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U.S. Leisure Travel Is Back at Pre-Pandemic Levels for the First Time

People are heading off on vacation, despite a surge in cases and higher airfares globally US consumers are spending less on products and more on experiences — a trend that could ease supply snags and inflationary pressures, and help the travel industry this summer. For the first time since COVID halted movement around the world, leisure travel has returned to 2019 levels, according to a report released by the Mastercard Economics Institute. People are feeling more comfortable heading off to far flung adventures, despite a surge in cases and average airfares jumping 18% globally since the start of the year. “If flight bookings continue at their current pace, an estimated 1.5 billion more passengers globally will fly in 2022 compared to last year,” the report said, “with Europe seeing the biggest increase — about 550 million.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Read More: What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19 While Traveling Short and medium-haul flights are up 25% and 27% in April over the same period in 2019. Long-haul trips, which started the year 75% below pre-pandemic levels, rebounded to just 7% below 2019 by the end of April. Passenger rail is similarly close, with buses back to where they were. Spending on cruises started the year 75% off the 2019 peak and are now just 10% shy of a full recovery. Pent-up demand for experiences appears to be driving the wanderlust with tourist spending on nightclubs and bars up 72% above 2019 levels, restaurants up 31%, and other recreational activities like museum, concerts and amusement parks up 35%, according to the report. By comparison, tourist spending is down for retail goods like clothes and cosmetics. The report found the most popular international destination in March for travelers leaving North America was Mexico, and departing Europe, Middle East and Africa, was the UK. The US tops the list for those traveling from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Asia-Pacific regions......»»

Category: topSource: TIME3 hr. 4 min. ago Related News

Millennials and Gen Z Invested When It Was Fun. Now They’re Riding Out a Crash

Young investors have been taking big swings on high-risk, high-return trades. What's next? “Being open to crypto astrology might literally change your life,” says Maren Altman. She’s a 23-year-old astrology influencer with over 1.2 million TikTok followers, and she believes the study of celestial bodies can be a valuable tool for making sense of cryptocurrency. “I’m tracking planetary cycles,” she says. “So I look at the positions of the planets at a given moment and then other times in history.” Altman emphasizes that you don’t have to be an expert trader to take advantage of this approach to investing. Just learn the signs that the market is about to get worse and “put some money aside to buy in if it dips.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Crypto astrology is just one unusual example of how younger generations are doing away with traditional investing methods in favor of less time-tested approaches, from meme stocks to crypto to NFTs. Fueled by the economic volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic, millennial and Gen Z investors have been taking big swings on high-risk, high-return trades rather than letting investments simmer. They’re also weathering a punishing crash. On May 14, Altman posted a reassuring message for everyone who lost money in the recent debacle. The market, she said, would stabilize—especially since Luna was “eclipsed under a lunar eclipse.” She was talking about the near-total collapse of the crypto token Luna, which accompanied the fall of its sister stablecoin TerraUSD (UST) and plunged the broader crypto market into freefall last week. The crash wiped out more than $400 billion in crypto market capitalization in a matter of days and bankrupted many investors. It’s been a “cryptocurrency bloodbath,” says Glauber Contessoto, a 34-year-old crypto enthusiast better known as the “Dogecoin Millionaire.” Contessoto made a name for himself in the crypto world last year by exceeding $1 million in Dogecoin holdings just over two months after investing his life savings of around $180,000 in the meme coin in 2021. And while he says that creating a dollar-pegged stablecoin like UST that can’t stay stable “takes all of the trust out of what everyone’s trying to do with crypto,” he’s committed to staying the course. “Whether you’re looking at Bitcoin or Dogecoin or Cardano or Ethereum… all of them have seen fluctuations,” he says. “The issue with newer coins is it’s harder to gauge if they’re going to recover or not, because we haven’t seen the data to prove that.” Crypto’s decline is reflective of a wider retreat from risky assets like tech stocks that’s been triggered in recent months by inflation, rising interest rates, and economic uncertainty brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But crypto’s downturn has been notably sharper than the drop in the stock market. While the S&P 500 has slumped by roughly 18% so far this year, Bitcoin’s price has plummeted by nearly 40% in the same timeframe. Even with Dogecoin falling by over 50% this year, Contessoto’s faith in crypto’s long-term viability hasn’t waned. “All of this is temporary,” he says. “If you look at the history of Bitcoin, it’s still the most incredible investment you could have made in the last decade. We’ve seen drops in Bitcoin of 80%, 90% over the years and it never gets easier. But you stand firm because you know that crypto is the future and you know that everything will pan out eventually and slowly rise.” Why young people got so into investing Before crypto and NFTs began spiking in popularity, meme stock mania set in amongst young people. It was January 2021, and users of Reddit’s WallStreetBets subreddit banded together to intentionally inflate GameStop’s stock in order to force a short squeeze. That made the market more volatile. It was a fateful moment in time for retail investors. More than 10 million Americans opened new brokerage accounts in 2020, according to a 2021 report by consulting firm Deloitte. Encouraged by pandemic-induced shocks that led to record highs and lows, this new class of individual investors was responsible for 20% of all stock trading less than a year after the pandemic’s onset and has continued to grow more empowered as time has gone on. Most of these new investors are from younger generations. Survey data from brokerage firm Charles Schwab suggests that roughly two-thirds are millennials and Gen Zers, meaning young people are enjoying an unprecedented level of market power. They’re also wielding it in unprecedented ways. Research conducted by global data intelligence company Morning Consult indicates that 13% of Gen Zers and 11% of millennials are willing to take substantial financial risks in expectation of earning substantial rewards as compared to 3% of Boomers. The possibility of getting rich quick is what appeals to many younger people about the crypto and NFT markets, says 33-year-old Shane Martz, a crypto influencer known on social media as the Jolly Green Investor. “The time to take risks on investments is when you’re young,” he says. “And right now, crypto and NFTs are that scene. They offer you the opportunity of getting back 10x or 100x on your investment within a few months or even weeks.” A November report published by Pew Research Center showed that roughly 31% of 18-29-year-old Americans have invested in, traded, or used a cryptocurrency, compared with smaller shares of adults in older age groups. Altman attributes this trend to the rise of easily accessible investing advice online. “The internet opens access to information that might have previously been gate-kept or intentionally just not advertised to the public,” she says. “When I was taking business school classes, I felt like there were certain words for things that were—I don’t want to say pretentious—but intended to keep people out. It doesn’t need to be that complicated. Online, people can cut through that easier.” That’s even how Contessoto got his start. He says he first began looking into crypto after the popular commission-free investing app Robinhood took steps to curb the trading of GameStop stock and other heavily shorted securities in early 2021—and ultimately learned about Dogecoin on a Reddit thread “I had some money invested in GameStop and then after Robinhood pulled what they did, it became apparent that style of investing was no longer working for me” he says. “I started looking at alternative ways of investing and that’s how I came across crypto.There were a lot of people in my shoes who lost a lot of money and started switching over.” What now? As the past week has shown, putting your faith in more volatile assets doesn’t always pan out. Newbie investors are often on the lookout for an investing opportunity that has the potential to change their fortune overnight because of success stories they’ve seen online, says Martz. But those types of gains aren’t the norm. “Social media is the reason everyone really wants to get involved in these newer trends because it makes them seem so easy and glamorous,” he says. “Everyone’s always chasing the next shiny thing. They’re seeing people driving around in Lambos on TikTok and Instagram saying, ‘I work two hours a day from anywhere in the world,’ or, ‘I just turned $1,000 into $500,000.’ But the reality is that successful investing takes a lot of work and dedication.” Even after his unprecedented success investing in Dogecoin, Contessoto says that he still cautions less-experienced investors against wild speculation. “People ask me questions all the time like, ‘How do I do what you did?’ But I consider Dogecoin this once-in-a-lifetime, perfect-storm scenario. I couldn’t even do it again.” Instead, he advises those just getting into the crypto space to stick to “blue-chip cryptocurrencies” like Bitcoin and Ethereum. “If you look at their track records, those two are the powerhouses. Obviously, it’ll be a slower grind with a slower growth rate. But it’s like, you can either play it safe or you can try your hand at a bunch of speculation plays and maybe lose all your money.” Still, Contessoto realizes it might seem disingenuous to give others advice that he didn’t take himself. “It’s hard to tell people to do something that you didn’t,” he says. “You know, I’m saying, ‘Hey, play it safe—buy Bitcoin and Ethereum.’ But I was over here YOLO-ing into Dogecoin and it happened to work out great for me.” Martz says that crypto’s current debacle illustrates how the crypto market can be manipulated just like the stock market. “We’ve seen over the past week that there’s large entities buying and selling to drive the price up and down. And unfortunately, it’s the whales that win the game every time. The retail investors always lose,” he says. “So the best thing you can do is educate yourself and try to take advantage of the trends.” But that doesn’t mean that a return to traditional investing is seen as the way forward for those who have made the switch. While some critics view crypto as a Ponzi scheme, Contessoto says they’re missing the big picture. “A lot of these old-school investing guys look at crypto as something that doesn’t create anything and is only worth more because more people are buying into it,” he says. “But we’re talking about a new form of money that didn’t exist a little over 10 years ago. It’s something more people should research and try to understand how it can be beneficial.” For those who are looking to the stars for an answer, Altman predicted on TikTok that prices will somewhat restabilize and improve over the summer. “Once eclipse season ends, I expect a lot of this insanity to end,” she said......»»

