can. It’s bullshit that ‘Only 30 percent [of homeless] are from out of town.’ At least 20,000 homeless people come through town every year. Talk to the people on the street. There’s no way 70 percent of the homeless are from here. Ask them the name of their high school and they guess, ‘Washington? The one around the corner?’ But you can’t even talk about that without being called a fascist.”  The people living on the street suffer from serious addiction, this person said. “During the first point in time count [census of homeless population] in 2007, one-third had a disability, mental illness, or addiction, while last time, it was over two-thirds. The population fundamentally changed, whether from the drugs, or the time on the street. It doesn’t matter because a lot of the problems on the street are drugs-related. Neither San Francisco nor any other municipality can solve the housing policy without changing federal policy.” Life in the open drug scenes is brutal, this person confirmed. “Most homeless encampments are not communities but have paper-thin relationships based on their disease. It’s hard to have healthy relationships when you’re just trying to keep your head above water because you’re so dope dependent.” What San Francisco and other progressive cities are doing isn’t working. “People in those encampments have food brought to them, port-a-potties brought to them, and all they need to do is put drugs in their arm all day. They get really really sick and they die. Portugal didn’t make it so you can do whatever you want. The consequences of your action are treatment driven, but there are consequences. Here there are no consequences. And so we make it worse.” This person was harshly critical of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health for allowing drug overdoses to rise to over 700 per year. “They say, ‘It’s not our fault because it’s fentanyl.” But it’s only gotten worse.” This person stressed they were in favor of harm reduction policies like giving addicts clean needles in exchange for them giving back dirty ones, but not just giving out needles. “I’m all in favor of needle exchange, but not of needle distribution. Ask people to return the needles they’ve been given. There are people who don’t have it together enough. I get that. But when you tell people we’re going to give you whatever you want, to do whatever you want… Sleeping on a sidewalk is a crime. There are things you can’t do. You can’t shoot up on the street. The laws are there for a reason.” Why Progressives Create Homelessness So ⁦@SFPD⁩ just arrested ⁦@christinevans⁩ for interfering with their work of displacing folks in a large encampment under the freeway during a pandemic as Delta is spreading. I was talking to an unhoused pregnant woman when they threatened to arrest me too. pic.twitter.com/NBANKCWA0Y — Kelley Cutler (@NutCheese) July 27, 2021 Open drug scenes look like natural disasters, but they are the result of specific city policies. These policies including giving money, food, and drug paraphernalia to addicts to support their addiction. But even if progressives didn’t give people those things, many addicts would still live in open drug scenes. As such, the main reason “homelessness” is so much worse in progressive West Coast cities is because progressives hotly oppose efforts by cities to close the open drug scenes and move addicts into shelters and rehab. By blocking the closing of open drug scenes, which is referred to as “clearing an encampment,” people in need of help don’t get it. “The San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness recently [July 2021] protested an encampment clearing where a woman was pregnant,” the insider told me. “As soon as everybody left, the woman went into a shelter, after having been on the streets for three months. She went indoors. It’s like, ‘What are you fighting for? The right of this person to stay on private property and be pregnant?’” One of the questions I tried to answer in San Fransicko was when it was that street addicts started living in tents. I concluded that it started with the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in 2011, when progressive activists in San Francisco, Oakland, and other cities lived in tents in front of government buildings to protest capitalism. This person confirmed this account. “You’re right that the tents popped up after Occupy,” they said. “But it wasn’t just that the Occupy activists gave the homeless their tents. It was that the homeless saw well-heeled whites sleeping in tents. It got moralized.” The most influential homeless advocate in San Francisco, and perhaps the United States as a whole, is the head of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, Jennifer Friedenbach. Over the last three decades, Friedenbach has taken control over San Francisco’s homelessness budget and other policies. She blocks the closure of open drug scenes, calls people who disagree with her fascists and racists, and organizes protests at the homes of politicians. Time to house all San Franciscans, don’t you think? pic.twitter.com/PA5fFGivhN — Jennifer Friedenbach (@fbach4) May 18, 2021 A typical example of Friedenbach’s tactics could be seen in posters she promoted in May. The headline read, “See a tent? Just fucking leave it alone, thanks. Maybe instead of complaining about a homeless person’s only shelter from the elements, you could do something about the economic conditions that put them there in the first place?” The main reason San Francisco lacks sufficient homeless shelters is because Friedenbach and other Housing First advocates have long opposed them. They have demanded that money go to providing people with their own apartment units. The reason, Friedenbach explained to me, is that “if you ask unhoused people, they’re not screaming for shelter. They’re screaming for housing.” In the spring of 2021, Friedenbach published an op-ed opposing a proposal considered by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to create, within eighteen months, sufficient homeless shelters and outdoor “Safe Sleeping Sites” for all of the city’s unsheltered homeless. “One can simply take a look to New York City,” she wrote. “Their department spends about $1.3 billion dollars of its budget on providing shelter for their unhoused population while thousands remain on the street. . . . As a result, New York has a higher rate of homelessness than San Francisco.” But the claim was misleading. New York shelters the vast majority of its homeless, whereas San Francisco leaves the vast majority of its homeless unsheltered. “New York [City] has made the decision that everyone should have an exit from the street,” noted Rafael Mandelman, a San Francisco county supervisor. “San Francisco has consciously chosen not to make that commitment. And the conditions on New York’s streets versus San Francisco streets are somewhat reflective of what that means.” Friedenbach controls how San Francisco spends its astonishing $850 million annual budget. “Jenny built her power base by becoming a master of the budget’s “add back” process,” said the San Francisco insider. “The night before the budget is announced, it gets reviewed by the Board of Supervisors, but they’re trying to get out of there by midnight, and that’s when these ‘community asks.’ The board goes and trims stuff out of the mayor’s budget and does “add backs'' of money for struggling nonprofits. Jenny has mastered that process. And so if you’re a nonprofit executive director, and you want money in the add back process, which everyone does, you have to go through Jenny.” This person said that Friedenbach also operates behind the scenes. “She controls fake front groups like the Homeless Service Providers’ Coalition and the Justice Budget Coalition,” said the insider. “She knows the issue well. A lot of people look to her.” But more importantly, Friedenbach, like many progressive defenders of open drug scenes, demonize the people who stand up to her. “They shut down the discussion,” the insider said. “Everybody is just like, ‘Police bad. Public health good.’ It’s Animal Farm. But the city’s homeless outreach team can’t do their jobs without the cops. That’s the stuff that shuts down any meaningful discussion.” Why do they do it? Radical anti-system ideology. “There’s a San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness hat which says, ‘Coalition on Homelessness: On The Frontlines of Class Warfare,’” said the insider. “They feel like they’re fighting class warfare. They tell people to not take shelter.” I documented in San Fransicko that Friedenbach and other homeless advocates are motivated in significant measure by their belief that capitalism, not addiction, is responsible for the suffering on the streets. After I appeared on Joe Rogan, a clinical psychologist who for two decades ran programs for homeless veterans at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, which included homeless vets, emailed me. “I agree with all you say about the ‘homeless’ people who are actually mislabeled mentally ill and drug addicts,” wrote Dr. Mark Zaslav. “I like your comparison of the ‘ideology’ of people who “advocate” for the homeless to a religion gone haywire. But I wanted, as a psychologist, to add another point for your consideration.  This is the fact that this leftwing religion is based on split-off hatred and contempt for civilization itself.  When I attended substance abuse conferences in San Francisco run by community leaders, it became clear to me that these people had no understanding of mental health disorders like addiction – they regarded “homeless” addicts as heroes of some kind.   “Thus, each drug addict defecating on the streets in the Tenderloin was a massive middle finger to some imagined white male with a briefcase.  The premise of your solutions, which make so much sense, assume that adherents to the now reigning ideology want things solved.  They do not.  They want people inconvenienced by addicts – the homeless become quote literal scared cows who roam society reminding everyone of the sins of capitalism. “You mentioned Noam Chomsky.  These people are angry and full of hate.  They have tapped into a form of blindness among the voters of places like San Francisco or California itself – these are angry people endlessly telling themselves they are compassionate while projecting their hatred toward the ‘bourgeoise.’ I am afraid this does not end well. “ The San Francisco homelessness insider agreed, and despaired over the religious fervor in which the people who work at the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, the San Francisco Public Health Department, and many elected members of the Board of Supervisors are gripped. “Maybe homelessness is part of capitalism and racism,” said this person. “I can’t solve that and neither can any nonprofit organization. I can’t stand seeing people suffering on the streets. What are we going to do right now?” .*  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Our research and writing depends on individuals like you. Please consider subscribing now so we can expand our work in the coming year Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 29th, 2021

Shellenberger: Why Anti-Police Activism Kills

Shellenberger: Why Anti-Police Activism Kills Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, In response to anti-police protests, many officers quit, resulting in shortages and a spike in avoidable deaths, from homicides to heart attacks, of innocents... Will Yurek with three of his four children including Drew (far right) who called 911 when his father suffered a heart attack. First responders say the city of Seattle failed to save Will’s life because of a police shortage. At 1:24pm on Nov. 2, 13-year-old Drew Yurek called 911 to report an emergency: his father Will didn’t feel well and needed help. Medics arrived six minutes later, but were told by dispatch to wait for the police before entering; there was a cautionary note that flagged the occupant of the address as being hostile to first responders. But the note was outdated, and referred to a previous tenant. Because of a shortage of police officers first reported by Seattle journalist Jason Rantz, the medics were left to wait outside the house until cops could arrive. At 1:37pm, Drew called 911 again, desperate. He needed help. Medics waited two more minutes before deciding to ignore the order and enter the building. They found Will and started to perform CPR and apply a defibrillator. But by then it was too late. Despite their best efforts, Will, 45 and a father of four, died of a heart attack as Drew looked on. The police did not arrive until 1:45pm. Now Drew’s mother, Meagan Petersen, is planning to sue the city of Seattle. “People need to know how the city let this happen,” said Meagan, who is divorced from Will and lives in Utah. “They could have saved Will if the system was working like it should.” Firefighters and police officers I spoke to said they believe they could have saved the man’s life had there not been a shortage of cops. By the end of 2020, 200 police officers had left the Seattle police force. What happened to Will Yurek and what his son had to suffer is a tragic but cautionary tale of what happens when activism and moral cowardice at the top of government destroys public safety and common sense in society. It has happened in Seattle, but many other parts of the country have also fallen victim — with many more in peril, too. Before a vaccine mandate took 100 police officers off the street in mid-October, the Seattle police department was short at least 400 police officers to be at the minimum considered necessary to protect public safety. Why is that? The overwhelming and unavoidable reason is anti-police protests by Black Lives Matter activists. This happened nationwide, but was worse in Seattle, where Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and progressive members of the Seattle City Council allowed anarchists to briefly take over the downtown Capitol Hill neighborhood in the summer of 2020. Durkan did so to show solidarity with anti-police protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. The anti-police protests in Seattle were surprising because in 2018 the City Council had hired a black woman, Carmen Best, for the first time to serve as the city’s police chief. Best opened up for the first time about what happened last summer in an interview with me for my book, “San Fransicko,” earlier this year. Best is also one of the candidates NYC’s Mayor-Elect Eric Adams is considering for NYPD Commissioner. Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, left, talks with activist Raz Simone, right front, and others near a plywood-covered and closed police precinct behind them on June 9, 2020. “I refuse to work for this socialist City Council and their political agenda,” said one officer. “It ultimately will destroy the fabric of this once fine city.” Another said the city’s progressive City Council “will be the downfall of the city of Seattle.”  Anti-police protests took a toll around the country. At least two dozen other police chiefs or senior officers resigned, retired, or took disability leave in America’s 50 biggest cities in 2020, while 3,700 beat officers left. Today there are fewer police officers per capita in America than at any time since 1992. In 2020, the homicide rate increased on average by more than one-third in America’s 57 largest cities. Homicides rose in 51 cities and declined in just six of them. Homicides rose 35 percent in Los Angeles, 31 percent in Oakland, 74 percent in Seattle, 63 percent in Portland, 60 percent in Chicago, and 47 percent in New York City.  Some blamed the coronavirus pandemic, and higher gun sales, which rose in March. But homicides in 2020 only started to rise in June, after Black Lives Matter protests, not March. And there had been a similar spike in homicides in 2015 when there was no coronavirus pandemic.  The lack of sufficient police may have made communities more vulnerable to the spikes in homicides seen in 2015 and 2020, as police were redirected to deal with anti-police protests. “When you have your officers and detectives every night on the front line dealing with demonstration after demonstration after demonstration,” said former police chief Best, “they are not engaging with community members. They are not talking to young people. All of that is not happening because the focus now is on the nightly demonstrations.”  “When people believe the procedures of formal social control are unjust,” notes University of Missouri criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, whose research is relied upon by the Department of Justice, “they are less likely to obey the law.”  