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Women of Influence: Meet Amy Baudino, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Amy Baudino is vice president of portfolio management and operations, research and safety market division at Thermo Fisher Scientific......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 14th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

Bitcoin: A Second Chance For The Muslim World?

Bitcoin: A Second Chance For The Muslim World? Authored by Asif Shiraz via BitcoinMagazine.com, Bitcoin is the sound money that the Muslim world needs to accelerate into the future... The Ottoman suppression of the printing press is a poster child case of intellectual stagnation in the Muslim world. Although there was no outright ban, there is no denying of a massively missed opportunity here: A civilization’s failure to adopt a groundbreaking technological change happening right next door. In its golden age, this same civilization that gave the world universities and hospitals, optics and algebra, even a precursor to the printing press itself, got so left behind in the later acceptance of technology, that its very own holy book, the Quran, waited for its first mass publication almost 300 years after Johannes Gutenberg chugged out the printed Bible. THE DECLINE But Islam’s Genesis Block was entirely different in character: A spirited but sundry assemblage of women and men whose most remarkable trait was their openness to new ideas. The idea of one God in a multitude of divine contenders. The idea of one bitcoin in a multitude of shitcoins … oops... sorry... mixing up my chronology! So anyway, this fraternity of early Islam, along with its keen aspiration of ushering in a just social and economic order, is also remarkable in a novel way for its time: It represents a death cross of reason’s moving average overtaking that of intuition in religious history. Bringing intellectual inquiry at par with mystical experience, it paved the way for its scions to delve into scientific skepticism, empiricism and experimental inquiry, with Robert Briffault going so far as to say that “Roger Bacon was no more than one of the apostles of Muslim science and method.” But eventually, the music stopped, and the market corrected! There are many explanations for the downfall, most of them partially true, spanning decades and centuries, but if we want to point fingers, as human nature dictates, at some symbolic event, then it must be the Mongol destruction of the House of Wisdom, #SackOfBaghdad. In the age of manuscripts, so many books from Baghdad’s libraries were flung into the Tigris that a horse could walk across on them and the river ran black with scholars’ ink and red with the blood of martyrs. As the Muslim Ummah lost so many intellectuals and intellectual capital in this tumultuous period, its reaction has been, (understandably), like that of an intern finding herself in control of mission critical servers, where all the senior sys admins suddenly stepped down, died or disappeared. Your best reaction is this: I’m not touching this system, and the only commands I’ll ever execute are those handed down by the four illustrious system admins — founders of the established schools of jurisprudence. And so Islamic scholarship for hundreds of years has been in a maintenance mode. In Pakistan alone, over 12,000 Madrasa routinely teach the rules and regulations of exchanging gold and silver, centuries after its daily use has been replaced by fiat. SURVIVAL OF CORE TENETS But herein lies a wonderful irony. This code-freeze on innovation, which we otherwise disapprove of, did work to an extent as it was intended: It protected the core principles from being callously compromised or deliberately diluted in the hands of opportunists. Just like the extra caution and consensus in changing the U.S. constitution protected the principles of freedom and equality enshrined in it: Islamic law, too, enshrined core financial principles, that have been a thorn on the side of would-be reformers attempting to legalize fiat and modern banking in the name of Islamic Finance. The 12,000 semi-literate Madrasa students, parroting the provisions of the fair exchange of gold and silver from a 17th century syllabus citing a 9th century scholar, unwittingly become more correct than a Harvard doctorate in finance indoctrinated in the misguided larceny of fiat money! All because Muhammad ﷺ mandated sound money, just like Mises and Hayek after him, a tenet immutably crystallized in Fiqh — Islamic Jurisprudence. A business man himself, the Prophet of Islam possessed a sharp acumen for economics and finance. In modern parlance, he quickly rose the corporate ladder to become one of the youngest CEOs of his time tasked with turning around the failing business empire of the urbane female entrepreneur, Khadija. Impressed with the Prophet’s personality, Khadija quickly proposed to him, creating a power couple that changed the course of history. Just like Jesus turned out the money-lenders from the Second Temple, the Prophet of Islam, too, had a disdain for usury and outlawed most of the accompanying capitalist machinations, that contribute to the gross wealth disparities like 10% owning 76% of the assets. So he created some fundamental rules that constitute the bedrock of Islamic financial principles: Forbade usury (Riba), including interest. Still respecting the time value of money, the prohibition’s intent is to create a financial regime where profit and risk is shared between the entrepreneur and the investor. From a sound money perspective, it prohibits the core operation of issuing interest bearing bonds and T-Bills against which the central bank can inflate the money supply. Forbade uncertainty (Gharar), embodied in his famous quote, “Do not sell a fish which is still in the water.” Eliminates the possibility of fractional reserve, since outstanding debt cannot be monetized and traded further with, unless it’s paid. It also closes the tap on a myriad of derivative instruments that further inflate the money supply. Forbade speculation (Maisir), which includes outright gambling. Some scholars consider speculative market activity, like the Dogecoin phenomena, under the ambit of this ruling. Mandated sound money. The rules of obligatory charity tax in Islam are denominated in sound money. Muslim governments take the market price of gold, convert them to fiat prices, and announce the converted value to the public to pay the religious obligation of Zakat. But from a legal standpoint, it permanently establishes gold and silver (as well as a whole class of other products) as perpetual, religiously recognized money in Islam. These prohibitions are strong enough in Islamic theology that anyone who violates them is technically, “at war with Allah and his Prophet.” Which is why the Madrasa’s syllabus clings to “nature’s money” (Thaman-e-Khalqi): gold and silver. But of course, big governments, Muslim or otherwise, are a chip off the same block: Self-interest reigns supreme over ethical principles. In Pakistan alone, the religious case against fiat banking has been delayed and obstructed for over 40 years in the courts. The politics of deficit financing are so attractive that no one wants to surrender this magical money making wand. Voldemorts, all of them! In spite of these prohibitions, and in countries where religion dominates social values, Muslims still grew comfortable with paper money because it initially disguised itself as “warehouse receipts for gold” which duped the scholars into permitting it, but the jurisprudence failed to catch up with the subsequent thinning of this asset backing into its current meaningless extent. REFORM ATTEMPTS As the domino roll of national independences took place, four different threads of activity around banking spread in Muslim countries. First, the mainstream implementation of modern banking took root in every Muslim State, implemented in toto like its Western counterparts. Second, Islamic banking attempted to reshape things a little. Scholars familiar with both economics and Shariah attempted to “Islamize” banking via the new academic discipline of “Islamic finance.” But instead of faithfully creating platforms for risk-sharing and equity-based financing, it just followed the Medieval Triple Contract–like approach to practically clone existing financial products, accompanied by a plethora of research papers to justify it. Like a comedic quote from the cold war era, “Communism is the longest and most painful road from capitalism to capitalism,” contemporary Islamic finance, too, turned out to become the most painful and circuitous route from traditional banking to traditional banking, decorated with Arabic names! How the professional bankers duped these scholars and hijacked this effort is excellently explained by Harris Irfan in a podcast with our own Saifedean Ammous. Third, a large but silent majority of toothless Islamic scholars continues to exist who view all forms of banking with suspicion, but the growing chasm of knowledge gap between their education and the complexities of modern finance makes them unable to take back the narrative. Lastly, a much smaller band of Islamic scholars exist, like followers of the Sufi order of a British convert and his Basque disciple, as well as a scholar from Trinidad, who successfully identified the fundamental problem with modern banking from a Shariah perspective: its monetary foundation. You cannot “Islamize” a bank if you do not fix the money it operates on! Hence, their attempt to resuscitate the traditional Islamic gold dinar as a sound money alternative to fiat. GOLD DINAR: THE REAL ISLAMIC ALTERNATIVE Fiat money and its permissibility can be viewed through an important concept in Islamic theology, the Maqasid-e-Shariah: the goals or purpose of Shariah law. To illustrate this with a controversial example, consider a Shariah law which says you cannot punish a man or woman for adultery, unless you bring four eye witnesses to the sexual act (which is normally impossible). While Islam abhors adultery, the Maqasid is an attempt by scholars to understand why, instead of having a law that easily and swiftly punishes it, there exists one that makes it practically impossible to prosecute. They rationalized that it must be to shield people’s privacy and one-off slipups from society's nosy interference and appetite for punishment. According to Muhammad Asad, “… to make proof of adultery dependent on a voluntary, faith-inspired confession of the guilty parties themselves.” So the Maqasid points to some socially valuable goal that the law intends to achieve. The rationale of the financial laws of Shariah are similarly explained in terms of their goals: a just distribution of wealth, a money free from devaluation, a business contract free from usurious exploitation, and a regulatory regime that increases people’s wealth and well-being. Through a very elementary intuition, it is obvious that fiat currencies violate this principle of honesty and justice in the society: Money issuers steal the purchasing power of the people and devalue their money. To put a formal Quranic stamp to this reasoning, we can take verse 3:75, “There are some among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) who, if entrusted with a stack of gold, will readily return it.” The modern Islamic bank, if entrusted with money equivalent to a stack of gold, returns you only 90% of its worth in purchasing power, owing to inflationary erosion, thus it’s part of a system that clearly violates the Maqasid. Islamic banks have thus thoroughly failed to espouse the core principle of risk sharing and eliminating interest (since interest exists in the very issuance process of the money they are built on). The only real Islamic alternative ever proposed was the Gold Dinar Movement. Starting in parallel (and in many respects earlier) than Islamic banking, (with the first modern Dinar minted in 1992), it was incisively accurate in its assessment and proposed remedy to the money problem: “The Return to the Gold Dinar.” This was an earlier time, when the golden tool in the fight against fiat was literally gold, which was then popularized by Austrian economics, advocated by upright leaders like Ron Paul, and adopted by grassroots activists like Bernard von NotHaus. The Muslim world saw its own spate of activism for sound money, led by its most vocal proponent, Umar Vadillo, and associated initiatives like Wakala Nusantara, Dinar First and my own Dinar Wakala. The Kelantan State government’s launch of Gold Dinar was our own El Zonte moment, full of euphoria and promise that made waves globally. The passion and courage of this vibrant lot of Warrior Sufis represented the best of modern-day Muslims: Profoundly knowledgeable people, engaged in grassroots activism, to fix the most pressing challenges of the contemporary world. However, the primary strength of gold, its physical indestructibility, came in the way of its adoption: Logistic and regulatory hindrances prevented free flow of physical gold coins across national boundaries. In the words of its founder, Shaykh Abdalqadir, “The defense mechanisms of today’s late capitalism and its crisis management surrounding the buying, moving and minting of gold have surrounded it with prohibitive pricing and taxation.” It continues to serve as a galvanizing symbol of the fight against Riba, but making it a practical inflationary hedge, or a broader Ummah-level movement for sound money, proved an elusive goal. Without the Gold Dinar, the horizon seemed all but bleak, except that a glimmer of hope came from the most unexpected of places: Where scholars, economists and revolutionaries had failed, nerds succeeded! Enter Emir Satoshi! ADVENT OF BITCOIN For us in the Gold Dinar Movement, Bitcoiners are our brothers in arms: fighting the same enemy, securing the same goal. This is what I have always advocated to my fellow activists in the dinar movement, from as far back as 2012. Our Prophetﷺ, as well as the Rashidun Caliphs, never debased money, nor profited from seigniorage, but gave us the right to choose our own mediums of exchange. This is fundamentally antithetical to the monstrosity of legal tender laws, which Islamic scholars have been duped into legitimizing under various pretexts (highlighting the need for increased financial literacy in this lot). This freedom to choose a currency constitutes the common ground that both us and the Bitcoiners can rally around together. “The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust,” writes Satoshi. He recognized the problem with fiat and set out to fix it with Bitcoin, a miraculous epiphany that has let loose this growing, global band of fervid, somewhat bumptious Maximalists, as similar in essence and ethos to us, as they look different in appearance. I see Bitcoiners, not only in their pluck and guile, but also in the sly ingenuity of their weapon of choice, as nothing less than a modern-day David taking on the Goliath of traditional banking! From a Muslim perspective, the operating verse of the Quran in critique of the Bitcoin movement becomes 49:13, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Aware.” In the realm of monetary matters, the most righteous and noble are those who support sound money. It is appropriate that Allah stresses his own divine attributes in the verse, as a warning that our religiously colored conception of righteousness may not necessarily be the same as that of the knowing, the aware. (The literal term Taqwa, means something that protects you from the wrath of God.) And to the best of my belief, protecting and uplifting the poor, the downtrodden from the entrapments of a prejudiced financial system is surely a winner with the God of Abraham! A SECOND CHANCE We Muslims had set out to establish a just and fair society, and for some time, to quote David Graeber, succeeded: “Once freed from its ancient scourges of debt and slavery, the local bazaar had become, for most, not a place of moral danger, but the very opposite: the highest expression of the human freedom and communal solidarity, and thus to be protected assiduously from state intrusion.” But gradually, as our political and intellectual leadership in the world waned, we now find ourselves economically bankrupt, submerged in a rigged financial system, and enslaved to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A major reason for this impoverishment was the widening gap of modern knowledge. The following vicious cycle of three circularly dependent factors is another way of modeling our current reality: Low capital allocation for education. A generally weak economy leaves little allocation for investment in education of both scientific and humanities disciplines, which is required for a productive human capital. Low human capital. The first factor results in low quality of education in the populace then manifests politically in bad national decisions, engagement in conflicts, economic mismanagement, acquisition of debt and failure to curb corruption. Economically, this unskilled workforce has low productivity, scarce entrepreneurship and ineffective technology adoption. Religiously, it permits violence and extremism to breed along sectarian fault lines. Low economic output. The second factor results in continued economic tribulations, since the whole society is now in KTLO mode, instead of “adding new features.” Which leads us again to item one. It is the standard cycle of poverty played out at a macro scale, which many competing power bases believe they can break. The military, the Mullahs, and the Liberals, far away, even the CIA has prescriptions on how to solve our problems. But such temporary political and economic interventions bear no lasting results, since nations are built by worthy men and women, over a span of many years, who, given a free and peaceful environment, fall back on their innate drive for excellence to create a better world. It is the job of the revolutionary and his meteoric jolt, or at a smaller scale, your social entrepreneur giving a small push, that breaks a segment of society free from this vicious cycle: A closed ecosystem of wealth circulation, comprising of learned individuals, equipped with better technology and empowered with more capital, shielded from outside influence, and stabilized by a fair social contract, to launch the virtuous symbiosis of economic prosperity and human development which prop each other to newer heights. This break can start in many ways: a national independence, some strong leadership, or in case of Islam, the founding of a new religion. Islam’s own trajectory gives us a generalized three-stage pattern on which any revolution can be modeled, an excellent blueprint for our bitcoin adoption. Education: A new world view is conceived, and people are educated toward it for voluntarily placing their faith on it — Iman. Separation: The model is physically deployed, separated from existing systems, so it can grow and thrive without any negative external influences — Hijra. Protection: When the model grows strong enough to threaten the status quo, but still weak enough to be fully destructible, it needs protection, usually requiring armed conflict — Jihad. We in the Gold Dinar Movement believed that the break in this vicious cycle will come from financial empowerment: When Muslim people and governments adopt sound money, free from the shackles of the IMF, it will allow our bankrupt economies to manage enough disposable income that can be invested in other avenues in society, putting us on a path to progress and human development. Gold would bring back the Golden Age, producing men and women who are worth their weight in gold! But it could not. Let me explain why, and how bitcoin makes it possible. BITCOIN: A TOOL FOR REVOLUTION Following our three-stage model of a revolution, let’s review how bitcoin resolves the challenges of each step. 1. Education The common man, humble about his knowledge of finance, expects, like John Galbraith remarked, a “deeper mystery to the process of money creation.” But which really is so simple, he goes on, that “the mind is repelled.” But the chasm in traditional and modern education keeps our scholars from being able to religiously evaluate the fiat system, for which they need three vital credentials: a traditional Mufti qualification, specialized research in the Fiqh of Muamalat, and a study of modern economics. Only a handful achieve this, like the globally revered Usmani, who become thought leaders in Islamic finance: The rest take the easy way out and follow what they posit. I once asked a certified Shariah advisor on LinkedIn, if he knew what fractional reserve banking meant. I expected some abstruse, rule-bending justification for it but was taken aback by his honest admission that he simply didn’t know what it was! So the first challenge was to educate both the people and the scholars about the fiat system. Then to enlist serious academic and industry practitioners to devise a working alternative based on gold and silver. Then to have its demand trickle down into the masses to eventually morph into enough political pressure for the government to adopt it, much to its own detriment. Highly unlikely. Except that with bitcoin, educating the people now becomes much more focused and result oriented. The wider goal of educating people about finance and economics remains indispensable in both gold and Bitcoin-based sound money solutions. But with bitcoin, we don’t have to wait for a third-world academia and archaic-minded scholars to sell the solution to an unwilling government: We take the narrative, and the prerogative of action, back from them. We go tactical, orange pill the masses with an Urdu translation of the bitcoin standard, and focus on what is minimally essential to achieve within our means: Teaching Muggles... sorry…. No-coiners, the very basics of money mechanics, the role of bitcoin in our strategic response, and the know-how to stack satoshis in a cold wallet! The rest will follow! Coming to think of it, my initial printing press analogy is poignantly relevant. The press encapsulated years of knowledge in a simple package easily disseminated to thousands, which could have overcome our knowledge gap had we adopted it earlier. Bitcoin, too, encapsulates the quintessential wisdom of centuries of humanity’s experience in what constitutes good money and allows it to be spread easily across the world. It is both knowledge, and a tool crafted out of that knowledge. If we miss the boat on it, we will not only lose to “usury capitalism,” but the Bitcoin movement, too, will be deprived of huge potential support from a quarter of the world population. We must join the rest of humanity in a last ditch attempt at wealth equality. 2. Separation After educating people about money mechanics and bitcoin, the second step is the Hejira, our separation from the existing system. An Islamic scholar, Abdassamad Clarke defined “usury capital,” as “the use of capital that is both generated by usury and operated according to usurious principles, which permits a tiny clique of individuals, by the principle of fiat money amplified by leverage, to wield extraordinary power and accumulate unheard of wealth in such a manner as to subject the rest of humanity as menial servants in their project of self-enrichment, whether in the tyrannies of the East or the so-called free-market capitalism of the West.” The fundamental philosophical difference between Islamic and Western economics is how we view interest. Islam holds firm to the classical Judeo-Christian prohibition, believing that the time value of money is more fairly accounted for in equity finance style risk sharing of the invested capital, instead of a guaranteed return favoring the capitalist. Among other things, its side effect is prohibiting both the monetizing of our “future income” to issue fiat, and prohibiting the money-multiplier effect of fractional reserve, through the rulings of Riba, Bai-al-Dain and Bai-al-Madum. Bitcoiners and libertarians rely on an entirely different philosophical foundation to reach partially the same conclusion in regards to fiat, that it’s perverse, unjust and socially destructive. The end goal for both is the same: To separate ourselves from the fiat system and carve out an entirely new, independent financial system: The original idea of decentralized finance (DeFi)! Unfortunately, the bubble effect we so dislike in TradFi — traditional finance — is now itself widespread in the non-Bitcoin crypto world, what Ellen Farrington cites as the immense amount of “rehypothecation, leverage, and securitization,” which if misused can cause systemic risks that affect everyone. The practical reality of contemporary DeFi in the non-Bitcoin world is quite far from its theoretical goal. Looking at this aspect of “crypto,” some Islamic scholars took the liberty of invoking the gambling prohibition clause, something whose motivation we can sympathize with, even though we disagree with the conclusion. A lack of regulation at the administrative level cannot be countered by religious pronunciation of Haram status. It’s kind of like declaring cars as Islamically forbidden, merely because some people are driving them too fast and killing others. But presently, we are far less interested in how scholars view “crypto” than we are regarding bitcoin. The DeFi world’s shiny new investments offering unsustainable returns, its shady ICOs and the casino-like frenzy and get-rich-quick dreams of novice retail investors are far removed from what we advocate, from what we are daring to call a second chance for the Muslim world: A Bitcoin-based sound money adoption as a medium of exchange and store of value! But what is nevertheless commendable in the crypto world (led, of course, by Bitcoin) is the attempt to create this entirely new, independent miniverse of alternative, decentralized finance, isolated from the existing system. Building and expanding this decentralization, based on Bitcoin, is the essence of the second step of our revolutionary blueprint: the Hejira. Migrating from the old to the new. As Iqbal would have said, “Blow away this transitory world, and build a new one from its ashes” — khakastar se aap apna jahan paida karay. The only serious prior attempt for sound money among Muslims was the Dinar movement. But it only works in a physical jurisdiction: Where to mint, where to store, how to transport, how to coordinate electronic payments, how to deal with banking regulations, taxes and government interference? Theoretically, it was possible to instantiate an entirely independent ecosystem of issuance, storage, transport and trade using gold, but real progress on it was very slow. At the same time, the Bitcoin ecosystem has matured so much to be classifiable as an independent and isolated system, free from all interference from legacy finance. The Core Bitcoin Timechain, Lightning and Layer 2 smart contract solutions, and the globally distributed miner, node operator and supporter community, all combine to form a platform on which we can build and experiment with truly Islamic financial contracts of the form that are not possible with TradFi. In this ecosystem, we can resuscitate Islamic social and financial institutions like the Bait-ul-Maal, the Suq, the Waqf, the Guilds, the Hawala, the Wahdiya, the Qirad and the Musharaka, free from the restrictions of any government, securities commission or central bank. 3. Protection And once this isolated system is deployed, we need to protect it. A story is told in Islamic lore, that when Abu Dharr Ghifari came looking to meet the Prophet, Ali told him to walk a few paces behind him, and if he senses anyone suspicious he will stoop down to tie his shoelaces and Abu Dharr should continue walking ahead. Kind of like a coinjoin to obfuscate where he was actually going. When you are small, you must remain in stealth mode and operate under the radar. Later on, when the small state of early Islam was established in a nearby city, it needed a number of armed conflicts to defend itself from being nipped in the bud! Deploying a sound money system, too, may need a precarious window in which the sapling would need fierce protection before it grows into a tree. The hellacious powers issuing the yuans and dollars of the world are way too formidable for any third-world nation state to get away with a head-on collision. In fact, we cannot even withstand assaults from individual speculators, let alone a concerted effort by the global financial cabal to preserve its status quo. El Salvador and the like are definitely interesting trailblazers to watch out for here, but it is too early to tell. If a sufficient number of first-world citizens band together to defy their government in adoption of sound money, the response of fiat-powered regimes would (probably) be much more restrained in handling them versus some rogue state from a third-world country attempting to defy the dominant currency. I was told by a prominent Islamic banker that when Mahatir toyed with the idea, he was sent a very stern signal to “cease and desist” by the powers that be! So, can a Muslim government adopt and get away with either the dinar or bitcoin? I believe only in the latter. Only bitcoin has the necessary technological edge in terms of its unstoppability and indestructibility that can substitute for the need of a national military power strong enough to protect a traditional sound money built on gold. THE ISLAMIC STATE VERSUS BITCOIN But many Islamic revivalists believe otherwise and their goal is usually larger in scope than financial reform alone. It is a more holistic quest to resuscitate the political, social and legal structures of precolonial Islamic governments. Encouraged by the spectacular rise of early Islam that dared challenge superior powers like Byzantine and Sassanids, they believe it possible to recreate the traditional theocracy along similar lines, one of whose side effects would be to eradicate fiat currency also. Such ambitious projects downplay the urgency of fixing our financial system: No need to separately struggle for it if it comes as a natural corollary to the larger political renaissance. Now the specter of such pan-Islamic revival has been thoroughly demonized in Western imagination, owing from our own side to violent extremism, owing from their side to a deep-rooted Islamophobia, and owing generally to ideas (or realities?) like the clash of civilizations. But my Bitcoiner friends — whose libertarian ethos is so refined to even self-censure the slightist hint of authoritarian enforcement in El Salvador’s legal tender adoption of bitcoin — will surely agree that it is entirely within the rights of the Muslim world to voluntarily experiment, on their land, with whatever form of government they fancy: caliphates, sultanates or kingdoms! But the reality of this dream in the minds of the majority of modern Muslims is quite different from what the world perceives. The moderate Muslim just wants Islamic principles to be the guiding source of their political and social order. But the strength of this desire is often encashed by opportunists, resulting in two recent distorted models of political Islam: 1.The Iranian model: Somewhat broad-based and sustainable but toothless and symbolic. They are the political twins of Islamic banks, offering no real change to the common man, except moral policing. Financially, there even exists the oxymoronic Central Bank of the Islamic Republic. Why would you have an Islamic bank if you were truly an Islamic republic? 2. Second, is the Taliban and ISIS model: Narrow-based, extremist and unsustainable, divorced from the comity of nations. ISIS did reportedly issue the Gold Dinar but to no one’s avail, except perhaps as a recruitment propaganda. News out of Kabul promises a more restrained and balanced government this time around, but is it a genuine change of heart or just political expediency? So, while the Muslim world waits for a true Islamic reformation, and the world holds its breath on how the next such attempt turns out, my issue with this ubiquitous political quest in the Muslim imagination is just NGMI — it’s not gonna make it! We can’t stall the effort of immediate financial reform on some future promise of a bigger change happening to facilitate it. As an Urdu saying goes, na nau munn tayl hoe ga, na Radha naachay gi: Neither shall the king be able to provision nine gallons of lamp oil, and nor will the stage ever be lit enough for his dancing girl, Radha, to perform! Nevertheless, assuming for a moment that a mature, viable, modern Islamic government does get established by some geopolitical miracle, faithful to Islam’s core tenets, and broad-based in popular support, the next and more pertinent question becomes: Will it have sufficient political, and if necessary, military power, to deploy a gold-based sound monetary system in their country, and then get away with the sanctions and isolation that follow? And this is where bitcoin, once again, outshines other alternatives. The one trait that sets it apart from all “crypto”, and indeed, all monies in human history: true, sovereign-grade censorship resistance, from both your own government and foreign powers. Without needing any battalions or bombs, bitcoin enables us to fight the good fight ourselves and win. And if the broader Islamic reformation materializes, bitcoin can support it, too, for bypassing potential sanctions and increasing national wealth! God has a knack for defeating evil by the simplest of designs — the mighty Goliath with a slingshot, the persecutors of the Prophet with a humble spider — as if to compound the humiliation of defeat by the plainness of its bearer. Who could have thought that the Kremlins, Zhongnanhais and White Houses of the world would be made helpless by the confluence of two elementary ideas: proof of work and difficulty adjustment! But this simple, easily overlooked and less understood killer combination of traits makes bitcoin an undefeatable tool in the hands of us, the 99%. We do not need to wait for anyone. We can do it ourselves with bitcoin. THE WAY FORWARD While the wallet addresses, exchange accounts, market cap, and of course, the hype around crypto is constantly rising in Muslim countries, much of this activity is from the perspective of a shiny new investment vehicle, a get-rich-quick bandwagon to which everyone wants to hitch! This has engendered the animated debate of investor protection, scam avoidance and the whole academic deliberation of whether they are at all Halal owing to a perceived lack of intrinsic value and being free from government control. While all of these objections on bitcoin from the Shariah perspective have been thoroughly refuted by various scholars and are easily searchable on the internet, the continuance of this superfluous debate is dangerously distracting: In the process, we are losing sight of the higher frequencies of this amazing once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Aye ahle-e-nazar zauq-e-nazar khoob hai laikinJoe shay ki haqeeqat koe na dekhay woe nazar kiya We need bitcoin, not because it’s a great investment (which incidentally it is), but because it’s a great store of value and a medium of exchange: A free medium of exchange, which can uplift us collectively if we just adopt it, en masse, as our money. To my fellow Muslims, here is a parting thought. We love and honor our Prophet to such an extent that even the minutest of his actions, Sunnahs, is recorded, revered and repeated, even if it be as simple as the table manners of cutting some fruit. But here is another Sunnah of bigger import: success. The change that he set out to achieve in the world, he did achieve it. As he breathed his last in the arms of Ayesha, he had already delivered on the promise he had made to his companions in the lowest ebb of their persecution: “... a traveler from Sana to Hadrarmaut will fear none but Allah.” Although bordering a little on logical fallacy, I would point out that he didn’t cite something more symbolic like the establishment of the Caliphate, or the conquests, or the subsequent power. He chose to cite, as evidence of success to what they were suffering for, the establishment of a certain social order: One in which an anonymous citizen would not fear physical or financial insecurity. I say anonymous, not a private citizen, because the choice of the word “traveler” is very telling. While you are known in your city, protected by your identity, and potential clout from a corporation or clan, it is suddenly removed when you are in a strange land. They do not even know your name, unless you tell them: You are just a wallet address. But this traveler is not afraid of loss of wealth, or being robbed, or not having the right passport, or the right vaccine passport! He can move himself, and he can move his money. We Dinarists and Bitcoiners always equate inflation with theft. Whether you snatch 50 rupees from a poor man, or the free fall of your currency leaves him with 50 rupees less of a purchasing power, it is the same. While every ill is not caused by our monetary system, there is the obvious administrative incompetence and a dismal economic performance to account for — but inflation is definitely a huge factor. And all our high talk, slogans, research papers, reform movements, activism and militarism have deviated from this one Sunnah: The success of delivering safety to this traveler again. Bitcoin can help us succeed. Like now! Not 20 years later. Not when some promised leader will part the seas for us again. But now, when the poor illiterate, helpless man on the street looks at us educated and privileged elites and asks: What did you do to level the playing field for me? The Islamic banker may say, “Oh, I developed this intricate Shariah compliant profit and loss sharing contract for you, approved by the council of scholars, and backed by the gold dinar, just wait for it to be deployed.” I will say, “Dude, here, let me help you buy a few satoshis and get you a Lightning wallet so you don’t have to revert back to the rupee when paying for your next meal!” I think you should do the same. Bitcoin deserves a fresh look from us Muslims. Let’s think about it. Let’s use it correctly. Let’s spread it. Let’s understand it. Let’s use Bitcoin. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/30/2021 - 19:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 30th, 2021

Meet Maye Musk, Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model and the glamorous mother of the richest man in the world

Maye Musk raised Elon and his siblings while working multiple jobs and maintaining a career as a model. Maye Musk visits the Empire State Building as Sports Illustrated Swimsuit surprises Maye Musk as newest cover model on May 11, 2022 in New York City.Noam Galai/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust Maye Musk graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition this week. The supermodel and mother of Elon Musk has had a prolific career that started in the 1960s. Maye Musk worked multiple jobs to support her children, but does not take credit for their success. Maye Musk captured the spotlight this week when she became the oldest woman to be featured on a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover.The 74-year-old super model was one of four cover models for the edition that included Kim Kardashian. Maye Musk has continually pushed boundaries in her career, from posing nude on the cover of New York Magazine in 2011 to becoming CoverGirl's oldest spokesperson at the age of 69."If I thought I could be a swimsuit model for Sports Illustrated, people would have locked me away as a crazy lady," Maye Musk said in a video released by the magazine earlier this week. "I'm very excited to let people know that women in their 70s are gorgeous," she added.—Maye Musk (@mayemusk) May 16, 2022 Maye Musk is often identified based on her role as the mother of Elon Musk, but she has been a celebrity in her own right for decades.Long before her son became the richest man in the world, Maye Musk had already developed a prolific modeling career. She has appeared on the covers of multiple high-profile magazines, including Vogue and Time, played a role in a Beyonce music video, and been featured in numerous ads for anything from Revlon to Special K cereal.Maye Musk and Elon Musk attend The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York CityJamie McCarthy/Getty Images"I was famous until Elon became famous," Maye Musk told The New York Times in 2016.Success seems to run in the family and Elon Musk – the billionaire entrepreneur behind PayPay, Tesla, and SpaceX – is not the only one to make a mark. Maye Musk's other son, Kimbal Musk, is the founder of three food companies: The Kitchen Restaurant Group, a nonprofit called Big Green, and Square Roots, an urban-farming company. And her daughter, Tosca Musk, runs her own streaming service and is an award-winning producer and director of films and television shows."They followed their passions, and they all went in different directions," Maye Musk told Insider in a 2020 interview.But, that success didn't come easily for Maye Musk or her children.  Early lifeMaye Musk has been modeling since she was 15 and was a finalist in the 1969 Miss South Africa beauty competition, but it wasn't until recent years that she could afford to take modeling gigs simply because she wanted to without answering to an agent. That's because she was hustling to raise three children as a single mother while earning two master's degrees and establishing a career as a model, dietitian, and nutritionist. Maye Musk married Errol Musk in 1970. The two went to high school together, according to her most recent book, "A Woman Makes A Plan." Elon Musk's father is an engineer from South Africa, per a 2017 Rolling Stone profile. Maye Musk told Harper's Bazaar in 2019 that their marriage quickly went downhill and described the relationship as abusive. Errol Musk told Rolling Stone that he has never intentionally hurt anyone, excluding one scenario where he said he shot and killed three people who illegally entered his house.South African Errol Musk who was visiting his son Kimbal Musk in Boulder, CO on Friday, March 28, 2014. Musk is the father of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.Denver Post Photo by Cyrus McCrimmonMaye Musk became pregnant with Elon Musk during the couple's honeymoon, she told Insider in a 2020 interview. Elon Musk is estranged from his father. He told Rolling Stone that his father is "a terrible human being."The two were married for nearly a decade. Maye Musk said in her book that she wanted to leave the relationship, but the Divorce Act, which legalized the termination of a marriage in South Africa, was not enacted until 1979. The couple was divorced the same year the law was passed.Five jobs at onceIn 1989, Maye Musk moved with her family from Johannesburg in South Africa to Toronto. The model told CNBC in a 2018 interview that she had to work five jobs to make ends meet.She worked as a research officer for the University of Toronto so that her children could go to school there for free and taught modeling and nutrition classes two nights a week. All while working on her practice and studying to become a registered dietitian.The family lived in a small rent-controlled apartment in Toronto. "We spent three weeks just taking staples out of the floor and removing the wallpaper, which was covered in green velvet vines and was peeling," Maye Musk told Insider in 2015.Maye Musk is seen outside the Jason Wu show during New York Fashion Week: Women's A/W 2018 on February 9, 2018 in New York City.Daniel Zuchnik/Getty ImagesThe apartment was bare when they initially moved in.  "And the first thing we did, after the first salary I got, [was] we got an inexpensive carpet put down because we didn't have chairs or anything," she said in 2015. "And the second thing we got was a computer for Elon. And so he would sit on the floor at his computer."Maye Musk recalls a time when the family couldn't afford to buy red meat for dinner. In the early 1990s, one of her clients who owned an abattoir (or slaughterhouse) would give the family a roast every month, even though he had no idea the family couldn't afford to buy one themselves."He gave us this huge roast once a month for the three of [my kids]," she said in 2015.  "And I'd cut it in four, freeze three [pieces], and we would have a roast once a week that we could share."The whole Musk family worked hard to support each other during that time, too.Tosca Musk worked at an upscale grocery store near their apartment while she went to school, and Maye Musk helped Elon Musk get a job at Microsoft before he went to college since the husband of one of her colleagues worked there. Later on, she also helped her sons find jobs at a bank through a friend.'I never helped my kids'Despite her achievements, Maye Musk insists that her influence isn't responsible for the success of her children, including Elon Musk."I never helped my kids," Maye Musk told Insider in 2015. "I was working too hard, my kids had to be responsible for themselves."Elon Musk in particular had tried his hardest in school, but only in the subjects he liked, Maye Musk said.Elon Musk, the Chairman of the Board of Tesla Motors, a high performance electric car company, is photographed at the company's headquarters in San Carlos, California on November 28, 2006.Joanne Ho-Young Lee/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images"He knew everything, but he was the youngest and the smallest in his class," she said in 2015.Elon Musk took an interest in books, computer programming, and investing early on. While the Tesla CEO most recently announced he has made a $44 billion decision to buy Twitter, even at 14 years old Maye Musk said Elon Musk had shown a passion for investing. Last week, Maye Musk recalled how she helped her teenage son invest 1000 South African Rands into a stock he felt passionate about.Although Maye Musk says she didn't have much influence on the success of her children, she played a big role in helping both of her sons get their first company up and running.Her 'best investment ever'In 1995, Elon Musk and Kimbal Musk started Zip2, a software company that provided business directories and maps to media companies and ecommerce clients.At the time, Maye Musk was running her dietetics practice in Toronto and was preparing to publish her first book, "Feel Fantastic." In addition to the multiple jobs she held at the time, Maye Musk worked tirelessly to help her sons start their first business. She started by encouraging Kimbal Musk to get more involved in the business after he had racked up her phone bill by constantly calling Elon Musk, who had moved to Silicon Valley.SpaceX founder Elon Musk embraces his brother, Kimbal Musk, after being recognized by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building following the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on May 20, 2020.Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images"[Kimbal Musk] would come over to my office at night to discuss business with Elon by phone," she said. "When my phone account reached $800 per month, I told Kimbal to stop working and join Elon."Since Maye Musk still lived in Toronto when Zip2 was getting started, she would fly out to Silicon Valley every six weeks. Maye Musk said she helped her sons with everything from the company's business plan to supervising interns and taking care of printing and office expenses. She also bought them food, clothes, and furniture at the time.Some time around 1996, Maye Musk donated all of her savings, which amounted to $10,000, to cover the office rental and expenses.She calls it her "best investment ever."Maye Musk was even up until 2 a.m. with Kimbal Musk at Kinko's helping him print out colored copies of Zip2's presentations to investors. "That night we were exhausted and exhilarated," she said in 2015. "We went to the best restaurant in Palo Alto and I told them this was the last time I would use my credit card for our dinners. And that has been true."By 1997 and 1998, Zip2 began to really take off, and both Elon Musk and Kimbal Musk became busier with board meetings. So Maye Musk was asked to meet with the company every week while running her practice and juggling modeling gigs. "I would rent a car every Friday night, do the Nordstrom fashion shows on Saturday morning at 8:30 am in San Francisco, San Jose, or Sacramento, and then drive to their office for our weekly business meeting," she said in 2015. Her children made — and kept — an ambitious promiseMaye Musk eventually moved to San Francisco for two-and-a-half years to be closer to her children and the business before moving to New York in 1999. Back when the brothers and Tosca Musk were all working at Zip2, before the company sold, they couldn't afford to buy a big gift for their mother's 50th birthday.Instead, they made her a promise."They gave me a little toy house and a little toy car the size of a matchbox and said, 'One day we'll buy you the real thing,'" she said.Zip2 eventually sold to Compaq Computer for around $300 million, and the Musk children kept their word.Since, Maye Musk has been an outspoken supporter of Elon Musk on social media. Most recently, she repeatedly derided the Biden Administration for largely ignoring Tesla's role in the movement toward electric cars.Elon Musk with his mother Maye during his Saturday Night Live monologue on Saturday, May 8, 2021Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty ImagesMaye Musk previously told Insider in 2015 that she wishes the world would understand the well-intentioned mind of her son."Elon's intention is just to do whatever is possible in physics and engineering to make this planet better," she said. "People think there's an ulterior motive, but there isn't. That's all he's striving to do. And that really upsets me, when they think 'Oh, he's looking for more money.' No, he's never done that."Now, most of Maye Musk's days are spent modeling, promoting her latest book, and maintaining her nutrition practice. Maye Musk has been signed by the Creative Artists Agency (CAA).But she and her children still find time to meet regularly. Outside of accompanying Elon Musk to the Met Gala earlier this month, the supermodel also made a cameo appearance in the billionaire's Saturday Night Live performance in 2021. Maye Musk has fully taken on the role of grandmother to Elon Musk's many children. In 2020, she posted several photos and videos of the billionaire's seventh child, X Æ A-12."We do a lot of get-togethers," she told Insider in 2015. "And I'm really fortunate to have three wonderful kids. We're in a good position now, that we can actually eat roast beef every day if we wanted to. But we wouldn't dare!"Earlier reporting by Lisa Eadicicco.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