Category: topSource: TIME8 hr. 33 min. ago Related News

Signs Are Pointing to a Slowdown in the Housing Market—At Last

There are growing signs that the housing market is slowing Just about everyone agrees that the reason home prices have shot up 34% in the last two years is that there is a lot of demand for housing, but not enough supply. But the U.S. may be at a crucial juncture, at which a lot of properties are coming onto the market just as demand slows, analysts say. That means prices could level off—and, depending on demographics, even start to decline. To be sure, prices are still rising. The median existing-home sales price reached an all-time high in April of $391,200, up 14.8% from a year ago, according to data released May 19 by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Read more: Why Phoenix—of All Places—Has the Fastest Growing Home Prices in the U.S. But other signs indicate that the breakneck pace of rising demand for homes may be slowing, after the cost of a monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced house jumped by 27% from a year ago after the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates in March and May. Existing home sales were down for the third straight month in April, falling 2.4%, according to the NAR. Real estate brokerage Redfin says that in April, just 60.7% of home offers written by its agents faced competing offers, compared to 63.4% a month earlier and 67.4% a year ago. A survey from the National Association of Homebuilders showed constructors’ confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes fell to the lowest reading since June 2020. And the Census Bureau said on May 17 that the number of permits issued for new single-family homes fell 4.6% in April from the previous month. The slowdown in demand comes as the U.S. housing market is finally seeing a surge of newly-built properties, after more than a decade of caution from homebuilders, scarred by the Great Recession. The Biden administration predicts that there will be more units completed this year than in any year since 2006. There were a record number of single-family units under construction in April—815,000—the most since November 2006. There are currently 826,000 multi-family units under construction, the highest level since 1974, according to the Census Bureau. “There are an enormous number of housing units under construction,” says Bill McBride, the author of the blog Calculated Risk, who in 2005 correctly predicted the housing bubble and has since become one of the most reputable sources for housing market analysis. McBride says that housing price growth is going to slow and may flatten by the end of the year, as demand wanes and more supply comes onto the market. There is currently about two months of supply of houses on the market in the U.S., meaning it would take two months for all the homes available to sell, given current conditions, but McBride predicts that prices will stall if that amount reaches about six months worth. Some of these completions have been delayed by supply-chain issues that are currently being resolved. In addition, more housing units are under construction as progressive cities and states relax restrictions on building to tackle the affordability crisis. California, for instance, has essentially banned single-family zoning and made it easier for cities to add multifamily housing. Although these measures went into effect in November, they could start to slowly show up in some neighborhoods as existing homeowners build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in their yards to increase supply. Oregon essentially got rid of single-family zoning in 2019,, and a similar law is moving forward in Maine. States and cities are also removing requirements that homes are built with parking spaces, which also allows for increased density of properties. Are we in a housing bubble? Like most analysts, McBride says we’re not in a bubble—lending standards are different, for one thing. He likens the current period to the early 1980s, when interest rates jumped and home prices declined, when adjusted for inflation. The most likely scenario today, he says, is the same—home prices will stagnate in today’s dollars, but that means they actually slip a little when adjusted for inflation. Higher interest rates aren’t the only reason demand is tapering. McBride predicted in 2015 that the 2020s would see a big boost in demand as a large cohort of Americans moved into the 30 to 39 age group, a prime home-buying age. But Census data is indicating that there are fewer people in that age group than previously estimated, possibly because of excess deaths attributable to both the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic. “The demographics are solid,” McBride says, “but they aren’t as good as we originally thought, and we don’t know how much worse they are.” Whether companies keep allowing their employees to work remotely will also impact regional supply and demand. A recently-published study says that remote work accounts for half of the home price growth since late 2019, since people moved to areas where they wanted to live, but where there was limited supply. If companies start reversing policies allowing workers to work remotely, demand could slow in many housing markets. Aging populations Some analysts are more pessimistic about how much demographics will affect demand in the U.S., which in 2021 saw the slowest rate of population growth since the country’s founding. Dennis McGill, director of research at Zelman & Associates, whose CEO Ivy Zelman correctly predicted that housing prices would peak in 2005 is one of them. Zelman and McGill say that because the U.S. is aging while the fertility rate declines and immigration slumps, the current housing market may already be overbuilt. U.S. population trends are similar to what happened in Japan two decades ago, Zelman and McGill say. In Japan, the population started shrinking in 2011 and last year, the country experienced its biggest drop on record. In the U.S. births have been below the rate required to keep population levels the same absent immigration since 2007. Immigration has been slowing since 2016. Net international migration added just 247,000 people to the U.S. population last year, less than a quarter of what it did in 2015. And the first baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are about to turn 80, which means they’ll start to either pass away or sell their homes and downsize, which adds inventory to the market. U.S. builders have treated these demographic shifts differently than Japanese builders did, McGill said in an interview. Even before Japan’s population leveled off and then started shrinking, developers there slowed the pace at which they were building housing. In Japan, new home building fell from 14 million between 1990 and 2000, to 11 million between 2000 and 2010 and declined further to 9.1 million between 2010 and 2020. While Japanese builders took population declines into account when planning, McGill says U.S. builders are ignoring it. “Everybody on the development side is looking backwards and saying, ‘Well, we’ve always had a million and a half housing starts a year, so we should get back to that,’ but they’re completely ignoring the fact that the demographic underpinning is different,” he says. “They’ve convinced themselves there’s a huge supply shortage.” Markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland have all posted below-average population growth in each of the last 11 years, he says, suggesting that demand could taper even more in those areas. Nationwide, the pace of household formation has long been slowing, a reflection of the slowing birth rate, aging population, and later age at which people marry and have children. (Household formation measures both when people join together and live in a home, and when people die or move out of a home.) While there were13.7 million new households formed between 1990 and 2000, that number fell to 9.5 million between 2010 and 2020. A decline in house prices McGill says housing prices could fall as soon as 2023, because, he says, builders have been overbuilding based on U.S. demographics. “Our research is saying there’s something significantly negative coming,” he says. Of course, changes in demand are all a matter of public policy. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates, which slowed demand. And the U.S. stopped welcoming as many immigrants beginning in 2016, which also tampered demand. This could change, if Congress passes a change to immigration laws, but Zelman thinks it’s unlikely. The percentage of Democrats (83%) and Republicans (38%) who agree that immigrants strengthen the country, according to the Pew Research Center, is at its greatest partisan gap since at least 1944. McGill says that anyone who wants home values to rise rather than fall should support immigration. “If you want your economy to grow, you need population growth. It’s that simple,” he said......»»