Counter to the claims of those who advocate defunding the police as a way to reduce violence, the evidence suggests that fewer cops may mean more police misconduct, because the remaining officers must work longer and more stressful hours. Research has found that fatigue predicts a rise in public complaints against cops: a 13-hour rather than 10-hour shift significantly boosts their prevalence, while back-to-back shifts quadruple their odds. The people who suffer most from anti-police activism are black. Nationally, 30 times more African Americans were killed by civilians than by police in 2019. Today, black Americans are seven to eight times more likely to die from homicide than white Americans. If anti-police protests increase homicides, why do groups like Black Lives Matter do it? Because they are after radical system change, not less violence. Radical thinkers, from anarchists to socialists, have for 200 years blamed our capitalist system for crime, and justified crime as a revolutionary act. Crime is a rational response to the high levels of inequality created by capitalism, they argue. For the most part, societies, including in Seattle, have dismissed these radical arguments. “The anarchists had always been a cosplay clown joke,” Seattle Police officer Christopher Young told me earlier this year. “On May Day they would come and fight the police and break some windows. We’d be like, ‘Okay guys, go back to your mother’s basement.’” But after the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016, the anarchists rebranded themselves as “anti-fascists,” said Young, and that increased their legitimacy in the eyes of Seattle’s progressive voters. “They said, ‘We’re here to fight the racists and fascists.’” “The community really wanted more cops,” she told me. “At least three City Council members campaigned on more cops. They wanted better response times.” They also wanted more racial and gender diversity and so, said Best, she created a plan “to have a lot more diversity with our hiring, for women and people of color both. We got to almost 40 percent of either minority or women representation as new hires.” But after the Floyd killing, Seattle anarchists started attacking the police. “Within that large group of people who were there peacefully protesting,” said Best, “there were groups there to create mayhem, throw rocks, bottles, and incendiary stuff, and point lasers at the officers.”  In June, somebody removed a police barricade that had prevented demonstrators from protesting in front of the East Precinct downtown. “It was decided,” said Best, “to remove the barricade and to allow the demonstrators to fill in the street in front of the precinct. We didn’t want to give up the precinct. I have to tell you it was not my decision.”  Progressive members of the Seattle City Council had pressured Mayor Durkan to order the police to abandon their precinct building.  “The next morning,” said Best, “there were these folks out there armed with long rifles, telling the officers who responded that it was their ‘sovereign land.’ ‘What sovereign property are they talking about?’” Best asked her colleagues. “Well, they’re talking about Twelfth Avenue.” She laughed. “We had never experienced anything like that.”  And therein began CHAZ, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Chief Carmen Best Later, the organizers would rename the area CHOP, for Capitol Hill Occupied Protest. The anarchist leaders invited hundreds of Seattle’s homeless residents to move into the occupied zone, and many did. When asked, Seattle’s mayor insisted that everything would work out fine.  “How long do you think Seattle and those few blocks [will] look like this?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Seattle’s mayor. “I don’t know,” she replied. “We could have a summer of love!”  But soon after, said Best, “We were getting reports of rape, robbery, assault… I don’t know what the Wild West was like, but it couldn’t have been any worse than that.”  Armed residents at CHOP shot two teenage boys just before it was shut down. At least one of them could have been saved. But CHOP’s unelected leaders didn’t allow first responders in until hours later. The homicides led Chief Best to demand permission from the City Attorney to retake the neighborhood, which she did a few days later.  But then, in August 2020, a few weeks later, the Seattle City Council voted to cut the budget of the Seattle Police Department. “That means that all these new people that we hired who are black, people of color, and women will be the first ones to go,” Best told the City Council. “Because it’s first in, first out.”  The council said they wanted Best to go through and pick the people to fire.  “Let me get this straight,” she said she told the council. “You want me to pick the white people to go? Are you crazy?’ They were highly dismissive. It was the most bizarre thing that I had ever dealt with.”  Best criticized the City Council. “I said that they were being reckless and dangerous and that people are going to suffer for it,” she said. “The next day, one of the city councilors said, ‘We need to cut her salary by 40 percent.’ It wasn’t even on the agenda for them to talk about. It was highly punitive and retaliatory.” And so Best resigned. By the end of 2020, 200 police officers had left the Seattle police force.  In truth, much of what people believe about the police is wrong. Police killings of African Americans in our 58 largest cities declined from 217 per year in the 1970s to 157 per year in the 2010s. And there are no racial differences in police killings when accounting for whether or not the suspect was armed or a threat (“justified” vs “unjustified” shooting). Reducing homicides and other crimes will require more police, and that will require community and political leaders to educate voters, and publicly apologize for their role in unfairly demonizing police officers. Most of all, we should seek to make amends to the victims of anti-police activism, including the Yurek family, who are mourning the loss of a young father at Thanksgiving time. “Mr. Yurek’s young son acted quickly and competently. Unfortunately, the city of Seattle was neither quick nor competent,” said the family’s attorney, Mark Lindquist of the Herrmann Law Group. But Will Yurek’s death could gain new meaning if it helps us, as Americans, to view police officers as vital, if imperfect, public servants, and take the measures necessary to affirm their role, and recruit them back into our city police forces. *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here Tyler Durden Wed, 11/24/2021 - 23:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 25th, 2021

WHO’S NEWS: Latest appointments, promotions

Marcus & Millichap has expanded the Board of Directors with the election of Collete English Dixon. She will also serve as a member of the Board’s Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee. Dixon currently serves as Executive Director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, Roosevelt University in Chicago. She... The post WHO’S NEWS: Latest appointments, promotions appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Marcus & Millichap has expanded the Board of Directors with the election of Collete English Dixon. She will also serve as a member of the Board’s Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee. Dixon currently serves as Executive Director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, Roosevelt University in Chicago. She previously held various key officer and management roles at PGIM Real Estate/Prudential Real Estate Investors (PREI), which is a business unit of Prudential Financial. In her role as Executive Director/Vice President of transactions from 1996 to 2016, she oversaw the sale of investment properties throughout the US. Prior to her role in dispositions, Dixon was responsible for sourcing wholly owned and joint venture real estate investment opportunities. Her experience also includes property development and asset management. Dixon served as president of CREW Network, chair of the CREW Network Foundation, and president of CREW Chicago. ••• Avison Young has hired Larry Zuckerman as principal in the firm’s New York City office. He brings nearly 40 years of commercial real estate experience and leadership to the firm and specializes in delivering value and expertise to office tenants in New York and across the Tri-State area. Zuckerman previously served as senior managing director at Newmark and, before that, was a senior vice president with Grubb & Ellis for nearly 20 years. He began his real estate career with Gronich and Company after graduating from Franklin & Marshall College with a BA in Business. ••• Rudin Management Company announced that two senior executives have joined the company. Christopher Flynn has been appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and Ray Houseknecht joins as Senior Vice President, Head of Multifamily. Chris Flynn is responsible for all accounting operations, financial reporting, lender and JV partner compliance, audit and tax compliance, and treasury functions across the organization in his new role. He also serves on Rudin’s Executive Committee. An industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience across the real estate sector, Flynn served as Chief Financial Officer at Atlas Capital Group, Vice President at Vornado Realty Trust and Manager at Ernst & Young. He graduated from SUNY Binghamton with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and is a certified public accountant (CPA). Ray Houseknecht is responsible for the operation of Rudin’s residential portfolio including leasing, marketing, facilities, design and construction. He comes to Rudin from WeLive by WeWork, where he was most recently the Global Head of Operations and Asset Management. Prior to WeLive, Houseknecht spent eight years at AvalonBay Communities as a Senior Portfolio Director, where he managed the operations of 3,700 residential units, as well as the development and expansion of new assets throughout Long Island. Before AvalonBay, he spent three years in his own real estate consulting practice and five years at Heinlein Capital Ventures. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Loyola College in Maryland. The announcement comes on the heels of five senior-level promotions at Rudin, including Samantha Rudin Earls, Michael Rudin and Neil Gupta to Executive Vice President, and Cassie Kulzer and Nick Martin as Senior Vice President. Rudin also recently appointed Andrew Migdon as Executive Vice President and as the company’s first-ever Chief Legal Officer. ••• Colliers has hired Shawn Henry as managing director, Head of Single-Family Rental | U.S. Capital Markets. An expert with more than 20 years of experience in the single-family rental (SFR) sector, Henry joins Colliers after building his own specialty SFR-focused business. Before that, he held senior leadership positions covering SFR with both A10 Capital and Capmark/GMAC. He will lead Colliers’ single family practice as it advises a variety of institutional investors across the spectrum of transactions, including acquisitions, capital raises, dispositions and financings for large and mid-sized portfolios of SFRs across the country. Henry is the latest appointment to Colliers’ Capital Markets platform, which has recently added Head of New York City Capital Markets Peter Nicoletti, Managing Director of Boston Investment Sales Frank Petz and New York Debt & Equity Finance Group Managing Director Jimmy Board. ••• Abraham Bergman has assumed the positions of president and CEO of Eastern Union. He had previously served as Eastern Union’s managing partner since co-founding the firm with Ira Zlotowitz in 2001. Zlotowitz had served as the company’s president and CEO since its inception. He will now be pursuing other activities in the commercial real estate field. Bergman has played an active and central role in shaping Eastern Union’s corporate strategy and structure. He has been a leader in sales and relationship-building across each of the company’s CRE sectors. Bergman holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Touro College and a master’s degree in general business administration from Baruch College. Eastern Union also announced that its two most productive brokers, Marc Tropp and Michael Muller, have been named to the company’s board. They each hold the title of senior managing director. Muller has been the firm’s leading broker in the New York City market over the past 20 years. Tropp has been Eastern Union’s number-one broker in the Mid-Atlantic regional market for the last 16 years. Moshe Maybloom, a 14-year veteran of the firm, has also been named to the company’s board and has assumed the position of senior managing director of operations. ••• DH Property Holdings has hired architect Michael Bennett as director of development as the company looks to expand nationally. Bennett, a former principal with Ware Malcomb, has designed more multi-story, urban-infill distribution centers than any other architect in the nation, including groundbreaking DHPH projects. Bennett began his career as a designer at Ware Malcomb in 1997 after completing a University of Arizona architecture degree. He spent 24 years at the firm and served as head of the East Coast division. He has deep experience with land-use and planning studies and with complicated zoning and infrastructure challenges. ••• Walker & Dunlop has appointed P.J. McDevitt as Managing Director. Focused on the affordable housing space, McDevitt will drive loan origination growth nationally to help address the country’s significant need for affordable housing. Since 2018, McDevitt has been involved in the origination, underwriting, and closing of nearly $1 billion in affordable housing transactions. He previously served as a director at Greystone and, before that, held various positions with PNC, where he contributed his expertise as a Production Management Representative and Production Assistant. McDevitt began his career in commercial real estate at Walker & Dunlop as a senior analyst. ••• Duval & Stachenfeld announced that Kim Le and Christopher Gorman have been named co-chairs of the firm’s real estate practice group. Le and Gorman both joined D&S as associates in 2004. In the 17 years since, they have each become highly sought-after attorneys, who have consistently leveraged their legal acumen and business savvy to craft creative solutions for their clients. Over the course of their respective careers, each has served as legal counsel on billions of dollars of complex real estate transactions, including platform creation, portfolio acquisitions, multi-layered financings, and complex joint-venture equity partnerships. ••• Greystone announced that Adam Lipkin has joined Greystone Capital Advisors as a Vice President. He joins the capital solutions advisory group to leverage his capital markets knowledge and experience, including expertise in Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), to help craft innovative debt and equity solutions for clients and originate large-loan agency and FHA opportunities within his extensive client network. Lipkin has worked in the commercial real estate finance industry for nearly two decades, and joins Greystone from Counterpointe Sustainable Real Estate LLC, a direct lender for C-PACE, where he served as Executive Director. Prior to that role, he was a Vice President at Grandbridge Real Estate Capital. Earlier in his career, Lipkin worked in capital advisory with HFF and a subsequent boutique advisory team, Olympian Capital Group. Prior to his advisory work, Lipkin served at Ernst & Young in the New York Real Estate Advisory Group. ••• TSCG announced the hiring of Craig Gambardella as a tenant and landlord broker. He will operate out of their Manhattan and White Plains offices. An expert in the health care real estate sector, Gambardella will also spearhead a strategic initiative within TSCG to develop a proprietary suite of services aimed at real estate management in the healthcare sector. Gambardella has been in the healthcare space for more than a decade and has worked with such healthcare organizations as Yale New Haven Health, Ontario Hospital Association, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Cedars Sinai Hospital. At JLL, he was part of their healthcare real estate practice. ••• RIPCO Real Estate announced that Jordan Cohn has joined the firm as executive vice president. Cohn previously served as a partner of SCG Retail, the urban division of The Shopping Center Group, where he was with the firm for nearly 20 years. His primary focus was on tenant representation and has closed deals for recognized brands such as REI, Chick fil A, Home Depot, Bobby Flay, Charles Schwab, Crossroads Trading Company, Señor Frogs and many other local and national retailers, to name a few. In addition to retail real estate work and accolades, Cohn has a career in the film industry and can be seen in movies such as The Westler, written by his brother in-law. ••• Madison International Realty announced that Diana Shieh and Kim Adamek, managing directors of Portfolio and Asset Management, have been promoted to co-heads of Portfolio and Asset Management, overseeing assets under management in all sectors and regions across the US, UK and Europe. Shieh and Adamek will oversee the firm‘s global portfolio and asset management team focused on its investment positions in real estate assets, including business plan execution, monitoring financial performance, driving relationships with Madison’s operating partners, and providing strategic recommendations seeking to enhance investment returns. They each joined the firm in 2014. Shieh and Adamek each bring nearly two decades of experience to the role. Prior to Shieh’s tenure at Madison, she held various positions in asset management and investments at Rockwood Capital and Shorenstein Properties. Shieh also serves as the Co-Chair of Madison’s ESG Committee. She is a graduate of Rutgers University. Adamek held various positions in acquisitions at CBRE Global Investors and Unico Properties. She is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and holds an MBA from New York University. ••• Katz & Associates announced that Russel