Big Bottle: Breaking Down The Baby Formula Nightmare

Big Bottle: Breaking Down The Baby Formula Nightmare Authored by Matt Stoller via BIG, Big Bottle and the Baby Formula Apocalypse As anyone with an infant knows, there is a major crisis in the feeding of America’s babies right now, because parents in some areas can’t get baby formula. A few months ago, a major producer of formula - Abbott Labs - shut down its main production facilities in Sturgis, Michigan, which had been contaminated with the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii, killing two babies and injuring two others. Abbott provides 43% of the baby formula in the United States, under the brand names Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, so removing this amount of supply from the market is the short-term cause of the problem. (Abbott and Mead Johnson produce 80% of the formula in the U.S., and if you add in Nestle, that gets to 98% of the market.) The problem is not, however, that there isn’t enough formula, so much as the consolidated distribution system creates a lot of shortages in specific states. First, it’s hard to convey what a nightmare this situation is for parents, especially those whose children require special kinds of formula because of gastrointestinal issues or food allergies. “The shortage has led us to decide to put a feeding tube in our child,” said one parent, who simply could not get the specialized formula her daughter needs. Baby formula is not just food, but the primary or sole nutrition for a vulnerable person in a stage of life in which very specific nutritional requirements are necessary for growth. Baby formula was created during the 19th century as we developed modern food preservation techniques. Before this remarkable innovation, baby starvation was common if a mother couldn’t breastfeed her infant (which happens a lot). The invention of industrialized formula was one of those creations we take for granted, but like antibiotics and other medical and scientific advances, it was one that fundamentally changed parenthood and the family. This shortage is showing just how reliant we are on industrialized formula. The causal factor behind the crisis is poor regulation and a consolidated and brittle supply chain. Imports from Europe are often prohibited, even if there were excess productive capacity elsewhere. I spent a bit of time calling around to people who work in formula, and the industry is basically on a war footing. Everyone is panicking, because the situation is, in short, a nightmare. I’m going to try and lay out the situation, and explain the market structure. There are two basic mechanisms that have created a concentrated and brittle market. The first is that regulators are tough on newcomers, but soft on incumbents. And the second is that the Federal government buys more than half of the baby formula in the market, and under the guise of competitive bidding, it in fact hands out monopoly licenses for individual states. That makes it impossible to get newcomers of any scale into the market, along with the more resiliency that such competition brings. It also makes it hard to address shortages in one state with extra formula from elsewhere. But first, let’s start by following the money. Financial Returns or Your Baby’s Life The simplest way to understand why there’s a shortage is to look at the incentives for the CEO of Abbott Labs. Here’s a Reuters report coming out of the company’s investor call in April, after the factory shutdown was underway. Keep in mind, the executives on this call are the people responsible for managing this vital resource, and here’s how seriously they took the problem. “Abbott called the recall a "short-term hindrance" and said it was working closely with the regulator and has begun implementing corrective actions and enhancements to the facility. Abbott shares rose 2.4% to $122.90 in morning trade as some analysts said the comments during the conference call allayed worries over the recall. Despite the recall and supply chain issues, Abbott beat quarterly profit and revenue estimates in the first quarter.” Not a single Wall Street analyst asked about the recall. Why? In some ways, it’s because it doesn’t matter that much to the bottom line. Abbott Labs is a diversified medical devices and health care company, and its nutritional segment is a relatively small part part of its business. But also, if you need baby formula, which is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and distributed by a monopoly-friendly system run by the Department of Agriculture, where else are you gonna go? And that’s the problem. Baby formula is a shared monopoly, and we are at the mercy of Abbott Labs, Read Johnson, and Nestle. And their execs know it. So how does this shared monopoly work? Let’s start with the regulators. The Failed Priesthood at the FDA Entering the baby formula market is a difficult process, and takes years of work. For instance, Bobbie, which makes European-style formula with a contract manufacturer, is the first firm to come into the market in five years. Bobbie is also a direct to consumer niche firm, so it doesn’t have the scale to address the market dislocation at hand. It was a rough road getting started; the firm faced a recall and a shut down purely for manufacturing in Germany, and it had to go through millions of dollars of capital and a steep learning curve to get its product accepted by the FDA. The reason for regulatory hurdles seems good, on the surface. Manufacturing formula is very specific, it’s not like a snack bar, it fits in somewhere between medication and food in the regulatory spectrum. Congress put extremely detailed instructions in the Infant Formula Act of 1980. To get a product approved, an entrant needs protein efficiency studies, thousands of quality tests from raw ingredients to the end product, nutritional tests to make sure it is suitable for infants, and approvals for new suppliers. There are specialized forms of formula for babies with different conditions. Naturally, starting a new formula firm takes a massive amount of time, patience, and capital. And that’s if you just want to make a product and can even find a contract manufacturer to produce it for you. There is just one contract manufacturer of baby formula in the U.S. - Perrigo Nutritionals, and it requires a large initial order volume, which adds a hurdle to new potential firms. What about new factories? Earlier this year, a nutrition company ByHeart became just the fourth infant formula brand to have its own factory, something no one else had done in fifteen years. Certifying a factory for infant formula, like making a new product, is difficult and expensive. Is this expense necessary? Not entirely. The institutional risk tolerance of the FDA is extraordinarily low. FDA officials see themselves as an elite priesthood, pursuing excellence merely by dint of being at the FDA. From this perspective, there is zero incentive to let new players into the baby formula market when, in their view, there are already excellent quality companies serving the market, such as Abbott Labs, Mead Johnson, and Nestle. It’s true that baby formula is overpriced in the U.S., costing about twice as much as it does throughout much of Europe. But to an FDA official, price is incidental. The thinking goes, who wants to be the official that accidentally lets a reckless entrepreneur poison a bunch of babies, just so that there’s some competition in a market that is already delivering good products? When there is no problem at hand, there is no reason to allow innovation in the industry, or additional capacity. The problem, of course, is that the FDA is harsh to newcomers, but deferential to incumbents. According to Healthy Babies Bright Futures, baby formula made by the big guys in the U.S. is full of dangerous brain-altering heavy metals. HBBF tested thirteen different baby formulas, and every single one had “detectable levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead and/or mercury,” which are all considered to be neurotoxic, interfering with brain development and “causing permanent IQ reductions in children.” Moreover, FDA inspections of Abbott plants are obviously a disaster. Abbott had old and dirty equipment making formula, falsified records, deceived regulators, had bad product tracing, and did not fix problems after discovery. FDA inspectors noticed problems with the plant in September, but ignored them. Then, a whistleblower told the FDA of these problems in October, but regulators didn’t even bother to interview him/her until December. Moe Tkacik, in a viral Twitter thread, persuasively laid out parallels to the Boeing/FAA disaster. So, the origin of the baby formula pocalypse was Abbott management's refusal to repair dilapidated and failure-prone drying machines turning the plant into proverbial petri dishes for cronobacter, because... They needed that $5.73 billion for stock buybacks, obvs pic.twitter.com/GBmn3n4SWn — moe tkacik (@moetkacik) May 11, 2022 So that’s the regulatory problem. Then there’s the market structure, which creates a lumpy distribution system when there’s a shortage. Rebates and Scams The biggest buyer of infant formula in the U.S. is WIC, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which is run by the Department of Agriculture. Roughly half of women get formula from WIC. Rather than food stamps, which is a set amount of cash that can be used for most products, most states only allow women to buy formula from one company, though each company offers a bunch of different brands. To save money, the government requires states to hold auctions to get the lowest price for formula. The problem is, state agencies use a complex rebating system to give the contract for the entire state to one manufacturer, and that contract can only be changed once every four years. Here’s the USDA explaining the program. Typically, WIC State agencies obtain substantial discounts in the form of rebates from infant formula manufacturers for each can of formula purchased through the program. In exchange for rebates, a manufacturer is given the exclusive right to provide its product to WIC participants in the State. These sole-source contracts are awarded on the basis of competitive bids. The brand of formula provided by WIC varies by State depending on which manufacturer holds the contract for that State. This rebate system distorts the entire market in a state, because it’s just not worth having alternative formulas on a retail shelf if half of the buyers simply cannot purchase those formulas. As a result, the market tips to the WIC supplier, and that supplier raises prices on non-WIC recipients, and does so by between 26-35%. Here’s what happened to the baby formula market in California when the WIC contract changed hands. This whole scheme, done under the guise of welfare, is essentially a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the poor, done by enriching the baby formula cartel. The monopoly friendly program design was peddled by the anti-poverty group the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which is both on the center-left of the political spectrum and aligned with Wall Street. This brings us back to the shortage. According to Truthout, Abbott is the monopoly provider of formula for 34 states, seven Indian tribal organizations, four territories and Washington, D.C. So that’s where we’d expect the shortages to be focused. Because of the design of the program, it’s not particularly easy to move different kinds of formula to WIC recipients. And that, perhaps more than any actual national shortage, is the problem. Here’s the Wall Street Journal today. “The FDA said overall the nation’s infant formula manufacturers are making enough to meet demand even w/out Abbott’s main factory online. The industry sold more formula in April than it did the month before the recall, the FDA said." The White House echoed these claims, asserting that “more infant formula has been produced in the last four weeks than in the four weeks preceding the recall.” There’s a well-known black market in formula, which speaks to the dysfunction of the distribution system. The shortages are concentrated in certain areas even if nationally there might be enough to get by. According to Heather Bottemiller Evich, there are just “6 states that had baby formula out-of-stock rates higher than 50 percent: Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota were 50-51%. Missouri was 52%. Texas was 53% and Tennessee was 54%.” But nationally, it’s not so bad. However, not all data sets suggest outages this high. @iriworldwide, which pulls information directly from retailers, found that the average in-stock rate is currently about 79% across the U.S. — far below the pre-pandemic norms of 95%, but not critically low. — Helena Bottemiller Evich (@hbottemiller) May 11, 2022 In some ways, the problem is that there’s baby formula, but it’s not in the right place (though the Sturgis factory was a monopoly producer of lots of specialized formulas, so the actual shortage itself is a huge problem). The simplest solution here is to get aggressive and capable leadership around logistics, and then move the formula where it needs to go. We’ll have to open up imports temporarily, and move supply around the country while allowing WIC recipients to buy non-contract brands. I suspect at some point the Biden administration will get their hands on the situation, and fix it. There will be Congressional hearings, and Abbott’s CEO will get yelled at. Longer-term, I hope there will be consequences. First, we need to explore forcing Abbott to break off its nutritional division from the rest of the firm, since it’s fairly obvious that there’s little corporate focus on making sure the baby formula division is run well. Conglomerates are usually inefficient. Second, Congress should really restructure the WIC program so that the auctions don’t create monopolies, and lumpy distribution patterns that induce regional shortages. Finally, the FDA needs wholesale reform, since this kind of crisis seems to happen a lot. I mean, the relationship between the FDA and Abbott Labs was also behind the rapid Covid testing scandal, where FDA official Tim Stenzel - who had worked at Abbott - then approved Abbott as one of two firms to make those tests, and blocked all other entrants. That’s why rapid Covid tests were both in shortage and much more expensive in the U.S. than they are in Europe. The FDA needs to be broken up so that its drugs and food divisions are separate, and it needs to take its mandate seriously for a resilient supply chain. In some ways, this baby formula crisis is the same problem as United having passenger David Dao being beaten up in 2017 and removed from the plane, to public horror and Congressional rage. United’s stock went up after the incident. Or it’s like nurses wearing garbage bags at the beginning of the pandemic because of our dependence on China, and the sad reality that policymakers in the last two years have refused to stop sourcing from China. Hopefully, these kinds of failures, and the public rage, are laying the groundwork for wholesale reform of our government. At every level of policymaking, we have a systemic bias against people who focus on making things, in favor of well-branded monopolists and cloistered regulators who are obsessed with fanciness instead of actual critical thinking. And that’s no way to run a democracy. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 13th, 2022

10 Ways Information-Shapers Have Infiltrated Our Institutions

10 Ways Information-Shapers Have Infiltrated Our Institutions Authored by Sharyl Attkisson via The Epoch Times, Few matters are so important as the integrity of the information we receive and the recent degradation in its reliability. Fencing surrounds the Supreme Court in Washington on May 2, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) The recent leak of a Supreme Court draft related to the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case underscores how corrupted so many of our important institutions have become by those dedicated to shaping public opinion in a sometimes-dishonest way. Nearly every facet of our American institutions has been infiltrated by activists, corporate and political propagandists, and even criminals. Here are 10 key institutions that have been successfully infiltrated by information-shapers: Bed Bath & Beyond store in Los Angeles, on April 10, 2013. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) 1. Corporations High-profile corporations increasingly do business, or withhold business, on the basis of political considerations in an effort to sway public opinion. Additionally, they take part in removing the ability of some people they disagree with to sell products, conduct bank transactions, or otherwise operate their businesses. One recent example is retailers, including Kohl’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond, banning popular “My Pillow” products from the company owned by conservative and ardent Trump supporter Mike Lindell. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions during an MLB owner’s meeting at the Waldorf Astoria, in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 10, 2022. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) 2. Sports Sports organizations have stepped into the political realm to try to force some views and censor or punish those who take opposing viewpoints. One recent example is Major League Baseball stripping the All-Star Game from Atlanta over a Georgia law designed to strengthen election integrity following a troubled and error-riddled 2020 election. Sports institutions also are involved in trying to sway public discourse on the issue of males competing as females on girls’ and women’s teams, such as the swimmer born as Will Thomas who switched names to Lia Thomas and joined the women’s team at the University of Pennsylvania, setting numerous women’s records. Facebook, Google, and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files. (Reuters) 3. Big Tech Big Tech’s well-known fake fact checks, censorship, and disinformation have manipulated the information landscape in a more dramatic and chilling way than most any other factor. The biggest example is Big Tech’s censorship of arguably the most important political figure of our time: Donald Trump. Recent major examples of the sector fostering disinformation include amplifying claims that the Hunter Biden laptop story was Russian disinformation and censoring stories about it; repeatedly backing false information related to COVID-19, while censoring accurate information or legitimate scientific views; and falsely labeling the COVID-19 lab origin story as a conspiracy theory. A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta on Sept. 30, 2014. (Tami Chappell/Reuters) 4. Public Health Agencies The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health agencies have increasingly departed from the realm of public interest and science in order to advance false narratives and disinformation. Recent examples include the head of CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, falsely claiming that people who are vaccinated don’t carry and can’t spread COVID-19; and the agency knowingly putting out disinformation that falsely claimed original studies showed the vaccine’s benefit for people who’d already had COVID-19. Another example is National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials Drs. Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci privately working with the media to smear and discredit highly credentialed scientists who disagreed with the lockdown approach to COVID-19. Fences and barriers surround the U.S. Capitol after being reinstalled ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address before a Joint Session of Congress in Washington on Feb. 27, 2022. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images) 5. Congress Members of Congress in both parties have gotten caught taking part in questionable information-shaping and manipulation, particularly when it comes to pharmaceutical-related material. One recent example is members of Congress unilaterally writing letters to or contacting Big Tech in order to get certain topics or scientific studies and discussions controversialized or banned. Some of the members of Congress who are engaged in the efforts are the same ones responsible for their own high-profile disinformation campaigns. A recent example of that is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who repeatedly pushed false and misleading information on the Trump–Russia narrative, lobbying Big Tech to censor certain information related to COVID-19. A general view of the White House in Washington, on Oct. 2, 2021. (Al Drago/Reuters) 6. The Executive Branch Having lost the most powerful tool in its arsenal to shape information, the executive branch has now formed its own extra-Constitutional agency to serve that function: the Disinformation Governance Board. The named head of the board, Nina Jankowicz, has widely furthered disinformation in the past. The NBC News logo in Las Vegas, on Feb. 18, 2020. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images) 7. The Media With blogs and quasi-news outlets such as Axios, Slate, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Vox, Salon, Talking Points Memo, and Rolling Stone joining more traditional partisan outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, Politico, MSNBC, NBC, The Washington Post, CNN, and The New York Times in dominating the information landscape—while their conservative equivalents are controversialized—the media has proven to rank close to Big Tech in terms of their influence in further misinformation. A classroom in Tustin, Calif., on March 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) 8. Academia and Public Schools America’s colleges and universities have taken increasingly heavy-handed roles in terms of squelching free speech and free thought (when it leans against progressive or radical views), in exchange for a managed environment where only carefully filtered views are allowed, and specific language, expressions, and behavior are mandated. Many public school systems have grown stronger in efforts to install social engineering and political ideology in teachings and policies. Recent examples include policies involving the use of pronouns when referring to transgender students, and the instruction of critical race theory. The Department of Justice (DOJ) logo is pictured on a wall in New York on Dec. 5, 2013. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters) 9. Dept. of Justice, FBI, and Other Intel Agencies The very agencies that should remain furthest above the fray with clean hands have found themselves repeatedly muddied involving major investigations and their political influence efforts. One recent example is the criminal conviction of FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who falsified a document in order to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Though multiple people would have known about the crime—possibly participating, and staying silent—only Clinesmith was charged. He was only charged with a relatively minor crime in relation to the significance, and avoided any prison time. Meanwhile, the agency hasn’t offered any apology or redress to Page. Other examples include the Department of Justice targeting school parents as possible terrorists, and lopsided prosecution efforts regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach, compared to many more violent events and crimes. Additionally, intel operators have taken major roles both in front of the camera and behind the scenes to try to shape public opinion using false information and propaganda. One recent example is the “more than 50 former intelligence officials” who “signed a letter casting doubt on the provenance” of an accurate New York Post story about the Hunter Biden laptop. The Supreme Court in Washington on Sept. 21, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) 10. The Supreme Court Whether it’s the leak to multiple press outlets about Justice Stephen Breyer’s impending retirement or the more problematic new leak of the Roe v. Wade abortion draft, information-shapers have infiltrated the highest court in the land. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/05/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 5th, 2022

LGBTQ+ Discrimination Is Still Problematic in Real Estate. Here’s What Agents Should Know

According to the second-annual report published by the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, discrimination in the real estate industry remains prevalent—despite its extension of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) implementations and marketing towards the LGBTQ+ community.  The Alliance, one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ trade organizations, aims to reexamine the conversation surrounding unconscious bias and discrimination… The post LGBTQ+ Discrimination Is Still Problematic in Real Estate. Here’s What Agents Should Know appeared first on RISMedia. According to the second-annual report published by the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, discrimination in the real estate industry remains prevalent—despite its extension of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) implementations and marketing towards the LGBTQ+ community.  The Alliance, one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ trade organizations, aims to reexamine the conversation surrounding unconscious bias and discrimination in real estate, and serve as a much-needed voice and valued resource for working real estate professionals.  The report titled, “Discrimination And Its Impact On LGBTQ+ Community: Real Estate Professionals And Consumers,” includes data reflecting that, “20.7% of surveyed Alliance members identify real estate agents as the leading culprit in how housing discrimination occurs against the LGBTQ+ real estate home buyer.” Surveyed Alliance members were asked to weigh in on anti-discriminatory policy as it relates to their community versus company culture—with nearly 20% of respondents sharing that they experience high levels of unconscious bias within their local real estate market, almost double the 11% who report this about their own company. 17% of respondents noted an incident of discrimination by industry professionals, while 6% cited discrimatory behavior among their colleagues. Alliance CEO, Ryan Weyandt, who has been at the forefront of the non-profit’s overall mission to educate and empower LGBTQ+ real estate professionals and its clientele since 2020, spoke with RISMedia on why the disparity between company and industry-level discrimination paints a bigger picture of how DEI efforts shape change.  “Most instances of discrimination are based on pre-conceived notions , being uncomfortable or having a general fear of others,” he says. “It makes sense that LGBTQ+ people are more welcomed at the company level because their colleagues get to know them. At the larger industry level, where interaction may not be as consistent, it takes longer for the educational and get-to-know-you process to occur. Now that DEI is becoming part of company and industry culture, we are looking forward to the next steps.” The Alliance, already motivated by change, hopes to take immediate action against these concerning stats and improve on its systems to better protect its constituents. “This is not a tomorrow project. It’s a now project,” Weyandt asserts. “The diverse sectors are already here and they are coming in greater home buying numbers than ever before. The real estate industry should put anti-discrimination efforts at the top of the list of priorities. Our nation is changing. We are more diverse every day. We have more homebuyers and sellers from minority groups and obviously more LGBTQ+ consumers. Our younger generations are the most accepting in history. They will not tolerate discriminatory behavior. If REALTORS®, lenders, title professionals and ancillary service providers do not welcome these new consumers, are prejudicial and/or discriminatory, the industry will suffer and individual professionals will suffer in their businesses.” Pathway to homeownership On March 28, 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the controversial “Parental Rights in Education Bill,” which will take effect on July 1st. Florida’s H.B. 1557, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, will ban teacher or third party discussions of sexual orientation and gender-related issues in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms or in a manner deemed, “not age or developmentally appropriate.” Several other states are exploring similar types of legislation.  Weyandt says the facially neutral law and its vagueness of standards reflects some of the inconsistencies and loopholes that affect buyers and sellers—many fearing that this political framing and the erasure of community-related speech and legal safeguards impacts real estate professionals’ ability to conduct business without bias. He’s concerned about how these policies may impact the community’s journey to homeownership. “These horrific bills attacking our community are a form of housing discrimination,” he says. “Not in the immediate moment of an elementary schooler, but the lingering impact that mushrooms through our lives. Our inaugural LGBTQ+ Real Estate Report last year went in-depth into how on-going discrimination dating back to our childhoods impacts an LGBTQ+ person’s pathway to homeownership. Those bullied or discriminated against in those early years may not do well in school which impacts if and where they go to college. The same applies to college and if we are fully welcomed into the workplace. Too many LGBTQ+ people are not afforded the same opportunities in their career, are not promoted and therefore struggle to make more money and save for a down payment.” Though the Biden administration has pushed for housing discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to be amended into the Fair Housing Act, LGBTQ+ people are still not protected under federal law. In 27 states, there are no explicit statewide laws at all protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment or housing and public accommodations. Various forms of disrimination that can result in these unprotected states include: an agent refusing to show a listing to a LGBTQ+ couple in a predominantly heterosexual neighborhood, a landlord or maintenance worker not tending to repairs because he disagrees with a tenants “lifestyle,” an underwriter tossing out two-women’s loan application even though their duel income meets the necessary requirements because he perceives the applicants as same-sex partners.  With a housing market pricing people out of cities and into suburbs and rural areas, LGBTQ+ homeowners risk being under-represented and under-protected as a result, Weyandt says. Which is why he and over 2,000 members of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance continue to lobby for permanent legislation to protect an already marginalized group of homebuyers. “The Alliance and our partners are working hard to constantly remind the real estate community that LGBTQ+ people ARE people,” Weyandt says. “You already know and love us. Look at the stats. With just about 1-in-10 Americans identifying as part of the community—and every household has 3.5 people—if you look to your neighbors on your right or left, the law of averages would show that someone in one of those three households is part of the LGBTQ+ community. That doesn’t even consider your family, circle of friends, etc.” Building better allies Though Weyandt understands this is not an overnight fix, the Alliance is still doing everything at its disposal to correct biased behavior within its own sphere of influence. “Seemingly every day we are sent another example of a REALTOR® or real estate professional, usually on social media, openly discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community,” Weyandt shares. “We are working with NAR on how it wants to address these issues as they obviously violate the NAR Code of Ethics along with new anti-discrimination edicts. We also report these to local and state associations along with the offender’s brokerage and brand. In almost all instances the response is swift. Depending on the instance, we have seen brokerages disassociate themselves from the agent and REALTOR® associations take disciplinary action. We also offer to meet with the offender to help them learn and get more comfortable with the LGBTQ+ community.” In order to lead by example and be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community, the Alliance provides the following constructive ways to bring more acceptance, awareness and accountability into your agent practice.   Be informed. For any first-time buyer, the ins-and-outs of buying a home can be overwhelming. From understanding how to secure a downpayment, potential barriers to homeownership and finding the right neighborhood, the Alliance takes some of the guesswork out of your homeowner potential. The Alliance assists in helping LGBTQ+ buyers find an agent or home-related professional that is LGBTQ+-friendly and/or certified to help take some of the stress out of an otherwise exciting chapter. In collaboration with Freddie Mac and The Williams Institute, the Alliance also publishes an annual report detailing hard analysis and statistics on current market data in regards to LGBTQ+ homeownership. This not only aids buyers, but equips real estate professionals with the knowledge, resources and insight they need to excel and educate their community clients. Know your coverage. Every homeowner needs to protect their home, their possessions and their loved ones. Agents should be aware and share insurance policies that are inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly. Hippo Insurance hosts a blog that educates and empowers LGBTQ+ leads on all they need to know before buying. An expert team calculates a buyer’s premium to suggest the best type of insurance for them—and goes the extra mile with its benefits program. From home-care services and maintenance, to complimentary smart-home devices, Hippo takes care of its customers and helps streamline an otherwise taxing process, the company reports. Hippo also provides a comprehensive guide for transgender buyers looking to purchase a home. From an overview of what it costs to buy in the most trans-friendly cities, to how to safeguard yourself against being deadnamed or outed, Hippo can help your clients strategize the most out of the homeowning experience, and save some essential dollars in the process, the company states.  “At Hippo, we believe in bringing empowerment and confidence throughout homebuying and homeownership,” says Courtney Klosterman, home insights expert at Hippo. “Securing a home insurance quote should be easy, accessible, proactive and built with the customer in mind.” Get Alliance certified. The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is committed to training its industry professionals on how to be better allies. Its Alliance-certified Ally Certification Course offers virtual classes to help allies develop a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and provide them with knowledge on how to work with potential home buyers and sellers who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Those who complete the course will be presented with a certification of completion and a badge to be displayed on their website profile. This course is an opportunity for brokerages to get their entire team involved in the conversation surrounding LGBTQ+ discrimination and how to respectfully conduct business with the community at large.  “Very simply, none of us can improve ourselves without wanting to learn,” Weyandt shares. “Allies are incredibly important to the LGBTQ+ community. Supporting a loved one, colleague or friend, treating someone as a person first outside of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and/or standing up to those who attack us, truly matters. There is also a business side to becoming an Ally. We are seeing LGBTQ+ people move to communities not traditionally known as, ‘LGBTQ+ friendly.’ This means brokerages and agents who don’t learn and become comfortable with our community will lose business. Remember, it takes more than hanging a rainbow flag during Pride month to gain the trust of the community.” To view the Alliance’s second-annual report, click here.  Joey Macari is RISMedia’s associate editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at jmacari@rismedia.com. The post LGBTQ+ Discrimination Is Still Problematic in Real Estate. Here’s What Agents Should Know appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaMay 2nd, 2022