Category: topSource: TIME13 hr. 3 min. ago Related News

Sri Lanka Default Hints at Trouble Ahead for Developing Nations

The island’s saga is starting to be seen as a bellwether for emerging markets Sri Lanka’s impending default on $12.6 billion of overseas bonds is flashing a warning sign to investors in other developing nations that surging inflation is set to take a painful toll. The South Asian nation is set to blow through the grace period on $78 million of payments Wednesday, marking its first sovereign debt default since it gained independence from Britain in 1948. Its bonds already trade deep in distressed territory, with holders bracing for losses approaching 60 cents on the dollar. The government said last month it would halt payments on foreign debt. Sri Lanka’s situation is unique in the way all debt crises are—the particulars here involve an unpopular government run by an all-powerful family, the unresolved aftermath of a 30-year civil war and violent street protests. But the island’s saga is starting to be seen as a bellwether for emerging markets where shortages exacerbated by inflation, including record-high food costs globally, have the potential to roil national economies. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “The Sri Lanka default is an ominous sign for emerging markets,” said Guido Chamorro, the co-head of emerging-market hard-currency debt at Pictet Asset Management, which holds Sri Lankan bonds. “We expect the good times to stop. Slowing growth and more difficult funding conditions will increase default risk particularly for frontier countries.” Sri Lanka, an $81 billion economy located off India’s southern coast, has been mired in turmoil for weeks amid annual inflation running at 30%, a plummeting currency and an economic crisis that has left the country short of the hard currency it needs to import food and fuel. Anger over the situation—brought about by years of excessive borrowing to fund bloated state companies and generous social benefits—has boiled over into violent protests. Widespread arson and clashes were reported from several parts of the country while homes and properties of several government lawmakers were set on fire. At least nine people, including one member of parliament, were killed in the violence. Sri Lanka is currently without a finance minister, which could complicate efforts to get through the crisis as the government struggles to restore security and get a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. At the same time, it needs to negotiate a restructuring with creditors including BlackRock Inc. and Ashmore Group. The nation’s dollar bonds are among the worst performers in the world this year, with only Ukraine, Belarus and El Salvador’s Bitcoin-busted notes faring worse. The government on April 18 failed to transfer about $78 million in coupons to holders of debt maturing in 2023 and 2028, leading S&P Global Ratings to declare a selective default. Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service have yet to declare official defaults, despite issuing their own warnings. After the grace period on those payments ends Wednesday, negotiations with creditors can begin in earnest, a process that will be key to winning aid from the IMF. The country has previously said it needs between $3 billion and $4 billion this year to pull itself out of crisis. The nation’s $1 billion dollar debt due this July was indicated 0.24 cents higher at 42.73 cents on Wednesday, near the record low of 42.5 cents reached last week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. But getting such a deal done quickly won’t be easy. While President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has already called on one of his political opponents to take over as prime minister after the resignation of his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, instability lingers. Divides remain deep after a 30-year civil war that ended in 2009, and the central bank governor has threatened to quit if political stability doesn’t return soon. “We are in a fluid situation that is very perilous for Sri Lanka,” said Matthew Vogel, London-based portfolio manager and head of sovereign research at FIM Partners. Risk of Replication As Sri Lanka struggles with the turmoil, its problems provide a warning for other emerging markets where heavy debt loads are converging with economic issues and social unease. The challenge is made more difficult as the Federal Reserve and other major central banks raise interest rates in a bid to quell inflation, leading to higher borrowing costs. “They are now forced to face their debt burdens amid tightening financial conditions,” said Trang Nguyen, executive director of emerging markets strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co. At least 14 developing economies tracked in a Bloomberg gauge have debt yields at an excess of 1,000 basis points over US Treasuries, a threshold for bonds to be considered distressed. The added pressures of rising food and energy prices has already started to bubble up in other countries, including Egypt, Tunisia and Peru. It risks turning into a broader debt debacle and yet another threat to the world economy’s fragile recovery from the pandemic. Pakistan, Ethiopia and Ghana are also in danger of following suit, Bloomberg Economics said last month. “Sri Lanka could be the start of a trend across the frontier and emerging markets where governments experience debt crises — and possibly default on their obligations,” said Brendan McKenna, a strategist at Wells Fargo in New York who says Pakistan and Egypt look particularly vulnerable. “As rates move higher, a lot of the fundamentally weaker countries with dollar-denominated debt may struggle to repay bonds.” — With assistance from Ronojoy Mazumdar, Lilian Karunungan and Liau Y-Sing......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 18th, 2022Related News

U.S. Soccer to Pay Women’s and Men’s Teams Equally in Milestone Agreement

U.S. women have been successful on the international stage but took home far less than the men's winners The U.S. Soccer Federation reached milestone agreements to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally, making the American national governing body the first in the sport to promise both sexes matching money. The federation announced separate collective bargaining agreements through December 2028 with the unions for both national teams on Wednesday, ending years of often acrimonious negotiations. The men have been playing under the terms of a CBA that expired in December 2018. The women’s CBA expired at the end of March but talks continued after the federation and the players agreed to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by some of the players in 2019. The settlement was contingent on the federation reaching labor contracts that equalized pay and bonuses between the two teams. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “I feel a lot of pride for the girls who are going to see this growing up, and recognize their value rather than having to fight for it. However, my dad always told me that you don’t get rewarded for doing what you’re supposed to do — and paying men and women equally is what you’re supposed to do,” U.S. forward Margaret Purce said. “So I’m not giving out any gold stars, but I’m grateful for this accomplishment and for all the people who came together to make it so.” Perhaps the biggest sticking point was World Cup prize money, which is based on how far a team advances in the tournament. While the U.S. women have been successful on the international stage with back-to-back World Cup titles, differences in FIFA prize money meant they took home far less than the men’s winners. The unions agreed to pool FIFA’s payments for the men’s World Cup later this year and next year’s Women’s World Cup, as well as for the 2026 and 2027 tournaments. Each player will get matching game appearance fees in what the USSF said makes it the first federation to pool FIFA prize money in this manner. Read more: Megan Rapinoe Is on the 2020 TIME 100 List “We saw it as an opportunity, an opportunity to be leaders in this front and join in with the women’s side and U.S. Soccer. So we’re just excited that this is how we were able to get the deal done,” said Walker Zimmerman, a defender who is part of the U.S. National Team Players Association leadership group. The federation previously based bonuses on payments from FIFA, which earmarked $400 million for the 2018 men’s tournament, including $38 million to champion France, and $30 million for the 2019 women’s tournament, including $4 million to the champion United States. FIFA has increased the total to $440 million for the 2022 men’s World Cup, and its president, Gianni Infantino, has proposed that FIFA double the women’s prize money to $60 million for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, in which FIFA has increased the teams to 32. For the current World Cup cycles, the USSF will pool the FIFA funds, taking 10% off the top and then splitting the rest equally among 46 players — 23 players on the roster of each team. For the 2026-27 cycle, the USSF cut increases to 20% before the split. After missing the 2018 World Cup, the men qualified for this year’s World Cup in Qatar starting in November. The women’s team will seek to qualify this year for the 2023 World Cup, cohosted by Australia and New Zealand. For lesser tournaments, such as those run by the governing body of North America, players will earn identical game bonuses. And for exhibition games, players will receive matching appearance fees and performance payments based on the match result and opponent rank. Players who don’t dress will earn a fee that is the equivalent of participating in a national team training camp. The women gave up guaranteed base salaries which had been part of their CBA since 2005. Some players had been guaranteed annual salaries of $100,000. “I think we’ve outgrown some of the conditions that may look like we have lost something, but now our (professional) league is actually strong enough where now we don’t need as many guaranteed contracts, you know, we can be on more of a pay-to-play model,” Purce said. Child care, covered for women for more than 25 years, will be extended to men during national team training camps and matches. The women and men also will receive a portion of commercial revenue from tickets for matches controlled by the USSF, with bonuses for sellouts, and each team will get a portion of broadcast, partner and sponsor revenue. Players will get a 401(k) plan and the USSF will match up to 5% of a player’s compensation, subject to IRS limits. That money will be deducted from the shares of commercial revenue. “There were moments when I thought it was all going to fall apart and then it came back together and it’s a real credit to all the different groups coming together, negotiating at one table,” said federation President Cindy Parlow Cone, a former national team player who became head of the governing body in 2020. “I think that’s where the turning point really happened. Before, trying to negotiate a CBA with the women and then turn around and negotiate CBA terms with the men and vice versa, was really challenging. I think the real turning point was when we finally were all in the same room sitting at the same table, working together and collaborating to reach this goal.” Women ended six years of litigation over equal pay in February in a deal calling for the USSF to pay $24 million, a deal contingent on reaching new collective bargaining agreements. As part of the settlement, players will split $22 million, about one-third of what they had sought in damages. The USSF also agreed to establish a fund with $2 million to benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at growing the sport for women. Mark Levinstein, counsel for the men’s union, said the agreement ended “more than 20 years of federation discrimination against the USWNT players.” “Together with the USWNTPA, the USMNT players achieved what everyone said was impossible—an agreement that provides fair compensation to the USMNT players and equal pay and equal working conditions to the USWNT players,” he said. “The new federation leadership should get tremendous credit for working with the players to achieve these agreements.”.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 18th, 2022Related News