Helbling has joined the firm as managing director in New York City. Helbling will be working on tenant and landlord representation primarily in Long Island and the surrounding New York Metro region. For the past 10 years, Helbling has worked in tenant and landlord representation at Sabre Real Estate. He has handled strategic roll-outs for brands including Starbucks, Wendy’s Hamburgers, Sherwin Williams and Dollar General and has been involved in numerous ground-up development leasing assignments in Long Island and the Outer Boroughs. Prior to working at Sabre, Helbling was at Breslin Realty working on retail leasing, and at Massey Knakal, where he primarily focused on investment sales. Helbling graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a Bachelor of Science in telecommunications. ••• Blank Rome announce that Sonia Kaur Bain has joined the firm’s New York office as a partner in the Real Estate practice group,. Bain represents developers, retail companies, hotel groups, landlords and tenants, and family offices across the country in the acquisition and development of numerous types of commercial real estate assets. Prior to joining Blank Rome, Sonia was a real estate partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. In addition to her practice, Bain currently serves as the president of New York Women Executives in Real Estate (WX), where she has been a board member and officer for five years. ••• Avison Young has hired Thomas Kaufman as principal to boost the firm’s business efforts in the Downtown Manhattan submarket. He brings more than 30 years of experience in providing consulting and brokerage services to banks, partnerships, corporations and institutional owners. He joins Avison Young from InterRelate Group, where he served as Chief Executive Officer. Before that, he spent seven years as an executive director at Cushman & Wakefield and, prior to that, he was with the New York office of CB Richard Ellis as a senior vice president. Kaufman has broad experience representing both major commercial property owners and tenants. He provides consulting services for the not-for-profit community, including American Numismatic Societyand the Hetrick-Martin Institute,. Kaufman will work closely with Todd Korren, principal in Avison Young’s New York City office, to grow the firm’s downtown platform through recruiting and new business development initiatives. ••• Duval & Stachenfeld announced that Ilya Leyvi has been named co-chair of the firm’s real estate finance practice group. Leyvi will helm the practice group alongside Tom O’Connor, who has chaired the real estate finance practice since he joined D&S in 2014. Currently a partner at D&S, Leyvi first joined the firm as a summer associate before joining full-time as an associate in 2013. He regularly represents lenders and borrowers on bridge loans, construction loans, mezzanine loans, and commercial mortgage-backed securities, as well as preferred equity investments. He has served as counsel on deals across all property types. Leyvi graduated at the top of his class from Cornell Law School and received his B.B.A. from CUNY Baruch College – Zicklin School of Business. ••• Cushman & Wakefield has hired Tim McNamara and Kevin Daly as senior director and director, respectively. Based out of the firm’s Hartford office, they will cover New England, Westchester County and New York’s Hudson Valley to greater Albany. McNamara has more than 34 years of industry experience and has been recognized as one of the top producing retail brokers in New England and New York. In addition to his leasing experience, he has facilitated the sale of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of retail properties. McNamara holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Bryant University. Daly has more than 20 years of industry experience working with a range of national retailers, selling in excess of $50 million of land and overseeing nearly $200 million of lease transactions throughout his career. McNamara and Daly join the firm from SullivanHayes Companies Northeast, . Daly has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Providence College. ••• JPMorgan Chase announced Michelle Herrick as Head of Real Estate Banking (REB). Previously, Herrick served as the REB Central Region Market Manager, overseeing the Midwest, Mountain and Southeast markets. She led a team that helps clients with strategies and tools to maximize investment opportunities, manage operating costs, mitigate risk and manage assets for greater efficiency. Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase in 2017, Herrick started her career at LaSalle Bank and remained there after Bank of America acquired the firm in 2007. She held various roles within the commercial real estate banking business, covering a national book of public and private real estate sponsors. Michelle received her bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance from Miami University and she earned an MBA from the University of Chicago. ••• Due By the First has hired Matthew Murphy as Portfolio Manager responsible for underwriting new deals and managing current assets for the Long Island-based firm that offers short term bridge loans, permanent financing and commercial debt acquisitions. Previously, Murphy worked as director of finance at ERG Commercial Real Estate. Over his career, Murphy has overseen the origination of over $100 million of commercial and multifamily bridge loans in New York City. He began his career as a commercial real estate broker and managed a team focused on CRE deals in the Bronx. He is a 2009 graduate of SUNY Albany where he received a bachelor of science degree in physics. ••• The Swig Company announced the following personnel changes: Stephanie Kwong Ting has been appointed Executive Vice President – Director of Investments in charge of investments and will take charge of the company’s capital markets transaction activity. She succeeds Tomas Schoenberg who will retire later this year. Ting joins the company from Morgan Stanley where she was an Executive Director. Kairee Tann has been named Vice President of Innovation and Asset Management. Tann, who joined The Swig Company in 2016 as a project manager responsible for 300 Lakeside in Oakland, was most recently VP of Asset Management. 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Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyNov 22nd, 2021

Transcript: Edwin Conway

   The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Edwin Conway, BlackRock Alternative Investors, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS:… Read More The post Transcript: Edwin Conway appeared first on The Big Picture.    The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Edwin Conway, BlackRock Alternative Investors, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, man, I have an extra special guest. Edwin Conway runs all of alternatives for BlackRocks. His title is Global Head of Alternative Investors and he covers everything from structured credit to real estate hedge funds to you name it. The group runs over $300 billion and he has been a driving force into making this a substantial portion of Blackrock’s $9 trillion in total assets. The opportunity set that exists for alternatives even for a firm like Blackrock that specializes in public markets is potentially huge and Blackrock wants a big piece of it. I found this conversation to be absolutely fascinating and I think you will also. So with no further ado, my conversation with Blackrock’s Head of Alternatives, Edwin Conway. MALE VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Edwin Conway. He is the Global Head of Blackrock’s Alternative Investors which runs about $300 billion in assets. He is a team of over 1,100 professionals to help him manage those assets. Blackrock’s Global alternatives include businesses that cover real estate infrastructure, hedge funds private equity, and credit. He is a senior managing director for BlackRock. Edwin Conway, welcome to Bloomberg. EDWIN CONWAY, GLOBAL HEAD OF ALTERNATIVE INVESTORS, BLACKROCK: Barry, thank you for having me. RITHOLTZ: So, you’ve been in the financial services industry for a long time. You were at Credit Suisse and Blackstone and now you’re at BlackRock. Tell us what the process was like breaking into the industry? CONWAY: It’s an interesting on, Barry. I grew up in a very small town in the middle of Ireland. And the breakthrough to the industry was one of more coincident as opposed to purpose. I enjoyed the game of rugby for many years and through an introduction while at the University, in University College Dublin in Ireland, had a chance to play rugby at a quite a – quite a decent level and get to know people that were across the industry. It was really through and internship and the suggestion, I’ve given my focus on business and financing things that the financial services sector may be a great place to traverse and get to know. And literally through rugby connections, been part of a good school, I had an opportunity to really understand what the service sector, in many respects, could provide to clients and became absolutely intrigued with it. And what – was it my primary ambition in life to be in the financial services sector? I can definitively say no, but through the circumstance of a game that I love to play and be part of, I was introduced to, through an internship, and actually fell in love with it. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And alternative investments at Blackrock almost seems like a contradiction in terms. Most of us tend to think of Blackrock as the giant $9 trillion public markets firm best known for ETFs and indices. Alternatives seems to be one of the fastest-growing groups within the firm. This was $50 billion just a few years ago, it’s now over 300 billion. How has this become such a fast-growing part of BlackRock? CONWAY: When you look at the various facets which you introduced at the start, Barry, we’ve actually been an alternatives – will be of 30 years now. Now, the scale, as you know, which you can operate on the beta side of business, far surpasses that on the alpha side. For us, throughout the years, this was very much about how can we deliver investment excellence to our clients and performance? Therefore, going an opportunity somewhere else to explore an alpha opportunity in alternatives. And I think being so connected to our clients understanding, that this pivots was absolutely taking place at only 30 years ago but in a very pronounced way today, you know, we continue to invest in this business to support those ambitions. They’re clearly seeing this as the world of going through a tremendous amount of transformation and with some of the challenges, quite frankly, in the traditional asset classes, being able to leverage at BlackRock, the Blackrock muscle to really explore these alpha opportunities across the various alternative asset classes that in our mind wasn’t imperative. And the imperative, really, is from the firm’s perspective and if you look at our purpose, it’s to serve the client. So the need was coming from them. The necessity to have alternatives and their whole portfolio was very – was very much growing in prominence. And it’s taken us 30 years to build this journey and I think, Barry, quite frankly, we’re far from being done. As you look at the industry, the demand is going to continue to grow. So, I think you could expect to see from us a continued investment in the space because we don’t believe you can live without alternatives in today’s world. RITHOLTZ: That’s really – that’s really interesting. So let’s dive a little deeper into the product strategy for alternatives which you are responsible for at BlackRock. Our audiences is filled with potential investors. Tell them a little bit about what that strategy is. CONWAY: So we’re – I think as you mentioned, we’re in excess of 300 billion today and when we started this business, it was less about building a moat around private equity or real estate. I think Larry Fink’s and Rob Kapito’s vision was how do we build a platform to allow us to be relevant to our clients across the various alternative asset classes but also within the – within the confines of what they are permitted to do on a year-by-year basis. So, to always be relevant irrespective of where they are in their journey from respect of liabilities, demand for liquidity, demand for returns, so we took a different approach. I think, Barry, to most, it was around how do we scale into the business across, like you said, real estate equity and debt, infrastructure equity and debt. I mean, we think of that as the real assets platform of our business. Then you take our private equity capabilities both in primary investing, secondary et cetera, and then you have private credits and a very significant hedge fund platforms. So we think all of these have a real role and depending on clients liquidities and risk appetite, our goal was, to over the years, really build in to this to allow ourselves for this challenging needs that our clients have. I think as an industry, right, and over the many years alternatives have been in existence, this is been about return enhancement initially. I think, fundamentally, the changes around the receptivity to the role of alternatives in a client’s portfolio has really changed. So, we’ve watched it, Barry, from this is we’re in the pursuit of a very total return or absolute return type of an objective to now resilience in our portfolio, yield an income. And so things that probably weren’t perceived as valuable in the past because the traditional asset classes were playing a more profound role, alternatives have stepped up in – in many respects in the need to provide more than just total return. So, we’re taking the approach of how do you have a more holistic approach to this? How do we really build a global multi-alternatives capability and try to partner and I think that’s the important work for us. Try to partner with our clients in a way that we can deliver that outperformance but delivered in a way that probably our clients haven’t been used to in this industry before. Because unfortunately, as we know, it has had its challenges with regard to secrecy, transparency, and so many other aspects. We need to help the industry mature. And really that was our ambition. Put our client’s needs first, build around that and really be relevant in all aspects of what we’re doing or trying to accomplish on behalf of the people that they support and represent. RITHOLTZ: So, we’ll talk a little bit about transparency and secrecy and those sorts of things later. But right now, I have to ask what I guess is kind of an obvious question. This growth that you’ve achieved within Blackrock for nonpublic asset allocation within a portfolio, what is this coming at expense of? Are these dollars that are being moved from public assets into private assets or you just competing with other private investors? CONWAY: It’s really both. What – what you are seeing from our clients – if I take a step back, today, the institutional client community and you think about the – the retirement conundrum we’re all facing around the world. It’s such an awful challenge when you think how ill-prepared people are for that eventual stepping back from the workplace and then you know longevity is your friend, but can also be a very, very difficult thing to obviously live with if you’re not prepared for retirement. The typical pension plan today are allocating about 25 percent to 28 percent in alternatives. Predominantly private market. What they’re telling us is that’s increasing quite substantially going forward. But you know, the funding for that alpha pursue for that diversification and that yield is coming from fixed-income assets. It’s coming from equity assets. So there’s a real rebalancing that’s been taking place over the past number of years. And quite frankly, the evolution, and I think the innovation that’s taken place particularly in the past 10 years, alternatives has been really profound. So the days where you just invest in any global funds still exist. But now you can concentrate your efforts on sector exposure, industry exposures, geographic exposures, and I think the – the menu of things our clients can now have access to has just been so greatly enhanced at and the benefit is that but I think in some – in some respects, Barry, the next question is with all of those choices, how do you build the right portfolio for our client’s needs knowing that each one of our client’s needs are different? So, I would say it absolutely coming from the public side. We’re very thankful. Those that had a multiyear journey with us in the public side are now allocating capital to is now the private side to because I do think the – the industry given that change, given that it evolution and given the complexity of these private assets, our clients are looking to, quite frankly, do more with fewer managers because of the complexion of the industry and complexity that comes with it. RITHOLTZ: Quite – quite interesting. (UNKNOWN): And attention RIA’s. Are your clients asking for crypto? At interactive brokers, advisers can now offer crypto to their clients and you could trade stocks, options, futures currencies, bonds and more from the same platform. Commissions on crypto are just 12-18 basis points with no hidden spreads or markups and there are no ticket charges, custody fees, minimums platform or reporting fees. Learn more at IBKR.com/RIA crypto. RITHOLTZ: And I – it’s pretty easy to see why large institutions might be rotating away from things like treasuries or tips because there’s just no yield there. Are you seeing inflows coming in from the public equity side also? The markets put together a pretty good string of years. CONWAY: Yes. It absolutely has. And many respects, I think, we’ve had a multiyear where there was big questions around the alpha that can be generated, for example, from active equities? The question was active or passive? I think what we’ve all realized is that at times when volatility introduces itself which is frequent even independent of what’s been done from a fiscal and monetary standpoint, that these Alpha speaking strategies on the traditional side still make a lot of sense. And so, as we think about what – what’s happening here, the transition of assets from both passive and active strategies to alternative, it – it’s really to create better balance. It’s not that there’s – there’s a lack of relevance anymore in the public side. It’s just quite frankly the growth of the private asset base has grown so substantially. I moved, Barry, to the U.S. in 1998. And it’s interesting, when you look back at 1998 to today, you start to recognize the equity markets and what was available to invest in. The number of investable opportunities has shrunk by 40 plus percent which that compression is extraordinarily high. But yet you’ve seen, obviously, the equity markets grow in stature and significance and prominence but you’re having more concentration risk with some of the big public entities. The converse is true, though on the – on the private side. There’s this explosion of enterprise and innovation, employment creation, and then I believe opportunities has been real. So, I look at the public side, the investable universe is measured in the thousands and the private side is measured in the millions. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: And I think part of the – part of the part of the thing our clients are not struggling with but what we’re really recognizing with – with enterprises staying private for longer, if not forever, and with his growth of the opportunities that open debt and equity in the private market side, you really can’t forgo this opportunity. It has to be part of your going forward concerns and asset allocation. And I think this is why we’re seeing that transformation. And it’s not because equities on fixed income just aren’t relevant anymore. They’re very relevant but they’re relevant now in a total portfolio or a whole portfolio context beside alternatives. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s discuss this opportunity set of alternatives where you guys at Blackrock scene demand what sectors and from what sorts of clients? Is this demand increasing? CONWAY: We’re very fortunate, Barry. Today, there isn’t a single piece of our business within – within Blackrock alternatives that isn’t growing. And quite frankly too, it’s really up to us to deliver on the investment objectives that are set forth for those clients. I think in the back of strong absolute and relative performance, thankfully, our clients look to us to – to help them as – as they think about what they’re doing and as they’re exploring more in the alternatives areas. So, as you know, certainly, the private equity and real estate allocations are quite mature in many of our client’s portfolios but they’ve been around for many decades. I think that the areas where we’re seeing – that’s called an outside demand and opportunity set, just but virtue of the small allocations on a relative basis that exist today is really around infrastructure, Barry, and its around private credits. So, to caveat that, I think all of the areas are certainly growing, and thankfully, for us that’s true. We’re looking at clients who we believe are underinvested, we believe they’re underinvested in those asset classes infrastructure both debt and equity and in private credit. And as you think about why that is, the attributes that they bring to our client is really important and in a world where your correlation and understanding those correlations is important that these are definitely diversifying assets. In a world where you’re seeing trillions of dollars, quite frankly, you’re providing little to no or even there’s negative yield. Those short falls are real and people need yield than need income. These assets tend to provide that. So the diversification, it comes from these assets. The yield can come from these assets and because of the immaturity of the asset classes, independence of the capital is flowing in, we still consider them relatively white space. You’re not crowded out. There’s much room for development in the market and with our client’s portfolios. And to us, that’s exciting because it presents opportunities. So, at the highest level, they’re the areas where I believe are most underdeveloped in our clients. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about both of those areas. We’ll talk about structured credit in a few minutes. I think everybody kind of understands what – what that is. What – when you see infrastructure as a sector, how does that show up as an investment are – and obviously, I have infrastructure on the brink because we’re recording this not too long after the giant infrastructure bill has been passed, tell us a little bit about what alternative investments in infrastructure looks like? CONWAY: Yes. It’s really in its infancy and what the underlying investments look like. I think traditionally, you would consider it as – and part of the bill that has just been announced, roads, bridges, airports. Some of these hard assets, some of the core infrastructure investments that have been around for actually some time. The interesting thing is the industry has evolved so much and put the need for infrastructure. It’s so great across both developed and emerging economies. It’s become something that if done the right way, the attributes we just spoke of can really have a very strong effect on our client’s portfolios. So, beyond the core that we just mentioned, well, we’ve seen a tremendous demand as a result of this energy transition. You’re really seeing a spike in activity and the necessity transition industry to cleaner technologies, a movement, not away completely from fossil fuel but integrating new types of clean energy. And as a result, you’ve seen a lot of demand on a global basis for wind and solar. And quite frankly, that’s why even us at BlackRock, albeit, 10-12 years ago, we really established a capability there to help with that transition to think about how do we use these technologies, solar panels, wind farms, to generate clean forms of energy for utilities where in some cases they’re mandated to procure this type of this type of – this type of power. And when you think about pre-contracting with utilities for long duration, that to me spells, Barry, good risk mitigation and management and ability to get access to clean forms of energy that throw off yield that can be very complementary to your traditional asset classes but for very long periods of time. And so, the benefits for us of these – these assets is that they are long in duration, they are yield enhancing, they’re definitely diversifying. And so, for us, where – we’ve got about, let’s call this 280 assets around the world that we’re managing that literally generate this – this clean electricity. I think to give the relevance of how much, I believe today, it’s enough to power the country of Spain. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: And that’s really that’s really changing. So you’re seeing governments – so from a policy standpoint, you’re seeing governments really embracing new forms of energy, transitioning out of bunker fuels, for example, you know, burning diesels which really spew omissions into the – into the into the environment. But it’s really around modernizing for the future. So, developed and emerging economies alike, want to retain capital. They want to attract new capital and by having the proper infrastructure to support industry, it’s a really, really important thing. Now, on the back of that too, one things we’ve learned from COVID is that the necessity to really bring e-commerce into how you conduct your business is so important and I think from the theme of digitalization within infrastructure to is a huge part. So, it’s not just the energy transition that you’re seeing, it’s not just roads and bridges, but by allowing businesses to connect to a global consumer, allowing children be educated from home, allowing experiences that expand geographies and boundaries in a digital form is so important not just for commerce but in so many other aspects. And so, you think about cable, fiber optics, if you think about all the other things even outside of power, that enable us to conduct commerce to educate, there are many examples where, Barry, you can build resilience into your portfolio because that need is not measured in years. Actually, the shortfall of capital is measured in the trillions so which means this is – this is a multi-decade opportunity set from our vantage point and one of which our clients should really avail of. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And I mentioned in passing, structured credit, tell us a little bit about what that opportunity looks like. I think of this as a space that is too big for local banks but too small for Wall Street to finance. Is that an oversimplification? What is going on in that space. CONWAY: I probably couldn’t have set it better, Barry. It’s – if we go back to just the even the investable universe, in the tens of thousands of companies, just if we take North America that are private, that have great leadership that really have strategic vision under – at the – in some cases, at the start of their growth lifecycles are even if they maintain, they have a very credible and viable business for the future they still need capital. And you’re absolutely right. With the retreat of the banks from the space to various regulations that have come after the global financial crisis, you’re seeing the asset managers in many respects working behalf of our clients both wealth and institutional becoming the new lenders of choice. And – and when we – when we think about that opportunity set, that is really understanding the client’s desire for risk or something maybe in a lower risk side from middle-market lending or midmarket enterprises where you can support that organization through its growth cycle all the way to some higher-yielding, obviously, with more risk assets on the opportunistic or even the special situations side. But it – it expands many things. And going back of the commentary around the evolution of the space, private credit today and what you can do has changed so profoundly, it expands the liquidity spectrum, it expands the risk spectrum. And the great news is, with the number of companies both here and abroad, the opportunities that is – it’s being enriched every single day. And were certainly seeing, particularly going back to the question are some of these assets coming from the traditional side, the public side. When we think of private credit, you are seeing private credit now been incorporated in fixed-income allocations. This is a – it’s a yelling asset. This is – these are debt instruments, these are structures that we’re creating. We’re trying to flexible and dynamic with these clients. But it really is an area where we think – it really is still at its – at its infancy relevant to where it can potentially be. RITHOLTZ: That’s really quite – quite interesting. (UNKNOWN): It’s Rob Riggle. I’m hosting Season 2 of the iHeart radio podcast, Veterans You Should Know. You may know me as the comedic actor from my work in the Hangover, Stepbrothers or 21 Jump Street. But before Hollywood, I was a United States Marine Corps officer for 23 years. For this Veterans Day, I’ll be sitting down with those who proudly served in the Armed Forces to hear about the lessons they’ve learned, the obstacles they’ve overcome, and the life-changing impact of their service. Through this four-part series, we’ll hear the inspiring journeys of these veterans and how they took those values during their time of service and apply them to transition out of the military and into civilian life. Listen to Veterans You Should Know on the iHeart radio app, Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcast. RITHOLTZ: Let’s stick with that concept of money rotating away from fixed income. I have to imagine clients are starved for yields. So what are the popular substitutes for this? Is it primarily structured credit? Is it real estate? How do you respond to an institution that says, hey, I’m not getting any sort of realistic coupon on my bonds, I need a substitute? CONWAY: Yes. It’s all of those in many respects. And I think to the role, even around now a time where people have questions around inflation, how do substitute this yield efficiency or certainly make up for that shortfall, how do you think about a world where increasingly seeing inflation, not of the transitory thing it feels certainly quasi-permanent. These are a lot of questions we’re getting. And certainly, real estate is an is important part of how they think about inflation protection, how client think about yield, but quite frankly too, we’ve – we’ve gone through something none of us really had thought about a global pandemic. And as I think about real estate, just how you allocate to the sector, what was very heavily influenced with retail assets, high street, our shopping behaviors and habits have changed. We all occupied offices for obviously many, many years pre the pandemic. The shape of how we operate and how we do that has changed. So, I think some of the underlying investment – investments have changed where you’ve seen heavily weighted towards office space to leisure, travel in the past. Actually, now using a rotation in some respects out of those, just given some of the uncertainties around what the future holds as we come – come through a really difficult time. But the great thing about this sector is between senior living, between student housing, between logistics and so many other parts, there are ways in real estate to capture where there’s – where there’s demand. So still a robust opportunity set and it – and we do think it can absolutely be yield enhancing. We mentioned infrastructure. Even if you think about – and we mention OECD and non-OECD, emerging and developed, when I think about Asia, in particular, just as a subset of the world in which we’re living in, that is a $2.6 trillion alternative market today growing at a 15 percent CAGR. And quite frankly, the old-growth is driven by the large economic growth in the region. So, even from a regional perspective, if we pivot, it houses 57 percent of the world’s population and yet delivers 47 percent of the world’s economic growth. So, think of that and then with regard to infrastructure and goes back to that, this is truly a global phenomenon. So if we just even take that sector, Barry, you’ll realize that the way to maintain that type of growth, to attract capital, to keep capital, it really requires an investment of significant amount of money to be able to sustain that. And when you have 42 million people in a APAC migrating to cities in the year going back to digitalization, that’s an important thing. So, when I say we’re so much at the infancy in infrastructure, I really mean it. It can be water, it can be sewer systems, it can be digital, it can be roads, there’s so much to this. And then even down to the regional perspective, it’s a – it’s a need that doesn’t just exist in the U.S. So, for these assets, this tend to be long in duration. There’s both equity and debt. And on the debt side, quite frankly, very few outside of our insurance clients and their general account are taking advantage of the debt opportunity. And – and as we both know, to finance these projects that are becoming more plentiful every single day, across the world, including like, I said, in APAC in scale, there’s an opportunity in both sides. And I think that’s where the acid mix change happen. It’s recognizing that the attributes of these assets can have a role, the attributes of these assets can potentially replace some of these traditional assets and I think you’re going to see it grow. So, infrastructure to us, it’s really equity and debt. And then on the credit side, like I mentioned, again, too, it’s a very, very big and growing market. And certainly, the biggest area today from our vantage point is middle-market lending from a scale opportunity standpoint. So, we think much more to come in all of those spaces. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. And let’s just stay with the concept of public versus private. That line is kind of getting blurred and the secondary markets is liquidity coming to, for lack of a better phrase, pre-public equities, tells little bit about that space. Is that an area that is ripe for growth for BlackRock? CONWAY: Yes. We absolutely think it is and you’re absolutely correct. The secondary market is – has grown quite substantial. If you even look at just the private equity secondary market and what will transact this year, I think it will be potentially in excess of 100 billion. And that’s what were clear, not to mention what will be visible and what will be analyzed. And that speaks to me what’s really happening and the innovation that we mentioned earlier. It’s no longer about just primary exposure. It’s secondary exposure. When we see all sort of interest and co-investment opportunities as well, I think the available sources of alpha and the flexibility you can now have, albeit if directed and advised, I believe the right way, Barry, can be very helpful and in the portfolio. So, your pre-IPO, it is a big part of actually what we do and we think about growth equity. There is – it’s a significant amount of capital following that space. Now, from our vantage point, as one of the largest investors in the public equity market and now obviously one of the largest investors and they in the private side, the bridge between – between private to public – there’s a real need. IPOs are not going away. And I think smart, informed capital to help with this journey, this journey is really – is really a necessity and a need. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about this recent restructuring. You are first named Global Head of Blackrock Alternative Investors in April 2019, the entire alternatives business was restructured, tell us a little bit about how that restructuring is going? CONWAY: Continues to go really well, Barry. When you look at the flow of acid from our clients, I think, hopefully, that’s speaks to the performance we’ve been generating. I joined the firm, as you know, albeit, 11 years ago and being very close to the alternative franchise as a critical thing for me and running the institutional platform. To me, when you watched this migration of asset towards alternatives, it was obviously very evident for decades now that this is a critical leg of the stool as our clients are thinking about their portfolios. We’re continuing to innovate. We’re continuing to invest, and thankfully, we’re continuing to deliver strong performance. We’re growing at about high double digits on an annual basis but we’re trying to purposeful too around where that growth is coming from. I think the reality is when you look at the competitive universe, I think the last number I saw, it was about 38,000 alternative asset managers out there today, obviously, coming from hedge funds all the way to private credits and private equity. So, competition is real and I do think the outcomes for our clients are starting to really grow. Unfortunately, some – in some cases, obviously, very good, and in some cases, actually not great. So our focus, Barry, is really much on how can we deliver performance, how can we be a partner? And I think we been rewarded with a trust and the faith our clients have in us because they’re seeing something different, I think, from us. Now, the scale of the business that you mentioned earlier really gives us tentacles into the market that I believe allows us to access what I think is the new alpha which is in many respects, given the heft of competition sourcing and originating new investments is certainly harder but for us, sitting in or having alternative team, sitting in 50 offices around the world, really investing in the markets because that – the market they grew up with and have relationships within, I think this network value that we have is something that’s quite special. And I think in the world that’s becoming increasingly competitive, we’re going to continue to use and harness that network value to pursue opportunities. And thankfully, as a result of the partnership we’ve been pursuing with her clients, like, we’ve – we’re certainly looking for opportunities and investments in our funds. But because of the brand, I think because of the successes, opportunities seeks us as much as we seek opportunity and that has been something that we look at an ongoing basis and feel very privileged to actually have that inbound flow as well. RITHOLTZ: Really quite interesting. There was a quote of yours I found while doing some prep for this conversation that I have to have you expand on. Quote, “The relationship between Blackrock’s alternative capabilities and wealth firms marked a large opportunity for growth in the coming years.” This was back in 2019. So, the first part of the question is, was your expectations correct? Did you – did you see the sort of growth you were hoping for? And more broadly, how large of an opportunity is alternatives, not just for BlackRock but for the entire investment industry? CONWAY: Yes. It’s been very much an institutional opportunity set up until now. And there’s so much to be done, still, to really democratize alternatives and we certainly joke around making alternatives less alternative. Actually, even the nomenclature we use and how we describe it doesn’t kind of make sense anymore. It’s such a core – an important allocation to our clients, Barry, that just calling it alternative seems wrong. Just about the institutional clients. It ranges, I think, as I mentioned on our – some of our more conservative clients which would be pension plans which really have liquidity needs on a monthly basis because of the liabilities they have to think about. At about 25 plus percent in private markets, to endowments, foundations, family offices, going to 50 percent plus. So, it’s a really important part and has been for now many years the institutional client ph communities outcomes. I think the thing that we, as an industry, have to change is alternatives has to be for the many, not for the few. And quite frankly, it’s been for the few. And as we talked about some of the attributes and the important attributes of these asset classes to think that those who have been less fortunate in their careers can’t access, things they can enrich their future retirement outcomes, to me, is a failing. And we have to address that. That comes from regulation changes, it comes from structuring of new products, it comes from education and it comes from this knowledge transmission where clients in the wealth segment can understand the role of alternatives and the context of what can do as they invest in equities and fixed income too. And we think that’s a big shortfall. So, the journey today, just to give you a sense, as we look at her clients in Europe on the wealth side, on average, as you look from what we would call the credited investors all the way through to more ultra-high-net worth individuals, their allocation to alternatives, we believe, stands at around two to three percent of their total portfolio. In the U.S., we believe it stands at three to five. So, most of those intermediaries, we speak to our partners who were more supporting and serving the wealth channel. They have certainly an ambition to help their clients grow that to 20 percent and potentially beyond that. So, when I look at that gap of let’s call it two to three to 20 percent in a market that just given the explosion in wealth around the world, I think the last numbers I saw, this is a $65 trillion market. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: That speaks to the shortfall relative to the ambition. And how’s it been going? We have a number of things and capabilities we’ve set up to allow for this market to experience, hopefully, private equity, hedge funds, credit, and an infrastructure in ways they haven’t in the past. We’ve done this in the U.S., we’re doing it now in Europe, but I will say, Barry, this is still very much at the start of the journey. Wealth is a really important part of our future given our business, quite, frankly is 90 plus percent institutional today, but we’re looking to change that by, hopefully, democratizing these asset classes and making it so much more accessible in that of the past. RITHOLTZ: So, we hinted at this before but I’m going to ask the question outright, how significant is interest rates to client’s risk appetites, how much of the current low rate environment are driving people to move chunks of their assets from fixed income to alternatives? CONWAY: It’s really significant, Barry. I think the transition of these portfolios is quite profound, So you – and I think the unfortunate thing in some respects as this transition happens that you’re introducing new variables and new risks. The reason I say it’s unfortunate and that I think as an industry, this goes back to the education around the assets you own, understanding the role, understanding the various outcomes. I think it’s so incredibly important and that this the time where complete transparency is needed. And quite frankly, we’re investing capital that’s not ours. As an industry, we’re investing our client’s assets and they need to know exactly the underlying investments. And in good and bad times, how would those assets behave? So certainly, interest rates are driving a flow of capital away from these traditional assets, fixed-income, and absolutely in towards real estate, infrastructure, private creditors, et cetera, in the pursuit of this – this yield. But I do – I do think one of the things that’s critically important for the institutional channel, not just the wealth which are newer entrants is this transmission of education, of data because that’s how I think you build a better balanced portfolio and that’s a – that’s a real conundrum, I think, that the industry is facing and certainly your clients too. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. So let’s talk a little bit about the differences between investing in the private side versus the public markets, the most obvious one has to be the illiquidity. When you buy stocks or bonds, you get a print every microsecond, every tick, but most of these investments are only marked quarterly or annually, what does this illiquidity do when you’re interacting with clients? How do you – how do you discuss this with them in and how do perceive some of the challenges of illiquid investments? CONWAY: Over the – over the past number of decades, I think our clients have largely held too much liquidity in their portfolios. Like, so what we are finding is the ability to take on illiquidity risk. And obviously, in pursuit of that premium above, the traditional markets, I mean, I think the sentiment they are is it an absolute right one. That transition towards private market exposure, we think is an important one just given the return objectives, the majority of our clients’ need but then also again, most importantly now, with geo policy, with uncertainty, with interest rate uncertainty, inflation uncertainty, I mean, the – going back to the resilience point, the characteristics now by introducing these assets into the mix is important. And I think that’s – that point is maybe what I’ll expand on. As were talking to clients, using the Aladdin systems, and as you know, we bought eFront technologies, albeit a couple of years ago, by allowing, I think, great data and technology to help our clients understand these assets and the context of how they should own them relative to other liquidity needs, their risk tolerances, and the return expectations are really trying to use tech and data to provide a better understanding and comprehension of the outcomes. And as we continue to introduce these concepts and these approaches, by the way, that there is, as you know, so used to in the traditional side, it – it gives them more comfort around what they should and can expect. And that, to me, is a really important part of what we’re doing. So, we’ve released recently new technology to the wealth sector because, quite frankly, we mentioned it before, the 60-40 portfolio is a thing of the past. And that introduction of about 20 percent into alternatives, we applaud our partners who are – who are suggesting that to their clients. We think it’s something they have to do. What we’re doing to support that is really bringing thought leadership, education, but also portfolio construction techniques and data to bear in that conversation. And this goes back to – it’s no longer an alternative, right? This is a core allocation so the comprehension of what it is you own, the behavior of the asset in good and bad times is so necessary. And that’s become a very big thing with regard to our activities, Barry, because your clients are looking to understand better when you’re talking about assets that are very complex in their nature. RITHOLTZ: So, 60-40 is now 50-30-20, something along those lines? CONWAY: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. So, what are clients really looking for these days? We talked about yield. Are they also looking for downside protection on the equity side or inflation hedges you hinted at? How broad are the demands of clients in the alternative space? CONWAY: Yes. It ranges the gamut. And even – we didn’t speak to even hedge funds, we’ve had differing levels of interest in the hedge fund world for years and I, quite frankly, think some degree of disappointment too, Barry, with regard to the alpha, the returns that were produced relevant to the cost. RITHOLTZ: It’s a tough space to say the very least exactly. CONWAY: Exactly right. But when you start to see volatility introducing itself, you can really see where skill plays a critical factor. So, we are absolutely seeing, in the hedge fund, a resurgence of interest and demand by virtue of those who really have honed in on their scale, who have demonstrated an up-and-down markets and ability to protect and preserve capital, but importantly, in a low uncorrelated way build attractive risk-adjusted returns. We’re starting to see more activity there again too. I think with an alternatives, you’ve really seen a predominant demand coming from privates. These private markets, like a set of growths so extraordinarily fast and the opportunities that is rich, the reality too on the public side which is where our hedge funds operate, they continue to, in large part, do a really good job. The issue with our industry now with these 38,000 managers is how do you distill all the information? How do you think about your needs as a client and pick a manager who can deliver the outcomes? And just to give you a sense, the difference now between a top-performing private equity manager, a top quartile versus the bottom quartile, the difference can be measured in tens of percent. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: Whereas if you look at the public equity side, for example, a large cap manager, top quartile versus bottom quartile is measured in hundreds of basis points. So, there is definitely a world that has started where the outcomes our clients will experience can be great as they pursue yield, as they pursue diversification, inflation protection, et cetera. I think the caveat that I would say is outcomes can vary greatly. So manager underwriting and the importance of it now, I think, really is this something to pay attention to because if you do have that bottom performing at the bottom quartile manager, it will affect your outcomes, obviously. And that’s what we collectively have to face. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about real estate. There are a couple of different areas of investment on the private side. Rent to own was a very large one and we’ve seen some lesser by the flip algo-driven approaches. Tell us what Blackrock is doing in the real estate space and how many different approaches are you bringing to bear on this? CONWAY: Yes, we think it’s both equity and debt. Again, no different to the infrastructure side, these projects need to be financed. But on the – as you think about the sectors in which you can avail of the opportunity, you’ve no doubt heard a lot and I mentioned earlier this demand for logistics facilities. The explosion of shopping online and having, until we obviously have the supply chain disruption, an ability to have nearly immediate satisfaction because the delivery of the good to your home has become so readily available. It’s a very different consumer experience. So the explosion and the need for logistics facilities to support this type of behavior of the consumer is really an area that will continue to be of great interest too. And then you think about the transformation of business and you think about the aging world. Unfortunately, you can look at various economies where our populations are decreasing. And quite frankly, we’re getting older. And so, were you’re thinking of the context of that senior living facilities, it becomes a really important part, not just as part of the healthcare solution that come with it, but also from living as well. So, single-family, multifamily, opportunities continue to be something that the world looks at because there is really the shortfall of available properties for people to live in. And as the communities evolve to support the growing age of the population, tremendous opportunity there too. But we won’t give up on office space. It really isn’t going away. Now, if you even think about our younger generation here in BlackRock, they love being in New York, they love being in London, they love being in Hong Kong. So, the shape and the footprint may change slightly. But the necessity to be in the major financial centers, it still exists. But how we weighed the risks has definitely changed, certainly, for the – for the short-term and medium-term future. But real estate continues to be, Barry, a critical part of how we express our thought around the investment opportunity set. But clients largely do this themselves too. The direct investing from the clients is quite significant because they too see this as still as a rich investment ground, albeit, one that has changed quite a bit as a result of COVID. RITHOLTZ: Well, I’m fascinated by the real estate issue especially having seen some massive construction take place in cities pre-pandemic, look over in Manhattan at Hudson Yards and look at what’s taking place in London, not just the center of London but all – but all around it and I’m forced to admit the future is going to look somewhat different than the past with some hybrid combination of collaborative work in the office and remote work from home when it’s convenient, that sort of suggests that we now have an excess of capacity in office space. Do you see it that way or is this just something that we’re going to grow into and just the nature of working in offices is changing but offices are not going away? CONWAY: Yes. I do think there’s – it’s a very valid point and that in certain cities, you will see access, in others we just don’t, Barry. And quite frankly, as a firm, too, as you know, we have adopted flexibility with our teams that were very fortunate. The technologies in which we created at BlackRock has just become such an amazing enabler, not just to help us as we mention manage the portfolios, help us a better portfolio construction, understand risks, but also to communicate with our clients. I think we’ve all witnessed and experienced a way to have connectivity that allows them to believe that commerce can exist beyond the boundaries of one building. However, I do look at our property portfolios and even the things that we’re doing. Rent collections still being extraordinarily high, occupancy now getting back up to pre-pandemic levels, not in all cities, but in many of the major ones that have reopened. And certainly, the demand for people to just socialize, that the demand for human connectivity is really high. It’s palpable, right? We see it here too. The smiles on people’s faces, they’re back in the office, conversing together, innovating together. When people were feeling unsafe, unquestionably, I think the question marks around the role of office space was really brought to bear. But as were coming through this, as you’ve seen vaccine rates change, as you’ve seen the infection rates fall, as you’ve seen confidence grow, the return to work is really happening and return to work to office work is really happening, albeit, now with degrees of flexibility. So, going back to the – I do believe in certain areas. You’re seeing a surplus. But in many areas you’re absolutely seeing a deficit and the reason I say that, Barry, is we are seeing occupancy in certain building at such a high level. And frankly, the demand for more space being so high, it’s uneven and this goes back to then where do you invest our client’s capital, making sense of those trends, predicting where you will see resilience versus stress and building that into the portfolio of consequences as you – as you better risk manage and mitigate. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. And so, we are seeing this transition across a lot of different segments of investing, are you seeing any products that were or – or investing styles that was once thought of as primarily institutional that are sort of working their way towards the retail side of things? Meaning going from institutional to accredited to mom-and-pop investors? CONWAY: Well, certainly, in the past, private equity was really an asset class for institutional investors. And I think that’s – that has changed in a very profound way. I mentioned earlier are the regulation has become a more adaptive, but we also have heard, in many respects, in providing this access. And I think the perception of owning and be part of this illiquid investment opportunity set was hard to stomach because many didn’t understand the attributes and what it could bring and I think we’ve been trying to solve for that and what you’re seeing now with – with regulators, understanding that the difference between if we take it quite simply as DD versus DC, the differences between the options you as a participant in a retirement plan are so vastly different that – and I think there’s a broad recognition now that there needs to be more equity with regard to what happens there. And private equity been a really established part of the alternatives marketplace was once, I think, really believed to be an institutional asset class, but albeit now has become much more accessible to wealth. We’ve seen it by structuring activities in Europe working with the regulators. Now, we’re able to provide private equity exposure to clients across the continent and really getting access to what was historically very much an institutional asset class. And I do think the receptivity is extraordinarily high just throughout people’s careers, they have seen wealth been created as a result of engineering a great outcome with great management teams integrate business. And I do believe the receptivity towards private equity is high as an example. In the U.S., too, working with the various intermediaries and being able to wrap now private equity in a ’40 Act fund, for example, is possible. And by being able to deliver that to the many as opposed to the few, we think has been a very good success story. And I think, obviously, appreciated by our clients as well. So, I would look at that were seeing across private equity as well as private credit and quite frankly infrastructure accuracy. You’re seeing now regulation that’s becoming more appreciative of these asset classes, you’re seeing a more – a greater level of openness and willingness to allow for these assets to be part of many people’s experiences across their investment portfolio. And now, with innovation around structures, as an industry, were able to wrap these investments in a way that our clients can really access them. So, think across the board, it probably speaks the innovation that’s happening but I do think that accessibility has changed in a very significant way. But you’ve really seen it happen in private equity first and now that’s expanding across these various other asset classes. RITHOLTZ: Quite intriguing. I know I only have you for a relatively limited period of time, so let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all of our guests. Starting with tell us what you’ve been streaming these days. Give us your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime shows. CONWAY: That is an interesting question, Barry. I don’t a hell of a lot of TV, I got to tell you. I am – I keep busy with three wonderful children and a beautiful wife and between the sports activities. When I do watch TV, I have to tell you I’m addicted to sports and having – I may have mentioned earlier, growing up playing rugby which is not the most common sport in the U.S., I stream nonstop the Six Nations that happens in Europe where Ireland is one of those six nations that compete against each other on an annual basis. Right now, they’re playing a lot of sites that are touring for the southern hemisphere. And to me, the free times I have is either enjoying golf or really enjoying rugby because I think it’s an extraordinary sport. Obviously, very physical, but very enjoyable to watch. And that, that truly is my passion outside of family. RITHOLTZ: Interesting stuff. Tell us a bit about your mentors, who helped to shape your early career? CONWAY: Well, it even goes back to some of the aspects of sports. Playing on a team and being on a field where you’re working together, there’s a strategy involved with that. Now, I used to really appreciate how we approach playing in the All-Ireland League. How we thought about our opponents, how we thought about the structure, how we thought about each individual with on the rugby field and the team having a role. They’re all different but your role. And actually, even starting from an early age, Barry, thinking about, I don’t know, it’s sports but how to build a great team with those various skills, perspective, that can be a really, really powerful combination when done well. And certainly, from an early age, that allowed me to appreciate that – actually, in the work environment, it’s not too different. You surround yourself with just really great people that have high integrity that are empathetic and have a degree of humility that when working together, good things can happen. And I will say, it really started at sports. But I think of today and even in BlackRock, how Larry Fink thinks about the world and I think Larry, truly, is a visionary. And then Rob Kapito who really helps lead the charge across our various businesses. Speaking and conversing with them on a daily basis, getting their perspectives, trying to get inside your head and thinking about the world from their vantage point. To me, it’s a huge thing about my ongoing personal career and development and I really enjoy those moments because I think what you recognize is independent of how much you think you know, there’s so much more to know. And this journey is an ever evolving one where you have to appreciate that you’ll never know everything and you need to be a student every single day. So, I’d probably cite those, Barry, as certainly the two most important mentors in my life today, professionally and personally quite frankly. RITHOLTZ: Really. Very interesting. Let’s talk about what you’re reading these days. Tell us about some of your favorite books and what you’re reading currently? CONWAY: Barry, what I love to read, I love to read history, believe it or not. From a very small country that seems to have exported many, many people, love to understand the history of Ireland. So, there’s so many books. And having three children that have been born in the U.S. and my wife is a New Yorker, trying to help them understand some of their history and what made them what they are. I love delving into Irish history and how the country had moments of greatness and moments of tremendous struggle. Outside of that, I really don’t enjoy science fiction or any of these books. I love reading, you name any paper and any magazine on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I wake at about 4:30, 5 o’clock every day. I spent my first two hours of the day just consuming as much information as possible. I enjoy it. But it’s all – it’s really investment-related magazines, not books. It’s every paper that you could possibly imagine, Barry, and I just – I have a great appreciation for certainly trying to be a student of the world because that’s what we’re operating in an I find it just a very interesting avenue to get an appreciation to for the, not just the opportunities, but the challenges we’re collectively facing as a society but also as a business. RITHOLTZ: I’m with you on that mass consumption of investing-related news. It sounds like you and I have the same a morning routine. Let’s talk about of what sort of advice you would give to a recent college graduate who was interested in a career of alternative investments? CONWAY: Well, the industry has – it’s just gone through such extraordinary growth and the difference, when I’ve started versus today, the career opportunity set has changed so much. And I think I try to remind anyone of our analysts who come into each one of our annual classes, right, as we bring in the new recruits. I think about how talented they are for us, Barry, and how privileged we all are to be in this industry and work for the clients that we do. It’s just such an honor to do that. But I kind of – I try to remind them of that. At the end of the day, whether you’re supporting an institution, that institution is the face of many people in the background and alternatives has really now become such an important part of their experience and we talked about earlier just this challenge of retirement, if we do a good job, these institutions that support the many, they can have, hopefully, a retirement that involves dignity and they can have an ability to do things they so wanted to do as they work so hard over their lives. Getting that that personal connection and allowing for those newbies to understand that that’s the effect that you can have, an alternatives whether it’s private equity, real estate, infrastructure, private credit, hedge funds, all of these now, with the scale at which they’re operating at can allow for a great career. But my advice to them is always don’t forget your career is supporting other people. And that comes directly to how we intersect with wealth channel, it comes indirectly as a result of the institutions. And it’s such a privilege to do that. I didn’t envision when I grew up, as I mentioned, my first job, milking cows and back in a small town in the middle of Ireland that I would be one day leading an alternatives business within BlackRock. I see that as a great privilege. So, for those who are joining afresh, hopefully, try to remind them that it is for all of us and show up with empathy, dignity, compassion, and do the best you can, and hopefully, these people be sure will serve them well. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what you know about the world of alternative investing today you wish you knew 25 years or so ago when you were first getting started? CONWAY: I think if we had invested much more heavily as an industry in technology, we would not be in the position we are today. And I say that, Barry, from a number of aspects. I mentioned in this shortfall of information our clients are dealing with today. They’re making choices to divest from one asset class to invest in another. To do that and do that effectively, they need great transparency, they needed real-time in many respects, it can’t be just a quarterly line basis. And if we had been better prepared as an industry to provide the technology and the data to help our clients really appreciate what it is they own, how we’re managing the assets on their behalf, I think they would be so much better served. I think we’re very fortunate at this firm to have built a business on the back of technology for albeit 30 plus years and were investing over $1 billion a year in technology as I’m sure you know. But we need to see more of that in the industry. So, the client experience is so important, stop, let’s demystify alternatives. It’s not that alternative. Let’s provide education and data and it’s become so large relative to other asset classes, the need to support, to educate, and transmit information, not data, information, so our client understand it, is at a paramount now. And I think it certainly as an industry, things have to change there. If I knew how big the growth would have been and how prominent these asset classes were becoming, I would oppose so much harder on that front 30 years ago. RITHOLTZ: Thank you, Edwin, for being so generous with your time. We’ve been speaking with Edwin Conway. He is the head of Blackrock Investor Alternatives Group. If you enjoy this conversation, please check out all of our prior discussions. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your podcast at. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at MIB podcast@Bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. Check out my weekly column at Bloomberg.com/opinion. Follow me on Twitter, @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps put these conversations together each week. Mohammed ph is my audio engineer. Paris Wald is my producer, Michael Batnick is my head of research, Atika Valbrun is our project manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Edwin Conway appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureNov 22nd, 2021

Portland Travel Group Says City Is Too Scary For Tourists And Not Just On Halloween

Portland Travel Group Says City Is Too Scary For Tourists And Not Just On Halloween By John Sexton of Hot Air.com Travel Portland is the name of group that promotes tourism to the city. It describes itself as “a promoter and steward of this evolving city and its progressive values, which have the power to transform the travelers who visit us.” But Wednesday the group presented a report to the Portland City Council with some bad news. The evolving city and its progressive values have become a big turn off to tourists. “Here’s the problem,” said Commissioner Mapps. “Around the world, too many people associate Portland with homelessness and homicide.” “Today, a significant chunk of humanity is afraid of spending time and money in our city,” he continued. That skepticism surrounding the city is holding back major economic recovery, according to the President and CEO of Travel Portland. “Continued attacks and breaking glass on buildings throughout the city, but especially downtown, continued to affect this hard to overcome sentiment, “ said Jeff Miller. “Our central city occupancy in September lags every competitive city we tracked.” One specific problem the city is facing is the cancelation of major conferences. Travel Portland CEO Jeff Miller said, “Portland’s specific issues related to civil unrest and public safety concerns has exasperated the negative occurrences and declining attendances and group cancellations.” In other words, riots and shootings are bad for business. In fact, Travel Portland now has a page on its website devoted to frequently asked questions about safety and protests in the city. Here’s a sample: In 2020, the death of George Floyd spurred more than 100 continuous days of protests, with most participants acting peacefully. Some individuals used the opportunity to behave unlawfully, and the city experienced some riots. While the city occasionally sees small groups engage in disruptive behavior, activity is typically contained away from visitor attractions and areas where most visitors stay and explore. Protests have significantly decreased in recent months, in part due to city efforts to address concerns directly. Portland saying it experienced “some riots” is the equivalent of Death Valley announcing it has experienced some warm weather. Over a period of three months starting in May 2020, Portland police declared 22 unlawful assemblies and 23 riots. Despite all of that, local media argued the coverage of the riots was overblown. In January of this year, the Oregonian argued that, contrary to claims Portland was a city under siege, everything was fine. That got picked up by a number of people including CNN’s Brian Stelter. But it turns out everything hasn’t been fine. A double shooting this week by a meth addict brought the number of homicides this year to 72, beating a record the city set back in the 1980s. And the rioters haven’t given up either. Just this month, Antifa went on a vandalism spree estimated to have done $500,000 in damage in less than one hour. The destruction was planned in advance to honor an Antifa supporter who died two years ago under unclear circumstances. In August of this year, there was a gun battle between a member of the Proud Boys and Antifa in broad daylight. That same day an Antifa member assaulted a female journalist. Shockingly, tourists don’t find any of this appealing. Who could have predicted that nightly riots to defund the police could have negative consequences? Here’s the full Fox 12 report: Tyler Durden Sun, 10/31/2021 - 16:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 31st, 2021