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute, Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory, part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. [W]hen Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system... They want to overthrow it altogether, period. Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war? ... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda... After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words... [suggest] to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. In February, [Biden] had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years..., have a bigger arsenal than ours. ...we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare....They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue.... China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy..., that the status of Taiwan is unresolved.... that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no ... solutions that are "undangerous." ...The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments..... We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse... I do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets.... Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians.... We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China.... This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑averse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. Unfortunately..., we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. [W]e should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. From October 2020 to October 2021, more than 105,000 Americans died from fentanyl -- which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans... we have to change course. I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. I would... just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China.... State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war?... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. All the conditions for history's next great war are in place. Jim Holmes, the Wiley Professor at the Naval War College, actually talks about this period as being 1937. 1937 was the year in which if you were in Europe or America, you could sense the trouble. If you were in Asia in 1937, you would be even more worried, because that year saw Japan's second invasion of China that decade. No matter where you lived, however, you could not be sure that the worst would happen, that great armies and navies around the world would clash. There was still hope that the situation could be managed. As we now know, the worst did happen. In fact, what happened was worse than what anyone thought at the time. We are now, thanks to China, back to 1937. We will begin our discussion in Afghanistan. Beijing has had long‑standing relations with the Afghan Taliban, going back before 9/11, and continuing through that event. After the US drove the Taliban from power and while it was conducting an insurgency, China was selling the group arms, including anti‑aircraft missiles, that were used to kill American and NATO forces. China's support for killing Americans has continued to today. In December 2020, Indian Intelligence was instrumental, in Afghanistan, in breaking up a ring of Chinese spies and members of the Haqqani Network. The Trump administration believed that the Chinese portion of that ring was actually paying cash for killing Americans. What can happen next? We should not be surprised if China gives the Taliban an atomic weapon to be used against an American city. Would they be that vicious? We have to remember that China purposefully, over the course of decades, proliferated its nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan and then helped Pakistan sell that Chinese technology around the world to regimes such as Iran's and North Korea's. Today, China supports the Taliban. We know this because China has kept open its embassy in Kabul. China is also running interference for the Taliban in the United Nations Security Council. It is urging countries to support that insurgent group with aid. It looks as if the Taliban's main financial backers these days are the Chinese. Beijing is hoping to cash in on its relationship in Central Asia. Unfortunately, there is a man named Biden, who is helping them. In early August, Biden issued an executive order setting a goal that by 2030, half of all American vehicles should be electric‑powered. To be electric‑powered, we need rare earth minerals, we need lithium. As many people have said, Afghanistan is the Saudi Arabia of rare earths and lithium. If Beijing can mine this, it makes the United States even more dependent on China. It certainly helps the Taliban immeasurably. Unfortunately, Beijing has more than just Afghanistan in mind. The Chinese want to take away our sovereignty, and that of other nations, and rule the world. They actually even want to rule the near parts of the solar system. Yes, that does sound far‑fetched, but, no, I'm not exaggerating. Chinese President Xi Jinping would like to end the current international system. On July 1, in a landmark speech, in connection with the centennial of China's ruling organization, he said this: "The Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, with their bravery and tenacity, solemnly proclaim to the world that the Chinese people are not only good at taking down the old world, but also good in building a new one." By that, China's leader means ending the international system, the Westphalian international system. It means he wants to impose China's imperial‑era notions of governance, where Chinese emperors believed they not only had the Mandate of Heaven over tianxia, or all under Heaven, but that Heaven actually compelled the Chinese to rule the entire world. Xi Jinping has been using tianxia themes for decades, and so have his subordinates, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who in September 2017 wrote an article in Study Times, the Central Party School's influential newspaper. In that article, Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy ‑‑ a "thought" in Communist Party lingo is an important body of ideological work ‑‑ Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy made innovations on and transcended the traditional theories of Western international relations of the past 300 years. Take 2017, subtract 300 years, and you almost get to 1648, which means that Wang Yi, with his time reference, was pointing to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which established the current system of sovereign states. When Wang Yi writes that Xi Jinping wants to transcend that system, he is really telling us that China's leader does not want sovereign states, or at least no more of them than China. This means that when Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system so it is more to their liking. They want to overthrow it altogether, period. China is also revolutionary with regard to the solar system. Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory. In other words, as part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea: theirs and theirs alone. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. Let us return to April 2021. Beijing announced the name of its Mars rover. "We are naming the Mars rover Zhurong," the Chinese said, "because Zhurong was the god of fire in Chinese mythology, " How nice. Yes, Zhurong is the god of fire. What Beijing did not tell us is that Zhurong is also the god of war—and the god of the South China Sea. Is Xi Jinping really that bold or that desperate to start another war? Two points. First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. The second point is that the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. On the first point, about our enemy status, we have to go back to May 2019. People's Daily, the most authoritative publication in China, actually carried a piece that declared a "people's war" on the US. This was not just some isolated thought. On August 29th 2021, People's Daily came out with a landmark piece that accused the United States of committing "barbaric" acts against China. Again, this was during a month of hostile propaganda blasts from China. On the August 29th, Global Times, which is controlled by People's Daily, came right out and also said that the United States was an enemy or like an enemy. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda. The question is, should we be concerned about what China is saying? After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words are significant. The strident anti‑Americanism suggests to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do. Jim Lilley, our great ambassador to Beijing during the Tiananmen Massacre, actually said that China always telegraphs its punches. At this moment, China is telegraphing a punch. That hostility, unfortunately, is not something we can do very much about. The Chinese Communist regime inherently idealizes struggle, and it demands that others show subservience to it. The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. That is evident from what the Chinese are saying. In March of 2021, China sent its top two diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, to Anchorage to meet our top officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Yang, in chilling words, said the US could no longer talk to China "from a position of strength." We saw the same theme during the fall of Kabul. China then was saying, "Look, those Americans, they can't deal with the insurgent Taliban. How can they hope to counter us magnificent Chinese?" Global Times actually came out with a piece referring to Americans: "They can't win wars anymore." We also saw propaganda at that same time directed at Taiwan. Global Times was saying, again, in an editorial, an important signal of official Chinese thinking, "When we decide to invade, Taiwan will fall within hours and the US will not come to help." It is probably no coincidence that this propaganda came at the time of incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. We need to be concerned with more than just the intensity and with the frequency of these flights, however. We have to be concerned that China was sending H‑6K bombers; they are nuclear‑capable. Something is wrong. Global Times recently came out with an editorial with the title, "Time to warn Taiwan secessionists and their fomenters: war is real." Beijing is at this moment saying things heard before history's great conflicts. The Chinese regime right now seems to be feeling incredibly arrogant. We heard this on November 28th in 2020, when Di Dongsheng, an academic in Beijing, gave a lecture live-streamed to China. Di showed the arrogance of the Chinese elite. More importantly, he was showing that the Chinese elite no longer wanted to hide how they felt. Di, for instance, openly stated that China could determine outcomes at the highest levels of the American political system. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden is reinforcing this notion. China, for instance, has so far killed nearly one million Americans with a disease that it deliberately spread beyond its borders. Yet, what happened? Nothing. We know that China was able to spread this disease with its close relationship with the World Health Organization. President Trump, in July of 2020, took us out of the WHO. What did Biden do? In his first hours in office, on January 20th, 2021, he put us back into the WHO. In February, he had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." Then there's somebody named John Kerry. Our republic is not safe when John Kerry carries a diplomatic passport, as he now does. He is willing to make almost any deal to get China to sign an enhanced climate arrangement. Kerry gave a revealing interview to David Westin of Bloomberg on September 22, 2021. Westin asked him, "What is the process by which one trades off climate against human rights?" Climate against human rights? Kerry came back and said, "Well, life is always full of tough choices in the relationship between nations." Tough choices? We Americans need to ask, "What is Kerry willing to give up to get his climate deal?" Democracies tend to deal with each other in the way that Kerry says. If we are nice to a democracy, that will lead to warm relations; warm relations will lead to deals, long‑standing ties. Kerry thinks that the Chinese communists think that way. Unfortunately, they do not. We know this because Kerry's successor as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in February 2009, said in public, "I'm not going to press the Chinese on human rights because I've got bigger fish to fry." She then went to Beijing a day after saying that and got no cooperation from the Chinese. Even worse, just weeks after that, China felt so bold that it attacked an unarmed US Navy reconnaissance vessel in the South China Sea. The attack was so serious that it constituted an act of war. The Chinese simply do not think the way that Kerry believes they do. All of this, when you put it together, means that the risk of war is much higher than we tend to think. Conflict with today's aggressor is going to be more destructive than it was in the 1930s. We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years, as some experts think, have a bigger arsenal than ours. China has built decoy silos before. We are not sure they are going to put all 345 missiles into these facilities, but we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. This, of course, calls into question their official no‑first‑use policy, and also a lot of other things. China will not talk to us about arms control. We have to be concerned that China and Russia, which already are coordinating their military activities, would gang up against us with their arsenals. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. It also shows that in hypersonic technology, which was developed by Americans, China is now at least a decade ahead of us in fielding a weapon. Why is China doing all this now? The country is coming apart at the seams. There is, for instance, a debt crisis. Evergrande and other property developers have started to default. It is more than just a crisis of companies. China is basically now having its 2008. Even more important than that, they have an economy that is stumbling and a food crisis that is worsening year to year. They know their environment is exhausted. Of course, they also are suffering from a continuing COVID‑19 epidemic. To make matters worse, all of this is occurring while China is on the edge of the steepest demographic decline in history in the absence of war or disease. Two Chinese demographers recently stated that China's population will probably halve in 45 years. If you run out those projections, it means that by the end of the century, China will be about a third of its current size, basically about the same number of people as the United States. These developments are roiling the political system. Xi Jinping is being blamed for these debacles. We know he has a low threshold of risk. Xi now has all the incentive in the world to deflect popular and regime discontent by lashing out. In 1966, Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic, was sidelined in Beijing. What did he do? He started the Cultural Revolution. He tried to use the Chinese people against his political enemies. That created a decade of chaos. Xi Jinping is trying to do the same thing with his "common prosperity" program. The difference is that Mao did not have the means to plunge the world into war. Xi, with his shiny new military, clearly does have that ability. So here is a 1930s scenario to consider. The next time China starts a conflict, whether accidentally or on purpose, we could see that China's friends -- Russia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan -- either in coordination with China or just taking advantage of the situation, move against their enemies. That would be Ukraine in the case of Russia, South Korea in the case of North Korea, Israel in the case of Iran, India in the case of Pakistan, and Morocco in the case of Algeria. We could see crises at both ends of the European landmass and in Africa at the same time. This is how world wars start. *  *  * Question: Why do you believe China attacked the world with coronavirus? Chang: I believe that SARS‑CoV‑2, the pathogen that causes COVID‑19, is not natural. There are, for example, unnatural arrangements of amino acids, like the double‑CGG sequence, that do not occur in nature. We do not have a hundred percent assurance on where this pathogen came from. We do, however, have a hundred percent assurance on something else: that for about five weeks, maybe even five months, Chinese leaders knew that this disease was highly transmissible, from one human to the next, but they told the world that it was not. At the same time as they were locking down their own country ‑‑ Xi Jinping by locking down was indicating that he thought this was an effective way of stopping the disease -- he was pressuring other countries not to impose travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals from China. It was those arrivals from China that turned what should have been an epidemic confined to the central part of China, into a global pandemic. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare. This was, for instance, in the 2017 edition of "The Science of Military Strategy," the authoritative publication of China's National Defense University. They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. Remember, Xi Jinping must be thinking, "I just got away with killing eight million people. Why wouldn't I unleash a biological attack on the United States? Look what the virus has done not only to kill Americans but also to divide American society." A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. Question: You mentioned 1939. Taiwan is the Poland of today. We get mixed signals: Biden invites the Taiwanese foreign minister to his inauguration, but then we hear Ned Price, his State Department spokesman, say that America will always respect the One‑China policy. Meaning, we're sidelining defending Taiwan? Chang: The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue. China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy, which is different. We recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China. We also say that the status of Taiwan is unresolved. Then, the third part of our One‑China policy is that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. In other words, that is code for peace, a peaceful resolution. Our policies are defined by the One‑China policy, the Three Communiques, Reagan's Six Assurances, and the Taiwan Relations Act. Our policy is difficult for someone named Joe Biden to articulate, because he came back from a campaign trip to Michigan, and he was asked by a reporter about Taiwan, and Biden said, "Don't worry about this. We got it covered. I had a phone call with Xi Jinping and he agreed to abide by the Taiwan agreement." In official US discourse, there is no such thing as a "Taiwan agreement." Some reporter then asked Ned Price what did Biden mean by the Taiwan agreement. Ned Price said, "The Taiwan agreement means the Three Communiques the Six Assurances, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the One‑China policy." Ned Price could not have been telling the truth because Xi Jinping did not agree to America's position on Taiwan. That is clear. There is complete fuzziness or outright lying in the Biden administration about this. Biden's policies on Taiwan are not horrible, but they are also not appropriate for this time. decades, we have had this policy of "strategic ambiguity," where we do not tell either side what we would do in the face of imminent conflict. That worked in a benign period. We are no longer in a benign period. We are in one of the most dangerous periods in history. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. Question: You think he is not saying that because he has no intention of actually doing it, so in a way, he is telling the truth? Chang: The mind of Biden is difficult to understand. We do not know what the administration would do. We have never known, after Allen Dulles, what any administration would do, with regard to Taiwan. We knew what Dulles would have done. We have got to be really concerned because there are voices in the administration that would give Taiwan, and give other parts of the world, to China. It would probably start with John Kerry; that is only a guess. Question: You mentioned earlier the growing Chinese economic problems. Would you use taking action on the enormous trade deficits we run with China to contribute to that problem? Chang: Yes, we should absolutely do that. Go back to a day which, in my mind, lives in infamy, which is January 15th, 2020, when President Trump signed the Phase One trade deal, which I think was a mistake. In that Phase One trade deal, it was very easy for China to comply, because there were specific targets that China had to meet in buying US goods and services. This was "managed trade." China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments. That means, they have dishonored this deal in a material and significant way. If nothing else, China has failed to meet its Phase One trade deal commitments. We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse: for instance, these Chinese anti‑lawsuit injunctions, which they have started to institute. We need to do something: China steals somewhere between $300 to $600 billion worth of US intellectual property each year. That is a grievous wound on the US economy, it is a grievous wound on our society in general. We need to do something about it. Question: As a follow‑up on that, Japan commenced World War II because of the tariffs Roosevelt was strapping on oil imports into Japan, do you think that might well have the same effect on China, where we do begin to impose stiffer tariffs on American imports? Chang: That is a really important question, to which nobody has an answer. I do not think that China would start a war over tariffs. Let me answer this question in a different way. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no good solutions. There are no solutions that are "undangerous." Every solution, going forward, carries great risk. The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. The point is, we have no choice right now. First, I don't think the Chinese were ever going to honor the Phase One agreement . This was not a deal where there were some fuzzy requirements. This deal was very clear: China buys these amounts of agricultural products by such and such date, China buys so many manufactured products by such and such date. This was not rocket science. China purposefully decided not to honor it. There are also other issues regarding the trade deal do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets, which is what the Phase One deal also contemplated. Goldman Sachs ran away like a bandit on that. There are lot of objections to it. I do not think we should be trading with China, for a lot of reasons. The Phase One trade deal, in my mind, was a great mistake. Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. Question: Concerning cybersecurity, as we saw in the recent departure of a Pentagon official, ringing the alarm on how we are completely vulnerable to China's cyberattacks. From your perspective, what would an attack look like on China that would hurt them? What particular institutions would be the most vulnerable? Is it exposing their secrets? Is it something on their financial system? Is it something on their medical system or critical infrastructure? What does the best way look like to damage them? Also, regarding what you mentioned about Afghanistan, we know that China has been making inroads into Pakistan as a check on American hegemony in relationships with India and Afghanistan. Now that the Afghanistan domino is down, what do you see in the future for Pakistan's nuclear capability, in conjunction with Chinese backing, to move ever further westward towards Afghanistan, and endangering Middle East security? Chang: Right now, India has been disheartened by what happened, because India was one of the main backers of the Afghan government. What we did in New Delhi was delegitimize our friends, so that now the pro‑Russian, the pro‑Chinese elements in the Indian national security establishment are basically setting the tone. This is terrible. What has happened, though, in Pakistan itself, is not an unmitigated disaster for us, because China has suffered blowback there. There is an Afghan Taliban, and there is a Pakistani Taliban. They have diametrically‑opposed policies on China. The Afghan Taliban is an ally of China; the Pakistani Taliban kill Chinese. They do that because they want to destabilize Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Beijing supports Islamabad. The calculation on part of the Pakistani Taliban is, "We kill Chinese, we destabilize Islamabad, we then get to set up the caliphate in Pakistan." What has happened is, with this incredible success of the Afghan Taliban, that the Pakistani Taliban has been re‑energized -- not good news for China. China has something called the China‑Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of their Belt and Road Initiative. Ultimately that is going to be something like $62 billion of investment into Pakistani roads, airports, electric power plants, utilities, all the rest of it. I am very happy that China is in Pakistan, because they are now dealing with a situation that they have no solutions to. It's like Winston Churchill on Italy, "It's now your turn." We should never have had good relations with Pakistan. That was always a short‑term compromise that, even in the short term, undermined American interests. The point is that China is now having troubles in Pakistan because of their success in Afghanistan. Pakistan is important to China for a number of reasons. One of them is, they want it as an outlet to the Indian Ocean that bypasses the Malacca Strait -- a choke point that the US Navy ‑‑ in their view ‑‑ could easily close off, which is correct. They want to bypass that, but their port in Gwadar is a failure in many respects. Gwadar is in Pakistan's Baluchistan. The Baluchs are one of the most oppressed minorities on earth. They have now taken to violence against the Chinese, and they have been effective. Pakistan is a failure for China. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. Trade is really what they need right now. Their economy is stalling. There are three parts to the Chinese economy, as there are to all economies: consumption, investment, and net exports. Their consumption right now is extremely weak from indicators that we have. The question is can they invest? China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. We have extraordinary supply chain disruptions right now. It should be pretty easy for us to make the case that we must become self‑sufficient on a number of items. Hit them on trade. Hit them on investment, publicize the bank account details of Chinese leaders. All these things that we do, we do it all at the same time. We can maybe get rid of these guys. Question: In the Solomon Islands, they published China's under-the-table payments to political figures. Should we do the same thing with China's leaders? Chang: Yes. There is now a contest for the Solomon Islands, which includes Guadalcanal. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians. This was really good news. We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. Why don't we publish their payments to politicians around the world? Let's expose these guys, let's go after them. Let's root out Chinese influence, because they are subverting our political system. Similarly, we should also be publishing the bank account details of all these Chinese leaders, because they are corrupt as hell. Question: Could you comment, please, on what you think is the nature of the personal relationships between Hunter Biden, his father, and Chinese financial institutions. How has it, if at all, affected American foreign policy towards China, and how will it affect that policy? Chang: There are two things here. There are the financial ties. Hunter Biden has connections with Chinese institutions, which you cannot explain in the absence of corruption. For instance, he has a relationship with Bohai Harvest Partners, BHR. China puts a lot of money into the care of foreign investment managers. The two billion, or whatever the number is, is not that large, but they only put money with people who have a track record in managing investments. Hunter Biden only has a track record of being the son of Joe Biden. There are three investigations of Hunter Biden right now. There is the Wilmington US Attorney's Office, the FBI -- I don't place very much hope in either of these – but the third one might actually bear some fruit: the IRS investigation of Hunter Biden. Let us say, for the moment, that Biden is able to corrupt all three of these investigations. Yet money always leaves a trail. We are going to find out one way or another. Peter Schweizer, for instance, is working on a book on the Biden cash. Eventually, we are going to know about that. What worries me is not so much the money trail -- and of course, there's the art sales, a subject in itself, because we will find out. What worries me is that Hunter Biden, by his own admission, is a troubled individual. He has been to China a number of times. He has probably committed some embarrassing act there, which means that the Ministry of State Security has audio and video recordings of this. Those are the things that can be used for blackmail. We Americans would never know about it, because blackmail does not necessarily leave a trail. This is what we should be most concerned about. Biden has now had two long phone calls with Xi Jinping. The February call, plus also one a few months ago. We do not know what was said. I would be very worried that when Xi Jinping wants to say something, there will be a phone call to Biden, and it would be Xi doing the talking without note takers. Question: Please tell us about the China desk over the 30 years, the influence of the bureaucracy on politics; what can they affect? Chang: I do not agree with our China policy establishment in Washington, in general, and specifically the State Department and NSC. This a complicated issue. First, there is this notion after the end of the Cold War, that the nature of governments did not matter. You could trade with them, you could strengthen them, and it would not have national security implications. That was wrong for a number of reasons, as we are now seeing. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China. You hear this from Blinken all the time: "We've got to cooperate where we can." It is this formulation which is tired, and which has not produced the types of policies that are necessary to defend our republic. That is the unfortunate thing. This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. We Americans should be upset because we have a political class that is not defending us. They are not defending us because they have these notions of China. George Kennan understood the nature of the Soviet Union. I do not understand why we cannot understand the true nature of the Chinese regime. Part of it is because we have Wall Street, we have Walmart, and they carry China's water. There are more of us than there are of them in this country. We have to exercise our vote to make sure that we implement China policies that actually protect us. Policies that protect us are going to be drastic and they will be extreme, but absolutely, we have now dug ourselves into such a hole after three decades of truly misguided views on China, that I don't know what else to say. This is not some partisan complaint. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, all have truly misguided China policies. I do not know what it takes to break this view, except maybe for the deaths of American servicemen and women. Question: Is the big obstacle American businesses which, in donations to Biden, are the ones stopping decoupling of commerce, and saying, "Do not have war; we would rather earn money"? Chang: It is. You have, for instance, Nike. There are a number of different companies, but Nike comes to mind right now, because they love to lecture us about racism. For years they were operating a factory in Qingdao, in the northeastern part of China, that resembled a concentration camp. The laborers were Uighur and Kazakh women, brought there on cattle cars and forced to work. This factory, technically, was operated by a South Korean sub‑contractor, but that contractor had a three‑decade relationship with Nike. Nike had to know what was going on. This was forced labor, perhaps even slave labor. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. One of the good things Trump did was, towards the end of his four years, he started to vigorously enforce the statutes that are already on the books, about products that are made with forced and slave labor. Biden, to his credit, has continued tougher enforcement. Right now, the big struggle is not the enforcement, but enhancing those rules. Apple and all of these companies are now very much trying to prevent amendment of those laws. It's business, but it's also immoral. Question: It is not just big Wall Street firms. There are companies that print the Bible. Most Bibles are now printed in China. When President Trump imposed the tariffs, a lot of the Bible printers who depended on China actually went to Trump and said, "You cannot put those tariffs in because then the cost of Bibles will go up." Chang: Most everyone lobbies for China. We have to take away their incentive to do so. Question: What are the chances that China's going to invade Taiwan? Chang: There is no clear answer. There are a number of factors that promote stability. One of them is that, for China to invade Taiwan, Xi Jinping has to give some general or admiral basically total control over the Chinese military. That makes this flag officer the most powerful person in China. Xi is not about to do that. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑adverse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. The reason we have to be concerned is because it is not just a question of Xi Jinping waking up one morning and saying, "I want to invade Taiwan." The danger is the risk of accidental contact, in the skies or on the seas, around Taiwan. We know that China has been engaging in hostile conduct, and this is not just the incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. There are also dangerous intercepts of the US Navy and the US Air Force in the global commons. One of those accidents could spiral out of control. We saw this on April 1st, 2001, with the EP‑3, where a Chinese jet clipped the wing of that slow‑moving propeller plane of the US Navy. The only reason we got through it was that George W. Bush, to his eternal shame, paid China a sum that was essentially a ransom. He allowed our crew to be held for 11 days. He allowed the Chinese to strip that plane. This was wrong. This was the worst incident in US diplomatic history, but Bush's craven response did get us through it. Unfortunately, by getting through it we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. One of these incidents will go wrong. The law of averages says that. Then we have to really worry. Question: You don't think Xi thinks, "Oh well, we can sacrifice a few million Chinese"? Chang: On the night of June 15th, 2020, there was a clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers in Ladakh, in the Galwan Valley. That was a Chinese sneak attack on Indian-controlled territory. That night, 20 Indian soldiers were killed. China did not admit to any casualties. The Indians were saying that they killed about 45 Chinese soldiers that night. Remember, this was June 15th of 2020. It took until February of 2021 for China to admit that four Chinese soldiers died. TASS, the Russian news agency, recently issued a story reporting that 45 Chinese soldiers actually died that night. This incident shows you how risk‑averse and casualty‑averse the Chinese Communist Party is. They are willing to intimidate, they are willing to do all sorts of things. They are, however, loath to fight sustained engagements. Remember, that the number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is not to take over Taiwan. The number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is to preserve Communist Party rule. If the Communist Party feels that the Chinese people are not on board with an invasion of Taiwan, they will not do it even if they think they will be successful. Right now, the Chinese people are not in any mood for a full‑scale invasion of Taiwan. On the other hand, Xi Jinping has a very low threshold of risk. He took a consensual political system where no Chinese leader got too much blame or too much credit, because everybody shared in decisions, and Xi took power from everybody, which means, he ended up with full accountability, which means -- he is now fully responsible. In 2017, when everything was going China's way, this was great for Xi Jinping because he got all the credit. Now in 2021, where things are not going China's way, he is getting all the blame. The other thing, is that Xi has raised the cost of losing a political struggle in China. In the Deng Xiaoping era, Deng reduced the cost of losing a struggle. In the Maoist era, if you lost a struggle, you potentially lost your life. In Deng's era, if you lost a struggle, you got a nice house, a comfortable life. Xi Jinping has reversed that. Now the cost of losing a political struggle in China is very high. So there is now a combination of these two developments. Xi has full accountability. He knows that if he is thrown out of power, he loses not just power. He loses his freedom, his assets, potentially his life. If he has nothing to lose, however, it means that he can start a war, either "accidentally" or on purpose. He could be thinking, "I'm dying anyway, so why don't I just roll the dice and see if I can get out of this?" That is the reason why this moment is so exceedingly risky. When you look at the internal dynamics inside China right now, we are dealing with a system in crisis. Question: China has a conference coming up in a year or so. What does Chairman Xi want to do to make sure he gets through that conference with triumph? Chang: The Communist Party has recently been holding its National Congresses once every five years. If the pattern follows -- and that is an if -- the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party will be held either October or November of next year. This is an important Congress, more so than most of them because Xi Jinping is looking for an unprecedented third term as general secretary of the Communist Party. If you go back six months ago, maybe a year, everyone was saying, "Oh, Xi Jinping. No problem. He's president for life. He's going to get his third term. He will get his fourth term. He will get his fifth term, as long as he lives. This guy is there forever." Right now, that assumption is no longer valid. We do not know what's going to happen because he is being blamed for everything. Remember, as we get close to the 20th National Congress, Xi Jinping knows he has to show "success." Showing "success" could very well mean killing some more Indians or killing Americans or killing Japanese or something. We just don't know what is going to happen. Prior to the National Congress, there is the sixth plenum of the 19th Congress. Who knows what is going to happen there. The Communist Party calendar, as you point out, does dictate the way Xi Jinping interacts with the world. Question: Going back to the wing-clip incident, what should Bush have done? Chang: What Bush should have done is immediately demand the return of that plane. What he should have done was to impose trade sanctions, investment sanctions, whatever, to get our plane back. We were fortunate, in the sense that our aviators were returned, but they were returned in a way that has made relations with China worse, because we taught the Chinese regime to be more aggressive and more belligerent. We created the problems of today and of tomorrow. I would have imposed sanction after sanction after sanction, and just demand that they return the plane and the pilots. Remember, that at some point, it was in China's interests to return our aviators. The costs would have been too high for the Chinese to keep them. We did not use that leverage on them. While we are on this topic, we should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. In one year, from 2020 to 2021, nearly 80,000 Americans died from fentanyl, which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans. China is killing us. We have to do something different. I'm not saying that we have good solutions; we don't. But we have to change course. Question: Biden is continuing this hostage thing with Huawei, returning the CFO of Huawei in exchange for two Canadians. Have we taught the Chinese that they can grab more hostages? Chang: President Trump was right to seek the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies. Biden, in a deal, released her. She did not even have to plead guilty to any Federal crime. She signed a statement, which I hope we'll be able to use against Huawei. As soon as Meng was released, China released the "two Michaels," the two Canadians who were grabbed within days of our seeking extradition of Meng Wanzhou. In other words, the two Michaels were hostages. We have taught China that any time that we try to enforce our own laws, they can just grab Americans. They have grabbed Americans as hostages before, but this case is high profile. They grabbed Americans, and then they grabbed Canadians, and they got away with it. They are going to do it again. We are creating the incentives for Beijing to act even more dangerously and lawlessly and criminally in the future. This has to stop. Question: On the off-chance that the current leader does not maintain his position, what are your thoughts on the leaders that we should keep an eye on? Chang: There is no one who stands out among the members of the Politburo Standing Committee. That is purposeful. Xi Jinping has made sure that there is nobody who can be considered a successor; that is the last thing he wants. If there is a change in leadership, the new leader probably will come from Jiang Zemin's Shanghai Gang faction. Jiang was China's leader before Hu Jintao, and Hu came before Xi Jinping. There is now a lot of factional infighting. Most of the reporting shows that Jiang has been trying to unseat Xi Jinping because Xi has been putting Jiang's allies in jail. Remember, the Communist Party is not a monolith. It has a lot of factions. Jiang's faction is not the only one. There is something called the Communist Youth League of Hu Jintao. It could, therefore, be anybody. Question: Double question: You did not talk about Hong Kong. Is Hong Kong lost forever to the Chinese Communist Party? Second question, if you could, what are the three policies that you would change right away? Chang: Hong Kong is not lost forever. In Hong Kong, there is an insurgency. We know from the history of insurgencies that they die away -- and they come back. We have seen this in Hong Kong. The big protests in Hong Kong, remember, 2003, 2014, 2019. In those interim periods, everyone said, "Oh, the protest movement is gone." It wasn't. China has been very effective with its national security law, but there is still resistance in Hong Kong. There is still a lot of fight there. It may not manifest itself for quite some time, but this struggle is not over, especially if the United States stands behind the people there. Biden, although he campaigned on helping Hong Kong, has done nothing. On the second question, I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. The third thing, I would do what Pompeo did, just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China. We have taught the world that we are afraid of dealing with the Chinese. State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Tyler Durden Sun, 05/01/2022 - 23:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 2nd, 2022

California"s Vanished Dream, By The Numbers

California's Vanished Dream, By The Numbers Authored by Joel Kotkin via RealClear Investigations, Even today amid a mounting exodus among those who can afford it, and with its appeal diminished to businesses and newcomers, California, legendary state of American dreams, continues to inspire optimism among progressive boosters. Laura Tyson, the longtime Democratic economist now at the University of California at Berkeley, praises the state for creating “the way forward” to a more enlightened “market capitalism.” Like-minded analysts tout Silicon Valley’s massive wealth generation as evidence of progressivism’s promise. The Los Angeles Times suggested approvingly that the Biden administration’s goal is to “make America California again.” And, despite dark prospects in November’s midterm elections, the President and his party still seem intent on proving it. But most Californians, according to recent surveys, see things differently. They point to rising poverty and inequality, believe the state is in recession and that it is headed in the wrong direction. Parting with the state’s cheerleaders, the New York Times’ Ezra Klein, a reliable progressive and native Californian, says the Golden State’s failures are “making liberals squirm.” Reality may well be worse than even Klein admits. In a new report for Chapman University, my colleagues and I find California in a state of existential crisis, losing both its middle-aged and middle class, while its poor population faces dimming prospects. Despite the state’s myriad advantages, research shows it plagued by economic immobility and inequality, crushing housing and energy costs, and a failing education system. Worse than just a case of progressive policies creating regressive outcomes, it appears California is descending into something resembling modern-day feudalism, with the poor and weak trapped by policies subsidized by taxes paid by the rich and powerful. California may conjure images of Rodeo Drive and Malibu mansions in the public imagination, but today the state suffers the highest cost-adjusted poverty rate in the U.S. The poor and near-poor constitute over one third – well over 10 million – of the state’s residents according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Los Angeles, by far the state’s largest metropolitan area, and once a magnet for middle class aspirations, has one of the highest poverty rates among major U.S. cities. A United Way of California analysis shows that over 30 percent of residents lack sufficient income to cover basic living costs even after accounting for public-assistance programs; this includes half of Latino and 40 percent of black residents. Some two-thirds of noncitizen Latinos live at or below the poverty line. While many Californians are fleeing, some are decidedly less bearish. “In California, there is this idea of ‘Oh, we care about the poor,’ but on this metric, we are literally the worst,” Stanford’s University’s Mark Duggan, principal author of an economic comparison of California with Texas, told the San Francisco Chronicle. The state’s poverty and associated dysfunction are on full display in leading cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where a large underclass now inhabits the streets – the once-iconic locales having become poster children for urban dysfunction. Beyond massive homeless camps, crime has become so bad that the LAPD has warned tourists it can no longer protect them. San Francisco, meanwhile, suffers the highest property crime rate in the country. Businesses like Walgreens have shut down numerous Bay Area locations due to “rampant burglaries.” Homelessness and crime increasingly dominate the state’s political discourse, particularly in these two deep blue bastions. California also faces growing inequality. By the Gini index, a measure of the distribution of income across a population, California has the third-highest inequality behind New York and Louisiana, and has experienced the fifth largest expansion of inequality since 2010, according to American Community Survey data. California also suffers the widest gap between middle- and upper-middle-income earners of any state. In leading cities, homeless encampments line streets such as San Francisco's Golden Gate Avenue. AP Once among the most egalitarian regions in the country, Silicon Valley has become among the most segregated places in the country. CityLab has described the technology hub as “a region of segregated innovation,” a trend becoming more pronounced, according to recent research. Silicon Valley now boasts its own underclass of those who clean its buildings and provide food service. Nearly 30 percent of its residents rely on public or private financial assistance. Similarly, according to the Brookings Institution, San Francisco, the technology industry’s most important urban center, has experienced the most rapid growth in inequality among the nation’s large cities in the last decade. The California Budget and Policy Center has named the city first in California for economic inequality; the average income of the top one percent of households in the city averages $3.6 million, forty-four times the average income of the bottom 99 percent, which stands at $81,094 in a city and state with a high cost of living. The situation is worse elsewhere in the state. Over the past decade more than 80 percent of California jobs paid under the median income, and most under $40,000 annually, a poverty wage in California. Worse yet, as demonstrated in our analysis, California lags all peer competitors – Texas, Arizona, Tennessee, Nevada, Washington and Colorado – in creating high wage jobs in fields like business and professional services, as even tech growth begins to shift elsewhere. The biggest losers in California have been those industries that historically provided the best opportunities for working-class people – manufacturing, construction, energy – as well as agriculture, the state’s historic economic powerhouse. On a per capita basis, California builds only a fraction of the housing compared to its main rivals, while corporate new investment, suggests a new Hoover Institution study, has shriveled to a rate one-tenth Texas and one-sixteenth that of Ohio. The state’s climate change policies, however well-intentioned, have had a particularly devastating impact on manufacturing. California’s “renewable energy” push has generated high energy prices and the nation’s least-reliable power grid, crippling an industry reliant on fossil fuels and a stable electric supply. The state fell to 44th in the country in manufacturing sector employment growth last year; its industrial new job creation has lagged competitors such as Nevada, Kentucky, Michigan and Florida. Even without adjusting for costs, no California metro ranks in the U.S. top ten in terms of offering well-paying blue-collar jobs, notes The New York Times. But four – Ventura, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego – sit among the bottom ten. Under California’s green agenda, electricity has skyrocketed while its grid has become less stable. Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity As the environmentalist Breakthrough Institute summarizes it, the state’s climate agenda has created a “new Green Jim Crow era” keeping more people, particularly minorities, in poverty. Housing policy has also hurt most those who can least afford it. California’s state planning policies aim to reduce urban sprawl – the shift to locales where costs are lower and the state is gaining migrants. The heavily minority Inland Empire, which has little political influence, now has more people than the San Francisco metropolitan area, which dominates state politics, but the former is unable to reverse any of these policies. Despite expectations by planners that limiting suburban growth would reduce prices for the masses and greenhouse emissions by encouraging density, studies in Vancouver, Canada and several other locations have shown the opposite; they associate densification with higher land and housing prices. California has the highest urban density of any state, yet suffers the second highest housing costs and rents of any state except Hawaii. On this issue, some media coverage appears to have been influenced by the pro-density preferences of tech titans like Mark Zuckerberg. Striving, largely minority middle- and working-class families bear the brunt of such policies. According to a recent American Enterprise Institute survey, California is home to six of the nation’s worst markets for first-time homebuyers. It would take more than 100 years for the median-income household to save for a mortgage on a median-priced home in San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Jose. The state now ranks 49th in homeownership rate, producing far less new housing than competitive regions like Arizona, Texas or Florida. A recent study by economist John Husing found not one unionized construction worker can afford a median-priced home in any coastal California county. Unable to buy their own home, many working class families find themselves paying extraordinarily high rents, with more than half of all renters shelling out in excess of 30% of household income, the traditional definition of an outsized housing burden. Nearly four in ten California households meet or exceed this level. Not surprisingly, one quarter are contemplating a move elsewhere. High rents and house prices, along with low wages, also have produced the nation’s highest level of overcrowding. Nor has densification brought the purported environmental benefits cited by California’s champions at Brookings and in the Biden Administration; the pro-density Terner Center projects that if California’s cities followed the density guidelines, at best the state would see a 1% reduction in emissions. Manifest Education Failures Historically education was seen – particularly among traditional liberals – as critical to upward mobility for poor and working-class people. Yet for decades the state’s schools have underperformed national norms, particularly for poor students. Since 1998, California has ranked, on average, 46th in 8th-grade reading and mathematics subject-area performance on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), the only comparable assessment between states nationwide. This includes comparisons with demographically similar states like Texas, which spends less money per student. Today, almost three of five California high schoolers are not prepared for either college or a career; the percentages are far higher for Latinos, African Americans, and the economically disadvantaged. Among the 50 states, California ranked 49th in the performance of poor, largely minority, students. San Francisco, the epicenter of California’s woke culture, and site of the recent recall of several far-left school board members, suffers the worst scores for African Americans of any county in the state. These students are often unprepared for college. At California State University – where ethnic studies programs are now mandated – the need for remedial courses or 40 percent of freshmen demonstrates a low level of preparedness in such basic skills as reading comprehension, writing and mathematics. Some educators have decided to eliminate this problem by eliminating remedial classes. California’s model curriculum, which focuses on how to “build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance,” may only exacerbate these problems by inculcating attitudes antithetical to those necessary to succeed in a highly competitive capitalist economy. Many California educators from the highest reaches of academia down to the grade school level champion “equity” in education over developing hard math skills and fostering excellence. Even basic life skills such as being on time are eschewed: The San Diego Unified School District will no longer count such scruples as turning in work on time in grading and evaluation. It may reduce the penalties for cheating. This is justified as a way of redressing racial issues, as many of the malefactors (like most California students) are from disadvantaged minority groups. Most Californians support charter schools, including nearly half of all Democrats, and three chapters of the Southern California NAACP – San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside. The state’s powerful teachers unions, and the Democrats they back, oppose such education alternatives. Tech titans, once focused on improving schools, now seem less engaged. This may make sense given the extent to which tech relies on global talent rather than recruiting locally. In 2018, three-quarters of the tech workforce in the Bay Area was foreign-born, a majority on short-term non-immigrant visas. The answer to many of the problems plaguing California’s struggling lower classes has been to throw more of the upper class’s money at them. Michael Bernick, a former director of the state’s Employment Development Department, says “The culture for much of California, driven by state politics, is one of benefits (and now guaranteed income), not a jobs strategy or expectation.” California is unlikely to be devoting the state’s surplus –driven largely by stock and property gains among the wealth – as Texas and other states do, to attracting businesses. Instead, as Bernick suggests, the preference has been to boost the welfare state, as it did in initiating record-setting stimulus payments during the pandemic. It is now contemplating handing out debit cards to cope with high energy prices created by the state’s environmental policies. California’s technology industry consists of staunch funders of the states’ progressive Democrats. They may themselves be obsessed workaholics and living testaments to entrepreneurial capitalism, but Greg Ferenstein, who interviewed 147 digital company founders, says most believe that “an increasingly greater share of economic wealth will be generated by a smaller slice of very talented or original people. Everyone else will increasingly subsist on some combination of part-time entrepreneurial ’gig work ‘and government aid.” Many prominent business people, including those who made their fortunes in California such as Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar, Elon Musk, and Sam Altman, founder of the Y Combinator, have embraced the notion of a "guaranteed wage," that would cover most critical bills. Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign was built around this concept. In the interim, people are fleeing the state. Demographer Wendell Cox notes that since 2000, California has lost 2.6 million net domestic migrants, more than the current populations of San Diego, San Francisco and Anaheim combined. In 2020, California accounted for 28 percent of all net domestic outmigration in the nation, about 50 percent more than its share of the US population. California’s population growth has fallen below the national average for the first time, and the state appears to have even possibly lost population the last two years. The pandemic seems to have accelerated this movement. Last year California was home to three of the five large regions over one million with the highest percentage population loss – San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. Both San Francisco and Los Angeles school districts face large decreases in enrollment; the LA district, the state’s largest, projects a 20% cut in this decade. This outmigration trend cannot be dismissed as “white flight.” An analysis of minority population flows shows that Latinos and African Americans are settling increasingly west of the Sierra, particularly in the south, Texas, and parts of the Midwest. Similarly, the foreign-born population – so critical to the state’s economy – has declined in Los Angeles over the past decade, and stagnated in the Bay Area while swelling in places like Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, Houston, Nashville and even midwestern cities like Columbus, Des Moines and Indianapolis. Simply put, California is in danger of losing its youthful mojo. Many of those leaving, according to IRS data, come from young, middle and working class families. When these people leave, birthrates plummet. Los Angeles and San Francisco rank last and second-to-last in birthrates among the 53 U.S. major metropolitan areas. Among California's big metros, only Riverside/San Bernardino exceeds the national average in women aged between 15 and 50 with births. California’s total fertility rate, long above the national average, is now the nation’s 10th lowest. Los Angeles County alone has lost three quarters of a million people under 25 over the past twenty years. California today is as old as the rest of the country and aging 50 percent faster than the national norm. It is rapidly replacing the surfboard with a walker. *  *  * Joel Kotkin is a Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 22:15.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