The Real Reasons Behind the Crypto Crash, and What We Can Learn from Terra’s Fall

UST's downfall could have short-term and long-term ripple effects, especially as skeptical legislators like Elizabeth Warren survey the damage Crypto markets are in freefall this month—and their struggles have been gravely exacerbated by the demise of a $60 billion project that critics are calling a Ponzi scheme. The project in question is TerraUSD (UST), a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar that its supporters hoped would upend traditional payment systems across the world. But it was wiped out in the span of days when investors panicked and tried to pull out their money, causing a vicious, self-enforcing bank run. The crash bankrupted many investors and pulled down the entire crypto market with it: over $400 billion in value was wiped out in terms of crypto market capitalization. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “This is among the most painful weeks in crypto history & one we’ll reckon with for a long time to come,” Jake Chervinsky, the head of policy at the DC-based lobbying firm Blockchain Association, wrote on Twitter. While Terra investors were the ones most immediately hurt, its downfall could have both short-term and long-term ripple effects for crypto and beyond, especially as skeptical legislators and regulators survey the damage. “People have lost their life savings through crypto investments, and there aren’t enough protections in place to safeguard consumers from these risks,” Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote in a statement to TIME. “We need stronger rules and stronger enforcement to regulate this highly volatile industry.” Here’s what happened, and what lies in store following the debacle. What happened, exactly? Terra’s rapid rise and fall can be difficult to explain succinctly without any prior knowledge of the blockchain. In fact, many of its boosters hid behind obfuscation and jargon to rebut some of its obvious flaws. Here’s a brief explanation. Terra is its own blockchain, just like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Its foremost product is the UST stablecoin, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar. Stablecoins are used by crypto traders as safe havens for when markets in DeFi (decentralized finance) get choppy: instead of converting their more volatile assets into hard cash, which can be expensive and trigger tax implications, traders simply trade them for stablecoins. Some stablecoins derive their value from being fully backed by reserves: if investors decide they ever want out, the stablecoin’s foundation should theoretically have enough cash on hand to repay all of them at once. UST, on the other hand, is an algorithmic stablecoin, which relies upon code, constant market activity, and sheer belief in order to keep its peg to the dollar. UST’s peg was also theoretically propped up by its algorithmic link to Terra’s base currency, Luna. For the last six months, investors have been buying UST for one main reason: to profit off a borrowing and lending platform called Anchor, which offered a 20% yield to anyone who bought UST and lent it to the protocol. When this opportunity was announced, many critics immediately likened it to a Ponzi scheme, saying it would be mathematically impossible for Terra to give such a high return to all of their investors. Terra team members even acknowledged that this was the case—but likened the rate to a marketing spend to raise awareness, in the same way that Uber and Lyft offered severely discounted rides at the beginning of their existence. But some blockchain experts say that last week, wealthy investors pulled off a maneuver in which they borrowed huge amounts of Bitcoin to buy UST, with the intention of making huge profits when the value of UST fell, otherwise known as short-selling. This caused UST to depeg from the dollar. A bank run ensued, with investors who had earned interest via Anchor scrambling to get out the door before it was too late. Their activity caused the linked currency Luna to also crash in what is known as a “death spiral.” As of now, UST is worth 12 cents, and Luna is worth fractions of a penny after being worth as much as $116 in April. The life savings of many Terra and Luna investors vanished in a matter of days. The r/Terraluna subreddit filled with people opening up about their mental health issues and contemplating suicide. “I’m going through some of the darkest, most severe mental pain of my life. It still doesn’t seem real that I lost $180,000,” one poster wrote. Terra dragged down Bitcoin and the whole crypto market Before Terra’s crash, cryptocurrency values were already on the decline, due in part to the Federal Reserve raising its interest rates. (They did so to stop inflation, which has caused people to spend less money.) But UST’s crash put another dent in the overall market, most centrally because Terra creator Do Kwon had bought billions worth in Bitcoin as a safeguard for UST. When he and the Luna Foundation Guard deployed more than $3 billion to defend the peg, in doing so he caused downward pressure on the market, causing other large investors to sell off their Bitcoin shares. Bitcoin hit its lowest point since December 2020, and Kwon’s ploy to save UST was unsuccessful. “The way these algorithmic stablecoins are designed, they have this upward force during bull markets, which is how they get so popular,” says Sam MacPherson, an engineer at MakerDAO and the co-founder of the software design company Bellwood Studios. “But the same forces act in reverse during bear markets and expose their fundamental flaws. So that is eventually what triggered [the crash].” The ripple effects were felt throughout the crypto ecosystem. Because firms sold around $30,000 of Ether in their own attempt to defend UST’s peg, Ether also plunged below $2000 for the first time since July 2021. As many investors tried to cash out their Ethereum-based stablecoins, their sheer number of transactions caused Ethereum’s transaction fees to spike, causing people to forfeit even more money. Coinbase, one of the crypto world’s biggest and most mainstream companies, slumped 35% last week. And the NFT ecosystem plunged 50% over the last seven days by sales volume, according to Cryptoslam. The cumulative effect was the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars across the ecosystem. Many worry that Terra’s crash is the first domino precipitating a long-foretold “crypto winter,” in which mainstream investors lose interest and values remain low for months.“ I suspect some cryptocurrencies will be worthless and that capital investment in the space will slow to a crawl as investors nurse their losses, much as we saw in the Internet bubble,” Bloomberg’s Edward Harrison wrote. So, what could happen next as a result of the crash? Regulations could tighten Stablecoins have long been drawing the scrutiny of regulators. Congress held a hearing weighing their risks and benefits in December. The same month, President Biden’s working group called for “urgent” action to regulate them. Terra’s crash gives even more ammo to regulators who argue that the space needs to be roped under government control. On May 12, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for “comprehensive” regulations of stablecoins, saying that while the current crash is too small to threaten the whole financial system, stablecoins are “growing very rapidly. They present the same kinds of risks that we have known for centuries in connection with bank runs.” Hilary Allen, a professor at American University Washington College of Law who testified about the risks of stablecoins at the congressional hearing in December, says that the fallout of the Terra crash gives us a glimpse of what could be in store should crypto move toward the mainstream without regulation. “In a few years time, something like this could have many more pathways to cause broader harm, especially if the banks continue to get closer to this space,” she