Van Jones on his new podcast in partnership with Amazon Music and how he plans to implement a $100 million gift for charity from Jeff Bezos

Van Jones spoke to Insider about his new podcast, "Uncommon Ground with Van Jones," which debuted this week in partnership with Amazon Music. Van Jones. Leigh Vogel/Getty Images Van Jones spoke to Insider about his new podcast, "Uncommon Ground with Van Jones," which debuted this week in partnership with Amazon Music. Jones also discussed his work in criminal-justice reform and the award he received from Jeff Bezos that included a $100 million gift for non-profit recipients of Jones' choosing. Van Jones, the CNN political commentator, activist, and entrepreneur, spoke to Insider last week in a phone interview tied to the release of his new podcast, "Uncommon Ground with Van Jones," which debuted Wednesday in partnership with Amazon Music."Uncommon Ground" finds Jones in conversation with notable names and grassroots activists "in search of unifying solutions to our country's biggest problems," with topics ranging "from climate change, to prison reform, to voting rights, to spiritual evolution, to cancel culture," according to a release. The initial slate of guests includes Deepak Chopra, Chef José Andrés, will.i.am, Sarah Silverman, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Andrew Yang, and S.E. Cupp.In our interview, Jones discussed the podcast in relation to his history of work in criminal-justice reform, including his founding and continued presence on the Reform Alliance and his efforts to help pass the bipartisan legislation of the First Step Act in 2018. He also alluded to his plans to implement the "Courage and Civility Award" that he received from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in July, which included a $100 million to gift to non-profit organizations of Jones' choice.This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.How did this come together, the podcast and the partnership behind it?You know, I've been fascinated by the podcast space as a place for a deeper and more intimate conversation, had the opportunity to do a podcast with CNN called "Incarceration, Inc.," and really enjoyed that experience. And I just wanted to have broader, deeper conversations in the podcast space. Amazon is in the process of ramping up this capacity, in this area, and I'm excited to be on board. How do you approach making topics like climate change and voting rights compelling enough to engage the average or uninterested listener? Sort of the question of our times.I think people are very interested in these topics. I think that they are just worn down by the tone and the tenor of the discussion. I think it's kind of like when you have two neighbors fighting over an important topic. You're sick of the fight, but you're not sick of the topic. How are we going to give our kids a livable planet? How are we going to make sure that democracy works better for everybody? How can we make sure that people have opportunities in this new kind of high-tech economy? Those are things that people are thinking about and talking about and worrying about all the time. I just think what we have to do is make sure that we are going deeper than just the soundbites and the tweets and the talking points. And that's really what "Uncommon Ground" is all about.Also, we're going to be hearing from new voices, all these amazing grassroots leaders, who I get a chance to meet when I'm on the road, working on political causes or speaking in different communities. These folks never get heard from, and they are so hopeful and smart and tough. So I think having new voices is going to be important and hearing from new voices. And then hearing from more familiar voices, but talking about things in a deeper, more heartful way. So there's going to be new voices in the conversation. There's also gonna be new perspectives from familiar voices in the same conversation.What's your ideal guest, apart from who you've listed? Who do you seek out for this type of a format?Well, I'm really proud of the people we've already got. I mean, we've got some of the biggest humanitarian voices on the planet, whether you're talking about Chef José Andrés, or whether you're talking about Deepak Chopra or T.D. Jakes. We also have people that are not as well-known, but grassroots activists, like Malkia Cyril and LaTonya from Philadelphia. And then, as we go forward, I'm hoping that that people recognize us as a very good place to come and have a deeper and more heartful conversation. And I think people may be surprised at some of the voices that we pull on overtime. Jeff Bezos (C) with Chef José Andrés (L) and Van Jones in July, after announcing a $100 million award for charity to both Andrés and Jones. Joe Raedle/Getty Images I wanted to say, congrats on the award from Jeff Bezos.Oh, well, thank you.How does one go about strategizing the implementation of a $100 million gift for charity?Uh, very carefully. [Laughs].[Laughs].[Laughs]. You know, I was blown away that Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez decided to create this new award in the first place, and then to have me be one of the first two recipients. Over the past 30 days, since we've only had the grant for 30 days, I've been in very deep conversation and dialogue with experts across a whole range of different fields of endeavor. And we have a 10-year horizon to figure out how to invest and distribute the funds. But look, here's the thing. I've always been fighting for the same basic causes. I've been trying to disrupt prisons and pollution and poverty for my whole career. But I've never had enough philanthropic capital to put behind my ideas or the solutions that I think are most promising.And so now that's different. It's a crazy experience to go from being somebody who's been asking for grants for 30 years to being somebody who is in a position to invest philanthropically. We'll have announcements to make in 2022, but I am taking my time. I'm not in a rush. You know, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We call this "the miracle money," and I want every penny to make a miracle. That's the standard. If I can 10x the impact, I want to be able to do that. So, every penny needs to make a miracle. And that's what we're focused on. By the way, the very first episode of the podcast, José Andrés and I talk about, in more depth and detail, what the experience is like. If anybody's interested in how the first two recipients of this award are thinking about it, should definitely check out episode one of the podcast.I, uh, will do. Going back a few years here, and in relation to your past efforts, what did you see as the key to the bipartisan effort behind the First Step Act?There are some areas where the two parties are just not going to agree and should therefore just battle it out, but that's not the vast majority of issues. If you take an issue like criminal justice, everybody understands that the liberals have our stake of the fight. Progressive are very passionate about social justice and racial justice. So the incarceration industry really offends progressive values, but there are conservative values that the incarceration industry also offends. Conservatives don't like big, staled, unaccountable government bureaucracies that eat up a ton of money and produce bad results. Well, that's the prison system to a T. Right-wing libertarians don't like the government gobbling up more and more people liberties. That's what the prison industry does every day. And there are a lot of conservative Christians who wonder, "Where is the redemption? Where's the second chances?" How can a fallen center rise again, if the prison industry just destroy people's lives and brands them forever as being unemployable and unworthy?And so it's when you find those areas where liberal passion for justice can line up with conservative passion for liberty, you can build a Liberty & Justice For All Coalition, and that's what we did. You had the strongest progressives and the strongest conservatives voting together during the Trump administration to pass a bill that by some calculations has helped 20,000 people come home from federal prison much earlier than they would have. That's the kind of bottom-up bipartisanship that I think we need more of. And by the way, we talk about that kind of stuff on the podcast. Also, we talk about climate solutions, which you mentioned earlier. Everybody knows that progressives are concerned about climate because of concern about future generations and species being loss. What people don't talk about is the fact that you have a bunch of red state farmers and ranchers who are getting pummeled by floods and fires and droughts, and who are very close to the land. And they know that the climate is changing rapidly and they would be very open to certain types of climate solutions, especially those that would pay them more money to capture and sequester carbon in the soil with more advanced agricultural techniques.So I spend a lot of time looking for those unlikely overlaps of interests. And I call those places, where you're shocked and surprised, and you're like, "Wait a minute. These two groups that you think would be far apart actually are just putting the emphasis emphasis on a different syllable, but they're saying the same thing." I call those areas of unexpected overlap "Uncommon Ground." And when you find them, whether it's on addiction or criminal justice or climate, or youth opportunity, I think we should go deep there and pull as many people into those conversations as possible. And that's the point of the podcast. Jay-Z, Van Jones, Robert Kraft, and Michael Rubin at a Reform Alliance event in 2019. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images What has your participation in the Reform Alliance meant to you, and what do you see coming from your continued role in the organization?It's just an extraordinary opportunity to work with people who have massive hearts, big brains, and big wallets, who want to make a difference. And I learn from each and every board member I every time I'm in communication with them. The level of concern and passion that those board members have is really mind-blowing. As well-known as they are, they do a lot of work behind the scenes that they deliberately don't want acknowledged, 'cause they don't want to create a feeding frenzy every time they show up. But, you know, the number of governors and senators and mayors that have gotten phone calls from a Reform Alliance board members I think would shock a lot of your readers. And then also they've built an unbelievable team of policy experts and advocates that have been able to pass bills in eight states, 13 bills and eight states, in just a two year period. That's a pretty, pretty fast clip.Some people, I think, thought this was going to be a vanity project, but it's turning out to be a much more impactful organization already than some of the skeptics were suggesting. And the issue that was the Reform Alliance takes on, probation and parole reform, really has not had a national champion until we launched. And two thirds of the people who were under the control of the criminal justice system are not in prison or jail. They're on either probation or parole, and their lives can be a living hell because it is so easy to be sent back to prison. If you show up late to a meeting with your parole officer or you get caught talking to someone who has a criminal record, and you're not doing anything, you can be back in prison and lose your job or your apartment and custody of your kids. So every day is just an incredibly anxiety-provoking nightmare and that level of stress doesn't make any community better or safer. So we're very proud that we are beginning to help to change that system, to make it a lot more humane, a lot more effective. ...Look, my view about this whole situation that we're in is that the divisive voices in our country, no matter what political ideology or race, are just getting way too much attention. And the unifying voices, the problem-solving voices, the healing voices are just getting way too little attention. And I think now's the time for people who've got really great ideas to solve the problems, to have a platform. And that's really what "Uncommon Ground" is all about. It's a platform for people who are exciting people, who are interesting people, who also are about that business of solving problems, to finally be heard.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 27th, 2021

Weiss: We Got Here Because Of Cowardice, We Get Out With Courage

Weiss: We Got Here Because Of Cowardice, We Get Out With Courage Authored by Bari Weiss via Commentary.org, A lot of people want to convince you that you need a Ph.D. or a law degree or dozens of hours of free time to read dense texts about critical theory to understand the woke movement and its worldview. You do not. You simply need to believe your own eyes and ears.  Let me offer the briefest overview of the core beliefs of the Woke Revolution, which are abundantly clear to anyone willing to look past the hashtags and the jargon. It begins by stipulating that the forces of justice and progress are in a war against backwardness and tyranny. And in a war, the normal rules of the game must be suspended. Indeed, this ideology would argue that those rules are not just obstacles to justice, but tools of oppression. They are the master’s tools.  And the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house. So the tools themselves are not just replaced but repudiated. And in so doing, persuasion—the purpose of argument—is replaced with public shaming. Moral complexity is replaced with moral certainty. Facts are replaced with feelings. Ideas are replaced with identity. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion, with exclusion. In this ideology, speech is violence. But violence, when carried out by the right people in pursuit of a just cause, is not violence at all. In this ideology, bullying is wrong, unless you are bullying the right people, in which case it’s very, very good. In this ideology, education is not about teaching people how to think, it’s about reeducating them in what to think. In this ideology, the need to feel safe trumps the need to speak truthfully.  In this ideology, if you do not tweet the right tweet or share the right slogan, your whole life can be ruined. Just ask Tiffany Riley, a Vermont school principal who was fired—fired—because she said she supports black lives but not the organization Black Lives Matter. In this ideology, the past cannot be understood on its own terms, but must be judged through the morals and mores of the present. It is why statues of Grant and Washington are being torn down. And it is why William Peris, a UCLA lecturer and an Air Force veteran, was investigated for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” out loud in class. In this ideology, intentions don’t matter. That is why Emmanuel Cafferty, a Hispanic utility worker at San Diego Gas and Electric, was fired for making what someone said he thought was a white-supremacist hand gesture—when in fact he was cracking his knuckles out of his car window. In this ideology, the equality of opportunity is replaced with equality of outcome as a measure of fairness. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, the course must have been defective. Thus, the argument to get rid of the SAT. Or the admissions tests for public schools like Stuyvesant in New York or Lowell in San Francisco.  In this ideology, you are guilty for the sins of your fathers. In other words: You are not you. You are only a mere avatar of your race or your religion or your class. That is why third-graders in Cupertino, California, were asked to rate themselves in terms of their power and privilege. In third grade.  