Woke Medicine"s Got A Tricky Operation: Grafting "Systemic Racism" Onto Hard Science

Woke Medicine's Got A Tricky Operation: Grafting 'Systemic Racism' Onto Hard Science Authored b John Murawski via RealClear Investigations, Just a few years ago, concepts such as “white supremacy,” “systemic racism,” and “structural intersectionality” were not the standard fare of prestigious medical journals. These are now the guiding ideas in a February special issue of “Health Affairs” that focuses on medicine and race. Piron Guillaume Featuring nearly two dozen articles with titles such as “Racism Runs Through It” and “Sick and Tired of Being Excluded,” as well as a poem called “Identity,” the Washington, D.C.-based, peer-reviewed journal analyzes racial health disparities not through biology, behavior, or culture, but through the lens of  “whiteness,” along with concepts such as power, systems of oppression, state-sanctioned violence, and critical race praxis – a sampling of terms that come up in the February issue. Health Affairs, dubbed by a Washington Post columnist as “the bible of health policy,” represents something much more ambitious than woke virtue signaling. Its February issue reflects the effort of newly empowered “anti-racist” scholars to transform concepts that are still considered speculative and controversial – and some say unprovable – into scientific fact. This growing effort to document, measure, and quantify racism is being advanced by other high-profile publications, including The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and Scientific American, which last year ran articles entitled “Modern Mathematics Confronts Its White, Patriarchal Past” and “Denial of Evolution Is a Form of White Supremacy.” But this scientific aspiration faces major challenges. Science demands verification, testability, and replicability, whereas race is a social construct that can be difficult to separate from factors like class or culture, and explaining the data often remains dependent on academic theories about systemic racism. The articles in Health Affairs indicate that elevating the concept of systemic racism from moral certitude to scientific fact will require developing new tools and methods – and even more theories – in the face of skepticism and resistance from dissenters who view this direction in research as unscientific and ideological. For example, five co-authors of the Health Affairs article “Improving the Measurement of Structural Racism to Achieve Antiracist Policy” observe that “there is a disconnect between the conceptualization and measurement of structural racism in the public health literature” – that is to say that acceptance of the idea outpaces the evidence for it. In a Health Affairs paper titled “The Intellectual Roots of Current Knowledge on Racism and Health,” researchers from Harvard University and the University of Maryland argue that turning the study of systemic racism into a scientific enterprise will require the scientific community to embrace terminology and research that “can be unsettling to some”: Until recently, the language and terminology of racism has been contested, often ignored, and viewed as not relevant to, or acceptable for, accounting for and intervening on racial and ethnic inequities in health. The Harvard and Maryland scholars identify “the critical need for paradigmatic shifts that incorporate racism as a driver of inequities,” noting that “scientific language has the power to encourage normative standards.” In another article, a team of five scholars calls for “outlining specific methodological approaches that will move the field forward.” Those pushing the effort expect that it will take years to build up a knowledge base and critical mass of scholarly research. If successful, it would empower the anti-racist movement with what advocates expect to be recognized as unimpeachable scientific authority that could be used to support a myriad of diversity and equity policies and interventions that are now being advocated as moral and polemical arguments by legal scholars, educators, historians, and journalists. According to researchers now studying the relationship of medicine and race, racial inequalities in lifespans, health, income, and other metrics largely result from a single cause: cultural norms and unconscious beliefs that have the appearance of colorblindness but systematically privilege whites and males at the expense of groups that lack power and are oppressed. Since the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer in May 2020, the cultural elites advocating this view – whether one calls it wokeness, systemic racism, critical race theory, or just the truth – are no longer marginalized outsiders. They are now in charge of many leading institutions that produce culture and certify knowledge through the media, publishing, universities, scholarly journals, foundations and advocacy groups, large K-12 school systems, and the sprawling apparatus of the federal government. Although medical research informed by critical race theory has been conducted for decades, its broad embrace by the field’s highest echelons has been both sudden and expansive. Alan Weil, Health Affairs’ editor-in-chief, committed the journal to “dismantling institutional racism” in January 2021. Scientists must question their assumptions about merit, quality, and excellence and make room for new research designs, methods, paradigms, and theories, Weil suggested, because traditional scientific protocols can make it impossible to study racism in the United States or recognize the problem within their own institutions. “The reason it’s relevant is because if you decide only certain [research] methods are valid, then you have also decided that certain questions cannot be answered – they can’t even be asked,” Weil said in a phone interview. “I view this as a call to researchers to try to look at questions that they might have historically passed by -- or viewed as ones that couldn’t be studied.” Mass Brigham General, where equity is now a core part of the institutional culture, like patient safety. Mass Brigham General The February issue of Health Affairs provides examples of how the new approach to research can be implemented to make the case for the pervasiveness of systemic racism in routine aspects of society. The first of the nearly two dozen articles in the February issue sets the tone. The article describes an anti-racist initiative at the Mass General Brigham health system, where measuring and attaining equity – an ideal of equal health outcomes across racial groups – is now a core component of the institutional culture, like patient safety. One thing that system leaders are not doing: studying whether or not racism actually affects health outcomes. “They believe that this fundamental question has already been answered,” the article states. The anti-racist initiative, called United Against Racism, will cost $40 million in the first year alone. “The initiative has no set end date,” the article states, and a system executive “expects their budget to increase every year.” Another article urges the need to teach white Americans “the truth” about racial oppression, “despite the discomfort that it generates.” True racial progress requires the “understanding by White people of how they have benefited from systemic racism” – and how much more they stand to gain from social justice. An article about the generational trauma of racism recommends respect for “Indigenous principles” and adopting a policy of federal reimbursement to traditional Native American healers who perform ceremonial and spiritual interventions. There are also articles about black women in low-wage jobs in the healthcare sector; about black people living farther from rural hospitals than whites; about racial and minority Medicaid enrollees reporting significantly worse experiences; an article titled “Addressing the Interlocking Impact Of Colonialism And Racism On Filipinx/a/o American Health Inequities,” and more. Medicine is just one of the major American institutions that has committed itself to equity. The seemingly overnight transformation has not been without its share of “cancellations” and controversy over such issues as prioritizing non-whites for Covid vaccines and suspending conventional academic standards to boost diversity. As high-profile journals advance the systemic racism argument, other influential institutions are putting the contested ideas into practice. The American Medical Association’s 86-page strategic plan for racial justice and health equity also challenges the morality of prevailing standards of quality and merit as a strategy of protecting the privileged domain of white males: The AMA condemns “equal treatment” and meritocracy as “malignant” white supremacist ideologies that obscure “true power and site of responsibility.” The Association of American Medical Colleges, which co-sponsors the accrediting body for U.S. medical schools, is working to establish an advocacy culture in medical schools that haven’t yet gotten with the program voluntarily. The AAMC is expected to issue an update this year to its recommended professional “competencies,”  the AAMC's term for professional standards and best practices, that medical schools would be encouraged to adopt. The proposed competencies include practicing self-reflection, “allyship,” and cultural humility, as well as attaining fluency in the “various systems of oppression,” to wit: colonization, white supremacy, acculturation, and assimilation. For medical school faculty, the AAMC sets such professional expectations as teaching “how systems of power, privilege, and oppression inform policies and practices and how to engage with systems to disrupt oppressive practices.” Not surprisingly, the handful of people who are willing to risk their careers and reputations to publicly critique anything to do with systemic racism and equity say the medical establishment has become captive to a leftist ideological agenda. These dissenters argue that “anti-racism” can be hard to distinguish from anti-science when it fixates on a single variable (race), selectively seeks out data to prove a hypothesis (confirmation bias), ignores plausible alternative explanations – and worst of all – silences criticism.  “Confounding science with political ideology is never good,” said Michael Shermer, the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, whose monthly column was terminated at Scientific American after 18 years in a disagreement over what Shermer saw as woke ideology infecting the venerable publication. “They’re saying we already know the answer – the answer is racism,” Shermer said in a phone interview with RealClearInvestigations. “We’re going to ignore all the other variables. They’re just reducing complex problems to one variable.” Stop and frisk: "Racialized violence" by police impacts health, self-described antiracist scholars say. Franklin This embrace of systemic racism is piggybacking on a long tradition of public health research that attributes population health disparities to social conditions, going back to a study by Friedrich Engels in the 1840s that said life expectancies in Liverpool, England, varied by the occupation of the city’s residents. For generations, however, the mainstream medical establishment understood racial health disparities to be a matter of genetics, behavior, culture, class – or a combination of these factors. Public health scholars, meanwhile, have been pouring forth hundreds of scholarly articles that attribute racial disparities in heart disease, diabetes, mental illness and other key metrics to societal conditions. Health Affairs traces the evolution of racism as medical scourge through the release of “Unequal Treatment,” the groundbreaking 2003 Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine) report that said black people received inferior care in nearly every medical category. More recent is the 2019 declaration by the Pan American Health Organization, a regional arm of the World Health Organization, that structural racism is a key driver of health inequity, followed by the 2021 declaration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that racism is a public health threat. The Health Affairs articles in the February special issue rely on sociological theories, personal testimonials, and even poetry to augment traditional scientific protocols. Because there is no single correct way to measure structural racism, the five scholars “encourage the use of a theory-driven approach” to interpret data that would otherwise have to be treated as random or inconclusive. For such scholars, theory is often the connective tissue that can link practices or events that, to the untrained eye, might seem too remote or speculative or simply unrelated. Within the narrative structure of a productive theory, facts fall neatly into place, and hidden patterns emerge. Thus, theories are the key to linking sociological phenomena separated by 50, 100, and even 200 years. “Future studies should examine how modern health is shaped by a wider array of past forms of structural racism, such as slavery, lynching, unequal treatment in the criminal-legal system, forced sterilization, and other manifestations of racialized violence,” according to the quintet of academic scholars. “Theory suggests inextricable links,” they say, “with historical forms directing, constructing, and molding contemporary structural racism.” Researchers from Duke University and Florida State University argue that depriving African American felons of the right to vote affects the health of the entire community. The co-authors acknowledge they can’t directly prove that voting prohibitions for convicted felons harmed community health, but they noted that “there is a strong theoretical basis on which to expect that racialized disenfranchisement affects health.”  The article states that living in states with higher levels of “racialized felony disfranchisement” is "associated with" worse physical and mental health among black people, such as more symptoms of depression and functional limitations. The article concludes that "enacting laws to dismantle racialized felony disenfranchisement would likely improve the health of Black people and make progress toward achieving health equity." That claim includes footnotes that take the reader to three other articles – one based on “ecosocial theory,” another drawing on sociologist Bruce Link's theory of “stigma power,” and another resting on the theory of “fundamental causes.” These articles provide the so-called theoretical basis for concluding that stripping felons of the right to vote affects community health. (The Link theory posited that "stigma is a form of power" used to control, exploit, and dominate people with mental illness.)  “Skeptics dismiss structural racism as a slippery concept for which robust empirical evidence documenting its effects is lacking,” the two researchers declare in their paper. “This study provides empirical evidence that makes it harder to dismiss the links between health and structural racism manifested as disproportionate Black felony disenfranchisement.” Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney specialist who retired last year from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, agreed to review this article for RCI. A former associate dean of curriculum at Penn’s medical school, Goldfarb said the Health Affairs article contains all the mandatory caveats about its methodological limitations, and then ignores them. “This approach just drives me crazy. It’s basically finding associations and claiming it proves causality,” Goldfarb said. “They are going to find evidence for their theory because they are trying to do everything they can to prove their theory. That’s why they keep saying: We have to find the evidence.”  Alan Weil declined to discuss critiques of individual Health Affairs articles, and the lead author of the felon study and of the hospital study didn’t respond to RealClearInvestigations’ emails. But Weil, and others, say the anti-racist imperative in medicine is no more of an ideological “agenda” than the quest to discover a cure for cancer. Moreover, the advocates assert that the imperative to dismantle systemic racism is more urgent because it is more lethal than cancer. “These sociopolitical exposures are exposures, just like we study in cancer research,” said Katherine Theall, a social epidemiologist and professor of public health at Tulane University. “And they’re even more powerful in many ways across a host of health outcomes.” One way of summarizing this dispute is that traditionalists like Goldfarb are suspicious of scholarly activism as a corrupting influence on science, whereas researchers like Weil and Theall are suspicious of neutrality and colorblindness as an invisibility cloak for systemic racism. “We want objective science, but there’s a point in public health, too, where we need to be doing more consequential work,” said Theall, a co-author of one of the Health Affairs articles. “We should be doing more advocacy, we should be trying to change these factors that we know matter for health.” Weil describes researchers as “heroic” for trying to make sense of a complicated problem for which there is no single measure, but whose existence is beyond dispute. “I don’t find the existence of systemic racism to be a controversial or difficult question to answer,” Weil said. “I see it around me all the time. I think the evidence base is so clear that I don’t want to spend a lot of my time trying to figure out whether or not the problem exists.” Other articles in Health Affairs seek to document evidence of systemic racism in unexpected places. The team of scholars that includes Theall suggests that urban policing, specifically stop-and-frisk encounters, can lead to domestic violence and violent crime, as well as to poorer community health. Theall said there are a number of theories scholars can “pull off the shelf” to analyze the effect of stop-and-frisk encounters on community health and local crime. But the causality is complicated, she said, because some effects, like heart disease and obesity, can take years to develop. Other effects, like rates of smoking or inadequate physical activity, could happen relatively quickly. And taking this tack requires scholars to connect smoking for the alleviation of stress, or a reluctance to go outside for exercise, to police harassment – as opposed to connecting it to, say, gang terror. Theall said it takes years of effort and reams of studies to create a convincing case, patiently building evidence and refining methods. “Our thesis is that even if you’re not a perpetrator of violence, for example, that level of community stress, of over-policing, is important for health,” Theall said. “And it’s important for that production of violence, whether that’s additional violent crime in the neighborhood or maybe the stress of living in a stressful neighborhood and what that might do for domestic violence.”  Theall’s article focuses on data from New Orleans. The article notes that the city had the fourth-highest murder rate in the United States in 2019 – a rate five times the national average. Much of the action in Theall’s article takes place in the substratum of footnotes. The cited research relies on an array of sociological, psychological, and criminological theories that associate cops with harmful effects, including stress and distrust, the latter presumably causing residents not to call 911 for police assistance when they need it. One of the articles cited by Theall (in footnote 27), in turn, cites previous articles that have been passed down from paper to paper. And it is here, burrowing into the footnotes, where one can find explanations and theories that speculate on how policing can lead to crime and poor health. “Policing may also have epigenetic implications,” the reader learns, “whereby chronic exposure to stress from a particularly imposing police presence can lead to altered gene transcription/expression and epigenetic changes that can be passed on to subsequent generations.” But with so many theories to choose from, could a researcher be tempted to cherry-pick a theory, or just make one up, to make the data tell a coherent story about how cops are escalating crime and violence and community illness?   “I don’t know the best answer for that, but I see where it can be a critique,” Theall said. “I would just think that’s probably not the route most researchers are taking in terms of analyzing their data, and then finding a theory to fit it.”  To the contrary, Theall believes some scholars are so scrupulous that they “overcontrol” for random factors and end up with research findings that are inconclusive. She said that because papers with negative findings tend not to get published as often as papers with splashy results – a research phenomenon called publication bias – a misimpression can result, that anti-racist scholars find racism everywhere they look.   Still, there is a theory in criminology called “the Ferguson effect,” developed after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, that posits the opposite of Theall’s: that crime increases when cops reduce pro-active policing. Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. (not related to the Ferguson effect theory), agreed to read Theall’s paper for RCI. He described this scholarship as a classic example of stubborn data being shoehorned into an uncooperative theory. “This feels like an example of institutional capture, where you’re only good if you buy into the theory,” he said, “and therefore everything is seen through the lens of that theory, no matter how much you have to torture the data to make that happen.” Ferguson is a hardcore skeptic of this sort of research. In a Quillette article last December, he described his resignation from the American Psychological Association as a protest against the organization’s embrace of wokeness. In the long run, Ferguson predicted, this research approach will prove unsustainable. “We’re in this confirmatory mode where people try to find evidence and not look at alternative explanations,” he said. “That’s the best way to form a consensus – just exclude the scholars who disagree. “What happens is, other scholars begin to pick at it and it falls apart,” Ferguson added. “Twenty years out this is going to look like a huge embarrassment.” email: jmurawski@realclearinvestigations.com Twitter: @johnmurawski Tyler Durden Wed, 04/06/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 6th, 2022

A former Trump official said "you knew your day was wrecked" when Ginni Thomas showed up at the White House, report says

Ginni Thomas presented Trump with lists of suggested hires, including "infamous bigots and conspiracy theorists," the Daily Beast reported. Trump sits for an interview with Reuters journalists in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters A former White House official said "you knew your day was wrecked" when Ginni Thomas showed up. Thomas would pitch Trump on people she thought he should hire or fire, the Daily Beast reported.  After she left, "he would start yelling about firing people for being disloyal," the official told the Beast. A former Trump White House official said "you knew your day was wrecked" when Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, showed up at the White House to meet with President Donald Trump, according to a new report from the Daily Beast published on Friday.Ginni Thomas, a longtime, outspoken activist who participated in the Tea Party movement, leveraged her prominence in conservative circles to get Trump's ear, flatter him, and pitch him on potential hires for the White House and Trump administration, the Beast and other outlets have reported. But before lobbying a top White House official on ways to overturn the 2020 election, Thomas was known for dropping by the White House and whipping Trump into a frenzy by dishing on who she believed to be disloyal and a "Never Trumper," former aides told the Beast. "We all knew that within minutes after Ginni left her meeting with the president, he would start yelling about firing people for being disloyal," a former senior-level Trump administration official told the Beast. "When Ginni Thomas showed up, you knew your day was wrecked."And Thomas' lists of who she thought Trump should fire from the administration "were frequently based on pure conjecture, rumor, or score-settling," even targeting "steadfastly MAGA aides" who had not, in fact, been disloyal, the Beast reported. Thomas' lists of suggested hires were reportedly even more problematic. Politico described the recommended hires on Thomas' lists as including "friends of the couple, members of her right-wing network of activists and operatives at Groundswell," Thomas' grassroots conservative organization, and people Thomas believed would be unfailingly loyal to Trump."The Daily Beast further said that the lists also featured "infamous bigots and conspiracy theorists, woefully under-qualified names, and obvious close friends of Thomas," and selections of names that caused aides to "laugh at them." Another official described the "fucking lists" as "insane and unworkable" to the Beast. But administration officials still had to do their due diligence. Officials working in the White House Presidential Personnel Office, the office tasked with vetting possible hires, would take Thomas' lists and mark them up with notes as to why the person couldn't be hired — either because they couldn't pass a background check, couldn't obtain a security clearance, had obviously problematic flags in their background, or had already rebuffed a White House job offer. In one case, the Beast reported, a note on one of Thomas' recommended hires suggested that one person couldn't be hired because they may have been a foreign spy. "She was definitely trying to play a role and have influence," another Trump White House official told Politico of Thomas. "But on the other hand, I don't think there were a lot of folks on her list who ended up getting hired."In another now-infamous incident, Thomas convened a January 2019 meeting at the White House with conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney that one former Trump official described to The New York Times Magazine as "the craziest meeting I've ever been to." At the gathering, attendees reportedly spewed anti-transgender rhetoric and argued against women serving in the military. Thomas is now under scrutiny for highly conspiratorial text messages she exchanged with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 election in which she strategized on ways to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss. The messages were obtained by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and reported on by The Washington Post and CBS. Since this news broke, more than two dozen Democrats have called on Clarence Thomas to resign from the Supreme Court or, at the very least, recuse himself from January 6-related cases.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 1st, 2022

I Spent 80 Minutes Inside Vitalik Buterin’s Brain. Here’s What I Learned

Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, talked to TIME about reducing fees, World of Warcraft and gender equality A version of this article was published in TIME’s newsletter Into the Metaverse. Subscribe for a weekly guide to the future of the Internet. You can find past issues of the newsletter here. On Friday, TIME released my cover story with Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum. If you’re unfamiliar to him or new to crypto, you should definitely start there; it explains who he is and why he’s such an influential leader in the crypto space. Photograph by Benjamin Rasmussen for TIME [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] I interviewed Buterin last month, the day after the crypto conference ETHDenver ended. I flew to Denver not even knowing if I would be able to speak to him. While he was scheduled to give several talks, he’s an introvert and notoriously hard to track down. He walks around without a press team or security, and even donned a mascot costume during the conference to evade detection. But a day after the conference ended, I was able to secure an 80-minute interview with him in his hotel room, where he answered my questions with patience and enthusiasm. Buterin gave far too many interesting answers during our interview to fit in the actual article, so I’d love to share some insider details and musings (including the highly technical ones) here. Buterin’s responses have been edited for clarity and length. You met with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis at ETHDenver. What did you guys talk about? Gov. Polis is my favorite governor in the U.S. He has consistently supported a very progressive approach in a lot of areas. He is trying to find some way for cooperatives to be able to adopt DAO ideas and use DAOs as labor organizing. I’m definitely hopeful and looking forward to seeing if something interesting can come out of that. Can you tell me about the breakthrough developers at ETHDenver made in blob data transactions this weekend? So this is part of our rollout of sharding, the scaling solution that’s coming after the merge and after Proof of Stake, but in my opinion, is just as important. Fees are a huge problem for Ethereum’s usability, especially for things other than some of the financial applications that have dominated recently. There’s a vision of full sharding where you don’t need a single computer to download more than a small portion of all of the data. Doing things that way could make the blockchain scalable the same way that BitTorrent is scalable, in that there’s no single computer that downloads every movie. That full vision is still years away, because there’s a lot of hard peer-to-peer network stuff that needs to be solved. We need to make something that’s really secure against attacks and is extremely stable. And these are things no one has really done before. But at the same time, we can’t wait years. So we’re trying to come to things that give us half the benefits of sharding but without having to do most of the hard parts. Rollups have already done a lot. They’ve advanced a huge amount since the same time last year. The security of rollups is improving, their readiness to accept lots of users is improving. But at the same time, rollups are still not cheap enough. How much truth is there to the Ethereum origin story that you started it because your warlock in World of Warcraft lost some of its powers? That definitely did push me out of World of Warcraft. This character I had worked so hard for was not able to do what I was so excited about him being able to do anymore. It definitely pushed me back to focusing on my own programming and making my own games. I don’t think I was actually thinking of that in particular when I started down the Ethereum and decentralization tracks. But I’m only starting to kind of be conscious of the influence that World of Warcraft might have had on me many years down the line. Even things like my love of going on long walks: maybe that started from the long virtual walks I was taking through Elwynn Forest back in the day. There’s definitely parallels between game design and blockchain design, and there was even Alliance versus Horde geopolitics. How much of a culture shock was the first few years of Ethereum for you? Definitely quite a bit. I definitely projected a lot of my values on other people in the crypto space because they said things similar to the things that I believed. But I didn’t realize the extent to which people can say things that totally vibe with you in one area, but end up being completely different from what you’re thinking in different areas. I deeply believed in decentralization as kind of this holistic vision, even wanting the Ethereum Foundation to be as decentralized as possible. [Ethereum co-founder] Charles Hoskinson, on the other hand, believes in crypto decentralization, but thinks that companies should be very conventional. And a lot of other people think that way as well. They ended up moving on and founding their own projects, and you can see how those projects are different from Ethereum in ways that reflect their own values. At least two other co-founders of Ethereum—Charles Hoskinson and Joe Lubin—were at ETHDenver. Did you talk to either one of them? I did not meet Joe, I met Charles. That was short but friendly. [Buterin asked Hoskinson to leave Ethereum in 2014, and the pair have a history of taking swipes at each other on social media.] In 2014, you wrote that “experiments are what cryptocurrency is all about.” As crypto has grown in importance and scale, can this still be true? In some ways, it’s even getting even more and more that way. In 2014 or 2015, you had to build everything from scratch. You still could build radical things: MakerDAO and Augur were built in that era. But today, there’s a lot of infrastructure pieces to build on: auctions, markets, uniswaps, things like Proof of Humanity if you want to have human-based governance. You also have a much larger number of existing users. In 2015, the intersection of people who cared about Ethereum and cities was probably like two people. The main thing that prevents Ethereum from being used for cool stuff today is just the fees. It feels like a boring answer; there’s this big social problem in Ethereum and the biggest reason for it is one technical thing that hasn’t been done fast enough. But the difference between an Ethereum where you pay 8 cent fees versus $18 fees is a really big deal. It really gets to the point where the financial derivatives and the gamble-y stuff start pricing out some of the cool stuff. To be clear, I do still think a lot of good things can come out of it. NFTs that fund charity are an amazing thing, or NFTs that fund artists that would otherwise not be able to get funded, like Yatreda in Ethiopia, and a bunch in Latin America. If public goods are being funded or people are being empowered who tend to not really get empowered by more centralized ways of doing things, then great. But at the same time, there are definitely also monkeys being sold for $3 million that are great Twitter entertainment but otherwise not doing much. If you want to look at what could happen if we have sharding and fees go back down, you can see a lot of that in pre-2017 Ethereum. There was some Decentralized Uber project in Switzerland. It ended up not getting very far, but it was able to get started because there was this assumption that transaction fees could be 5 to 8 cents. A blockchain-based decentralized Uber Eats is actually not that hard. It’s like a software package that you give to restaurants. The online menu is a Dapp [decentralized app]. And when you click order, it just creates a transaction that just directly sends them [stablecoins] or whatever. And then the transaction has a field of data that contains an encoding of what your order is. It’s actually not that hard to do! I want more people to do this sort of stuff. But the fee problem does have to be solved. Do you ever think about yourself in the context of other pivotal tech leaders, like Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk? I feel like it’s hard to categorize people like that these days. The way I sometimes split up the role of the founder into three components: the tech founder, the organizational founder and the memelord. Different people have different parts. Elon Musk is strong on the memelord. Mark might be some of all three. For me, I’d probably say some technical, some memelord, and weak on the organizational, which was my curse for the first few years at Ethereum. I guess, in practice, I’ve been some kind of combination of developer, researcher, and blogger? I don’t know. At the conference, your collaborator Nathan Schneider gave a speech in which he talked about the “dystopian dangers” of crypto. Do you agree with him? I think it’s very real with or without crypto. The way I would describe the dystopian potential of centralized crypto is it allows governments and corporations to be authoritarian and lazy. In the past, laziness has been a check on authoritarianism. There’s a Chinese phrase: ‘Tian gao, Huangdi yuan,’ meaning, ‘The sky is high and the emperor is far away.’ That is the sort of thing that is true for most of history, but is becoming less and less true today. The potential for centralized digital technology to reduce the costs of shutting down groups of people you find annoying is definitely very real. I do think crypto has a very important place in its ability to be a system without intermediaries. And being without intermediaries makes it harder to kind of like quietly shut people down without checks and balances. But at the same time, crypto itself has a lot of dystopian potential if implemented wrong. One of the big risks is the total lack of privacy, if we get into an equilibrium where using crypto in privacy-preserving ways automatically flags you as suspicious. We would end up having much more visibility into people’s actions than before, and it’s not just governments: you could have internet mobs or journalists with that visibility. There’s obviously some other risks. ‘What if DAOs start political revolutions?’ is an idea that some people bring up. Once things like that happen, it can definitely get very dicey. And also much more boring, pedestrian stuff: scams and hacks and ransomware. We’re definitely concerned about those kinds of things. I do know having lots of people in the crypto space do reduce the chance of those things happening. My general view is there’s a lot we can do to reduce the bad and to amplify the good. Sometimes amplifying the good can even crowd out the bad. In general, my view is that new technologies always introduce the possibility for people to do both good and terrible things. Sometimes you just have to create new technologies to compensate for other technologies existing. If decentralization and crypto did not exist, the only kind of technology that would get better in the 21st century is centralized surveillance technology. That would really create a world that’s really, really unbalanced in a specific direction. You recently said that you believe there’s a decent chance someone born today will live to be 3,000. Why do you believe that, and why is that an admirable goal? The status quo is that we recognize this category we call diseases, where one particular and identifiable thing starts going horribly wrong. Then we treat diseases and keep people propped up on life support. Often, it’s extremely expensive, and the lives people have in their last two months are really horrible. What the aging space is trying to do is to treat the causes of damage at a much earlier step. It’s basically saying, ‘What is going wrong in a 40-year-old that makes them 30 years away from being a 70-year-old, and can we treat that stuff now?’ Can we bring them back to being 50 years away from being a 70-year-old? They’ve identified some categories of damage: Junk accumulating in and between cells; cells spewing garbage into the body. And they’re trying to identify ways to treat it. So far, it’s still at a very early stage. But they have identified what the big categories of damage are, and they haven’t really discovered new ones for a while. There are drugs starting to treat some of them. Then there are various substances, like Metformin. There are debates about whether it actually increases your lifespan by a few years. I actually have some Metformin in my bag right now and I do take it. My impression is that the space is very far away from stopping aging damage. But at the same time, a lot can happen in 70 years. If you look at sci-fi in the 1970s, they often overpredict the ability to go to the stars, but their computers were still the size of a room. And now, we’re not going to Mars, although we might soon, but our computers are the size of our pocket. Because people ended up really caring about computers, they put a lot of resources into making it happen. And I feel like biotech might be on the start of that 70-year leap of progress. I think COVID-19 has done a lot of good in legitimizing biotech and reminding people how it’s important. So I’m looking forward to hopefully celebrating my 200th birthday with my parents. At the end of your Q&A onstage, a woman asked you about gender parity in crypto, and you gave a very vague answer. Taken with all of your other answers, it made it seem like gender diversity isn’t a priority for you compared to other issues. That’s true. It’s definitely something that’s relatively outside my own expertise. I feel like I do a lot for international diversity, for example. Gender diversity is the one thing where, so far, it hasn’t been among the things I’ve put a lot of intellectual effort into. I don’t think everyone has a duty to have a deep perspective on every important thing. At the same time, the ecosystem does need to improve there and should have space for people who care about women and who care about underbanked Black people. All of that is important. I do think the people that are best suited figuring out what actually makes sense to make the ecosystem better for those groups are people in those groups themselves. The Ethereum foundation has a female executive director [Aya Miyaguchi], who cares a lot about empowering women as well as global financial inclusion. I think putting one woman at the top can probably do more good than trying to cajole five men into following some fixed set of principles. If we have to do more, I would say supporting more of these projects that help women create projects and communities within Ethereum is probably the best thing in the long term that can be done for the culture. But that’s probably my view right now. That was just one of the areas I’ve prioritized less, just like I prioritized Latin America much less until last year. So it could change. — For more of TIME’s coverage of the future of the internet, subscribe to our newsletter Into the Metaverse by clicking here. Join TIMEPieces on Twitter and Discord.....»»