says. “I think it’s critical that regulators and policymakers see this moment as a time to put up whatever firewall they can between the traditional financial system and DeFi.” Massachusetts Representative Jake Auchincloss tells TIME that he’s in the process of drafting legislation requiring stablecoins to be federally audited. Auchincloss doesn’t seek to ban stablecoins, as he believes they could play a role in “keeping the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.” But he hopes to bring stablecoins under the purview of a federal bureau like the Comptroller of the Currency; to make sure stablecoin issuers can prove they have 90 days of liquid reserves; and to explore the idea of mandating that they provide insurance for customers. “We’re going to let private sector actors make their own risk-reward decisions, and we’re going to empower the federal government to ensure that there’s no systemic risk forming from the sector,” he says. Senator Warren has been one of the most vocal public detractors of crypto, and took Terra’s collapse as evidence for why regulators need to “clamp down” on stablecoins and DeFi “before it is too late.” Across the Atlantic, the European Commission is considering implementing a hard cap on the daily activity of large stablecoins, according to Coindesk. Much of the crypto world, meanwhile, seems to have become resigned to the reality of incoming regulation. “A lot of lives have been ruined. The rest of the crypto ecosystem needs to be open to working with regulators such that we can deter these types of situations from happening in the future,” MacPherson says. Boundary-pushing stablecoins might be over For many years now, ambitious blockchain developers have embarked upon the quest of creating a functional and safe algorithmic stablecoin, in the hopes that they might be more resistant to inflation than reserve-backed stablecoins and less susceptible to governmental oversight or seizure. But all of them eventually lost their peg and failed. UST, for a few months, was the medium’s crowning success story—and now is its biggest failure. Its crushing defeat will cast a long shadow over any developer that tries it next: venture capital firms and investors will likely be much more leery of jumping into similar models. Two other boundary-pushing stablecoins, Frax and magic internet money (MIM), saw massive drops in their market caps last week despite holding their peg to the dollar. “I think this has rightly destroyed any faith in the algorithmic stablecoin model,” Allen says. “It’s quite possible after Terra, we might never see them again—although I never say never when it comes to crypto.” Over the last week, many leaders in the crypto community have scrambled to distance UST from other types of stablecoins, arguing that reserve-backed stablecoins are comparatively secure and should be allowed to continue to flourish with minimal regulation. Chervinsky, at the Blockchain Association, wrote on Twitter that UST was “in a category of its own,” compared to other models that are “very stable and reliable.” Matt Maximo, a researcher at the crypto investor Grayscale Investments, wrote to TIME in an email that UST’s crash could lead to more demand for dollar-backed or overcollateralized stablecoins. Allen, however, argues that reserve-backed stablecoins still carry risk. “The best analogy with these reserve stablecoins is with money market mutual funds,” she says, referring to a type of fund whose failure helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis. “And those have had runs and have been bailed out.” (The economics journalist Jacob Goldstein made the same comparison in TIME’s Future of Money issue in October.) Venture capital may stop pouring money into crypto Over the past couple years, an astonishing amount of money has flown into the crypto space via venture capital firms, perhaps most notably from Andreessen Horowitz. Terra itself was the beneficiary of a slew of brand-name investors, including Pantera Capital and Delphi Digital. UST’s crash could raise mistrust on both sides. “It is likely that many of the institutions that have invested in the space may see significant short-term losses, resulting in a slowdown in venture investing,” Maximo writes to TIME. Chris McCann and Edith Yeung, general partners at the crypto-focused VC firm Race Capital, told Bloomberg this week that they had heard of deals falling apart, being repriced, or even founders getting “ghosted” by potential investors. MacPherson, on the other hand, turned the blame for Terra’s crash in part onto the VC firms that lent their institutional trust to the perilous project. “I think they should take some responsibility with how they’ve ruined some of these regular folks who invested in UST not knowing the de-peg risk,” he says. “Some of the [firms] made a lot of money off this, and I think they should compensate those who have lost.” At the moment, Terra’s major investors are being forced to decide whether to help bail the project out or cut and run. Many of them have been awfully quiet over the last week. Michael Novogratz, the billionaire founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital who got a giant Luna shoulder tattoo in January, has not tweeted since May 8. A representative for Lightspeed Venture Partners, a major crypto-focused firm that invested $250,000 in the Luna token, wrote that they remained committed to the space. “Lightspeed has been investing in blockchain for over 8 years. We see this as a computing paradigm shift that is bigger than the ebb and flow of the short term price of Bitcoin. We are doubling down, specifically in infrastructure, DeFi and emerging use cases,” they wrote. The hype over decentralized finance may be slowing Much of the promise of crypto lies in its decentralized nature: that its value doesn’t derive from manipulable controlling authority like a bank or a government, but rather sleekly-designed code and network effects. This week, some crypto enthusiasts have argued that Terra’s crash was a successful stress test for this hypothesis: that Bitcoin’s perseverance amid such a giant sell-off proves its durability. But Terra’s crash did reveal many centralized pressure points in the ecosystem, which, if they didn’t break, at least bent significantly. While there’s no CEO of crypto, one charismatic founder—Terra’s Do Kwon—was able to single handedly create a project that then erased hundreds of billions of dollars in value. He then used his position of power to defend his coin in the same way that the Federal Reserve might, in turn crushing the entire market. Kwon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The attack showed the vulnerability of Curve pools—decentralized exchanges in which prices can shift quickly due to whales exiting or entering them—and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which did not have deep enough liquidity to sustain the massive amounts of UST entering circulation. In fact, the Terra saga shows that blockchain’s decentralized nature allows bad actors to have an outsized impact on the system. But many enthusiasts say that events like this actually help weed out those trying to take advantage of the system, and will lead to a more robust and more educated user base going forward. “The permissionless nature of the blockchain means that we can’t prevent it,” MacPherson says. “But I think we should do a better job of informing the public what the risks are.” Ponzi schemes might find fewer takers… or not Whether the debacle sticks in people’s minds as a learning experience is another question entirely. On Thursday, the controversial crypto entrepreneur Justin Sun announced an algorithmic stablecoin with 40% APR for lenders. Galois Capital, in a snarky response, tweeted: “This industry being a self-regulating one requires that learning happen. The results were mixed.” It seems that there are still plenty of crypto investors who will accept extremely high risk, so long as the prospect of extremely high riches remains......»»