In this system, we are all placed neatly on a spectrum of “privileged” to “oppressed.” We are ranked somewhere on this spectrum in different categories: race, gender, sexual orientation, and class. Then we are given an overall score, based on the sum of these rankings. Having privilege means that your character and your ideas are tainted. This is why, one high-schooler in New York tells me, students in his school are told, “If you are white and male, you are second in line to speak.” This is considered a normal and necessary redistribution of power. Racism has been redefined. It is no longer about discrimination based on the color of someone’s skin. Racism is any system that allows for disparate outcomes between racial groups. If disparity is present, as the high priest of this ideology, Ibram X. Kendi, has explained, racism is present. According to this totalizing new view, we are all either racist or anti-racist. To be a Good Person and not a Bad Person, you must be an “anti-racist.” There is no neutrality. There is no such thing as “not racist.”  Most important: In this revolution, skeptics of any part of this radical ideology are recast as heretics. Those who do not abide by every single aspect of its creed are tarnished as bigots, subjected to boycotts and their work to political litmus tests. The Enlightenment, as the critic Edward Rothstein has put it, has been replaced by the exorcism.  What we call “cancel culture” is really the justice system of this revolution. And the goal of the cancellations is not merely to punish the person being cancelled. The goal is to send a message to everyone else: Step out of line and you are next.  It has worked. A recent CATO study found that 62 percent of Americans are afraid to voice their true views. Nearly a quarter of American academics endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences. And nearly 70 percent of students favor reporting professors if the professor says something that students find offensive, according to a Challey Institute for Global Innovation survey. Why are so many, especially so many young people, drawn to this ideology? It’s not because they are dumb. Or because they are snowflakes, or whatever Fox talking points would have you believe. All of this has taken place against the backdrop of major changes in American life—the tearing apart of our social fabric; the loss of religion and the decline of civic organizations; the opioid crisis; the collapse of American industries; the rise of big tech; successive financial crises; a toxic public discourse; crushing student debt. An epidemic of loneliness. A crisis of meaning. A pandemic of distrust. It has taken place against the backdrop of the American dream’s decline into what feels like a punchline, the inequalities of our supposedly fair, liberal meritocracy clearly rigged in favor of some people and against others. And so on. “I became converted because I was ripe for it and lived in a disintegrating society thrusting for faith.” That was Arthur Koestler writing in 1949 about his love affair with Communism. The same might be said of this new revolutionary faith. And like other religions at their inception, this one has lit on fire the souls of true believers, eager to burn down anything or anyone that stands in its way.  If you have ever tried to build something, even something small, you know how hard it is. It takes time. It takes tremendous effort. But tearing things down? That’s quick work.  The Woke Revolution has been exceptionally effective. It has successfully captured the most important sense-making institutions of American life: our newspapers. Our magazines. Our Hollywood studios. Our publishing houses. Many of our tech companies. And, increasingly, corporate America.  Just as in China under Chairman Mao, the seeds of our own cultural revolution can be traced to the academy, the first of our institutions to be overtaken by it. And our schools—public, private, parochial—are increasingly the recruiting grounds for this ideological army.  A few stories are worth recounting: David Peterson is an art professor at Skidmore College in upstate New York. He stood accused in the fevered summer of 2020 of “engaging in hateful conduct that threatens Black Skidmore students.” What was that hateful conduct? David and his wife, Andrea, went to watch a rally for police officers. “Given the painful events that continue to unfold across this nation, I guess we just felt compelled to see first-hand how all of this was playing out in our own community,” he told the Skidmore student newspaper. David and his wife stayed for 20 minutes on the edge of the event. They held no signs, participated in no chants. They just watched. Then they left for dinner. For the crime of listening, David Peterson’s class was boycotted. A sign appeared on his classroom door: “STOP. By entering this class you are crossing a campus-wide picket line and breaking the boycott against Professor David Peterson. This is not a safe environment for marginalized students.” Then the university opened an investigation into accusations of bias in the classroom. Across the country from Skidmore, at the University of Southern California, a man named Greg Patton is a professor of business communication. In 2020, Patton was teaching a class on “filler words”—such as “um” and “like” and so forth for his master’s-level course on communication for management. It turns out that the Chinese word for “like” sounds like the n-word. Students wrote the school’s staff and administration accusing their professor of “negligence and disregard.” They added: “We are burdened to fight with our existence in society, in the workplace, and in America. We should not be made to fight for our sense of peace and mental well-being” at school. In a normal, reality-based world, there is only one response to such a claim: You misheard. But that was not the response. This was: “It is simply unacceptable for faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,” the dean, Geoffrey Garrett wrote. “Understandably, this caused great pain and upset among students, and for that I am deeply sorry.”  This rot hasn’t been contained to higher education. At a mandatory training earlier this year in the San Diego Unified School District, Bettina Love, an education professor who believes that children learn better from teachers of the same race, accused white teachers of “spirit murdering black and brown children” and urged them to undergo “antiracist therapy for White educators.”  San Francisco’s public schools didn’t manage to open their schools during the pandemic, but the board decided to rename 44 schools—including those named for George Washington and John Muir—before suspending the plan. Meantime, one of the board members declared merit “racist” and “Trumpian.”  A recent educational program for sixth to eighth grade teachers called “a pathway to equitable math instruction”—funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—was recently sent to Oregon teachers by the state’s Department of Education. The program’s literature informs teachers that white supremacy shows up in math instruction when “rigor is expressed only in difficulty,” and “contrived word problems are valued over the math in students’ lived experiences.”  Serious education is the antidote to such ignorance. Frederick Douglass said, “Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light only by which men can be free.” Soaring words that feel as if they are a report from a distant galaxy. Education is increasingly where debate, dissent, and discovery go to die. It’s also very bad for kids.  For those deemed “privileged,” it creates a hostile environment where kids are too intimidated to participate. For those deemed “oppressed,” it inculcates an extraordinarily pessimistic view of the world, where students are trained to perceive malice and bigotry in everything they see. They are denied the dignity of equal standards and expectations. They are denied the belief in their own agency and ability to succeed. As Zaid Jilani had put it: “You cannot have power without responsibility. Denying minorities responsibility for their own actions, both good and bad, will only deny us the power we rightly deserve.” How did we get here? There are a lot of factors that are relevant to the answer: institutional decay; the tech revolution and the monopolies it created; the arrogance of our elites; poverty; the death of trust. And all of these must be examined, because without them we would have neither the far right nor the cultural revolutionaries now clamoring at America’s gates.  But there is one word we should linger on, because every moment of radical victory turned on it. The word is cowardice. The revolution has been met with almost no resistance by those who have the title CEO or leader or president or principal in front of their names. The refusal of the adults in the room to speak the truth, their refusal to say no to efforts to undermine the mission of their institutions, their fear of being called a bad name and that fear trumping their responsibility—that is how we got here. Allan Bloom had the radicals of the 1960s in mind when he wrote that “a few students discovered that pompous teachers who catechized them about academic freedom could, with a little shove, be made into dancing bears.” Now, a half-century later, those dancing bears hold named chairs at every important elite, sense-making institution in the country.  As Douglas Murray has put it: “The problem is not that the sacrificial victim is selected. The problem is that the people who destroy his reputation are permitted to do so by the complicity, silence and slinking away of everybody else.” Each surely thought: These protestors have some merit! This institution, this university, this school, hasn’t lived up to all of its principles at all times! We have been racist! We have been sexist! We haven’t always been enlightened! I’ll give a bit and we’ll find a way to compromise. This turned out to be as naive as Robespierre thinking that he could avoid the guillotine.  Think about each of the anecdotes I’ve shared here and all the rest you already know. All that had to change for the entire story to turn out differently was for the person in charge, the person tasked with being a steward for the newspaper or the magazine or the college or the school district or the private high school or the kindergarten, to say: No. If cowardice is the thing that has allowed for all of this, the force that stops this cultural revolution can also be summed up by one word: courage. And courage often comes from people you would not expect. Consider Maud Maron. Maron is a lifelong liberal who has always walked the walk. She was an escort for Planned Parenthood; a law-school research assistant to Kathleen Cleaver, the former Black Panther; and a poll watcher for John Kerry in Pennsylvania during the 2004 presidential election. In 2016, she was a regular contributor to Bernie Sanders’s campaign. Maron dedicated her career to Legal Aid: “For me, being a public defender is more than a job,” she told me. “It’s who I am.” But things took a turn when, this past year, Maron spoke out passionately and publicly about the illiberalism that has gripped the New York City public schools attended by her four children.  “I am very open about what I stand for,” she told me. “I am pro-integration. I am pro-diversity. And also I reject the narrative that white parents are to blame for the failures of our school system. I object to the mayor’s proposal to get rid of specialized admissions tests to schools like Stuyvesant. And I believe that racial essentialism is racist and should not be taught in school.” What followed this apparent thought crime was a 21st-century witch hunt. Maron was smeared publicly by her colleagues. They called her “racist, and openly so.” They said, “We’re ashamed that she works for the Legal Aid Society.”  Most people would have walked away and quietly found a new job. Not Maud Maron. This summer, she filed suit against the organization, claiming that she was forced out of Legal Aid because of her political views and her race, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  “The reason they went after me is that I have a different point of view,” she said. “These ideologues have tried to ruin my name and my career, and they are going after other good people. Not enough people stand up and say: It is totally wrong to do this to a person. And this is not going to stop unless people stand up to it.” That’s courage. Courage also looks like Paul Rossi, the math teacher at Grace Church High School in New York who raised questions about this ideology at a mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting. A few days later, all the school’s advisers were required to read a public reprimand of his conduct out loud to every student in the school. Unwilling to disavow his beliefs, Rossi blew the whistle: “I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.” That’s courage.  Courage is Xi Van Fleet, a Virginia mom who endured Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a child and spoke up to the Loudoun County School Board at a public meeting in June. “You are training our children to loathe our country and our history,” she said in front of the school board. “Growing up in Mao’s China, all of this feels very familiar…. The only difference is that they used class instead of race.” Gordon Klein, a professor at UCLA, recently filed suit against his own university. Why? A student asked him to grade black students with “greater leniency.” He refused, given that such a racial preference would violate UCLA’s anti-discrimination policies (and maybe even the law). But the people in charge of UCLA’s Anderson School launched a racial-discrimination complaint into him. They denounced him, banned him from campus, appointed a monitor to look at his emails, and suspended him. He eventually was reinstated—because he had done absolutely nothing wrong—but not before his reputation and career were severely damaged. “I don’t want to see anyone else’s life destroyed as they attempted to do to me,” Klein told me. “Few have the intestinal fortitude to fight cancel culture. I do. This is about sending a message to every petty tyrant out there.” Courage is Peter Boghossian. He recently resigned his post at Portland State University, writing in a letter to his provost: “The university transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a social justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender and victimhood and whose only output was grievance and division…. I feel morally obligated to make this choice. For ten years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who seek to destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?” Who would I be if I didn’t? George Orwell said that “the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” In an age of lies, telling the truth is high risk. It comes with a cost. But it is our moral obligation. It is our duty to resist the crowd in this age of mob thinking. It is our duty to think freely in an age of conformity. It is our duty to speak truth in an age of lies.  This bravery isn’t the last or only step in opposing this revolution—it’s just the first. After that must come honest assessments of why America was vulnerable to start with, and an aggressive commitment to rebuilding the economy and society in ways that once again offer life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the greatest number of Americans. But let’s start with a little courage. Courage means, first off, the unqualified rejection of lies. Do not speak untruths, either about yourself or anyone else, no matter the comfort offered by the mob. And do not genially accept the lies told to you. If possible, be vocal in rejecting claims you know to be false. Courage can be contagious, and your example may serve as a means of transmission. When you’re told that traits such as industriousness and punctuality are the legacy of white supremacy, don’t hesitate to reject it. When you’re told that statues of figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are offensive, explain that they are national heroes. When you’re told that “nothing has changed” in this country for minorities, don’t dishonor the memory of civil-rights pioneers by agreeing. And when you’re told that America was founded in order to perpetuate slavery, don’t take part in rewriting the country’s history. America is imperfect. I always knew it, as we all do—and the past few years have rocked my faith like no others in my lifetime. But America and we Americans are far from irredeemable.  The motto of Frederick Douglass’s anti-slavery paper, the North Star—“The Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and all we are brethren”—must remain all of ours. We can still feel the pull of that electric cord Lincoln talked about 163 years ago—the one “in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.” Every day I hear from people who are living in fear in the freest society humankind has ever known. Dissidents in a democracy, practicing doublespeak. That is what is happening right now. What happens five, 10, 20 years from now if we don’t speak up and defend the ideas that have made all of our lives possible? Liberty. Equality. Freedom. Dignity. These are ideas worth fighting for. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/17/2021 - 23:05.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 18th, 2021