Category: topSource: timeMar 23rd, 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

How China turned a Tiananmen Square memorial into one of the most sought-after sculptures in the world

The "Pillar of Shame" was meant to spread all around the world. It didn't — until now, thanks to its removal in Hong Kong. Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt (right) with a Pillar of Shame.Mikkel Møller for Insider Last December, Hong Kong removed the Pillar of Shame, a memorial to the Tiananmen Square massacre. The removal only increased the monument's fame – and brought a flood of requests for replicas.  Creator Jens Galschiøt gave up his copyright to the sculpture, enabling 3D printers to make copies. HONG KONG – In the 1990s, a Danish sculptor launched an audacious project to pepper the earth with copies of a grotesque sculpture that depicted human bodies wreathed together in pain. The monument, known as the "Pillar of Shame," is constructed out of bronze, copper or concrete and stands atop a square plinth. It rises about 8 meters, or 26 feet, in all. Its creator, Jens Galschiøt, envisioned it as a "Nobel Prize of Injustice" and vowed to place replicas of the pillar all over the world to mark acts of genocide and murder. For a time, Galschiøt's effort was something of a success. He installed a copy of the pillar in Hong Kong in 1997 to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which Chinese troops killed hundreds if not thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protesters. He landed a second copy in Mexico in 1999 to commemorate the slaughter of Indigenous people and a third in Brazil in 2000 to honor landless peasants killed by military police. But then the project stalled. For over two decades, it seemed no one was interested in getting a Pillar of Shame — that is, until now.These days, the 67-year-old sculptor is so inundated with requests for copies of his signature artwork that he needs a full-time apprentice just to manage the endless stream of emails and phone calls. He's being sought out for art exhibitions, speeches, interviews, and new Pillar of Shame installations around the world. At Galschiøt's foundry, about two hours outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, his team is working overtime to cast replicas of various sizes. He has also invited artists everywhere to help meet the demand for replicas by using 3D-printing technologies and a free blueprint of the sculpture."The Pillar of Shame in miniature.Mikkel Møller for InsiderThe spark that led to an explosion of interest in Galschiøt's project came in October, when Hong Kong University  ordered that the Pillar of Shame be removed from its longtime home on the school's campus — part of a larger effort to erase any public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre.The sculpture's removal, carried out in the dead of night two days before Christmas, accomplished its goal of eliminating the controversial monument from public view. But it also unleashed something unexpected: China and Hong Kong authorities gave Galschiøt's struggling art project the sort of publicity that no amount of money and PR firms could buy. Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame was suddenly being discussed in The Washington Post and The New York Times and in outlets in Thailand, Iceland, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Indonesia, to name just a few."They have made a big mistake," Galschiøt said in an interview. "Now, instead of one, they're getting hundreds of Pillars of Shame."A group of former US government officials is working to erect a full-size replica in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. In Norway, there's a request to display a replica near the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. In Taiwan, a pro-democracy group plans to unveil a 3D-printed model by June 4 to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. An artists collective is planning to organize a worldwide tour with Galschiøt's pillar to raise awareness of Hong Kong's struggle for democracy.Makerwiz 3D-printing studio in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Source: Makerwiz.Galschiøt is also making smaller, 8.5-foot replicas in copper that he aims to hoist on top of plinths with plates dedicated to Tiananmen victims and Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, installing them at universities. For everyone else — volunteers at his workshop and ordinary people who are inspired by Galschiøt's vision, or perhaps his tenacity — he has finished a batch of 60 bronze copies that are about a foot tall. He's working on another 40. "There's a lot of people who ask for a copy of that sculpture now," Galschiøt said.The nascent efforts are a cautionary tale of what happens when regimes try to censor art. "The rulers, tyrants know the power of art. That's why artists, poets, and musicians are the first ones they persecute and even kill," said Rose Tang, a Tiananmen survivor and artist. But, as one 3D printer who recently replicated Galschiøt's sculpture put it, "ideas can never be suppressed." Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame is finally an idea whose time has come. Except, rather than commemorating atrocities in spots across the globe, the monument now seems poised to become synonymous with one event above all others: the Tiananmen Square massacre and China's efforts to erase it from memory. A witness For more than two decades, anyone who visited the western edge of Hong Kong University's winding Pok Fu Lam campus would inevitably bump into Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame. It was situated off a major campus walkway, boxed inside a narrow atrium next to a popular student canteen. (Disclosure: The author teaches at Hong Kong University's journalism program.) As you looked up from your meal, your eyes would fall upon the Eiffel Tower-like heap of some 50 twisted bodies screaming in pain. Many of the faces looked like cadavers that had already breathed their last while others appeared to be in the act of dying; a man clutching a baby looked as if he was running away from some danger. Layers of thick orange paint flowed from the top down, turning yellow and peeling in places, giving the whole mass the hellish appearance of a pile of burning human flesh. The inscription "THE TIANANMEN MASSACRE" was etched in thick, blood-red letters on one side of the square base, above the date June 4, 1989. Directly to the left was another inscription that read, "the old cannot kill the young forever."Students gather around Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame sculpture in Hong Kong on October 12, 2021.Cezary Podkul for InsiderFor students who came to study here from mainland China, the pillar might be their first introduction to the Tiananmen massacre. On one side of the pillar's base, a plaque provided "A Brief History of the 1989 Beijing Pro-Democracy Movement." It recounted how the death of pro-reform Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang in April 1989 sparked mass demonstrations in favor of democratic reforms. Beijing's Tiananmen Square became a central gathering spot for students who waged a hunger strike to try to prompt a dialogue with Communist Party leaders. The government refused, declared martial law, and ultimately sent in military convoys to clear the square. On June 3 and 4, 1989, "several thousand soldiers forced their way via various routes into Beijing City, using guns and bullets to shoot unarmed citizens and students. Tanks were deployed to recover the Square," the plaque read. An official death toll was never confirmed. A 1990 report on the massacre by Amnesty International noted that Chinese authorities tallied some 200 civilian casualties, while Amnesty itself concluded that at least 1,000 people had been killed. Another more recent estimate based on a diplomatic cable declassified in 2017 pinned the number of civilian casualties at more than 10,000.Whatever the ultimate toll, there was no doubt in Rose Tang's mind that it had been a bloody day. Rose Tang in Tiananmen Square on May 21, 1989. At the time, she was a 20-year-old freshman in college.Rose Tang/HandoutTang was a freshman studying English at what was then known as the Beijing Second Foreign Languages Institute. She ditched classes in the spring of 1989 to join her classmates in Tiananmen Square to chant pro-democracy slogans, even though, she now says, she had very little idea of what democracy even meant. Her memoir of the events of June 4 describes bullets whizzing overhead, a stampede trampling over dead bodies, and the deafening noise of tanks moving in and crushing tents set up in the square. But there's one detail of the aftermath that helps explain why Galschiøt's sculpture found a loyal following in Hong Kong, which was a British colony until 1997. When Tang revisited Tiananmen Square some seven months after the massacre, she found no trace of what had happened there that day. There were no signs of blood stains or bullet holes from June 4, 1989, let alone any memorial. She walked around, trying to find proof to back up her memories. There were only a few armed soldiers patrolling the square as water trucks sprinkled water on the ground. "All I could see was the clean wet concrete ground glittering in street lights," she recalled in her memoir.Tang turned to a life of art and activism to help her cope with the events of that day. She has written poetry and music inspired by June 4, 1989, and toured with a band that performed songs that student protesters sang at Tiananmen Square. "Making music and using music to heal and mobilize people is my way of carrying on the true legacy of Tiananmen. Art is power. Performance is protest," she said.Tang eschewed making sculptures, though. "I just personally found it really hard to convey the experience of Tiananmen through visual art," she said. She admires Galschiøt for trying. Rose Tang at a Tiananmen Square massacre memorial in New York City on June 4, 2020.Thirdblade PhotographyBut something about Galschiøt's sculpture always puzzled Tang. On close inspection, the figures assembled on Galschiøt's pillar appeared to span the races. One could be excused for wondering whether this was all a mistake: A white man from Denmark created a sculpture to commemorate the killings of Chinese civilians, and he filled it with people from all over the world?'My Inner Beast'The international nature of the sculpture was precisely what Galschiøt had in mind when he began to sketch out the vision for his Pillar of Shame in the early 1990s. Galschiøt had turned to making sculptures in the 1980s after a career as a blacksmith at a Danish shipyard and a rebellious youth filled with drugs, travel, and a desire to distance himself from his father's communist sympathies. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he grew hopeful for a more egalitarian future but was soon dismayed by Serbian militias' mass rape of Muslim women in Bosnia and other atrocities. He became convinced that civilization is only a thin veneer that can crumble at any time and unleash an inner barbarism laid bare in such episodes. In 1993 he installed concrete sculptures of a pig dressed in a gentleman's overcoat in 20 cities across Europe. Titled "My Inner Beast," the project aimed to call attention to Europeans' mistreatment of ethnic minorities. The sculptures proved an unwelcome sight to governments that never asked for them. Most were torn down, and only a few remain standing today. Galschiøt's middle son, Kasper Galschiøt Markus, recalled eating "significantly more porridge" in the months that followed since Galschiøt nearly went broke paying for the project out of pocket. But profit wasn't the goal. The reaction to the sculpture became part of the story the art sought to tell, summarized by the motto, "It is not the foreigners but our reaction to the foreigners that threatens our civilization." Galschiøt preparing a Pillar of Shame replica.Mikkel Møller for InsiderGalschiøt began to make small models of the Pillar of Shame that same year. As the idea took shape, he assembled 7 tons of clay to create the casting mold for the sculpture.He included faces of people that represented a wide variety of races and ethnicities, hoping to create a universal symbol. Once he finished his prototype in 1996, he went looking for contacts who could help him install it in various places around the world. The Tiananmen Square massacre quickly came to mind, but he knew it would be impossible to install a pillar in Beijing. 'They made a good fight for freedom'Hong Kong offered the tantalizing possibility of a work-around. After years of negotiations, the UK was due to hand control of Hong Kong back to China on July 1, 1997.  If Galschiøt could get the pillar to Hong Kong while the city was still in British hands, China would take the sculpture with it. "At that time, we had good reason to believe that this statue would not be allowed to enter after the transition," Albert Ho, who helped Galschiøt get the pillar to Hong Kong, recalled in a later interview.Ho was a leader of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, a group founded in 1989 just before the massacre. One of the alliance's signature projects was an annual candlelight vigil commemorating Tiananmen victims. Galschiøt reached out to see whether the group would help him install a replica of the sculpture and soon he had a partner: On May 2, 1997, he packed up a copy of the pillar in a shipping container and sent it off to Hong Kong. The sculpture arrived at a Hong Kong container terminal nine days before the alliance's annual candlelight vigil in the city's sprawling Victoria Park. The alliance displayed it prominently at the June 4 vigil, which happened to coincide with Galschiøt's birthday. Afterward, the pillar was loaded onto a truck headed for Hong Kong University, where student leaders hoped to install it near their student union. Tang joined part of the march to campus, walking alongside Galschiøt. Galschiøt grew concerned as scuffles broke out between students and security guards who wouldn't let the truck through to campus. Security guards eventually relented, and the sculpture was dropped off as onlookers applauded, according to Associated Press archival footage from the night. "They made a good fight for freedom," Galschiøt told an AP reporter at the time.The pillar made the rounds to several schools around the city before the Hong Kong University student union voted in 1998 to permanently host it on its campus. Galschiøt, meanwhile, wrote a manifesto for his artwork. "My name is Jens Galschiøt. I'm a Danish artist born 1954. My new art happening the Pillar of Shame has just been launched, as the sculpture was displayed 4th June '97 in Hong Kong," began the lengthy December 1997 missive, which predicted that "over the next ten years the happening will spread over the Planet." Galschiøt listed Auschwitz, the site of the infamous Nazi death camp, and Rwanda, where a 1994 genocide had just killed an estimated 800,000 people, as two possible candidates for Pillars of Shame.Galschiøt outside his studio in Denmark.Mikkel Møller for InsiderSoon he managed to install a "Columna de la infamia" in Mexico to commemorate the 1997 killings of 45 Indigenous people in Chiapas state and a "Coluna da infâmia" in Brazil to mark the 1996 murder of 19 landless Brazilian peasants. Both sculptures made brief appearances near parliament buildings in their respective countries, elevating their visibility in Mexico and Brazil. In 1999 he outlined a grand vision to install a pillar in Berlin atop a platform covered with bronze plates notched with 10 million lines representing the victims of Nazi-era persecution (the project was too costly, and he gave up on it in late 2002). In 2012, he traveled to Iraq to explore the possibility of placing a pillar there to commemorate the victims of Saddam Hussein's mass murders of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s (installing a sculpture in a war zone was too dangerous, though Galschiøt hopes to try again someday).Galschiøt openly mused that Hong Kong's Pillar of Shame might someday move to Beijing if political circumstances allowed it. But he acknowledged that it might just as well be removed or destroyed: "The Pillar of Shame will be a test of the validity of the new authorities' guarantees for human rights and freedom of expression in Hong Kong," he wrote in a post on his website.'The old cannot kill the young forever'Galschiøt was right about the possibility of his sculpture being removed from Hong Kong.The early signs of trouble came in April 2008, when Galschiøt flew to the city only to be denied entry. He was there to paint the pillar orange as part of a campaign to raise awareness of China's alleged human-rights abuses ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. In Galschiøt's absence, members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China carried out the paint job. News reports at the time described the ordeal as a test of the freedoms China had granted to Hong Kong when it took over.Hong Kongers would experience many more such tests in the years that followed. In 2014, protests erupted when China insisted on vetting any candidates for the territory's chief executive before allowing the post to be elected directly by the people. The tense 79-day standoff with pro-democracy protesters became known as the Umbrella Movement after demonstrators used umbrellas to shield themselves from the pepper spray police used to try to disperse them. The sense of togetherness and community among the protesters felt like a repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement to Tang, who flew from the US to Hong Kong to camp out with the protesters and speak up for their cause. Even larger protests shook the city in 2019 after Hong Kong leaders proposed amending the territory's extradition laws to allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. The protests grew into a broader movement against Beijing's encroachments on the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong under the terms of its handover from the UK. Meanwhile, Beijing readied a national-security law that would give China broad authority to stamp out dissent in Hong Kong. Even before the law took effect, in June 2020, authorities had already taken aim at Hong Kong's long tradition of commemorating the Tiananmen victims. They refused to let the alliance organize its annual June 4 vigil in 2020, citing COVID-19 restrictions. Thousands showed up anyway. In 2021, Hong Kong blocked the June 4 vigil again and put up a massive police presence to deter Hong Kongers from defying the ban. The same month, the alliance's museum commemorating the massacre was forced to shut down. Police raided the museum in September and confiscated its exhibits just a day after arresting the alliance's leaders under the guise of the national-security law. The alliance disbanded on September 25, and days later reports surfaced that the digital version of its Tiananmen Square massacre museum had been blocked in Hong Kong.  By early October, the pillar's time had come. Galschiøt wasn't formally notified that the Pillar of Shame would be removed. Mayer Brown, an American law firm representing Hong Kong University, sent a letter demanding its removal to the liquidators of the alliance (the alliance didn't actually own the sculpture; Galschiøt had always retained ownership). The October 7 letter gave the now-defunct pro-democracy group six days to remove the sculpture from the university, a publicly funded institution, or consider the pillar abandoned property that would be dealt with "at such time and in such manner" as the university saw fit. Galschiøt tried to intervene but said he couldn't get a reply to his lawyer's pleas to let him come to Hong Kong to retrieve the artwork.The sudden deadline was sandwiched between two typhoons that pummeled Hong Kong with heavy rains and winds. As the storms moved through the city, the October 13 removal deadline held firm. Hong Kongers flocked to the sculpture to bid their farewells to what many saw as one of the last vestiges of freedom of expression in the Chinese territory. "Say goodbye to freedom," one man said as he snapped a photo of the sculpture one day before the deadline. Steps away, a father took a selfie in front of the pillar with his 9-year-old daughter. Afterward, the little girl grabbed her father's phone and snapped some photos of it herself. On their way out, he pointed to the inscription "the old cannot kill the young forever" as she looked on attentively. Shortly after, it started to rain again. But the crowds kept coming.A father introduces his daughter to Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame sculpture in Hong Kong on October 12, 2021.Cezary Podkul for InsiderThe university hit a snag when Mayer Brown bowed out of the legal matter amid public outrage that an American law firm would be helping Chinese authorities stifle freedom of expression in Hong Kong. (Mayer Brown's decision prompted a former Hong Kong chief executive to call for a China-wide boycott of the law firm. Spokespeople for Mayer Brown did not respond to comment requests.) Several weeks followed when the sculpture's fate stood in a strange state of limbo; it wasn't clear when exactly it would disappear, but there was no doubt the end was near. An artists' collective known as Lady Liberty Hong Kong made use of the delay to take detailed photos of the pillar and create a three-dimensional model that could be used as a basis for 3D printing. Galschiøt, meanwhile, dusted off old molds that he had used to create smaller replicas of the Pillar of Shame in the 1990s so that he would be ready if his sculpture were removed. The limbo ended on December 22. Galschiøt had just told the workers in his workshop in Odense, Denmark, to go home early and enjoy the holiday when he got a call from a reporter seeking comment on the sculpture's removal.  The energy drained from his body; he looked like a parent who had just learned about the loss of his child, recalled his apprentice, Lauge Jakobsen. Social media lit up with footage of workers fencing off the area around the pillar so no one would witness its removal. Reporters still managed to document parts of the ordeal, which ended with a human-like fragment of the sculpture being loaded into a shipping container by a group of workers in hard hats resembling pallbearers at a funeral.The former site of the Pillar of Shame at Hong Kong University as seen the day after the monument was removed.Cezary Podkul for Insider As Galschiøt watched from a distance, all he could do was decry the university's actions. He issued a statement calling the sculpture's removal an unreasonable act of "self-immolation against private property in Hong Kong." Hong Kong University said in a statement that "no party has ever obtained any approval from the university to display the statue on campus," and the statue would be placed in storage pending legal advice on what to do with it. Galschiøt said the university has now responded to his lawyer, and he is sorting out the details of how to return the sculpture from Hong Kong. A spokeswoman for the university did not provide further details. 'Jens' biggest supporter has been the Chinese government'The sculpture's dramatic removal gave Galschiøt the kind of worldwide attention he had long hoped to bring to his international art project. "Suddenly, all the world's eyes were turned on this Pillar of Shame," recalled Jakobsen, his apprentice. "From 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. at night the phone was calling all the time, and our email was looking like a celebrity's fan email because every 10 seconds there were coming new emails."Jakobsen switched from working in Galschiøt's workshop to assisting him in the office as he juggled media requests and inquiries about how to acquire a Pillar of Shame. "Jens' biggest supporter last year has been the Chinese government," Jakobsen said during a phone interview. Galschiøt could be heard laughing beside him.Jessica Chiu was one of those requesters. The native Hong Konger, who's 32 and lives in Norway, first learned about Tiananmen Square from her high school math teacher, who would abandon his usual lesson every June and instead teach about the massacre. Later, as a student at Hong Kong University, Chiu would occasionally pass by Galschiøt's sculpture. Chiu leads a Norwegian nonprofit focused on supporting human rights in Hong Kong. The group had been interested in exhibiting Galschiøt's pillar in Norway since 2020; its removal in Hong Kong reinforced those plans. "It makes us more motivated to do it, and it just makes the impact bigger," Chiu said. Her nonprofit has already applied for permits to display the sculpture at two locations in Oslo, including a plaza near the Nobel Peace Center.Galschiøt at his gallery in Odense, Denmark.Mikkel Møller for InsiderA similar effort is taking shape to bring a copy of the pillar in the US. The most provocative spot under consideration includes a park directly across from the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC. A group of former US government officials, outraged by Mayer Brown's involvement, is spearheading the initiative, which is still in its initial planning stages, according to a person familiar with the effort. Getting a 2-ton sculpture cast and transported abroad — let alone securing a spot for it — is no easy feat, so it's unclear how many of such installations will ultimately succeed. Galschiøt estimated that making the sculpture in a full-size bronze cast costs about $800,000. To make it more affordable and easier to handle, he has started making the smaller, 8.5-foot replicas in copper using an old mold he created in the 1990s. He hopes to distribute the smaller pillars to universities around the world (and requests that schools interested in a copy contact him). He scored his first win in Budapest, Hungary, on March 2, when one of the copper replicas was installed on the site of a future Budapest campus of Fudan University. Hungary lawmakers had voted in 2021 to donate four plots of land toward the planned campus of the Shanghai-based university, which ranks as one of China's most elite schools. The move sparked criticism of Chinese influence-buying and prompted Budapest's mayor to rename streets near the proposed site after various alleged human-rights abuses committed by China. Galschiøt traveled to Budapest to personally dedicate his "a szégyen oszlopa" (Hungarian for "Pillar of Shame") near the corner of Free Hong Kong Road and Uyghur Martyrs Road.Galschiøt applies paint to a pillar, which will soon be shipped aboard.Mikkel Møller for InsiderThe use of the artwork to make political statements about China's alleged human-rights abuses could get easier thanks to the rise of 3D printing. Lady Liberty Hong Kong's three-dimensional model of the sculpture has enabled anyone with access to a 3D printer to create a copy of the sculpture without bothering with the cost and logistics of transporting it from Denmark. To make the process even more hassle-free, Galschiøt surrendered his copyright to the sculpture, writing in an open letter on Christmas Day that anyone is free to 3D print or mass-produce replicas of the pillar as long as profits go to benefit pro-democracy causes in China and Hong Kong.  A 2-foot-tall replica created using Lady Liberty's model recently showed up at a Hong Kong pro-democracy rally in Manchester, England. An even bigger version — 10 feet or taller — is set to be 3D-printed in Taiwan in time for the June 4 anniversary of the massacre. The New School for Democracy Association Taiwan, a pro-democracy group, is spearheading that effort, which is in the planning and fundraising stages, according to the project's manager.Lady Liberty itself is hoping to organize an international art tour with Galschiøt that would feature the pillar as well as the group's own signature artwork,  a symbol of the 2019 protest movement in Hong Kong known as Lady Liberty Hong Kong. The 3.5-meter-tall, crowdfunded sculpture of a woman wearing a helmet, goggles, and a respirator made the rounds to various sites across Hong Kong in 2019, including a famous summit known as Lion Rock, before being vandalized and thrown off the cliff (most likely by pro-government activists). Lady Liberty is preparing to sell small replicas of the Pillar of Shame to help fund the art tour, which would also invite other artists to participate, a spokesperson said.Galschiøt's team with a copy of the Pillar of Shame.Mikkel Møller for InsiderTang is raising her hand for the effort. She said she'd like to reunite her Tiananmen band and perform under Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame if a replica makes its way for a tour in the US. In Canada, a scrappy group of expatriate Hong Kongers created a supply chain that allows them to 3D print and ship copies of the pillar anywhere in the world. Their website, CanHKer.ca, sells a variety of Hong Kong-themed merchandise — including 3D prints of Lady Liberty Hong Kong — to fund pro-democracy causes. Proceeds from the 3D-printed pillar replicas are earmarked for organizations that help young Hong Kong refugees resettle in Canada and seek asylum, said Eric Li, who cofounded one of the groups and helped launch the merchandise website. Many of the refugees are youths who faced persecution for their pro-democracy activities, Li said. Some are depressed and feel guilty, even suicidal, for having left Hong Kong behind, he said. Others are traumatized after their violent clashes with police. "They feel they betrayed their friends because they ran away from the action," said Li, who helps arrange counseling for the youths as part of his work for one of the groups that will receive proceeds from the pillars'  sales. Art 'without interruption'There isn't much action left when it comes to protests in Hong Kong. The Beijing-imposed national-security law has succeeded in ending the mass demonstrations that gripped the city in 2019. You might find an occasional pro-democracy slogan or poster here or there, but any public artwork the government could deem subversive to Beijing is likely to quickly vanish from public view. A day after Galschiøt's pillar disappeared in December, two other Tiananmen-themed monuments were removed by universities in Hong Kong. The "Goddess of Democracy," an imitation of a sculpture created by Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989, was hauled away from the Chinese University of Hong Kong on December 24. A relief depicting the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed from the campus of Lingnan University the same day. Both artworks were created by Chen Weiming, an exiled Chinese sculptor who lives in California. Chen is now trying to repatriate the monuments from the universities and is planning to house them at a Tiananmen Square museum that he hopes to build at his sculpture park in Yermo, California. "In America, I can do anything I want to do. In China, I can't do it," Chen said.In late January, Hong Kong University covered up the last public tribute to Tiananmen victims on its campus — a hand-painted slogan on a bridge outside a dormitory. It read, "The souls of the martyrs shall forever linger despite the cold-blooded massacre. The spark of democracy shall forever glow for the demise of evil." Every year, students would touch up the paint on the 32-year-old inscription and wash the Pillar of Shame.The former site of the Pillar of Shame at Hong Kong University has been replaced with an outdoor seating area.Cezary Podkul for InsiderThe former site of the pillar is now a seating area with movable plastic furniture atop wooden planks. The area stood empty on a recent Monday evening as the clean, wet planks glittered in overhead lights. With the usual churn of a university, it won't take more than a few years for future generations of students to sit in the area without any idea of what stood here previously, or why. But nearby, another sculpture remains intact. It's a commemoration of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, widely regarded as the father of modern China, who sits calmly in a chair surrounded by a placid fishpond topped with water lilies. Sun is a rare figure in recent Chinese history, revered on both sides of the Taiwan Strait for helping to end feudal imperial monarchy in China and briefly serving as the first president of the Republic of China in 1912. Even as Hong Kong stamps out dissent, posters honoring him as a "great outlaw" invite visitors to a museum of Sun's life and legacy. The university installed Sun's statue in 2003 so students could follow his historic footprint, according to a dedication issued at the time. A sculpture of Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, adorns a lily pond on the Hong Kong University campus.Cezary Podkul for InsiderIt is impossible to know what Sun might say about the removal of the Pillar of Shame and other artworks in Hong Kong if he were alive today. But a speech that he gave nearly 100 years ago on Hong Kong University's campus gives a clue. In his remarks, Sun called Hong Kong and the university his "intellectual birthplace" and explained why he got his revolutionary ideas there: "Hong Kong impressed me a great deal, because there was orderly calm and because there was artistic work being done without interruption."Cezary Podkul is an award-winning investigative reporter who has written for ProPublica, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. He teaches at Hong Kong University's Journalism and Media Studies Centre.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 18th, 2022

Hyloris reports results for the full year 2021

Added 4 additional innovative product candidates Strong growth in H2 leading to total revenues of €3.1 million (€0.2 million in 2020) Significant expansion of commercial footprint of Maxigesic® IV Tranexamic RTU licensing extended beyond U.S. €50 million in cash and cash equivalents to execute ambitious growth strategy LIÈGE, Belgium, March 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hyloris Pharmaceuticals SA (Euronext Brussels: HYL), a specialty biopharma company committed to addressing unmet medical needs through reinventing existing medications, today announces its financial and operational results for the year ending 31 December 2021. "The past year has validated the business model that Hyloris outlined at IPO - to deliver pragmatic and commercially attractive medical innovations that address unmet needs - while consistently endeavoring to grow shareholder value. All this has occurred during a challenging period for the life science sector." said Stijn Van Rompay, Chief Executive Officer of Hyloris. During the year, the company has bolstered its emphasis on innovation and on value creation. ‘'We retain our core focus on cost efficient development of products through the 505(b)(2) pathway. The company has also shifted its focus towards repurposed product candidates, adding value and longevity to its portfolio with the addition of four exciting and innovative product candidates. During the year, Hyloris has invested more in in-house R&D including the opening of our laboratory in Liege. Carrying this momentum into 2022, the company expects to extend the reach of its commercialized products and bring a least 4 new exciting product candidates into Hyloris." Increased roll out of commercial products Maxigesic® IV, a novel, unique combination for the treatment of post-operative pain is currently licensed to partners covering over 100 countries across the globe. During 2021 and early 2022: An exclusive license and distribution agreement was signed with Hikma (LSE: HIK.L) for commercialization in the U.S. has been signed. The PDUFA date has been set on June 30, 2022. The market for post-operative pain is growing rapidly and is forecasted to reach $2.6 billion by 2028 (up from $1.1 billion in 2019)1. Marketing authorizations have been granted in additional countries including: Israel, Panama, Albania, South Korea, UK, Cyprus, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Norway. Submission has been done in further countries including : Pakistan, Oman, Bahrain, Thailand, Hong-Kong, Malaysia, US, Spain, Netherlands, Canada and Mexico. The product has been launched in 4 additional markets : Germany, Austria, South Korea and Panama.  More launches are planned in the near future. Additional patents have been granted. ________________________1 IQVIA and DelveInsight Market Research Sotalol IV, a novel, patented, IV formulation of oral Sotalol for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, and life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias developed for the U.S. Significant expansion of AltaThera's sales force mid 2021 in order to accelerate commercial roll-out and inclusion in hospital drug formularies.  Post expansion sales performance has been impacted by COVID 19-related restrictions of access to hospitals. Mitigating measures have been implemented. Currently Sotalol IV is investigated in two clinical studies. The first study is investigating a shorter loading regimen and is expected to be completed in 2022. The second study is a patient registry capturing real-world experience on loading and is expected to be completed in 2023. 4 new innovative product candidates Underlining the incremental lean and mean value-creation of Hyloris, the company announced the successful addition of four new innovative product candidates to its portfolio during 2021. Each of the product candidates addresses a clear unmet need and has the potential to bring substantial value to patients, physicians and payors. February 2021: Miconazole + Domiphen Bromide (MCZ/DB): Through a development and commercialization deal with Purna Female Healthcare, Hyloris will co-develop a topical synergistic combination treatment for Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (rVVC), a condition that affects nearly 10 % of women during their lifetime. MCZ/DB has a strong scientific and business rationale. A Phase 2 clinical trial is ongoing with results expected in H2 2022. October 2021: CRD-102 (modified release Milrinone capsule): a novel, clinical-stage, extended-release long term use Milrinone capsule in late-stage heart failure (HF) patients with an implanted left ventricular assist device (LVAD). Heart failure is a severe and chronic condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's need for blood and oxygen. Earlier studies have demonstrated that treatment with CRD-102 resulted in improved quality of life and functional status of late-stage HF patients and it has the potential to address the current unmet needs of late-stage LVAD patients with right HF. Orphan drug designation has been granted in the US. November 2021: Plecoid agents: Through its global exclusive co-development rights and future joint commercialization rights with Pleco Therapeutics, Hyloris will co-develop a chelating agent or agents - chemical compounds that capture metal ions - to detoxify the cancer promoting cellular micro-environment and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML: 160,000 patients2 globally) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC: which accounts for approximately 13-15%3 of 2 million cases of lung cancer per year). Previous studies demonstrate that elevated levels of toxic metals are associated with inferior survival in patients with AML. Exploratory clinical studies are currently ongoing in AML patients to evaluate the metal rebalancing effect of chelating agents administered concomitantly with chemotherapy. December 2021: Alenura™: Hyloris' strategic collaboration with Vaneltix Pharma aims to develop and commercialize AlenuraTM, a patented, innovative, clinical-stage bladder instillation product candidate that combines lidocaine4 in a new alkalinized form with heparin. Thanks to the novel dual mode-of-action, AlenuraTM has the unique potential to i) immediately relieve pain, and ii) augment the mucous layer of the bladder. The product candidate treats acute pain in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS), a condition that affects at least 6 million5 people in the US. Currently, there are 3 million instillation procedures per year in the US. A Phase 2 clinical trial is expected to start by mid-2022 with results potentially available by late 2023. Repurposing and reformulation These new innovative product candidates added in 2021 reflect a continued shift in emphasis for Hyloris on repurposing of existing drugs reaching beyond reformulation. Repurposing is the development of a pharmaceutical product, based on a well know molecule, but in a completely new indication. Repurposing can have important business advantages, it represents a more robust business strategy which is anchored in the demands of the healthcare system that are reflected in the unmet medical needs of patients, physicians and payors. ________________________2 Datamonitor Healthcare April 2021; Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 2019; WHO classification of AML, 20163 Medscape - Abid Irshad, MD Associate Professor, Department of Radiology, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine4 Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that works by causing temporary numbness/loss of feeling in the skin and mucous membranes; Heparin is a component of the mucous layer of the bladder wall and is an anticoagulant (blood thinner) that prevents the formation of blood clots5 Data on the female population is from the RAND Study: J Urol. 2011 August, 186(2): 540–544. doi:10.1016/j.juro.2011.03.132 Data on the male population is from the RICE Study: J Urol. 2013 January, 189(1): 141–145. doi:10.1016/j.juro.2012.08.0 Development pipeline The company opened its own laboratory facilities in Liège, Belgium, bringing drug formulation and analytical activities in-house to further streamline processes and accelerating the R&D activities. Hyloris has 15 products in development6 of which two are commercialized. For all current 505(b)2 products, we have made significant progress in 2021. Some of the achievements, milestones and adjustments are noted below. Hyloris expanded the commercial potential of Tranexamic RTU beyond the U.S. with licensing deals in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, realizing an upside that was not anticipated at the IPO. In the US, Hyloris will optimize the go-to-market model for Tranexamic RTU by positioning it as a generic product, which significantly reduces regulatory costs but resulting in later approval. Although it remains an added value product outside of the US, it will be reported as established market product candidate. Hyloris obtained a worldwide exclusive license related to an Aspirin IV formulation and technology, bringing forward the development timeline of Aspirin IV in acute coronary syndrome. The Aspirin IV pivotal PK study is currently ongoing. HY-004: Phase 1 study completed with top line results becoming available in Q2 2022. As the product moves towards its pivotal study, the company may seek to expand and optimize the label claims to increase the commercial potential of the product through further evolving regulatory and clinical strategies that could extend the timeline. Miconazole/Domiphen Bromide: A Phase 2 clinical trial ongoing with results expected in H2 2022. Atomoxetine OS: Implementing changes to taste masking technology as per FDA scientific advice received. HY-029: Scientific advice from the regulatory agency has been requested with the aim to start a pivotal PK study. For the established market product candidates, patient recruitment for the Fusidic Acid Cream trial is ongoing in multiple territories and the company is evaluating its response to an FDA request relating to HY-016 for additional clinical data. COVID-19-related restrictions affected several of the company's programs during 2021 with minor impacts on timelines. None of these timeline revisions is expected to impact substantially on the company's cash position or financial projections. The development pipeline of added value products currently has no direct exposure relating to the current geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe. ________________________6 Excluding high barrier generic products, HY-038, HY-016 and Fusidic Acid Cream Management and Board changes Hyloris' strengthened its senior management team during 2021. Thomas Jacobsen was appointed as Chief Business Development Officer in February, and Jean-Luc Vandebroek joined as Chief Financial Officer in September. The company also appointed Chris Buyse as an independent member of the Board of Directors. Chris is an experienced investor, currently Managing Director of Fund+, the largest Belgian life science venture capital fund. Outlook 2022 During 2022 Hyloris anticipates delivering on key value inflection milestones within its strategic focus areas, including conducting 6 clinical studies on its pipeline products, the further roll out of its commercial products and the addition of at least 4 new product candidates through internal innovation, in-licensing or joint ventures.    With cash and cash equivalents of €50 million at 30 December 2021, the Company is well-capitalized to advance all current pipeline assets as planned and execute its current business plan with the expectation to expand the portfolio to about 30 candidate and marketed products by 2024. Conference Call The Company will host a conference call and webcast, conducted in English, to present the results, followed by a live Q&A session. The webcast will be held on 16 March 2022 at 2pm CET / 1pm GMT / 9am EST. To join the webcast, please pre-register here. To dial-in for the conference call, please use the following details: US: 877-407-0792 International: +1 -201-689-8263 Conference ID: 13727870 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS 2021   Year ended 31 December   (in € thousand) 2021 2020 Variance Revenues 3,096 175 1,669% Research and development expenses (5,056) (3,413) 48% General and administration expenses (2,900) (2,194) 32% Shares' issuance related expenses - (1,468)   Other operating income/expenses (5,381) 21   Operating result (10,541) (7,025) (50%) Net financial result (741) (120) 518% Income Taxes (297)   - Net result (11,579) (7,145) (62%) Net operating cash flow (11,692) (4,570) (156%) Cash and cash equivalents 50,012 64,399 (22%) FINANCIAL REVIEW 2021Income statementIn 2021, total revenues increased to €3.10 million versus €0.18 million in 2020, driven by the strong growth from out-licensing Maxigesic® IV by our partner AFT Pharmaceuticals and a continuously increasing royalties received from AltaThera on net sales from Sotalol IV.Cost of sales amounts to €0.11 million versus €0.15 million in 2020 and is mainly due to fees paid to Academic Pharmaceuticals in relation to sales of Sotalol IV and amortization expenses of the capitalized development costs of commercialized products. Research and development expenses increased to €5.06 million in 2021 versus €3.41 million in 2020, in line with the progression and the expansion of the product candidates pipeline and the enlargement of the research and development team. General and administrative expenses increased to €2.90 million in 2021 versus €2.19 million in 2020, primarily driven by the strengthening of the management team of the Company. In 2021, the Company successfully renegotiated and unwound several license agreements with the Alter Pharma Group for the following products: Maxigesic® IV, HY-075, HY-038 and the high-barrier generic Fusidic Acid Cream for the Canadian market. Renegotiating and unwinding resulted in a one-time other operating expense of €5.77 million. As a result, the operating loss increased in 2021 to €10.54 million versus an operating loss of €7.03 million in 2020. The net financial loss in 2021 was €0.74 million (2020: €0.12 million). Financial income amounted to €0.32 million, comprising mostly of interest received on deposits, versus €0.90 million last year. The figure in 2020 had been positively impacted by non-recurring gains from the extension of the maturity of the Shareholders loans (€0.53 million). Financial expenses amounted to €0.77 million versus €1.02 million in 2020 and comprised mostly interest expenses on shareholders loans and exchange differences. As a result, net losses in 2021 increased to €11.58 million versus €7.15 million in 2020. Statement of financial positionThe Company's non-current assets mainly consist of (1) investments in joint ventures of € 4.1 million at year-end 2021 and (2) intangible assets of €2.94 million at year-end 2021 including capitalized development, purchased assets and in-licensing costs, versus €2.38 million in 2020. The Company's current assets mainly consist of €50.01 million in cash and cash equivalents on total assets of € 63.44 million, and trade and other receivables of € 2.32 million primarily resulting from out-licensing revenue from Maxigesic® IV. Current liabilities mainly comprise shareholders' loans of € 11.82 million with maturity date end of December 2022. The Company's equity decreased to €48.06 million, mainly as a result of the net loss for the year of € 11.58 million. Cash flow statementNet cash outflow from operating activities was €11.25 million in 2021, compared to €4.57 million in 2020. The cash outflows related to operating activities in 2021 amounted to €10.48 million (2020: €4.60 million). Net cash outflow from investing activities was €2.13 million in 2021, compared to €0.63 million in 2020, and mainly related to investments in joint ventures and capitalization of development expenses. The financing activities amounted to a net cash outflow of €1.00 million in 2021 compared to a net cash inflow of €69.40 million in 2020 from the net proceeds of the successful IPO on Euronext Brussels in June 2020 and the convertible bonds issued in March and April 2020. As at 31 December 2021, cash and cash equivalents amounted to €50.01 million, down from €64.40 million at the end of 2020 as a result of progression and the expansion of the product candidates pipeline, and the successful renegotiation and unwinding of the license agreements with the Alter Pharma Group for lead product candidates of about €5.25 million. CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL POSITION FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31 ASSETS 31-Dec   31-Dec   (in € thousand) 2021   2020   Non-current assets 9,485   2,569   Intangible assets 2,944   2,381   Property, plant and equipment 122   24   Right-of-use assets 173   152   Investments in associates and joint ventures 4,097   -   Financial assets 453   12   Other non-current assets 1,714   -   Current assets 53,959   66,613   Inventories -   -   Trade and other receivables 2,321   253   Other financial assets 528   7   Other current assets 1,098   1,954   Cash and cash equivalents 50,012   64,399  .....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMar 16th, 2022