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Social Media Companies Vowed To Stop Videos of Terror Attacks. Buffalo Showed They Have More Work To Do

Three years after social media platforms committed to put an end to viral videos of terrorist attacks on their platforms, the attack in Buffalo, New York, has revealed that their efforts are still a work in progress. A self-professed white supremacist targeted Black shoppers at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, killing 10 people and injuring… Three years after social media platforms committed to put an end to viral videos of terrorist attacks on their platforms, the attack in Buffalo, New York, has revealed that their efforts are still a work in progress. A self-professed white supremacist targeted Black shoppers at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, killing 10 people and injuring three others, in what authorities said was a racist attack. He livestreamed his rampage via Twitch, a streaming platform owned by Amazon. Twitch said it took down the broadcast within two minutes of the violence starting—but that was enough time for copies of the video to be downloaded and shared widely on social media platforms over the weekend. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Many versions of these videos had been edited—with added text or blurring or cropping—in apparent successful attempts to evade the platforms’ automated removal systems, according to Jacob Berntsson, the head of policy and research at Tech Against Terrorism, a U.N.-backed project for countering online extremism. Copies of the video were circulating on Twitter and Facebook on Saturday and Sunday, according to multiple media reports. “He knew that as long as there was time for people to watch and download, then this would spread [online] regardless of how quickly Twitch took it down,” said Berntsson in an interview on Monday, referring to the attacker. “Clearly an audience was ready and prepared to download this kind of stuff.” The Buffalo shooter had openly shared his plans to target people of color in a livestreamed mass shooting for months on the chat app Discord, according to Bloomberg. He used the app to point people toward his livestream on Twitch, the report said. Discord did not respond to a request for comment. Inspired by previous attacks Live-streamed attacks by white supremacists are a potent radicalization tool for future extremists, and platforms have struggled to remove edited copies of the videos of past attacks. In March 2019, a white supremacist gunman in New Zealand massacred 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, livestreamed on Facebook. Months later, a man with a camera on his helmet attacked a synagogue in Halle, Germany, killing two and injuring two others, livestreamed on Twitch. Videos of both attacks were shared widely on social media platforms, prompting a game of whack-a-mole between tech companies and users. Read More: ‘A Game of Whack-a-Mole.’ Why Facebook and Others Are Struggling to Delete Footage of the New Zealand Shooting The Buffalo shooter was directly radicalized by those videos. In a manifesto posted online shortly before the attack, seen by TIME, the Buffalo shooter said that he was inspired by the Christchurch attacker’s politics, and that he decided to live stream his own attack in order to inspire others. He also said he chose to stream on Twitch because it had taken the platform 35 minutes to remove the livestream of the Halle attack. Compared to the Halle attack, the two minutes that it took Twitch to remove the video of the Buffalo attack speaks to the progress tech companies have made since 2019. “That’s a very strong response time considering the challenges of live content moderation, and shows good progress,” Twitch said in a statement to TIME on Monday, adding that it was working hard to stop copies of the video being uploaded. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, and Twitter said that they had designated the videos under their violence and extremism policies shortly after the shooting, and were removing copies of it from their platforms, as well as blocking links to external sites where it was hosted. Read More: ‘There’s No Such Thing As a Lone Wolf.’ The Online Movement That Spawned the Buffalo Shooting Still, despite their progress, tech companies’ work so far has not been enough to stop the spread of these videos—either before they occur, during the livestream, or in the places where copies of the video are being reuploaded. “I’ll blame the platforms when we see other shooters inspired by this shooter,” says Dia Kayyali, the associate director for advocacy at digital rights group Mnemonic. “Once something is out there, it’s out there. That’s why the immediate response has to be very strong.” How platforms are cooperating to stop terrorist content The biggest platforms are now collaborating far more closely than they were at the time of other livestreamed terror attacks. In the immediate wake of the New Zealand attack, many of the world’s biggest social media platforms signed onto the “Christchurch Call,” a commitment to stamp out the spread of terrorist content online. Through an industry group, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), the platforms are sharing identifying data about the Buffalo shooter’s video and manifesto between them in order to make it easier to remove from their sites. Through GIFCT, platforms share encoded versions of of terrorist content, known as hashes, that they have removed from their sites, allowing, for example, Facebook to quickly and easily remove a copy of a terrorist video that had only appeared on Twitter up to that point. Hashing is an efficient way of representing a video, photograph or other document as a string of numbers, instead of sharing the file itself. It is impossible to recreate a piece of content from its hash code, but identical content will always return the same hash code if run through the same hashing algorithm. If the hash code of a new piece of content is matched to an entry in a hash database of known illegal content, the tech companies can remove the content even if their own staff have never come across it before. This makes hashing a good way for different platforms to share information about illegal content, such as terrorist propaganda or child abuse imagery, without having to distribute these files among themselves. Members include Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Twitter and Discord. The problem with hashing, however, is that a bad actor only needs to alter the file a small amount—for example by changing its color profile, or cropping the picture—to return a totally different hash code, and thus evade the platforms’ automated removal mechanisms. So, three years after the Christchurch attack, the only tool required to fool the platforms’ automated systems for removing terrorist content is basic video editing software, plus some persistence. This is known as “adversarial” behavior and makes the problem of scrubbing terrorist content from the internet far more difficult, according to Kayyali and Berntsson. Read More: These Tech Companies Managed to Eradicate ISIS Content. But They’re Also Erasing Crucial Evidence of War Crimes While hashing’s shortcomings are not the root cause of the problem, some counterterrorism experts say they are one of the core weaknesses in the platforms’ current joint approach to terrorist content. “The patchy response from various platforms that are [members] of the hash-sharing database arguably suggests that improvements can be made,” Berntsson says. “Platforms should be able to handle this, but it still speaks to the fact that there are groups of people who are quite committed to circumventing the moderation tools that are in place.” In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said that hash-sharing is only a small part of the company’s approach to dealing with the Buffalo video. The company has teams of human moderators looking for copies that have slipped through, and has also uploaded copies of the video and manifesto to its own internal databases. The company says it uses machine learning tools to catch lookalike copies of videos in the database even if they have been altered—although it’s clear from the video’s proliferation that these tools are not 100% accurate. But beyond hash sharing, the gains made by Meta’s computational resources and workforce will only help remove copies of the video from Meta’s own platforms, not other social media sites like Twitter, Twitch or TikTok. This means many companies are duplicating the work needed to identify and take down altered copies of the videos, at a time when human bandwidth is often the bottleneck in terms of enforcement against terrorist content. A GIFCT spokesperson told TIME on Monday that the group was exploring ways other than hashing of sharing information about terrorist content between platforms, but said that those explorations had not progressed past their earliest stages. Some in the sector have lost patience with the platforms. “I’m sure there’s issues with people remixing content and only posting a clip of it, and all of the tricks that we know to try to evade automatic detection,” says Kayyali, who sits on civil-society advisory boards for both the Christchurch Call and GIFCT. “But still, I want to hear exactly the technical explanation from GIFCT about how it was possible that hours after [they shared hashes of the video among the platforms] the video was still out there.” A wider problem Even if big tech platforms could scrub terrorist content entirely, it still flourishes on smaller platforms. As the shooter’s open planning on Discord showed, many of the people circulating the video are likely collaborating through private messaging channels and smaller social networks. Only 22 people watched the Buffalo attacker’s Twitch stream in real time, according to the Washington Post. But this was all it took for some of them—presumably directed to the stream by the attacker himself on Discord—to download and spread the video far and wide. Most experts say that in addition to the big platforms, governments and the media also have a role to play. Under current U.S. law, domestic terrorists are not designated as terrorists in the same way that, for example, Islamist extremists are. This means platforms don’t have the legal certainty that they do when dealing with content from Al Qaeda and ISIS, which they have largely succeeded in scrubbing from their platforms. “Designation can help provide some more legal certainty and clarity for companies,” says Berntsson. His organization Tech Against Terrorism has its own tool similar to GIFCT for alerting platforms to terrorist content. And while the shooter said in his manifesto that he had been radicalized by the video circulating online of the Christchurch attack, racist conspiracy theories have entered into the political mainstream via other channels, including cable television. The Buffalo shooter spoke in his manifesto about his belief that white people were being intentionally replaced in the U.S. by people of other races—a conspiracy theory that has recently been picked up, and amplified, by the Fox TV show host Tucker Carlson and Republican politicians. “It doesn’t start when this individual presses ‘stream’ on Twitch,” says Berntsson. “It starts long before.” – WITH REPORTING BY VERA BERGENGRUEN/WASHINGTON, D.C......»»

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Washington Politicians Helped Create the Baby Formula Shortage. Can They Solve It?