Women in Real Estate: It’s Time to ‘Play to Win’

In the wake of the pandemic, new challenges as well as new opportunities have arisen for women, and many new lessons have been learned. To honor Women’s History Month, we talked to some of the industry’s top female thought leaders to gauge the current state of women in real estate, including how far we’ve come, […] The post Women in Real Estate: It’s Time to ‘Play to Win’ appeared first on RISMedia. In the wake of the pandemic, new challenges as well as new opportunities have arisen for women, and many new lessons have been learned. To honor Women’s History Month, we talked to some of the industry’s top female thought leaders to gauge the current state of women in real estate, including how far we’ve come, and how much progress remains to be made. Candace Adams President & CEO Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England/Westchester/New York/ Hudson Valley Properties Helen Hanna Casey President & CEO Howard Hanna Real Estate Services   Sherry Chris President & CEO Realogy Expansion Brands   Lacey Conway CEO Latter & Blum   Bess Freedman CEO Brown Harris Stevens   Kymber Menkiti Regional Director, Keller Williams; President, Keller Williams Capital Properties   Teresa Palacios Smith  Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer HomeServices of America   Desiree Patno CEO NAWRB/Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem   Jeanette Schneider President RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan   Michael Saunders Founder & CEO Michael Saunders & Company   Sue Yannaccone President & CEO Realogy Franchise Group   What new challenges have women in real estate faced since the onset of the pandemic? Teresa Palacios Smith: According to a McKinsey study, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the large and small inequalities—both at work and at home—that women face daily. This was true for women in real estate as they now had the added financial and emotional stress, along with the uncertainty of what the future held.  Women took on the primary role of managing home life and taking care of other family members while operating their real estate business. Women had to also adapt to a new way of doing business. From learning new technology, conducting virtual open houses, inspections and closings to keeping updated on government and institutional programs, combined with the emotional toll of not being able to visit relatives, parents and grandparents, additional challenges were created for women in all facets of business. Michael Saunders: The pandemic has had long-term repercussions on women, who were disproportionately affected. Not only did women have to be wage-earners, they had to handle childcare and remote schooling. I think women took on the psychological ownership of the impact of the pandemic on the family. I don’t think any of us are unscarred by the pandemic. We have carried it with us. Sue Yannaccone: Needless to say, every professional needed to adapt to the initial jolt of remote work in 2020, balancing both their professional goals and personal wellbeing. But, the reality remains that women disproportionately juggle homelife responsibilities, and that dynamic was exacerbated by the shift to work-from-home. Far too often, women assume the daily household duties or are expected to be the primary caregivers for their children or elders, all while tending to the demands of the workplace. We have a long way to go in dismantling the structural and cultural practices that are at the core of this inequity, but women in real estate stood at the forefront of a historic year for the real estate market, in which we witnessed numerous record-breaking efforts from women brokers, agents and leaders. Sherry Chris: The pandemic really brought to the forefront what it’s like for working women with children. Women with children faced the challenge of navigating childcare and virtual school while adapting their work routines and responsibilities to ensure continuity with clients, all while adhering to safety guidelines. In addition, women had to find ways to stay connected and relevant to their spheres, which took tremendous time and energy, coupled with the overall stress and anxiety of living in a pandemic. I would also say that in some cases, women had to take a back seat and put their careers on hold to care for their children. Bess Freedman: A lot of women lost their jobs because they couldn’t focus on everything. They pulled themselves out of the workforce to support their children’s mental health and academics, to shoulder most of the burden of unpaid work that men never do. During the pandemic, so many women had to take their focus off of work and career. Women got hurt so much more than men during the pandemic. Despite the challenges, have pandemic times opened up new opportunities for women in real estate? Helen Hanna Casey: Absolutely! This has just been amazing, what we have learned and mastered. The opportunities that were available to learn and grow were greater during the pandemic than any other time we have experienced. Women seized the moment!  We had more of our REALTORS® engaged in Hanna University, Martech Training and general learning experiences. Women relied on each other, which they have always done, but even more so during the pandemic. Today, as a result, they are better equipped to handle the needs of everyone around them, but their skill sets in social media, digital marketing and virtual open houses have catapulted everyone so far beyond what any of us could have imagined our capabilities even being. Candace Adams: The pandemic has caused extreme stress and anxiety, and women tend to be more emotionally intelligent and caregiving. Those qualities became critical in leadership and have opened pathways for women to advance in their industries, providing a more balanced work environment. Jeanette Schneider: Women have been able to grow their production as an individual or by growing a team. The pandemic has many women looking for career opportunities that are flexible. I have seen women who have been in car sales or teaching entering real estate as a career, and they have skills that can transfer very nicely into the real estate industry. We have seen women take on broker and ownership roles over the past couple of years or expand their business through mergers with other companies. Women have also found or expanded their voice in real estate—and by this, I mean embracing video to communicate and engage with past clients, sphere of influence and others. Desiree Patno: There has been a new sense of awareness to help dig deeper to understand some of the issues that have plagued our industry for decades. Women are stepping up and creating more startup companies with alternative ways to capitalize on the real estate market. From investing, creative management services and niche real estate verticals, including the metaverse, women are turning the dial outside of the normal traditional marketplace. Lacey Conway: COVID made us all take a hard look at career and health—some checked out and others dug in. There is an awareness of the need for women in real estate and leadership, and a big opportunity for women to step up. I also think shifts in workplace flexibility and more control over schedules due to remote work have been challenges, but created opportunities for many. Kymber Menkiti: In some ways, women have more advantages because we’ve been balancing and juggling well before the pandemic. So women have risen to the occasion because we already had the ability to manage under stress and pressure. I’ve certainly seen women rise to the occasion and really lead with feminine leadership. We need this, especially in times of difficulty and uncertainty. This has given women a competitive opportunity. The ability to be remote allowed the ability to flex into roles that maybe would’ve been harder to attain. In the last 24 months, less networking happened on the golf course, and this allowed women to be more present in networking opportunities. Sherry Chris: Many women joined real estate because of a career change precipitated by COVID. Now they are firmly in control of their career and earnings, working in an environment that offers work-life balance flexibility. Today, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports that 65% of real estate professionals are women, and 60% of brokers are women. We’ve added a number of women-owned companies to our networks this past year, many of them former team leaders who took the next step in starting a brokerage. What are some of the most impressive advancements for women in the industry that you’ve witnessed over the past couple of years?   Bess Freedman: I would love to pretend that I thought there were advancements. I don’t believe that there have been. As I look around our industry, I see that the owners of most companies are all men. I’m CEO, but I work for a chairman and owner who are men. There are no female developers. VC and hedge funds are all men. Women don’t have a big enough stake in real estate. There are incredible opportunities for growth for women—we have to keep pushing. Men need to open the door and encourage some new blood in that environment. We need men to coach them along, to mentor them. Michael Saunders: There hasn’t been enough advancement for women in the industry. If you look at national franchises and state associations, it’s predominantly still men at the top. And more than ever, women want to control their professional and financial destiny. I think that women naturally have the skills that are paramount to being successful. We have a long way to go and much to do, but I do think that everyone from NAR to state organizations to LeadingRE and Luxury Portfolio have focused on tracks for leadership development for women. Teresa Palacios Smith: With the backdrop of a global pandemic, a record number of women within the HomeServices family of companies were elevated to top positions. Women have taken on more leadership roles within the real estate industry. There have only been seven women who have led the National Association of REALTORS® in its 115-year history, and this past November, Leslie Rouda Smith took the helm as president for the largest trade organization in the world. Leslie explained during a recent conversation on the Facebook series “Women Who Lead” that for the first time in the history of NAR, there are more women than men on the leadership team. Candace Adams: We’ve seen a heightened sensitivity to equality in general in the last few years, and women have been among the beneficiaries of the light shining on diversity and inclusion. Women represent approximately 67% of the country’s real estate agents; however, leadership is not representative of that. In the past, men have mainly dominated leadership roles, but in the last few years, we have seen significant improvement in the opportunities available to women, and more and more are sitting in the C-suites. Helen Hanna Casey: Personally, I think real estate sales, brokerage, residential, commercial, mortgage banking, insurance and title have always been ripe for women successes. For over 70 years, women have helped shape our industry.  As the industry grows, we need more bright, multi-talented women to open new doors to new potential for all of us. At Howard Hanna, we believe we have created opportunities for women since our founding. Certainly, we have seen the number of women executives growing year after year. They are CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CLOs, CMOs, CGROs and presidents, and that is just at Howard Hanna. With the baby boomer generation aging and retiring, there will be even more opportunities for women leaders, opportunities for the best and the brightest that want to win! Kymber Menkiti: I feel like we have a lot of work to do. One of the things I’m seeing more, is men calling attention to the need for women and diversity in general in their leadership. At the end of the day, it’s going to be up to the male-dominated leadership in our industry. You have to change the people who are in front of you. If you don’t change who’s in front of you, we’ll continue that constant cycle. I became the first Black regional president for Keller Williams. We had White guys there for a long time. They had to look up and make sure they were drawing from a diverse pool—that was their intentionality. They have to be more intentional about tapping the shoulders of women and saying, ‘hey, are you interested?’ The other issue is being able to find other women leaders as mentors. It’s a pretty empty path in our industry. Lacey Conway: Impressive women in real estate are not something new, although I am delighted that they are being recognized more and more. I was so pleased to see Sue Yannaccone take on the role of CEO for Realogy Franchise Group and Christy Budnick named CEO of  Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices—both big roles and big promotions. I also like to witness women like Michael Saunders and Helen Hanna Casey be recognized for their major roles, but acknowledging their longevity, contributions and continued success in this business. How are you addressing diversity in your firm? What advice would you share with other real estate leaders for addressing diversity issues?   Sue Yannaccone: What Moves Her, an effort that I launched in 2020 to support women’s paths to leadership in real estate, has reached over 5,000 women in the industry through its programming. Ascend, our educational course for training our next generation of broker/owners, has more than doubled its participation from aspiring minority leaders. Meanwhile, our Inclusive Ownership Program has onboarded dozens of new diverse franchise owners in recent years, providing the support infrastructure, mentorship and financial incentives to empower more minority entrepreneurs in our industry. My advice to other leaders in our industry who are seeking to address diversity issues: Ensure that your efforts are designed to make a genuine impact. The unfortunate, under-discussed aspect of the business world’s newfound focus on diversity is that it often results in symbolic gestures to “check a box.” We can’t solve the myriad injustices across racial, ethnic and gender lines with a broad-brush approach; your solutions should be targeted and prescriptive. Jeanette Schneider: You can learn a lot from being willing to have a conversation and learn from others. We don’t all have the same life experiences, and being willing to really listen to other points of view can change your approach to things moving forward. RE/MAX has been a sponsor of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) for five years, and in 2021, we participated in the Diversity and Fair Housing Summit that was part of the AREAA event. RE/MAX also led the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals’ (NAHREP) list of top Latino agents. We look for opportunities to be part of organizations that support diversity. Kymber Menkiti: Keller Williams added a head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Julia Lashay Israel. They were able to identify a strong female leader of color who was in the agent base and has now come to be in the C-suite. Also, our free real estate school, which was birthed out of our social equity taskforce, was a way to level the playing field for women and people of color. I also founded an organization called Her Best Life, to amplify the voice of women in leadership in business. We need to come together and create these tribes where we feel connected and pour into other women. I live by the mantra, “lift while you climb.” Helen Hanna Casey: We have always been involved in community outreach to diverse populations. I think it is important that women themselves take leadership roles within those community organizations as examples to their companies. Our COO, Annie Hanna Cestra, has chaired the Urban League of Pittsburgh and been its Chair of Development for many years. We as a company are involved in the national Dress for Success campaign, which provides much more than clothes. On the educational forefront, it is imperative that we offer training and education on diversity and inclusion to help overcome unconscious bias within our daily lives. Education is also important to our communities, so we have funded scholarships through the educational promise, urban leagues, University of Pittsburgh and John Carroll University, in addition to funding women’s colleges in our markets. Teresa Palacios Smith: At HomeServices, we are committed to a robust education plan for our leaders, employees and network agents, which includes training on implicit bias, inclusive language and NAR’s (seven-hour) At Home with Diversity Course. I am proud to say that, beginning with our CEO, Gino Blefari, 100% of the HomeServices-owned companies’ leadership participated in all our seminars and classes. We also have continued partnerships with national organizations such as AREAA, NAHREP and NAREB. We are committed to bringing more women into leadership roles, supporting the work of organizations like NAWRB, Professional Women in Building (NAHB-PWB) and the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, along with a Facebook and podcast series “Women Who Lead.” We are also proud to be a founding sponsor of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and work closely to expand our Veteran workforce by partnering with VAREP. What advice would you share with women aspiring to advance their careers in the real estate industry? Candace Adams: My advice to anyone wanting to advance their careers in real estate is to first be knowledgeable, educated and an expert in the industry. Understanding the many facets of the business, from sales to operations, can help foundation a career for growth. Be yourself, be confident and actively search for new opportunities. Michael Saunders: Be bold! Be curious! Have a strong set of values, stay focused and be really determined. Don’t let anyone deter you from your goals. Core values are critical and should be a guiding light of every woman. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Bess Freedman: Most importantly for women, I encourage them to shift their mindset. Instead of playing not to lose, play to win. Understand your value. So often we hear women say things like, “I was afraid to ask for a raise or a promotion.” It’s intimidating. But be clear about what your worth is, and know what you want. Men do it every day. Women need to stop tip-toeing and stop saying sorry. Lacey Conway: Go for it, and make it your own. It’s okay to grow into your role. Plenty of studies have shown that men tend to run after opportunities when they open up, whether they’re qualified or not… whereas women tend to feel like they aren’t qualified even when they clearly are. When it comes to pursuing a career in real estate, I feel like women could do themselves a favor by reaching higher even when they might not feel ready. When we wait and wait and wait, we fall into the mindset that we’re not “yet” qualified, that we need just one more year of experience, one more leadership class, etc. These are just ways we trick ourselves into playing small. Sherry Chris: Women with aspirations of leadership should strategically network to create an extended team of counselors and advisors that can be called upon at any time. It’s also essential to understand you can’t be a superhero—for women with competing responsibilities, you have to compartmentalize. Being able to maximize and optimize time spent on work and other aspects of life lets you be fully present at all times. Sue Yannaccone: The path to leadership isn’t the same for everyone, and it’s never a straight line. Your aspirations should start with goals for your own personal growth, like accepting new challenges and learning more about your industry, rather than an end result, like becoming CEO or achieving a certain salary. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that I was unknowingly defining my path to leadership the entire time through the ways in which I accepted new opportunities with a focus on immersing myself in the work. I allowed myself to adapt my passion and leadership style in real-time, rather than predefining an outcome. Helen Hanna Casey: Learn. Try new things. Ask questions. Seek mentors, both men and women, and remember that there are opportunities that you may not realize exist unless you look. In today’s workforce, there are specialties in every form of what we do. Develop and strengthen your own talents, and know what they are. As REALTORS®, we are the greatest negotiators in the world, yet writers and academics indicate that women do not know how to ask for the order, negotiate or brag about themselves. I do not think they have studied women REALTORS®! Our future leaders are among us, they just need to make themselves known. Desiree Patno: Follow your heart, passion and drive, never give up! If you have conviction, it will happen. Teresa Palacios Smith: Seek areas where you can expand your knowledge of the business, focus on your strengths and sharpen areas where you may not feel as comfortable. Be open to constructive criticism, and take the time to improve those areas so that you develop and expand your capabilities. When the opportunity arises for you to step into a new role where you can advance and learn a new area, or leap into a new venture, go for it, even if you are scared to death. Jeanette Schneider: Be present and use your voice. Show up to meetings and events where you get to meet people and expand your network and make it a point to engage in conversation with both people you know and those you don’t yet know. Don’t be afraid to be heard at these meetings. Find a mentor who can share their experience and provide some guidance. Kymber Menkiti: Every time you state what you want, don’t put a ceiling on yourself. Name what you want. You have to be very comfortable being uncomfortable. Women are much more calculated and need to know they’ll succeed before they jump in. You need to step outside of that and just jump in. Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her with your real estate news ideas, maria@rismedia.com. The post Women in Real Estate: It’s Time to ‘Play to Win’ appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaMar 16th, 2022

10 Signs The War In Ukraine Is Part Of The Great Reset

10 Signs The War In Ukraine Is Part Of The Great Reset Via WinterOak.org.uk, Welcome to the second phase of the Great Reset: war. While the pandemic acclimatised the world to lockdowns, normalised the acceptance of experimental medications, precipitated the greatest transfer of wealth to corporations by decimating SMEs and adjusted the muscle memory of workforce operations in preparation for a cybernetic future, an additional vector was required to accelerate the economic collapse before nations can ‘Build Back Better.’ I present below several ways in which the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is the next catalyst for the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset agenda, facilitated by an interconnected web of global stakeholders and a diffuse network of public-private partnerships. 1. The war between Russia and Ukraine is already causing unprecedented disruption to global supply chains, exacerbating fuel shortages and inducing chronic levels of inflation. As geopolitical tensions morph into a protracted conflict between NATO and the Sino-Russia axis, a second contraction may plunge the economy into stagflation. In the years ahead, the combination of subpar growth and runaway inflation will force a global economic underclass into micro-work contracts and low-wage jobs in an emerging gig economy. Another recession will compound global resource thirst, narrow the scope for self-sufficiency and significantly increase dependence on government subsidies. With the immiseration of a significant portion of the world’s labour force looming on the horizon, this may well be a prelude to the introduction of a Universal Basic Income, leading to a highly stratified neo-feudal order. Therefore, the World Economic Forum’s ominous prediction that we will ‘own nothing and be happy’ by 2030 seems to be unfolding with horrifying rapidity. 2. The war’s economic fallout will lead to a dramatic downsizing of the global workforce.  The architects of the Great Reset have anticipated this trend for a number of years and will exploit this economic turbulence by propelling the role of disruptive technologies to meet global challenges and fundamentally alter traditional business patterns to keep pace with rapid changes in technology. Like the pandemic, disaster preparedness in the age of conflict will rest significantly on the willingness to embrace specific technological innovations in the public and private spheres so that future generations can supply the labour demands of the Great Reset. A recurring theme in Klaus Schwab’s Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that groundbreaking technological and scientific innovations will no longer be relegated to the physical world around us but become extensions of ourselves. He emphasises the primacy of emerging technologies in a next generation workforce and highlights the urgency to push ahead with plans to digitise several aspects of the global labour force through scalable technology based solutions. Those spearheading the Great Reset seek to manage geopolitical risk by creating new markets which revolve around digital innovations, e-strategies, telepresence labour, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Bodies. The breakneck speed in which AI technologies are being deployed suggest that the optimization of such technologies will initially bear on traditional industries and professions which offer a safety net for hundreds of millions of workers, such as farming, retail, catering, manufacturing and the courier industries. However, automation in the form of robots, smart software and machine learning will not be limited to jobs which are routine, repetitive and predictable. AI systems are on the verge of wholesale automation of various white collar jobs, particularly in areas which involve information processing and pattern recognition such as accounting, HR and middle management positions. Although anticipating future employment trends is no easy task, it’s safe to say that the combined threat of pandemics and wars means the labour force is on the brink of an unprecedented reshuffle with technology reshaping logistics, potentially threatening hundreds of millions of blue and white collar jobs, resulting in the greatest and fastest displacement of jobs in history and foreshadowing a labour market shift which was previously inconceivable. While it has long been anticipated that the increased use of technology in the private sector would result in massive job losses, pandemic lockdowns and the coming disruption caused by a war will speed up this process, and many companies will be left with no other option but to lay off staff and replace them with creative technological solutions merely for the survival of their businesses. In other words, many of the jobs which will be lost in the years ahead were already moving towards redundancy and are unlikely to be recovered once the dust is settled. 3. The war has significantly reduced Europe’s reliance on the Russian energy sector and reinforced the centrality of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and ‘net zero‘ emissions which lies at the heart of the Great Reset. Policymakers marching lockstep with the Great Reset have capitalised on the tough sanctions against Russia by accelerating the shift towards ‘green’ energy and reiterating the importance of decarbonisation as part of the ‘fight against climate change’. However, it would be very short-sighted to assume that the Great Reset is ultimately geared towards the equitable distribution of ‘green’ hydrogen and carbon-neutral synthetic fuels replacing petrol & diesel. While UN SDGs are crucial to post-pandemic recovery, more importantly, they are fundamental to the makeover of shareholder capitalism which is now being vaunted by the Davos elites as ‘stakeholder capitalism’. In economic terms, this refers to a system where governments are no longer the final arbiters of state policies as unelected private corporations become the de facto trustees of society, taking on the direct responsibility to address the world’s social, economic and environmental challenges through macroeconomic cooperation and a multi-stakeholder model of global governance. Under such an economic construct, asset holding conglomerates can redirect the flow of global capital by aligning investments with the UN’s SDGs and configuring them as Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) compliant so that new international markets can be built on the disaster and misery of potentially hundreds of millions of people reeling from the economic collapse caused by war. Therefore, the war offers a huge impetus for the governments pushing the reset to actively pursue energy independence, shape markets towards ‘green and inclusive growth’ and eventually move populations towards a cap-and-trade system, otherwise known as a carbon credit economy. This will centralise power in the hands of stakeholder capitalists under the benevolent guise of reinventing capitalism through fairer and greener means, using deceptive slogans like ‘Build Back Better’ without sacrificing the perpetual growth imperative of capitalism. 4. Food shortages created by the war will offer a major boon to the synthetic biology industry as the convergence of digital technologies with materials science and biology will radically transform the agricultural sector and encourage the adoption of plant-based and lab-grown alternatives on a global scale.  Russia and Ukraine are both breadbaskets of the world and critical shortages in grains, fertilisers, vegetable oils and essential foodstuffs will catapult the importance of biotechnology to food security and sustainability and give birth to several imitation meat start-ups similar to ‘Impossible Foods’ which was co-funded by Bill Gates. One can therefore expect more government regulation to usher a dramatic overhaul to industrial food production and cultivation, ultimately benefiting agribusiness and biotech investors, since food systems will be redesigned through emerging technologies to grow ‘sustainable’ proteins and CRISPR gene-edited patented crops. 5. Russia’s exclusion from SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) foreshadows an economic reset which will generate precisely the kind of blowback necessary for corralling large swathes of the global population into a technocratic control grid. As several economists have opined, weaponizing SWIFT, CHIPS (The Clearing House Interbank Payments System) and the US Dollar against Russia will only spur geopolitical rivals like China to accelerate the process of de-dollarisation. The main benefactor of economic sanctions against Russia appears to be China which can reshape the Eurasian market by encouraging member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS to bypass the SWIFT ecosystem and settle cross-border international payments in the Digital Yuan. While the demand for cryptocurrencies will see a massive spike, this is likely to encourage many governments to increasingly regulate the sector through public blockchains and enforce a multilateral ban on decentralised cryptocurrencies. The shift to crypto could be the dress rehearsal to eventually expedite plans for programmable money overseen by a federal regulator, leading to the greater accretion of power in the hands of a powerful global technocracy and thus sealing our enslavement to financial institutions. I believe this war will bring currencies to parity, therefore heralding a new Bretton Woods moment which promises to transform the operation of international banking and macroeconomic cooperation through the future adoption of central bank digital currencies. 6.  This war marks a major inflection point in the globalist aspiration for a new international rules-based order anchored in Eurasia. As the ‘father of geopolitics’ Halford Mackinder opined over a century ago, the rise of every global hegemon in the past 500 years has been possible because of dominance over Eurasia. Similarly, their decline has been associated with losing control over that pivotal landmass. This causal connection between geography and power has not gone unnoticed by the global network of stakeholders representing the WEF, many of whom have anticipated the transition to a multipolar era and return to great power competition amid America’s receding political and economic influence and a pressing need for what technocrats call smart globalisation. While America tries desperately to cling to its superpower status, China’s economic ascent and Russia’s regional ambitions threaten to upend the strategic axial points of Eurasia (Western Europe and Asia Pacific). The region in which America previously enjoyed uncontested hegemony is no longer impervious to cracks and we may be witnessing a changing of the guard which dramatically alters the calculus of global force projection. Although China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has the potential to unify the world-island (Asia, Africa and Europe) and cause a tectonic shift in the locus of global power, the recent invasion of Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences for China-Europe rail freight. The Ukrainian President Zelensky claimed that Ukraine could function as the BRI’s gateway to Europe. Therefore, we cannot ignore China’s huge stake in the recent tensions over Ukraine, nor can we ignore NATO’s underlying ambition to check China’s rise in the region by limiting the sale of Ukrainian assets to China and doing everything in its capacity to thwart The Modern Silk Road. As sanctions push Russia towards consolidating bilateral ties with China and fully integrating with the BRI, a Pan-Eurasian trading bloc may be the realignment which forces a shared governance of the global commons and a reset to the age of US exceptionalism. 7. With speculation mounting over the war’s long term impact on bilateral trade flows between China and Europe, the Russia-Ukraine conflict will catapult Israel – a leading advocate of the Great Reset – to even greater international prominence.  Israel is a highly attractive BRI market for China and the CCP is acutely aware of Israel’s importance as a strategic outpost connecting the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea through the Gulf of Suez. Furthermore, the Chinese government has for many years acknowledged the primacy of Israel as a global technology hub and capitalised on Israel’s innovation capabilities to help meet its own strategic challenges. Therefore, Naftali Bennet’s mediation between Moscow and Kiev is likely to factor the instrumental role of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in expanding both China and Israel’s regional and global strategic footprint. Israel’s status as among the leading tech hubs of the future and gateway connecting Europe and the Middle East is inextricably tied to the web of physical infrastructures, such as roads, railways, ports and energy pipelines which China has been building over the past decade. Already a powerhouse in auto-technologies, robotics and cybersecurity, Israel aspires to be the central nation in the millennial Kingdom and the country’s tech startups are predicted to play a key role in the fourth industrial revolution. Strengthening its evolving relationship with China amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis could help propel Israel into a regional hegemon par excellence with a large share of centralised economic and technological power converging in Jerusalem. As Israel embarks on efforts to diversify its export markets and investments away from the United States, it begs an important question. Is Israel in the formative stages of outsourcing its security interests away from the US and hedging its bets on the Sino-Russia axis? 8. It is now common knowledge that Digital IDs are a central plank in the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset agenda and are to be streamlined across industries, supply chains and markets as a way of advancing the UN 2030 SDGs and delivering individualised and integrated services in future smart cities. Many have cottoned on to how such a platform can be used to usher in a global system of technocratic population control and compliance by incorporating humanity into a new corporate value chain where citizens are mined as data commodities for ESG investors and human capital bond markets and assigned a social and climate score based on how well they measure up against the UN SDGs. This seamless verification of people and connected devices in smart environments can only take place once our biometrics, health records, finances, education transcripts, consumer habits, carbon footprint and the entire sum of human experiences is stored on an interoperable database to determine our conformity with the UN SDGs, thus forcing a monumental change to our social contract. Vaccine passports were initially touted by public-private partnerships as an entry point for Digital IDs. Now that such a logic has run its course, how might the present geopolitical tensions contribute to scaling what is the key node in a new digital ecosystem? Ukraine has traditionally been called Europe’s breadbasket and alongside Russia, both nations are major global suppliers of staple grains. Therefore, the war has all the makings of a black swan for commodities and inflation. With an economy teetering on the brink of collapse due to a global supply crunch, I believe the resulting economic tremors will trigger wartime emergencies across the world and the public will be told to brace themselves for rationing. Once this takes place, the multilateral adoption of Digital IDs which interface with Central Bank Digital Currencies can be touted as the solution to efficiently manage and distribute household rations under an unprecedented state of emergency and exception. The Bank of England has already floated the prospect of programmable cash which can only be spent on essentials or goods which an employer or government deem sensible. Once the issuer is granted control over how it is spent by the recipient, it will become nigh impossible to function adequately without a Digital ID, which will be required to receive food parcels and obtain a basic means of subsistence. Think UBI (Universal Basic Income). If food inflation continues on an upward trajectory with no signs of abating, governments may institute price controls in the form of rationing and ration entries could be logged on blockchain ledgers on the Digital ID to track our carbon footprint and consumptive habits during a national emergency. 9. Europe is directly in the line of fire once a hybrid war between NATO and the Sino-Russia axis is underway. It would be remiss to ignore the clear and present danger posed by a cyber attack on banks and critical infrastructure or even a tentative and tactical nuclear exchange with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). I can’t see how any warring party will not be limited by the doctrine of mutually assured destruction so a thermonuclear fallout is unlikely. However, the use of remote access technologies to erase system memory from the SWIFT banking apparatus or Cross-Border Interbank Payment System can potentially render much of the international economy non-operational and send the dollar into a tailspin. If an event of such cataclysmic proportions was to occur, it will undoubtedly lead to increasing demands to overhaul cyber security. The fallout from such an event could very well establish a new global security protocol according to which citizens must possess a Digital ID as a necessary national security measure. One can imagine how accessing the internet or public services in the aftermath of a nationwide cyberattack may require citizens to use a Digital ID to authenticate that their online activities and transactions are from a legitimate and non-malicious source. There are few coincidences in politics. 10. The economic implications of this war will be so disastrous that governments and the public sector will require a significant injection of private capital to address the financing shortfall.  This will effectively render the traditional separation of powers between central banking institutions and governments obsolete, as the former will be positioned to disproportionately influence the fiscal trajectory of nation states, whose sovereignty will be hollowed out by the wholesale capture of governments by the central banks and hedge funds. Therefore, the nation-state model is gradually being upended by a global technocracy, consisting of an unelected consortium of leaders of industry, central banking oligarchs and private financial institutions, most of which are predominantly non-state corporate actors attempting to restructure global governance and enlist themselves in the global decision-making process. Therefore, the future of international relations and the social, economic and political transformation which the world is presently undergoing in light of the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict will not be decided through multilateralism and elected representatives of sovereign states. Rather, it will be decided through a network of multi-stakeholder partnerships which are motivated by the politics of expediency and not accountable to any electorate or beholden to any state and for whom concepts like sovereignty and international law are meaningless. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/14/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 15th, 2022

Abcam Plc Results for the 12- and 18-month periods ended 31 December 2021

Growing demand for Abcam's portfolio of in-house products drives calendar 2021 revenues up by 22% at constant exchange rates Acquisition of BioVision completed 26 October 2021 CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom, March 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Abcam plc (NASDAQ:ABCM, AIM: ABC)) (‘Abcam', the ‘Group' or the ‘Company'), a global leader in the supply of life science research tools, today announces its final results for the 18-month period ended 31 December 2021 (the ‘period'). The Group's accounting reference date changed from 30 June to 31 December during the year1, therefore these financial statements report on both a 12- and 18-month period. SUMMARY PERFORMANCE £m, unless stated otherwise   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)(‘CY2021') 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)(‘CY2020')   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited) Revenue   315.4 269.3   462.9 Adjusted gross profit margin*, %   72.2% 70.0%   71.8% Reported operating profit   7.1 1.0   24.4 Adjusted operating profit**   60.4 50.6   95.5 Adjusted operating margin, %   19.2% 18.8%   20.6% Share-based payments related to pre-CY2021 schemes   (12.9) (13.3)   (22.0) Like-for-like adjusted operating profit (post share-based payments related to pre-CY2021 schemes)***   47.5 37.3   73.5 Like-for-like adjusted operating margin***, %   15.1% 13.9%   15.9% Net (Debt) / Cash****   (24.1) 211.9   (24.1) * Excludes the amortisation of the fair value of assets relating to the inventory acquired in connection with the acquisition of BioVision. ** Adjusted figures exclude impairment of intangible assets, systems and process improvement costs, acquisition costs, amortisation of fair value adjustments, integration and reorganisation costs, amortisation of acquisition intangibles, share-based payments and employer tax contributions thereon, the tax effect of adjusting items and credits from patent box claims. Such excluded items are described as ‘adjusting items'. Further information on these items is shown in note 4 to the consolidated financial statements. *** In previous reporting periods, share-based payments have not been included within adjusting items. With the approval of the Profitable Growth Incentive Plan (‘PGIP') during CY2021, management considers it to be more appropriate and more consistent with its closest comparable companies to include all share-based payments in adjusting items. To aid comparison with our previous presentation of results, we have included the adjusted operating margin in the table above on a like-for-like basis, excluding this change (‘Like-for-like'). **** Net Cash comprises cash and cash equivalents less borrowings. CY2021 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS1,2 Revenue growth of +22% (+17% reported) at constant exchange rates, compared to CY2020, including a 1%pt contribution from the acquisition of BioVision +38% total in-house CER revenue growth (including Custom Products & Licensing3 and   £2.6m of incremental revenue from BioVision) (+32% reported) Revenue from in-house products and services contributed 61% of total revenue (including Custom Products & Licensing3 and £2.6m of incremental revenue from BioVision) Adjusted2 gross margin increased by over 200 basis points to 72.2% (CY2020: 70.0%), benefiting from the contribution of higher margin in-house products and volume leverage resulting from the increase in revenue Adjusted2 operating profit of £60.4m (excluding share-based payments), equating to an adjusted operating margin of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%) Adjusted2 operating margin on a like-for-like4 basis improved over 300 basis points to 16.5% in H2 '21 (Jul-Dec), from 13.3% in H1 '21 (Jan-Jun) Statutory reported operating profit increased to £7.1m from £1.0m in CY2020 Net cash inflow from operating activities increased to £62.9m (CY2020: £58.9m) BUSINESS HIGHLIGHTS Focus on serving customers' needs globally as research activity levels continued to normalise and demand for Abcam products increased Positive customer transactional Net Promotor Score ('tNPS') of +56 (CY2021) and product satisfaction rates at all-time highs Completed the acquisition of BioVision, Inc (‘BioVision'), a leading innovator of biochemical and cell-based assays, in October 2021, for cash consideration of $340m (on a cash free, debt free basis) High employee engagement, with the business ranked in the Top 5 in the Glassdoor UK Employees' Choice Awards in January 2022, for the second year running Strengthened and expanded leadership in commercial and operational teams with senior hires in Commercial, Brand, China, and Supply Chain Expanded the Group's global presence, with the opening of new and enlarged sites in China, the US (Massachusetts, California, Oregon), Singapore, and Australia Upgraded supply chain systems at three locations, implemented new data architecture, and began transition to a new e-commerce platform, with completion of the digital transformation due in 2022 Completed the secondary US listing on Nasdaq's Global Market in October 2020 (supplementing existing listing on AIM on the London Stock Exchange) Expanded Asia, digital, and life science industry experience on the Board of Directors, with the appointments of Bessie Lee, Mark Capone and Sally Crawford, as Non-Executive Directors SHARE TRADING, LIQUIDITY AND LISTING Following our listing on Nasdaq in October 2020, the number of Abcam shares traded as ADSs on Nasdaq has doubled. While only 10% of our shares trade in the US market, it represents 25% of liquidity The Board continues to review options to increase share liquidity and intends to consult with shareholders on these options in due course CY2022 GUIDANCE Global lab activity continues to recover, though some uncertainty remains CY2022 trading performance YTD is in line with our expectations Expect total CER5 revenue growth of c.20% (including BioVision) with mid-teens organic CER revenue growth Expect continued adjusted gross margin improvement from the contribution of higher margin in-house products and full year impact of the BioVision acquisition Expect total adjusted operating cost growth (including depreciation and amortisation) at mid-teens percentage, as we slow rate of investment and leverage recent investments LONG TERM GOALS TO CY2024 CY2024 revenue goal target range increased by £25m to £450m-£525m, adjusted to incorporate BioVision6 and current operating performance Adjusted operating margin and ROCE targets remain unchanged Commenting on today's results, Alan Hirzel, Abcam's Chief Executive Officer, said: "I am grateful to everyone at Abcam for their dedicated effort through this most challenging time and thank our customers and partners for their ongoing trust and support. We have had another successful year operationally and financially despite the ongoing challenges. As we look ahead to 2022, we expect to create more innovation and success out of the past two years of investment as we installed elements of Abcam's long term growth strategy. The scientific community remains our guide and with their support we are becoming a more influential and trusted brand globally." Analyst and investor meeting and webcast: Abcam will host a conference call and webcast for analysts and investors today at 13:00 GMT/ 09:00 EDT. For details, and to register, please visit corporate.abcam.com/investors/reports-presentations A recording of the webcast will be made available on Abcam's website, corporate.abcam.com/investors Notes: On 2 June 2021, Abcam announced that it had changed its accounting reference date from 30 June to 31 December. Following this extension, these financial statements are for the 18-month period ended 31 December 2021. To assist understanding of the company's underlying performance, like-for-like financial information for the 12-month periods ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') and 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020') have also been provided. These results include discussion of alternative performance measures which include revenues calculated at Constant Exchange Rates (CER) and adjusted financial measures. CER results are calculated by applying prior period's actual exchange rates to this period's results. Adjusted financial measures are explained in note 2 and reconciled to the most directly comparable measure prepared in accordance with IFRS in note 4 to the interim financial statements. Custom Products & Licensing (CP&L) revenue comprises custom service revenue, revenue from the supply of IVD products and royalty and licence income. In previous reporting periods, share-based payments have not been included within adjusting items. With the approval of the Profitable Growth Incentive Plan (‘PGIP') during CY2021, management considers it to be more appropriate and more consistent with its closest comparable companies to include all share-based payments in adjusting items. To aid comparison with our previous presentation of results, we also calculate adjusted operating margin on a like-for-like basis, excluding this change (‘Like-for-like'). Average CY2021 exchange rates to GBP as follows: USD: 1.378; EUR: 1.159, RMB: 8.891, JPY: 150.7 Last 12-month BioVision recurring revenues of £17.8m at point of acquisition, adjusted for non-recurring COVID-19 related revenues, and sales to Abcam during that period. The information communicated in this announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014. For further information please contact: Abcam + 44 (0) 1223 696 000 Alan Hirzel, Chief Executive OfficerMichael Baldock, Chief Financial OfficerJames Staveley, Vice President, Investor Relations       Numis – Nominated Advisor & Joint Corporate Broker + 44 (0) 20 7260 1000 Garry Levin / Freddie Barnfield / Duncan Monteith       Morgan Stanley – Joint Corporate Broker + 44 (0) 207 425 8000 Tom Perry / Luka Kezic       FTI Consulting + 44 (0) 20 3727 1000 Ben Atwell / Julia Bradshaw   This announcement shall not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. This announcement is not an offer of securities for sale in the United States, and the securities referred to herein may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration except pursuant to an exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Any public offering of such securities to be made in the United States will be made by means of a prospectus that may be obtained from the issuer, which would contain detailed information about the company and management, as well as financial statements. Forward Looking StatementsThis announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any express or implied statements contained in this announcement that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements, including, without limitation statements of targets, plans, objectives or goals for future operations, including those related to Abcam's products, product research, product development, product introductions and sales forecasts; statements containing projections of or targets for revenues, costs, income (or loss), earnings per share, capital expenditures, dividends, capital structure, net financials and other financial measures; statements regarding future economic and financial performance; statements regarding the scheduling and holding of general meetings and AGMs; statements regarding the assumptions underlying or relating to such statements; statements about Abcam's portfolio and ambitions, as well as statements that include the words "expect," "intend," "plan," "believe," "project," "forecast," "estimate," "may," "should," "anticipate" and similar statements of a future or forward-looking nature. Forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, including, without limitation: a regional or global health pandemic, including the novel coronavirus ("COVID-19"), which has adversely affected elements of our business, could severely affect our business, including due to impacts on our operations and supply chains; challenges in implementing our strategies for revenue growth in light of competitive challenges; developing new products and enhancing existing products, adapting to significant technological change and responding to the introduction of new products by competitors to remain competitive; failing to successfully identify or integrate acquired businesses or assets into our operations or fully recognize the anticipated benefits of businesses or assets that we acquire; if our customers discontinue or spend less on research, development, production or other scientific endeavours; failing to successfully use, access and maintain information systems and implement new systems to handle our changing needs; cyber security risks and any failure to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of our computer hardware, software and internet applications and related tools and functions; we have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and failure to comply with requirements to design, implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could have a material adverse effect on our business; failing to successfully manage our current and potential future growth; any significant interruptions in our operations; if our products fail to satisfy applicable quality criteria, specifications and performance standards; failing to maintain our brand and reputation; our dependence upon management and highly skilled employees and our ability to attract and retain these highly skilled employees; and the important factors discussed under the caption "Risk Factors" in Abcam's prospectus pursuant to Rule 424(b) filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on 22 October 2020, which is on file with the SEC and is available on the SEC website at www.sec.gov, as such factors may be updated from time to time in Abcam's other filings with the SEC. Any forward-looking statements contained in this announcement speak only as of the date hereof and accordingly undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. Abcam disclaims any obligation or undertaking to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this announcement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, other than to the extent required by applicable law.The Group has changed its year end to December 31 and, as a result, this year's results present an 18-month accounting period, which ended on 31 December 2021. The comparison to the previously reported 12 months ended 30 June 2020 presents substantial period-on-period increases due to the longer period of account in the current reporting period and provides little helpful insight into the underlying performance of the business. To provide more useful commentary, both the CEO and CFO reviews largely focus on the financial and operating performance of the business in the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') compared to the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020'). The audited financial statements in the back of this report contain statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 and a comparison to the year ended 30 June 2020. CEO Report Moving forward with courage and hope As we continue to grapple with the challenges of our times, I am convinced that for all of us in the science community, the only way to move forward is with courage and hope. Over the last several decades, the positive impact of life science on the human condition has been profound. For example, across every income level and every country where there has not been a catastrophe, life expectancy has increased by nearly 20 years since the 1960s. Life science, medical discovery and innovation have been central to this health and social progress. In the last two decades, since the sequencing of the human genome, research in life sciences has more than doubled, and with it the potential to make even more progress. New discoveries can take 10 years or more to make a tangible difference and I am hopeful that our children will reap greater benefits in health and lifespan in the years to come. As I think about these inspiring achievements, alongside the development of our own business, I am determined to ensure Abcam continues to innovate and play a key role in helping our customers reach their scientific and career goals. We remain resolutely focused on enabling scientists to make breakthroughs faster, with better quality research tools and a passion for collaboration. It won't stop there either. We see a greater role for Abcam to accelerate the transition of discovery to clinical and social impact. I have always believed in the power of collaboration and the global response to the pandemic has shown the benefits of such collaboration. With the challenges ahead we will find ways for researchers, funders, publishers, tools companies, translational researchers, clinicians, diagnostics companies, pharmaceutical companies, and regulators to work together in common purpose as one. Improvements our business has made in product performance and consistency and our expanding network of commercial relationships are significantly reducing the time from first discovery to a better patient outcome. We look to put more effort toward this collaborative approach as we build our business. This collaborative spirit is also championed within our teams. Efforts we have been making to improve inclusion and diversity have amplified more voices through groups led by our people and outreach activities in our communities. Despite everything we faced in 2021, and the disturbing geopolitical aggression in Europe at the start of 2022, we see this period as an exciting time for proteomics research. I remain confident that Abcam is well positioned to influence and improve the journeys from discovery to impact, while sustaining value creation for all stakeholders. Our performance We achieved the major strategic, operational and financial goals we set for the business in the period and continued to make significant operational changes and to implement our growth strategy. Feedback from our customers was excellent, with a customer tNPS of +56 (CY2021). Sales of our in-house products grew strongly as we scaled up our capability here. Because these are sold at a higher margin, we started to feel the benefits of increased operational leverage. The business transition to 2024 is nearly complete and we will soon be able to fully reap the benefits of what we have been building over recent years.   Indeed, the biggest contributor to Abcam's growth and value and the main reason why we are winning more market share is the portfolio of proprietary products developed and manufactured at Abcam. This burgeoning in-house library of recombinant antibodies, immunoassays, conjugation products, proteins, and cell lines is offering customers the right products, to the right pathways, with a promise to go the distance from discovery to clinic. Customer demand for this portfolio drove in-house product revenue to £174m in CY2021 (CY2020: £129m), equivalent to 41% annual CER growth (36% excluding BioVision). Our investment of 14% of revenue (own product) back into R&D (including capitalised product development) is helping us sustain the growth and higher customer satisfaction in these areas. The BioVision acquisition in October 2021 added one of our largest suppliers to the in-house portfolio, with strengths in biochemical and cell-based assay kits. Business integration is moving ahead as planned and we expect it to provide further innovation opportunities within this portfolio. Risks around the global pandemic remain – as evidenced by the emergence of the Omicron variant in late 2021 – but data suggests that overall lab activity increased consistently during 2021 in our largest markets. Progress toward our strategic goals We aim to deliver consistent, durable growth and performance in a responsible way. Despite the continued disruption of COVID-19, we have seen sustained progress during the period as we continue to deliver on the growth strategy announced in November 2019. Strategic KPI performance (in-house product revenue growth and customer transactional net promotor score) was positive, feedback on our products has never been stronger, and we continue to make market share gains worldwide. At the same time, we are focused on ensuring the significant investment made in our innovation capabilities, systems and processes, facilities, and people support our long-term growth aspirations. As we seek to further strengthen our position as the partner of choice for our customers and partners, we have made further progress against each of the following strategic goals to drive sustained organic growth set out in 2019: 1. Sustain and extend antibody and digital leadership 2. Drive continued expansion into complementary market adjacencies 3. Build organisational scalability and sustain value creation Innovation and our impact on scientific progress Our product portfolio enables breakthrough proteomics discovery by our customers and partners. They are working to innovate and discover proteomic mechanisms such as the role of signaling and regulatory proteins in biological pathways – ultimately leading to diagnostics and treatments for diseases such as cancer and immune deficiency disorders. Their success depends on rigorous product performance and reliability, and it's these factors that continue to guide our innovation efforts. Since 2019, we have put more resources into innovating faster in antibodies and immunoassays, and we have complemented these areas with new product categories such as conjugation kits, proteins/cytokines, engineered cell lines, and now a range of BioVision cellular and biochemical assays. In total, new products introduced since 2019 represented approximately 7% of 2021 revenue (CY2021) and our own-product revenues (including Custom Products & Licensing) contributed over 60% of total revenue in the last 12 months. We are confident that our customer data insights and our approach to innovation and marketing underly this strong growth driver from internal innovation. In CY2021, our teams developed and launched over 2,500 high-quality antibody products, including recombinant RabMAb antibodies, antibody pairs, SimpleStep ELISA kits and new formulations that enable faster labelling and assay development. These new product introductions combined to meet two objectives for our new product development: fill unmet needs in research and increase product quality. As we have developed our high throughput innovation capability, we have also made bolder moves to delist third party supplied product that doesn't meet our customer quality needs. Together, these actions have substantially improved Abcam's quality and our overall brand preference. According to the most recently available industry data, these innovations and other initiatives have led Abcam to become the most cited antibody company. Abcam products were cited more than 70,000 times in scientific journals in 2020 and the business now has a citation share of over 22%, up approximately two percentage points on the previous year (source: CiteAb, based on over 300,000 recorded citations for 2020 as of February 2022). Most importantly, we have seen a continued strengthening of customer feedback during the period, with product satisfaction rates at all-time highs (rolling 12-month period to 31 December 2021). Extending Abcam's leadership in research antibodies has provided a strong foundation to expand into adjacent product categories used in protein research. We took our first adjacent product category move in 2014 with the introduction of proprietary immunoassays. In total these (non-primary antibody) product categories now contribute over 30% of total revenue. In CY2021, total CER revenue growth from these categories was 32% demonstrating the progress made developing these capabilities and the growing customer interest in these high-quality product portfolios. Other, newer product categories have had less time to develop than either our antibody or immunoassay portfolio, but we are seeing similar growth performance and opportunities here. Extending the impact of our innovation through partnership and collaboration Across the translational research, drug discovery and clinical markets, we are focused on strengthening our position as a leading discovery partner to organisations looking to access high quality antibodies and antibody expertise for commercial use within their products and assays – a philosophy we refer to as ‘Abcam Inside'. The period has seen good progress in this regard, with continued growth in the adoption of our products for use on third party instrumentation platforms, or by partners for their use in the development of clinical products. We established several new platform partnerships during the period while significantly expanding existing co-development programmes with current partners, including recently announced strategic partnerships with Alamar and Nautilus Biotechnology. We also grew our specialty antibody portfolio – signing 85 new outbound commercial agreements in CY2021 with organisations that have the potential to lead to new diagnostic or therapeutic tools in years to come. To date, approximately 1,000 of our antibodies are now validated for commercial use on third party platforms or as diagnostic tools, with over 3,000 more currently undergoing evaluation by our partners. We believe both areas remain significant long-term opportunities for the Group. Building a scalable enterprise Over the last two years our teams have been putting ideas, know-how, and capital to work installing new capabilities as we build scalability into our operational infrastructure, including our manufacturing and logistics footprint and IT backbone and digital capabilities to support our growth. At the same time, global supply chains have faced significant challenges primarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These additional pressures have been resolved by additional investment in manufacturing equipment and processes, while also introducing additional shift patterns in order to achieve better use of our resources. Further progress is expected as we pursue changes to our processes, including quality control, kit development and logistics as well as benefits expected from our integrated business planning process. We also completed several important global footprint initiatives in the period, with site moves or upgrades completed in Boston, Fremont, and Eugene in the USA; Hangzhou and Shanghai in China; Adelaide in Australia; Amsterdam in the Netherlands as well as relocating our Hong Kong operations to Singapore. These initiatives enable more efficient customer service, manufacturing, supply chain and logistics processes; create additional capacity needed to meet our growth objectives; and reduce risks that were identified in our ongoing risk management process. Across our IT and digital infrastructure, roll-out of the final stages of our ERP renewal programme continued, covering manufacturing and supply chain. Systems have now been successfully deployed across the Group's major manufacturing hubs, with final deployments in other small sites due for completion in 2022. At the same time, development of the next generation of our customer-facing digital platform has continued. The new platform is being designed to enable a step change to the customer experience, supporting dynamic content, a more personalised experience and driving enhanced search and traffic. Beta-testing in select markets was launched during the year and we remain on track to launch the new site in 2022. Sustaining social and financial value creation Our impact flows from our vision and purpose, which ultimately lead to a positive impact on the world: helping the scientific community accelerate breakthroughs in human healthcare. The more successful we can be as a business, therefore, the greater the difference we can make in the world. Our vision to be the most influential life sciences company comes with a commitment to the highest ethical standards, not just in our own conduct, but across our value chain. We have made further progress against each of our four priority areas (those seen as most important to sustaining value creation, namely: Products; People; Partners; and Planet) and were pleased to be ranked first by Sustainalytics, a leading ESG ratings agency, across its universe of more than 1,000 healthcare companies globally. Full details of our commitments, performance and progress will be provided in our 2021 Impact Report to be published in April and made available on our corporate website (corporate.abcam.com/sustainability). Of course, the ability of Abcam and our industry to continue to thrive will depend on future generations of scientists and so it's exciting to see that more young people than ever are taking STEM subjects. I am proud of Abcam's support in this area through our work with In2Science UK and The Henrietta Lacks Foundation. We have also made significant progress on our diversity and inclusion during the period. A new D&I strategy was launched alongside the establishment of multiple Employee Resource Groups, an enhanced family leave policy, and the introduction of diversity and inclusion targets that are tied to senior management compensation. These and other initiatives ensure that we are building an exceptional workplace for our teams, and it was pleasing to once again be recognised by Glassdoor as one of the top 5 employers in the UK in 2021. Attractive outlook We remain on track to achieve the five-year plan that we set out in 2019. In 2022, we will complete a few large-scale tasks to help us scale the business over the next decade. Once those are complete, the agenda for the year will largely focus on refining what we have installed, learning from the market, and making adjustments to drive double digit revenue growth and improve profit margins. With the addition of BioVision and adjustments for ongoing revenue, plus our confidence in the performance of the business, we have raised our revenue target for 2024 to a range of £450m-£525m, representing growth rates that are two to three times our underlying market and reflect the durable growth of Abcam. None of this attractive outlook could happen without great energy and effort by everyone involved. I thank our colleagues for their unwavering dedication, our customers for the trust they place in us, and our board of directors and our shareholders for their continued support. Alan HirzelCEO CFO Report The Group has changed its year end to 31 December. As a result, this year's results will present an 18-month accounting period, which ended on 31 December 2021. As a result, the comparison to the previously reported 12 months ended 30 June 2020 presents substantial period-on-period increases due to the longer period of account in the current reporting period and provides little helpful insight into the performance of the business during 2021. In order to provide a more useful comparison, this review largely focuses on the comparison of the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') to the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020'). The audited financial statements in the back of this report contains the statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 and a comparison to the year ended 30 June 2020. In preparing the CY2020 and CY2021 balances, the Group has applied consistently its accounting policies as disclosed within note 1. Although CY2020 and CY2021 are not audited financial periods within these financial statements, the balances have been extracted from the Group's underlying accounting records and reconciled in line with previously disclosed statements. For further information on the composition of CY2020 and CY2021, refer to the ‘Basis of preparation' section in the back of this report. The CFO's Report and Financial Review includes discussion of alternative performance measures which are defined further in the Notes to the Preliminary Financial Information. These measures include adjusted financial measures, which are explained in note 1b and reconciled to the most directly comparable measure prepared in accordance with IFRS in note 4. Further detail on the Group's financial performance is set out in the Preliminary Financial Information and notes thereto. Constant exchange rates ("CER") growth is calculated by applying the applicable prior period average exchange rate to the Group's actual performance in the respective period. Continued strong performance The Group reported revenue for CY2021 of £315.4m (CY2020: £269.3m), a CER growth rate of 22%. This figure includes a contribution of approximately one percentage point, or £2.6m, from BioVision following the acquisition's completion on 27 October 2021. Growth in revenue from our own, in-house (catalogue) products was 41% (CER) for CY2021, including a four-percentage point contribution from BioVision. While laboratories continued to relax COVID-19 related restrictions during the period, and data indicates overall lab activity levels increased through 2021, activity had not fully returned to pre-COVID levels by the end of the period due to the emergence of the Omicron variant in late 2021. Adjusted operating profit (before all share-based payment costs) for CY2021 was up 19%, to £60.4m (CY2020: £50.6m). This equates to an adjusted operating profit margin (excluding share-based payments) of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%). After share-based payment charges related to share incentive schemes in force prior to the start of the year, of £12.9m, like-for-like adjusted operating profit was £47.5m, equivalent to an adjusted operating profit margin of 15.1% (CY2020: 13.9%). Total revenue and adjusted operating profit for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was £462.9m and £95.5m respectively. The Group's statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 are covered in more detail in our audited financial statements contained herein. Investing in future growth Despite the disruption inflicted on our customers and industry by COVID-19, the long-term opportunities for growth across our markets continue to strengthen and, consistent with the strategic plans we set out in November 2019, we have further invested in our business through the period to capture these opportunities. Our global team increased to approximately 1,750 colleagues by the end of 2021 (31 December 2020: 1,600) and, overall, total adjusted operating costs in CY2021 rose 21% to £167.3m. We also committed a further £47m in capital expenditure (net of landlord contributions) during CY2021 to growth and scaling opportunities across the business, including capitalised product innovation, global footprint enhancements – including the opening of our flagship US site in Waltham, Massachusetts – and the implementation of the final stages of our ERP implementation. Underpinning our invest-to-grow strategy is our robust balance sheet and financial position. Net cash generation from operating activities increased to £62.9m in CY2021 (CY2020: £58.9m) and we ended the period with a small net debt position of £24.1m. Operational leverage and increased profitability As expected, over the last two years the Group's profit margins have been suppressed by the effects of both COVID-19 and the implementation of the Group's five-year growth plan. Many of our major investment plans are now substantially complete, and as we look forward, we expect to see the rate of investment reduce and the resultant delivery of operational leverage as the value of our investments are realised. We are pleased with the progress made over the most recent six-month period, where our adjusted operating margin (excluding share-based payments) was 20.3% as compared to 17.8% for the first six months of CY2021 (or 16.5% in H2 compared to 13.3% in H1 on a ‘like-for-like' basis, including share-based payments relating to pre-2021 share plans). As we look forward, we expect this operating leverage to continue to levels consistent with those levels laid out in our five-year growth plan, with a goal to reach over 30% in CY2024. Acquisition of BioVision In July 2021, we announced the signing of an agreement to acquire BioVision for $340m on a cash-free, debt-free basis. The purchase closed in October 2021, and we are now working on the integration, building on our combined expertise, and enhancing our presence in cell based and metabolic assays. To support the financing of the acquisition, we drew down approximately £120m on our revolving credit facility in October 2021. US Nasdaq listing The Group successfully added a secondary US listing on Nasdaq in October 2020, supplementing its existing admission to trading on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market whilst raising approximately £127m ($180m). The listing supports the Group's plans to enhance liquidity in our shares, attract a greater number of US-based life science and growth investors and provide the Group with an acquisition currency in the US market. We were pleased with the demand for the offering from long-term, life science investors. Interest has grown since, with the number of American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in issue doubling. The board continues to review options to increase share liquidity and to ensure investor demand is met, and intends to consult with shareholders on these options in due course. Outlook, 2022 guidance and long-term goals to 2024 We have made good progress in many areas during the year and our top line performance has seen good momentum coming out of the pandemic. Whilst short-term returns on our core business have inevitably been reduced by COVID-19 and our investments, I am confident in a continuation of the trajectory we have seen over the last six months, and the potential return our organic and inorganic investments will generate over the medium- and long-term. CY2022 Guidance Global lab activity continues to recover, though some uncertainty remains, with trading performance in the first two months of CY2022 in line with our expectations. For CY2022 overall, we currently estimate total reported revenue to increase by approximately 20% on a constant exchange rate basis, including the impact from the acquisition of BioVision, with organic CER growth of mid-teens. We expect continued adjusted gross margin improvement through CY2022, due to the contribution of higher margin in-house products and the full year effect of BioVision transaction. Total adjusted operating costs (including depreciation and amortisation) are expected to grow at a mid-teens percentage rate, as we slow the rate of investment and leverage our recent investments. Long-term goals to CY2024The Group expects to deliver improving operating leverage as the pace of investment graduates. We are increasing our 2024 revenue goal by £25m to £450m-£525m, adjusting to incorporate BioVision and our current operating performance. Our adjusted operating margin and ROCE targets remain unchanged. This commentary represents management's current estimates and is subject to change. See the Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements on page 3 of this release. Summary Performance   Reported Results   Adjusted Results   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31Dec 2021(unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31Dec 2020 (unaudited) £m Revenue 462.9 260.0 315.4 269.3   462.9 260.0 315.4 269.3                     Gross profit 329.2 180.2 224.6 188.5   332.3 180.2 227.7 188.5 Gross profit margin (%) 71.1% 69.3% 71.2% 70.0%   71.8% 69.3% 72.2% 70.0%                     Operating profit 24.4 10.4 7.1 1.0   95.5 54.0 60.4 50.6 Operating profit margin (%) 5.3% 4.0% 2.3% 0.4%   20.6% 20.8% 19.2% 18.8%                     Earnings per share                   Basic earnings / (loss) per share 7.7p 6.0p 1.9p (0.4)p   33.2p 20.5p 20.8p 18.0p Diluted earnings / (loss) per share 7.6p 6.0p 1.9p (0.4)p   32.9p 20.3p 20.6p 17.8p                     Net (debt)/cash at end of the year1 (24.1) 80.9 (24.1) 211.9   (24.1) 80.9 (24.1) 211.9 Return on Capital Employed 3.1% 1.6% 0.9% 0.1%   12.0% 8.3% 7.6% 6.6% 1. Excludes lease liabilities Calendar Year Results The Group has prepared the following Calendar Year results to enable a more consistent like-for-like review of the trading performance of the business. The Calendar Year results are an Alternative Performance Measure and cover the trading period for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (CY2021) compared with the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (CY2020). The basis of preparation applied to the Calendar Year results together with a reconciliation to the Group's Statutory IFRS Results are provided at the end of this report. Consolidated statement of profit and loss for the 12 months ended 31 December   CY2021(unaudited)   CY2020(unaudited) £m Adjusted Adjusting items Reported   Adjusted Adjusting items Reported Revenue 315.4 - 315.4   269.3 - 269.3 Cost of sales (87.7) (3.1) (90.8)   (80.8) - (80.8) Gross profit 227.7 (3.1) 224.6   188.5 - 188.5 Selling, general and administrative expenses (150.6) (39.1) (189.7)   (120.6) (23.9) (144.5) Research and development expenses (16.7) (11.1) (27.8)   (17.3) (25.7) (43.0) Operating profit 60.4 (53.3) 7.1   50.6 (49.6) 1.0 Finance income 0.3 - 0.3   0.4 - 0.4 Finance costs (2.7) - (2.7)   (3.6) - (3.6) Profit / (loss) before tax 58.0 (53.3) 4.7   47.4 (49.6) (2.2) Tax credit / (charge) (10.8) 10.5 (0.3)   (8.8) 10.1 1.3 Profit / (loss) for the financial period 47.2 (42.8) 4.4   38.6 (39.5) (0.9) Consolidated cashflow statement for the 12 months ended 31 December £m CY2021(unaudited) CY2020(unaudited) Operating cash flows before working capital 68.2 63.0 Change in working capital 4.0 (7.8) Cash generated from operations 72.2 55.2 Income taxes paid (9.3) 3.7 Net cash inflow from operating activities 62.9 58.9 Net cash inflow / (outflow) from investing activities (291.5) (153.7) Net cash inflow from financing activities 111.4 116.0 Net (decrease) / increase in cash and cash equivalents (117.2) 21.2 Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period 211.9 189.9 Effect of foreign exchange rates 0.4 0.8 Cash and cash equivalents at end of the period 95.1 211.9       Free Cash Flow * 6.0 5.6 * Free Cash Flow comprises net cash generated from operating activities less net capital expenditure, cash flows relating to committed capital expenditure and outflows in respect of lease obligations Financial review Revenue   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 Jun 2020 (audited) £m   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m 12 month % Change CER CY2021 % Split** Catalogue revenue by region               The Americas 163.7 96.8   112.4 95.3 26% 38% EMEA 121.5 68.4   82.3 73.2 15% 28% China 84.4 39.1   57.1 42.7 34% 19% Japan 28.4 18.8   18.6 19.3 5% 6% Rest of Asia Pacific 34.8 20.0   23.4 21.0 17% 8% Catalogue revenue sub-total* 432.8 243.1   293.8 251.5 22% 100% In-house catalogue revenue* 245.0 114.4   171.5 128.8 39% 58% Third party catalogue revenue 187.8 128.7   122.3 122.7 4% 42%                 Custom products and services 8.4 6.3   5.7 5.7 6% 30% IVD 8.9 4.7   6.3 5.9 15% 33% Royalties and licenses 10.2 5.9   7.0 6.2 20% 37% Custom Products & Licensing (CP&L) sub-total 27.5 16.9   19.0 17.8 14% 100%                 BioVision 2.6 -   2.6 -     Total reported revenue 462.9 260.0   315.4 269.3 22%   * Includes BioVision product sales sold through Abcam channels post closing of the transaction on 26 October 2021 but excludes incremental BioVision sales sold through non-Abcam channels of £2.6m. ** Numbers may not add up due to rounding In the 18-month statutory reporting period ended 31 December 2021, the Group generated revenue of £462.9m, which represents an increase of 78% on the results for the 12 months ended 30 June 2020, reflecting the extended accounting period. The Directors believe underlying business performance is better understood by comparing the performance for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (CY2021) and the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (CY2020). In CY2021 revenue was £315.4m, representing CER growth of 22% and reported growth of 17%, after a 5%pt headwind from foreign currency exchange. The acquisition of BioVision added approximately 1%pt to revenue growth. Revenue growth continues to be driven by a recovery in laboratory activity from the depressed levels experienced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and by increasing demand for our growing portfolio of in-house products. Catalogue revenue grew 23% CER in CY2021 compared with CY2020 (18% reported), with revenue growth from our in-house products of 41% CER including BioVision (35% reported) or 36% CER excluding BioVision. Except for Japan, which suffered greater COVID-19 related disruption, all major territories grew at double digit rates, with China, which now accounts for 19.4% of revenue, the fastest growing region with CER growth of 34%. Custom Products & Licensing (‘CP&L') revenue, rose 14% on a CER basis (7% reported). Within CP&L, IVD and royalty and license sales grew double digit on a CER basis as the number of out-licensed products and commercial deals continues to grow, whilst custom projects returned to growth as customer activity levels improved following a more muted period of activity due to COVID-19. Gross margin   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)% 12 months ended 30 Jun 2020 (audited)%   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)% 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)% Reported Gross Margin 71.1 69.3   71.2 70.0 Amortisation of fair value adjustments 0.7 -   1.0 - Adjusted Gross Margin 71.8 69.3   72.2 70.0 Reported gross margin for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was 71.1%. Reported gross margin for the period was impacted by the fair value adjustment of BioVision inventory following the acquisition, totaling £6.0m. Approximately half, or £3.1m, of this cost was amortised in the period, with the balance of £2.9m to be amortised in CY2022. Before this impact, adjusted gross margin for CY2021 increased by just over 2 percentage points to 72.2% (CY2020: 70.0%), reflecting a favourable movement in product mix towards high margin in-house products, as well as volume leverage resulting from the increase in revenue. In-house product sales (including CP&L revenue) contributed 61% of total revenue in CY2021 (CY2020: 54%). Operating profit Operating profit for CY2021 increased to £7.1m (CY2020: £1.0m). Adjusted operating profit for the same 12-month period increased to £60.4m (CY2020: £50.6m), representing an adjusted operating profit margin of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%) reflecting the Group's planned investment, the impact of COVID-19, and the step up in depreciation and amortisation. The calculation of adjusted operating profit has been updated to exclude share-based payments of £20.0m and £13.3m in CY2021 and CY2020 respectively. A reconciliation between reported and adjusted operating profit is provided in note 4 to the financial statements. Reported operating profit for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was £24.4m (12 months to 30 June 2020: £10.4m). Operating costs and expenses   Reported   Adjusted*   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited) £m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m Selling, general & administrative (263.3) (131.5) (189.7) (144.5)   (211.5) (111.5) (150.6) (120.6) Research and development (41.5) (38.3) (27.8) (43.0)   (25.3) (14.7) (16.7) (17.3) Total operating costs and expenses (304.8) (169.8) (217.5) (187.5)   (236.8).....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMar 14th, 2022