A 1989 law led to intense consolidation in the baby formula industry. As parents across the country frantically search for baby formula amid a nationwide shortage, many have heard that the source of the problem is in Sturgis, Mich. That’s where Abbott, the multinational healthcare giant that sells formula under the Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare brands and controls 40% of the U.S. infant formula market, shut down its largest baby food plant in February after a type of bacteria linked to the hospitalization and death of several babies was found in the plant. (Abbott maintains there is not conclusive evidence its formulas harmed children.) But the reason one plant shutting down has had such an outsized impact on the nation’s baby food supply can be traced to Washington, specifically decisions made in the 1980s in Congressional hallways and beleaguered bureaucratic agencies. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Like most issues in Washington, the baby food shortage is a multifaceted one, but it comes down to a simple mismatch between supply and demand. Millions of families use baby formula, and too few brands supply it, leading to catastrophic shortages when just one of the major brands has a lapse in production. By six months of age, roughly three-quarters of babies born in the U.S. are given at least some formula, according to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But lower-income moms are more likely than higher-earning ones to use formula over breastfeeding and start their babies on it earlier in life, due, in part, to the absence of national paid parental leave policies and less flexibility for mothers in service-industry jobs to breastfeed. Read more: 5 Parents on the Stress of Feeding Their Babies Amid Formula Shortage Many of those mothers end up taking part in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children, also known as WIC, which is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Through state agencies, WIC gives families earning at or below 185% the federal poverty line vouchers and electronic cards to purchase baby formula on the government’s dime. In 1989, Congress, hoping to keep WIC’s costs down, passed legislation requiring states to use competitive bidding to select one manufacturer of infant formula to be covered by WIC. Roughly half to two-thirds of formula purchased in the U.S. is bought through WIC, according to government estimates. With so many low-income parents relying on formula, the move by Congress led to the bid winners in each state dominating the formula market there. That spurred the kind of intense consolidation in the U.S. formula industry that has not been seen in many other parts of the world. Since the single-contract rule was established more than 30 years ago, only three companies–Abbott, Gerber, and Mead Johnson—have received those WIC contracts. Their control over the market has disincentivized the creation of new brands, which is why the recent loss of Abbott’s products from store shelves has left many parents with few alternatives. As of May 8, 43% of the top-selling infant formula products were out of stock across the country, according to software platform Datasembly, with the range of standard shortages falling between 2% and 8%. “The extremely high levels of concentration in the infant formula market creates a serious risk to infant health if there is any disruption to a major manufacturer’s supply,” Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, and five other Democratic Senators wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week, calling for an “immediate antitrust review.” “This is yet another example of how alarming levels of consolidation hurts American families and can no longer be ignored,” they added. ‘Infant formula is the most regulated food that exists’ In Michigan, mother Elyssa Schmier is among those flummoxed by the empty baby formula shelves at her local grocery stores. She had hoped to exclusively breastfeed her son, who is eight months old, but her body wasn’t producing enough milk—even when she woke up every three hours to pump. Her doctor advised her to supplement with formula, which now makes up approximately 60% of her son’s bottles when she can find it in stores. Schmier, a vice president with MomsRising, which advocates for issues facing mothers and families, expressed frustration with seeing people use the moment to guilt moms for using formula when exclusively breastfeeding a child isn’t feasible for many, especially after they have begun tapering. “The best way to feed a child,” she says, “is to feed a child.” In Washington, many of the proposed solutions to Schmier’s dilemma are focused on the immediate crisis. The Biden Administration has urged states to temporarily loosen regulations around what brands and sizes of formula parents are able to purchase with WIC. A White House official told reporters on Monday that the Administration was also working with the four largest formula brands to identify hurdles to increasing supply domestically; the Administration also announced it would expedite the application and approval process for the importation of non-domestic formulas. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesKarine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., US, on Monday, May 16, 2022. That process normally moves at a snail’s pace due to strict safety regulations governing baby formula. “Infant formula is the most regulated food that exists, by far,” says Dr. Steven A. Abrams, a professor at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and the chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition. “The reason being that if you leave a component out, the baby can have severe brain damage and die.” But international brands are also disincentivized from exporting their baby formula to the U.S. by tariffs as high as 17.5%. Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, is working on a bill that would temporarily waive such tariffs on baby formula products. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, agrees that there needs to be some form of tariff reduction. “The fastest way to get more formula onto the shelves, at least in the short term, is going to be tariff relief,” she told TIME Monday. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, and Spanberger, have also urged the Biden Administration to consider invoking the Defense Production Act, a law originally passed amid the Korean War that gives presidents broad powers to control domestic industries during emergency situations. Both Biden and former President Donald Trump invoked the DPA to speed up production of supplies needed to combat the pandemic. “There is ample precedent for using the DPA to address a crisis in peacetime,” Rubio said in a statement last week. But after the current crisis is over, and grocery stores are back to being fully stocked with formula, the underlying consolidation issue will remain, as well as the potential for similar shortages in the future. Addressing that problem would require a major overhaul of WIC, the kind that some experts who follow the issue are skeptical will happen any time soon. “There’s still not an awareness that one of the government’s key roles is to structure markets, so that you don’t have fragile supply chains,” says Matt Stoller, the director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, an antitrust advocacy group, and the author of Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy. Spanberger says there also needs to be more transparency about possible shortages. She and a Republican colleague have drafted a bill that would require baby food manufacturers to inform the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if they anticipate shortages moving forward, like manufacturers of other products do already. “There are certain requirements on various different types of industries that if they are anticipating supply chain disruptions or shortages, that they are to make that known to FDA,” she says, while acknowledging that the proposal wouldn’t solve the current shortages. “This legislation, unfortunately, won’t help us in the here and now,” she says. In the more immediate future, Abbott announced on Monday that it had reached a deal with the FDA to resume operations at its plant in Sturgis as soon as within the next two weeks after the plant addresses safety concerns. This won’t solve Schmier’s problems overnight, though. Abbott has previously said that once that plant was running again, it would take six to eight weeks for baby formula from there to return to store shelves. —with reporting by Alana Semuels in New York.....»»

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Elon Musk Says Twitter Must Prove Bot Claims for $44B Deal to Proceed

Musk recently told a tech conference that fake users make up at least 20% of all Twitter accounts Elon Musk declared he won’t proceed with his $44 billion takeover of Twitter Inc. unless the social media giant can prove bots make up fewer than 5% of its users, casting yet more uncertainty over the deal. The billionaire tweeted “this deal cannot move forward” unless Twitter provides proof of its claims, reiterating his own view that the ratio is far higher. Musk’s latest online pronouncement complicates an already chaotic takeover, potentially one of the largest acquisitions the internet industry has ever seen. He recently butted heads online with Twitter chief Parag Agrawal over the way the social media giant accounts for bots, stoking speculation Musk may try to lower the price or even walk away. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Twitter’s shares fell another 3.2% in pre-market trading in New York, after sliding more than 8% the previous day. The spread between Musk’s offer price of $54.20 and its last trading price is currently about 40%, suggesting investors think there is little chance the deal will get done without a discount—if at all. Twitter said it is “committed to completing the transaction on the agreed price and terms as promptly as practicable,” in a statement on Tuesday. “If a revised deal does get done by Musk and Twitter,” said Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush, “it will likely will be at a much lower price once negotiations take over and the diligence happens around Twitter DAU and algorithms hot button issues. 20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher. My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 17th, 2022Related News

McDonald’s to Sell Its Russian Business

The fast food giant said that holding on to its business in Russia “is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.” McDonald’s said Monday that it has started the process of selling its Russian business, which includes 850 restaurants that employ 62,000 people, making it the latest major Western corporation to exit Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February. The fast food giant pointed to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, saying holding on to its business in Russia “is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.” The Chicago-based company announced in early March that it was temporarily closing its stores in Russia but would continue to pay employees. On Monday, it said it would seek to have a Russian buyer hire those workers and pay them until the sale closes. It did not identify a prospective buyer. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] CEO Chris Kempczinski said the “dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s” of employees and hundreds of Russian suppliers made it a difficult decision to leave. “However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values,” Kempczinski said in a statement, “and our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there.” As it tries to sell its restaurants, McDonald’s said it plans to start removing golden arches and other symbols and signs with the company’s name. It said it will keep its trademarks in Russia. The first McDonald’s in Russia opened in the middle of Moscow more than three decades ago, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a powerful symbol of the easing of Cold War tensions between the United States and Soviet Union. McDonald’s was the first American fast food restaurant to open in the Soviet Union, which would collapse in 1991. McDonald’s decision to leave comes as other American food and beverage giants including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Starbucks have paused or closed operations in Russia in the face of Western sanctions. Corporations from British energy giants Shell and BP to French carmaker Renault have pulled out of Russia, taking a hit to their bottom lines as they seek to sell their holdings there. Other companies have stayed at least partially, with some facing blowback. McDonald’s said it expects to record a charge against earnings of between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion over leaving Russia. Its restaurants in Ukraine are closed, but the company said it is continuing to pay full salaries for its employees there. McDonald’s has more than 39,000 locations across more than 100 countries. Most are owned by franchisees—only about 5% are owned and operated by the company. McDonald’s said exiting Russia will not change its forecast of adding a net 1,300 restaurants this year, which will contribute about 1.5% to companywide sales growth. Last month, McDonald’s reported that it earned $1.1 billion in the first quarter, down from more than $1.5 billion a year earlier. Revenue was nearly $5.7 billion......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 16th, 2022Related News

‘An Absolutely Unimaginable Situation.’ WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert Addresses Brittney Griner Arrest