There’s a Problem With How We Train Truckers

New training guidelines years in the making lack a major safety component: minimum behind-the-wheel training time for truckers, despite an increase in fatal crashes involving big-rigs In most states, aspiring barbers have to spend 1,000 hours or more in training before they get a license. To drive a 40,000-pound truck, though, there’s no minimum behind-the-wheel driving time required, no proof of ability to navigate through mountains, snow, or rain. There’s just a medical exam, a multiple-choice written exam, and a brief driving test—which in some states can be administered by the school that drivers paid to train them. As trucking companies hustle to hire more drivers in response to supply chain issues, though, the roads could be getting more dangerous—and there were 4,895 people killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2020, 33% more than in the 3,686 fatalities in 2010. In the coming months, the minimum age to be licensed to drive commercial trucks interstate will drop from 21 to 18 for thousands of drivers as part of a pilot program announced by the Biden administration. And on Feb. 7, standards for driver training that have been in the works for three decades were set to finally go into effect, but they don’t include a critical component: a minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel training. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Read more: There’s Not a Trucker Shortage; There’s a Trucker Retention Problem “We don’t want to do the hard things in this industry, which is spending extra money, taking extra time to train people to safely operate trucks,” says Lewie Pugh, who owned and operated a truck for 22 years and is now executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. His association has long pushed for higher training standards, which they say would help the high-turnover industry retain workers. The ramifications of sending inexperienced drivers on the road are evident in the fiery crashes along the nation’s highways that kill people in smaller vehicles and tie up traffic for hours. In April 2019, four people were killed in Colorado when Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who had little experience driving on mountainous terrain, lost control of his truck. Aguilera-Mederos, who was 23 at the time, had earned his commercial driver’s license in Texas and was heading to Wyoming when his brakes failed coming down a mountain on I-70. Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter, later reduced to 10 years by the Colorado governor. But the responsibility shouldn’t only lie on the driver’s shoulders, argues his lawyer, James Colgan. “My client never received any formal training in mountain passes and how to deal with them,” Colgan told me. The trucking company “let this inexperienced driver take a mountain pass—they actually encouraged it.” “My client never received any formal training in mountain passes and how to deal with them.”  David Zalubowski—APWorkers clear debris from Interstate 70 on April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colo., following a deadly pileup involving a semi-truck hauling lumber. The truck driver who was convicted of causing the fiery pileup that killed four people said he had no experience navigating mountain roads; his 110-year sentence was later reduced to 10 years. The trucking company that hired Aguilera-Mederos, Castellano 03 Trucking LLC, has since gone out of business and was not held accountable in the case. Aguilera-Mederos had only earned his commercial driver’s license 11 months before the crash, and his regular driver’s license two years before that, according to court transcripts. He had been working for Castellano 03 Trucking for three weeks when he found himself barreling down a mountain at 80 m.p.h. with a 75,000-pound load and no brakes. “I held the steering wheel tight and that’s when I thought I was going to die,” he told investigators. Why There Aren’t Training Rules Now Concerned with a high level of truck driver crashes, Congress in 1991 ordered the Federal Highway Administration to create training requirements for new drivers of commercial vehicles. Highway safety advocates sued after no requirements had been created by 2002, but after a number of court cases, there were still no driving training requirements by 2012, when MAP-21, a law passed by Congress, mandated new standards.. In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—the FHA’s successor agency— brought together a committee to negotiate guidance for minimum training requirements. The panel came up with a long list of recommendations, including at least 30 hours training behind the wheel and some amount of time driving on a public road. The behind-the-wheel rules were a stipulation that only two members of the 25-member committee opposed. Both represented lobbying groups for the trucking industry, which argued that there was no scientific evidence showing that behind-the-wheel training led to safer drivers, says Peter Kurdock, general counsel for the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, who was on the committee. One major carrier, Schneider, which supported minimum behind-the-wheel training , said it “often” encountered newly-licensed drivers who had never operated a commercial motor vehicle on a highway or interstate. But when the final rules were released in 2016, a minimum number of behind-the-wheel hours had been dropped. The agency said it was not able to find data that proved the value of such training and that it was important to avoid imposing extra training costs on proficient drivers. (In the same document, the agency acknowledged that 38% of commercial motor vehicle drivers said they did not receive adequate entry-level training to safely drive a truck under all road and weather conditions, according to a 2015 survey from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.) Read more: How American Shoppers Broke the Supply Chain “That is some of the most invaluable experience that a new truck driver learns—sitting behind the wheel with someone who is an experienced driver saying, ‘This is about to happen. This is how you avoid this critical safety situation,’” Kurdock says. “We feel it’s a significant failing of the rule.” People seeing a commercial pilot’s license, by contrast, have to have at least 250 hours of flight time; if they want to work for passenger airlines, they have to have 1,500 hours of flight time. The advisory committee’s recommendations, originally scheduled to take effect in 2020, were delayed and now are due to begin Feb. 7, 2022. They create a training-provider registry and require would-be drivers to sign up with a school that is on the registry. But to be listed on the registry, schools are allowed to self-certify that they qualify. “What’s actually changing?” the American Trucking Association asks, on a section of its website devoted to the new regulations. “For organizations that have a structured program in place today, the truth is – not much.” Colgan, the lawyer, says more stringent training would skewer the economics of trucking, which ensures that the company that can charge the cheapest rates often gets the business. “It comes down to the almighty dollar—if you required truckers to be trained like that, it would slow everything down,” he says. The American Trucking Assn. did not return calls requesting comment for this story. “We don’t want to do the hard things in this industry, which is spending extra money, taking extra time to train people to safely operate trucks.”If anything, there’s a push to speed things up in the trucking industry as supply chain issues create demand for more drivers to haul more stuff. On Feb. 2, the FMCSA said it would allow trucking schools in all states to administer the written portion of CDL tests for drivers, in addition to the driving test, a reversal of previous guidance, which could get new drivers on the roads faster. In November 2021, 11 Republican Senators asked the FMCSA to let 18-year-olds obtain commercial driver licenses for interstate trucking. “Inaction to grow America’s pool of truck drivers threatens to drive up shipping expenses, prolong delays, and burden already-strained consumers with additional costs,” they said in a letter. Andrew Hetherington for TIMETrucks outside Atlanta GA on February 5th 2022. Partly in response to that letter, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Biden in November 2021 ordered the Secretary of Transportation to create a pilot apprenticeship program for 18-to-20 year-olds within 60 days. “Segments of the trucking industry have been pushing for teenage truckers to drive interstate for years, but the most recent supply chain challenges are being used as a way to push forward that proposal,” Cathy Chase, the president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told me. How A Trucker Learns The problems with training aren’t just about a lack of standards. The first year that people spend driving a truck usually consists of long weeks on the road making low wages, a far cry from the six-figure salary and independent lifestyle pitched to new students. Many drivers who get their commercial driver’s license (CDL) drop out once they get a taste of that life. Over the course of four years, only 20% of the 25,796 drivers who started with CRST, a carrier that promised free training and a job afterward, actually finished the training and started driving independently, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in Massachusetts over the company’s debt collection practices. (CRST agreed to pay $12.5 million to settle the lawsuit, but a former CRST driver has objected to the settlement and is still pursuing claims against the company.) “What our current system of training does is it throws people into the deep end with no support into the absolute worst and toughest and most dangerous jobs and just burns them out,” says Steve Viscelli, a sociologist and the author of The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream. “Segments of the trucking industry have been pushing for teenage truckers to drive interstate for years, but the most recent supply chain challenges are being used as a way to push forward that proposal.”Because new drivers are so expensive to insure, most get trained at big, long-haul trucking companies that are self-insured. These companies recruit would-be drivers by offering to pay for them to get their CDLs in exchange for a promise to work for the company once they’re licensed. Obtaining a CDL takes a few weeks. Only after that do most newly licensed drivers spend significant time on the road, when they’re paired with more experienced drivers who are supposed to show them the ropes. This saves the companies money, because federal regulations stipulate that truck drivers can only drive 11 hours straight after 10 hours off. Putting two drivers together lets one take the wheel while the other sleeps in the truck and enables companies to move freight in half the time it would take a solo driver. In addition, newly licensed drivers are paid cents per mile to haul the loads, providing a major source of cheap labor. But the system means that new drivers are spending weeks sharing a truck with a stranger who has the upper hand in their relationship and the power to hurt their job prospects, because the trainer tells the company if the trainee is ready to drive on their own. Often, one person sleeps while the other drives, dimming prospects for the student to actually learn from the trainer, even though the trainer gets a few extra cents per mile to accompany a trainee. Some trainers barely have any more experience than the students. This is done in tens of thousands of trucks across the country, and horror stories abound. Read more: How to Reduce Your Family’s Emissions and Live Greener Kay Crawford, a 25-year-old who signed up to become a truck driver during the pandemic after getting sick of the low pay and danger of being a sheriff’s deputy, says she was sexually harassed numerous times by her trainers. One kept telling her he needed a woman and propositioned her; another refused to meet her anywhere but her hotel room. The company did nothing once she reported the incidents. The training coordinator said, ‘I got you work, you’re not accepting it, and I have 14 other students I need to get in a truck,’” she told me. After three separate bad experiences with trainers, Crawford decided to give up on trucking. She’s still hounded by the school, which says she owes it $6,000, despite her sexual harassment claims. “At that point, trucking pretty much disgusted me,” she said. Despite having her CDL, she can’t get a new job because she’s not insurable without long-haul trucking experience, she said. Her experience isn’t uncommon. One CRST student alleged that her trainer raped her in the cab of her truck and the company then billed her $9,000 for student driver training; company employees testified that CRST only considered sexual assault claims to be valid if they were corroborated by a third party or recorded. The case, Jane Doe v. CRST, was settled last year and though CRST agreed to pay $5 million, it did not admit wrongdoing. Despite dozens of legal battles like that one, training has changed little in decades. (There is now a second Jane Doe v. CRST complaint making its way through the courts, filed by another woman who said she was sexually assaulted by her trainer.) Brita Nowak, a longtime truck driver, said that her trainer hit and slapped her when she was learning on the road with a big carrier two decades ago; when she reported him, “they called me a pill,” and asked for proof of her assault, she said. She didn’t have any proof and had to put up with the abuse until her trainer hit an overpass and damaged the truck; then, she says, the company switched her to another trainer. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEOwner-operator Brita Nowak outside Atlanta, GA, on February 5th 2022. Even some people who have good trainers say that they earn less than the minimum wage in their first year of trucking, which makes the sacrifices of being so far from family for long periods of time hard to bear. Crawford said she never made more than $500 a week; even in training, she spent long unpaid hours waiting to load or unload. The Massachusetts lawsuit against CRST alleged that new drivers made between $0 an hour and $7.19 per hour between 2014 and 2015 because CRST deducted money from their paychecks for housing, physical exams, drug tests, and training reimbursement. “These are bad companies, I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to them,” says Desiree Wood, the founder and president of REAL Women in Trucking, which advocates for better standards for drivers. CRST did not respond to a request for comment. Hardly a week goes by on her group’s Facebook page without women complaining about trainers who aren’t helping them learn how to drive, or who are creating dangerous conditions for them on the road. One woman, Memory Collins, told me that she was so exhausted from a lack of sleep two days into training that she felt unsafe driving. She pulled off the highway only to find there was no place to safely stop. She woke her sleeping trainer, who helped her get back on the highway, but a week later, the company told her she’d hit a car while trying to turn around and fired her. When she called other companies to try to get hired, she was told she was too much of a liability. “You have some people who come out of training and know how to drive, others come out of training not prepared, and know they’re not prepared, and just hope they’ll be ok,” says Elaina Stanford, a truck driver who came up training through a big company. Truck driver training has been turned into a “profit center” for some big companies, says Viscelli, the sociologist. Some people training to become truck drivers get federal workforce development money to pay for their tuition, which saves companies having to cover training costs. Then, the companies pay the newly licensed drivers beginner rates, and when they quit because of the miserable conditions, the cycle is repeated. “They have figured out how to make that inexperienced, unsafe labor profitable,” Viscelli says, of the trucking companies. In 2020, local workforce boards in California invested $11.7 million of federal money on truck driver training schools, five times what they spent the year before. An effort to improve training The Biden administration says it is trying to improve training. Its Trucking Action Plan, announced in mid-December, launched a 90-day program that aims to work with carriers to create more registered apprenticeships in trucking. It’s also specifically focusing on recruiting veterans into trucking. Registered apprenticeships are the gold standard for workforce training and could improve trucker training, says Brent Parton, a senior advisor at the Labor Department overseeing the program. With a registered apprenticeship, would-be truckers get a guarantee that a trucking company will pay for their CDL and for on-the-road training, and that they will commit to certain wage increases over time. These type programs do exist in trucking, mostly set up by unions like the Teamsters who still can guarantee good jobs in trucking. The Teamsters have a program that holds truck driver training on military installations, taking six weeks to help drivers get a CDL and learn to drive on the road. They get union jobs with ABF Freight after they’ve completed the program, making more money than most entry-level drivers. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEOwner-operator Brita Nowak outside Atlanta, GA, on February 5th 2022. But most trucking companies don’t have the time or money to invest in extensive training. The concern among advocates is that the new apprenticeships, including the program to license 18-to-21-year olds to drive interstate commerce, will be akin to slapping a new label on the subpar training that exists. “We’re hoping this isn’t a title for what we’re already doing,” Pugh, of OOIDA said. The White House says its new program will be different, and that this is the first step in creating trucking jobs that people will want to keep for life. But advocates already have doubts. One of the first companies that signed up to work with the White House on its registered apprenticeships was CRST. In the last two years, it’s agreed to pay out at least $17 million in settlements over lawsuits filed against it for wage theft and incidents that occurred while training people who wanted to become truckers......»»

Category: topSource: timeFeb 7th, 2022

The Problem With How We Train Truckers

New training guidelines years in the making lack a major safety component: minimum behind-the-wheel training time for truckers, despite an increase in fatal crashes involving big-rigs In most states, aspiring barbers have to spend 1,000 hours or more in training before they get a license. To drive a 40,000-pound truck, though, there’s no minimum behind-the-wheel driving time required, no proof of ability to navigate through mountains, snow, or rain. There’s just a medical exam, a multiple-choice written exam, and a brief driving test—which in some states can be administered by the school that drivers paid to train them. As trucking companies hustle to hire more drivers in response to supply chain issues, though, the roads could be getting more dangerous—and there were 4,895 people killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2020, 33% more than in the 3,686 fatalities in 2010. In the coming months, the minimum age to be licensed to drive commercial trucks interstate will drop from 21 to 18 for thousands of drivers as part of a pilot program announced by the Biden administration. And on Feb. 7, standards for driver training that have been in the works for three decades were set to finally go into effect, but they don’t include a critical component: a minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel training. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “We don’t want to do the hard things in this industry, which is spending extra money, taking extra time to train people to safely operate trucks,” says Lewie Pugh, who owned and operated a truck for 22 years and is now executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. His association has long pushed for higher training standards, which they say would help the high-turnover industry retain workers. The ramifications of sending inexperienced drivers on the road are evident in the fiery crashes along the nation’s highways that kill people in smaller vehicles and tie up traffic for hours. In April 2019, four people were killed in Colorado when Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who had little experience driving on mountainous terrain, lost control of his truck. Aguilera-Mederos, who was 23 at the time, had earned his commercial driver’s license in Texas and was heading to Wyoming when his brakes failed coming down a mountain on I-70. Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter, later reduced to 10 years by the Colorado governor. But the responsibility shouldn’t only lie on the driver’s shoulders, argues his lawyer, James Colgan. “My client never received any formal training in mountain passes and how to deal with them,” Colgan told me. The trucking company “let this inexperienced driver take a mountain pass—they actually encouraged it.”   David Zalubowski—APWorkers clear debris from Interstate 70 on April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colo., following a deadly pileup involving a semi-truck hauling lumber. The truck driver who was convicted of causing the fiery pileup that killed four people said he had no experience navigating mountain roads; his 110-year sentence was later reduced to 10 years. The trucking company that hired Aguilera-Mederos, Castellano 03 Trucking LLC, has since gone out of business and was not held accountable in the case. Aguilera-Mederos had only earned his commercial driver’s license 11 months before the crash, and his regular driver’s license two years before that, according to court transcripts. He had been working for Castellano 03 Trucking for three weeks when he found himself barreling down a mountain at 80 m.p.h. with a 75,000-pound load and no brakes. “I held the steering wheel tight and that’s when I thought I was going to die,” he told investigators. Why There Aren’t Training Rules Now Concerned with a high level of truck driver crashes, Congress in 1991 ordered the Federal Highway Administration to create training requirements for new drivers of commercial vehicles. Highway safety advocates sued after no requirements had been created by 2002, but after a number of court cases, there were still no driving training requirements by 2012, when MAP-21, a law passed by Congress, mandated new standards.. In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—the FHA’s successor agency— brought together a committee to negotiate guidance for minimum training requirements. The panel came up with a long list of recommendations, including at least 30 hours training behind the wheel and some amount of time driving on a public road. The behind-the-wheel rules were a stipulation that only two members of the 25-member committee opposed. Both represented lobbying groups for the trucking industry, which argued that there was no scientific evidence showing that behind-the-wheel training led to safer drivers, says Peter Kurdock, general counsel for the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, who was on the committee. One major carrier, Schneider, which supported minimum behind-the-wheel training , said it “often” encountered newly-licensed drivers who had never operated a commercial motor vehicle on a highway or interstate. But when the final rules were released in 2016, a minimum number of behind-the-wheel hours had been dropped. The agency said it was not able to find data that proved the value of such training and that it was important to avoid imposing extra training costs on proficient drivers. (In the same document, the agency acknowledged that 38% of commercial motor vehicle drivers said they did not receive adequate entry-level training to safely drive a truck under all road and weather conditions, according to a 2015 survey from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.) “That is some of the most invaluable experience that a new truck driver learns—sitting behind the wheel with someone who is an experienced driver saying, ‘This is about to happen. This is how you avoid this critical safety situation,’” Kurdock says. “We feel it’s a significant failing of the rule.” People seeing a commercial pilot’s license, by contrast, have to have at least 250 hours of flight time; if they want to work for passenger airlines, they have to have 1,500 hours of flight time. The advisory committee’s recommendations, originally scheduled to take effect in 2020, were delayed and now are due to begin Feb. 7, 2022. They create a training-provider registry and require would-be drivers to sign up with a school that is on the registry. But to be listed on the registry, schools are allowed to self-certify that they qualify. “What’s actually changing?” the American Trucking Association asks, on a section of its website devoted to the new regulations. “For organizations that have a structured program in place today, the truth is – not much.” Colgan, the lawyer, says more stringent training would skewer the economics of trucking, which ensures that the company that can charge the cheapest rates often gets the business. “It comes down to the almighty dollar—if you required truckers to be trained like that, it would slow everything down,” he says. The American Trucking Assn. did not return calls requesting comment for this story. If anything, there’s a push to speed things up in the trucking industry as supply chain issues create demand for more drivers to haul more stuff. On Feb. 2, the FMCSA said it would allow trucking schools in all states to administer the written portion of CDL tests for drivers, in addition to the driving test, a reversal of previous guidance, which could get new drivers on the roads faster. In November 2021, 11 Republican Senators asked the FMCSA to let 18-year-olds obtain commercial driver licenses for interstate trucking. “Inaction to grow America’s pool of truck drivers threatens to drive up shipping expenses, prolong delays, and burden already-strained consumers with additional costs,” they said in a letter. Andrew Hetherington for TIMETrucks outside Atlanta GA on February 5th 2022. Partly in response to that letter, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Biden in November 2021 ordered the Secretary of Transportation to create a pilot apprenticeship program for 18-to-20 year-olds within 60 days. “Segments of the trucking industry have been pushing for teenage truckers to drive interstate for years, but the most recent supply chain challenges are being used as a way to push forward that proposal,” Cathy Chase, the president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told me. How A Trucker Learns The problems with training aren’t just about a lack of standards. The first year that people spend driving a truck usually consists of long weeks on the road making low wages, a far cry from the six-figure salary and independent lifestyle pitched to new students. Many drivers who get their commercial driver’s license (CDL) drop out once they get a taste of that life. Over the course of four years, only 20% of the 25,796 drivers who started with CRST, a carrier that promised free training and a job afterward, actually finished the training and started driving independently, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in Massachusetts over the company’s debt collection practices. (CRST agreed to pay $12.5 million to settle the lawsuit, but a former CRST driver has objected to the settlement and is still pursuing claims against the company.) “What our current system of training does is it throws people into the deep end with no support into the absolute worst and toughest and most dangerous jobs and just burns them out,” says Steve Viscelli, a sociologist and the author of The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream. Because new drivers are so expensive to insure, most get trained at big, long-haul trucking companies that are self-insured. These companies recruit would-be drivers by offering to pay for them to get their CDLs in exchange for a promise to work for the company once they’re licensed. Obtaining a CDL takes a few weeks. Only after that do most newly licensed drivers spend significant time on the road, when they’re paired with more experienced drivers who are supposed to show them the ropes. This saves the companies money, because federal regulations stipulate that truck drivers can only drive 11 hours straight after 10 hours off. Putting two drivers together lets one take the wheel while the other sleeps in the truck and enables companies to move freight in half the time it would take a solo driver. In addition, newly licensed drivers are paid cents per mile to haul the loads, providing a major source of cheap labor. But the system means that new drivers are spending weeks sharing a truck with a stranger who has the upper hand in their relationship and the power to hurt their job prospects, because the trainer tells the company if the trainee is ready to drive on their own. Often, one person sleeps while the other drives, dimming prospects for the student to actually learn from the trainer, even though the trainer gets a few extra cents per mile to accompany a trainee. Some trainers barely have any more experience than the students. This is done in tens of thousands of trucks across the country, and horror stories abound. Kay Crawford, a 25-year-old who signed up to become a truck driver during the pandemic after getting sick of the low pay and danger of being a sheriff’s deputy, says she was sexually harassed numerous times by her trainers. One kept telling her he needed a woman and propositioned her; another refused to meet her anywhere but her hotel room. The company did nothing once she reported the incidents. The training coordinator said, ‘I got you work, you’re not accepting it, and I have 14 other students I need to get in a truck,’” she told me. After three separate bad experiences with trainers, Crawford decided to give up on trucking. She’s still hounded by the school, which says she owes it $6,000, despite her sexual harassment claims. “At that point, trucking pretty much disgusted me,” she said. Despite having her CDL, she can’t get a new job because she’s not insurable without long-haul trucking experience, she said. Her experience isn’t uncommon. One CRST student alleged that her trainer raped her in the cab of her truck and the company then billed her $9,000 for student driver training; company employees testified that CRST only considered sexual assault claims to be valid if they were corroborated by a third party or recorded. The case, Jane Doe v. CRST, was settled last year and though CRST agreed to pay $5 million, it did not admit wrongdoing. Despite dozens of legal battles like that one, training has changed little in decades. (There is now a second Jane Doe v. CRST complaint making its way through the courts, filed by another woman who said she was sexually assaulted by her trainer.) Brita Nowak, a longtime truck driver, said that her trainer hit and slapped her when she was learning on the road with a big carrier two decades ago; when she reported him, “they called me a pill,” and asked for proof of her assault, she said. She didn’t have any proof and had to put up with the abuse until her trainer hit an overpass and damaged the truck; then, she says, the company switched her to another trainer. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEOwner-operator Brita Nowak outside Atlanta, GA, on February 5th 2022. Even some people who have good trainers say that they earn less than the minimum wage in their first year of trucking, which makes the sacrifices of being so far from family for long periods of time hard to bear. Crawford said she never made more than $500 a week; even in training, she spent long unpaid hours waiting to load or unload. The Massachusetts lawsuit against CRST alleged that new drivers made between $0 an hour and $7.19 per hour between 2014 and 2015 because CRST deducted money from their paychecks for housing, physical exams, drug tests, and training reimbursement. “These are bad companies, I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to them,” says Desiree Wood, the founder and president of REAL Women in Trucking, which advocates for better standards for drivers. CRST did not respond to a request for comment. Hardly a week goes by on her group’s Facebook page without women complaining about trainers who aren’t helping them learn how to drive, or who are creating dangerous conditions for them on the road. One woman, Memory Collins, told me that she was so exhausted from a lack of sleep two days into training that she felt unsafe driving. She pulled off the highway only to find there was no place to safely stop. She woke her sleeping trainer, who helped her get back on the highway, but a week later, the company told her she’d hit a car while trying to turn around and fired her. When she called other companies to try to get hired, she was told she was too much of a liability. “You have some people who come out of training and know how to drive, others come out of training not prepared, and know they’re not prepared, and just hope they’ll be ok,” says Elaina Stanford, a truck driver who came up training through a big company. Truck driver training has been turned into a “profit center” for some big companies, says Viscelli, the sociologist. Some people training to become truck drivers get federal workforce development money to pay for their tuition, which saves companies having to cover training costs. Then, the companies pay the newly licensed drivers beginner rates, and when they quit because of the miserable conditions, the cycle is repeated. “They have figured out how to make that inexperienced, unsafe labor profitable,” Viscelli says, of the trucking companies. In 2020, local workforce boards in California invested $11.7 million of federal money on truck driver training schools, five times what they spent the year before. An effort to improve training The Biden administration says it is trying to improve training. Its Trucking Action Plan, announced in mid-December, launched a 90-day program that aims to work with carriers to create more registered apprenticeships in trucking. It’s also specifically focusing on recruiting veterans into trucking. Registered apprenticeships are the gold standard for workforce training and could improve trucker training, says Brent Parton, a senior advisor at the Labor Department overseeing the program. With a registered apprenticeship, would-be truckers get a guarantee that a trucking company will pay for their CDL and for on-the-road training, and that they will commit to certain wage increases over time. These type programs do exist in trucking, mostly set up by unions like the Teamsters who still can guarantee good jobs in trucking. The Teamsters have a program that holds truck driver training on military installations, taking six weeks to help drivers get a CDL and learn to drive on the road. They get union jobs with ABF Freight after they’ve completed the program, making more money than most entry-level drivers. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEOwner-operator Brita Nowak outside Atlanta, GA, on February 5th 2022. But most trucking companies don’t have the time or money to invest in extensive training. The concern among advocates is that the new apprenticeships, including the program to license 18-to-21-year olds to drive interstate commerce, will be akin to slapping a new label on the subpar training that exists. “We’re hoping this isn’t a title for what we’re already doing,” Pugh, of OOIDA said. The White House says its new program will be different, and that this is the first step in creating trucking jobs that people will want to keep for life. But advocates already have doubts. One of the first companies that signed up to work with the White House on its registered apprenticeships was CRST. In the last two years, it’s agreed to pay out at least $17 million in settlements over lawsuits filed against it for wage theft and incidents that occurred while training people who wanted to become truckers......»»

Category: topSource: timeFeb 7th, 2022

Insiders reveal what it"s really like working at Amazon when it comes to hiring, firing, performance reviews, and more

Amazon employs 1.3 million people, and it can be a tough place to work. Here's what it's like to work at the world's largest e-commerce company. Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy.David Ryder/Getty Images; Isaac Brekken/AP Images for NFL, File; Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images; Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images; Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images; Ohannes EiseleAFP via Getty Images; Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Insider Insider is investigating Amazon's workplace amid a major effort to unionize the company. The e-commerce and cloud giant has a complex performance-review system some employees say is unfair. Amazon is investigating allegations of gender bias in its Prime division after Insider reporting. See more stories on Insider's business page. Amazon is the second-largest US employer and still one of the fastest-growing in the country. It offers income and benefits to well over 1 million people, and it's been a source of jobs and shopping convenience during the pandemic.With that level of influence, Amazon's operations have come under intense scrutiny, which has prompted a nationwide unionization effort. The following covers everything you need to know about what it's like to work at the company.How Amazon culls its workforceUnder outgoing CEO Andy Jassy, Amazon's cloud unit has built up an impressive roster of cloud security partners — but they often also work with competitors Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.Reuters/Richard BrianInsider is investigating Amazon's system for improving, or ousting, employees deemed underperformers. Once managers label workers as struggling, they are put on a "Focus" coaching plan. If they fail there, the workers are moved to another program called "Pivot," and then finally to an internal company jury that decides their fate at the company.The system has been criticized by some current and former employees, who say it is unfairly stacked against them and can encourage managers to give bad reviews to good staff. Amazon says it gives managers tools to help employees improve and advance in their careers. "This includes resources for employees who are not meeting expectations and may require additional coaching. If an employee believes they are not receiving a fair assessment of their performance, they have multiple channels where they can raise this," a company spokesperson said recently.Amazon has a goal to get rid of a certain number of employees each year, which is called unregretted attrition. Some managers at the company told Insider they felt so much pressure to meet the target that they hire people who they intend to fire within a year.Read more Inside Amazon's complex employee-review system, where workers feel left in the dark and managers expect to give 5% of reports bad reviewsFlow chart: An exclusive look at Amazon's controversial system for fixing or ousting underperforming employeesHundreds of Amazon employees join an internal Slack channel to criticize its opaque performance-review systemSome Amazon managers say they 'hire to fire' people just to meet the internal turnover goal every yearLeaked documents show Amazon Music wants to scrap a controversial companywide performance review system that some say unfairly fires employeesThe company has been hit with allegations of biasKyodo News via Getty ImagesThere's been a rash of lawsuits filed against Amazon alleging gender and racial bias. In May, five current and former female employees sued the company Amazon, claiming "abusive mistreatment by primarily white male managers."In February, Charlotte Newman, a Black Amazon manager, filed a suit alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment. And last year, a high-profile female engineer called on the company to fix what she saw as a "harassment culture," Insider reported."We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. "We immediately investigated Ms. Newman's sexual harassment claim and fired her harasser."The investigation resulted in "corrective action and additional training requirements for those in her reporting line," the spokesperson added. "We also reviewed Ms. Newman's interview process, leveling and onboarding, and determined that she was properly placed in her role at the company. We are currently investigating the new allegations included in the lawsuit."Read more Amazon Prime employees say women get few promotions and there's a culture of aggressive male-dominated managementAmazon is investigating allegations of gender bias in its Prime team after Insider reportingAmazon faces 5 lawsuits from warehouse and corporate employees alleging discrimination and retaliationAmazon's warehouses churn through workersRobotic Amazon warehouses use robots to ferry shelves of items around the warehouse floor. Above, a photo taken in an Amazon warehouse in the UK.Isobel Asher Hamilton/InsiderThe company's fulfillment centers employ hundreds of thousands of people, offering pay and benefits that are competitive versus other retail-industry jobs. But the work can be grueling, some staff don't stick around long, and there are growing efforts to unionize this modern blue-collar workforce.Amazon warehouses are partly automated, using robots that zip around the shop floor fetching pallets of merchandise and bringing them to employees who pick the correct items and pack them for shipping. The company hires thousands of extra temporary workers each year to support a surge in orders during the holiday shopping period.During the pandemic, online orders have jumped at an unusual time for Amazon. It prompted an unprecedented hiring spree last year but caused tension with workers concerned about entering warehouses that could spread the virus. These issues came to a head earlier this year, when employees at a fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, voted on whether to form a union. The effort failed, but there's a bigger union push gathering steam.In his final shareholder letter as CEO earlier this year, Jeff Bezos defended Amazon's working conditions, but said the company needed "to do a better job for our employees."Read more6 current and former Amazon warehouse employees explained why they think turnover is so highAmazon warehouse workers are reportedly almost twice as likely to face serious injuries compared to rivals like WalmartAmazon defeated a vote to form a union at its warehouse in Bessemer, AlabamaThe International Brotherhood of Teamsters voted in late June about organizing Amazon workersAmazon's delivery network relies on thousands of driversSmith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesThe company partners with UPS, FedEx, and the US Postal Service, but it also operates a massive fleet of in-house delivery vehicles. These vans are driven by a combination of employees, third-party courier services, and contract workers.Amazon is known for imposing strict time constraints on drivers and tracking how many times they stop and how fast they drive. While the company factors in break times — a 30-minute lunch and two 15-minute breaks — some drivers say they either can't or don't want to take them.Earlier this year, a US lawmaker tweeted that Amazon workers have to pee in bottles. The company denied this, but multiple drivers confirmed it was part of the job. Amazon later apologized and said drivers have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic and being on rural routes, adding that the issue has been exacerbated by closed public bathrooms during the pandemic.Read moreAn Amazon driver lost her job after the company's algorithm fired her. A day in the life of an Amazon delivery driverAmazon drivers describe paranoia of working with surveillance cameras that monitor them constantlyI'm an Amazon delivery driver who's had to pee in water bottles and eat lunch in my vanHow to get a job at AmazonJob seekers line up to apply during "Amazon Jobs Day" at a fulfillment center in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 2017.Brian Snyder/ReutersAmazon remains an important employer that is growing quickly. Unlike some of its Big Tech rivals, the company offers a range of positions, from highly technical roles to blue-collar jobs. It's recruiting methods range from massive job fairs to tough one-on-one interviews.The company ranks among the top employers among technical students. In a survey published last year, Amazon came 10th in a survey of engineering students, beating out Intel and IBM but trailing Tesla and SpaceX.Read more How to master Amazon's ruthless interview process and get a job there, according to insidersThe Amazon executive in charge of recruitment reveals what it takes to get a job at the e-commerce giant4 mistakes to avoid if you want to succeed in Amazon's application processRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 4th, 2022