The season also tips off amidst Roe v. Wade news. (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Momentous disruptions—and some impressive wins—have marked the tenure of WNBA commissioner of Cathy Engelbert, who In 2019 left her CEO post at Deloitte to take over the league. In 2020, after Engelbert negotiated a collective bargaining bargaining agreement with WNBA players that resulted in notable salary and benefit gains, the pandemic put the WNBA on pause. The league restarted its season later that year in a Bradenton, Florida bubble, dubbed the “Wubble,” that became a nerve center of social activism in the wake of the killing of Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The league, however, thrived through all this tumult; 2021 viewership on ESPN, for example, rose 49% compared to a year earlier, and was up 24% over 2019. Google signed on as a sponsor. The league inked a multi-year deal with Amazon Prime Video to become the first women’s pro sports league streamed on the service. On WNBAStore.com, the league’s regular-season merchandise sales jumped 50% over the prior year, a record growth. Tip-off for the 2022 season came with great anticipation. But it’s been overshadowed by trepidation. In February Brittney Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury—and a two-time Olympic gold medalist—was arrested at a Moscow-area airport, for allegedly carrying cannabis oil. Griner, who also plays for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg, remains in the country. In early May, the U.S. government classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.” On May 13, Griner’s lawyer said her pre-trial detention had been extended by a month. Opening night, May 6, also arrived four days after the publication of a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, a decision that rankled many players—and the league. “The WNBA believes all women have the right to autonomy over their bodies and fair and equal access to health care,” the WNBA said in a statement. Engelbert, the first female CEO of one of the Big Four accounting firms—and a former college basketball and lacrosse player—spoke to TIME about the Griner situation, Roe v. Wade, and why women’s sports are so undervalued. (For coverage of the future of work, visit TIME.com/charter and sign up for the free Charter newsletter.) This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. What can you share on Brittney Griner’s status? It’s an absolutely unimaginable situation for for BG. Our thoughts are with her. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not working on this in some way. It was a really positive development for her case to be transferred into the part of the State Department that’s called the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. When you get this designation of being detained, not under the best conditions, they’ve shown success at getting people out. She does have the legal process to go through. We don’t have a lot of diplomatic options here. We want to acknowledge her importance to the league, which is why Phoenix led, for all 12 of our teams, a philanthropic effort around BG’s Heart and Sole shoe drive. The support we’ve gotten has been been extraordinary. Some people have suggested that Brittney’s team and the WNBA should have been more vocal in demanding her release. Have you received guidance from her team, from the government to keep a relatively low profile? If you talk to any expert around this type of matter, we’re following their guidance to a tee. We’ve met with a variety of government officials, and that’s the guidance they were giving us. Now it’s shifted a little bit with this positive development of her case being transferred. That’s why you’re seeing us and teams and players out there a little bit more. We’re not experts on this. We’re running a sports league. Have you been in touch with Brittney? Have you been able to talk to her? You’re able to get messages to her. I’m sure they get scanned and reviewed and things like that. But you’re able to get a message of support to her. The players have talked about that. It’s not like she texts you back or anything. That’s not happening. Griner’s agent, Linsday Kagawa Colas, wrote a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: a headline for the piece read “Pay inequality led Brittney Griner to Russia. We must fix it.” Do you agree with that? Why or why not? I came in to transfer the economic model, to work on that issue. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. This is hard work and it’s huge transformation. In the collective bargaining agreement that I was part of when I came in, we tripled the pay of the top players in the WNBA. With bonuses, players can now make $650,000. For four-and-a-half months of work, that isn’t bad. I wish my daughter who graduated from college four years ago would have that opportunity, but she doesn’t, right? We’re making enormous progress. We’re being compared to men’s leagues. We have to get the ecosystem to rally around us, around media rights fees, around corporate sponsorship dollars. We’re seeing players make a lot more money. There’s a swath of the players that are always going to go play year round. Remember, we’re only 25 years in. The NFL is over 100 years old. The NBA is celebrating 75 years. Forty years into the NBA, the NBA Finals was still on tape delay. They’ve come a long way with big media deals and big salaries. Give us some time. I know it’s not fast enough for everybody. But we’re working hard on it. (For coverage of the future of work, visit TIME.com/charter and sign up for the free Charter newsletter.) The WNBA also tipped off after another momentous piece of news broke: the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that overturns Roe v. Wade. The WNBA markets itself as a “a bold progressive basketball league that stands for the power of women.” Given this, what’s your reaction to the draft opinion? It’s extremely concerning. We believe in women’s health care, women’s access, women’s rights. We already have a very divided country on so many issues. We certainly didn’t need to add this one. We’re focused on our season but watching it very closely. We’re doing a unified theme this year around all of our 61 Commissioner Cup games, our special in-season competition, around civic engagement and voting rights. Because elections do have consequences. Look what has happened. Why is this extremely concerning? [Roe v. Wade] has been the crux of supporting and advocating for women’s personal decisions regarding their health since I was a kid. It’s ironic that we’re celebrating the 50 years of Title IX and at the same time Roe is being challenged. I was one of those Title IX kids. I got opportunities to play sports because Title IX gave that opportunity to me. As a women’s sports league, we’ll continue to lead and the players will continue to fight. We really need to be focused on who’s getting elected in these state and local legislatures. Sports can be a great uniter on things. But we also have to be the educator on things. What has been the key to some of the positive metrics the WNBA has been seeing going into this new season? People are realizing that women’s professional sports are working women in the workforce. And we need to support them in a bigger way. There’s been a huge underinvestment and undervaluation of women in the workforce, and in women’s sports. I came to a league that was really being under-covered. You hear about, less than 1% of all corporate sponsorship dollars that go to sports, go to women’s sports. And in fact, a lot of that goes to individual women’s sports, not team sports. I’m seeing a transformation before my eyes. We’re starting to be seen as a bold progressive, sports media and entertainment property. We embody diversity and stand for social justice and the power of women. You look at companies, and they all want to make their mark around diversity, equity and inclusion. They all have these big initiatives internally. Now’s the time to use women’s sports as as part of supporting that diversity and equity and inclusion. Why do you think there was such undervaluation for so many years? First of all, these big companies are led by men. Second, they’re using metrics that don’t give any quantitative value to things like diversity, equity and inclusion. Things like how strong these players are in their communities. When we launched our Social Justice Council, it wasn’t one and done. They continue with it every year. None of that gets factored into a spreadsheet. It’s just eyes on the game. But if less than 5% of all media coverage goes to women’s sports, it’s a circular argument to say we don’t have enough eyes on the game. You’re not showing us. We’ll have 160 games on national platforms this year, highest in our history. When we get covered, we deliver. As part of our raising capital, we had outside advisors come with an analysis showing that our viewership is on par with the NHL, NASCAR and MLS. Yet their media rights fees are five-to-15 times ours. How do you get that bias out of that valuation model? That part’s crazy to me. I’m not going to rest till I fix that. The WNBA announced a $75 million capital raise in February. Where is that money going? What’s the priority for this infusion? There are so many areas. How do we get merchandise right? Because fans complain they can’t get our merch, even though it’s out there. We haven’t been good at communicating. So [on the tech front] we’re hiring WordPress engineers and things like that to make sure what we’re transforming that. That’s going to take a year or two. The other thing is marketing. We’re going to pay over $1 million dollars in marketing money to players this year to market the league in the offseason. And finding other ways, like our special competition, the Commissioner’s Cup, and putting up a half-million dollar prize pool that, quite frankly, this capital gives us the confidence to continue to do. Sports betting, NFTs, gaming. Do more in the youth area. Globalize the game—we have not done a good job of globalizing our game, and we need to do that. I have to get to the the agencies that advise media companies on rights, because there’s this whole ecosystem out there that we have to break, the traditional spreadsheet model on how they value us. So we’re going to spend some money there as well. That’s probably going to be the most impactful longer term, if we can if we can get that disrupted. Our data would show we have about 30 million fans who interact with WNBA content in any given year. I want to get that to 100 million. And I think that’s definitely achievable. Read more: How Atlanta Dream, WNBA Helped Warnock Defeat Loeffler How soon do you think that’s doable? A couple of years. The more exposure we get, the more we grow the fan base. Once we bring them in, they come back. We’re proud of what we’ve been able to do so far. But we’ve got a lot of hard work to do. What are the league’s expansion plans? We are looking at expansion. We’re doing a huge analysis of it and we have lots of cities that are interested. We don’t want to bring new owners— whether it’s two or four or one— and not have them the set up for success. We’re doing all the data analysis for a 100 cities, through a lens of all the demographics and psychographics and arenas and Fortune 500 companies based there, the NCAA viewership, the current WNBA fandom in that city. In a country of our size and scale, with an increasingly diverse population, and the most diverse league is in only 12 cities, that’s not enough. By mid to late summer, I’ll have more to say on where we’re trending. Since you’ve done some analysis, I just can’t help but wonder if there’s an early standout, or a dream city where you’d like a WNBA team to land? I don’t have a bias right now. We’re talking to a fair amount of cities. I will say, think about the cities where we’re not and where we used to be, you know, like Houston and Sacramento and Portland. Also the Bay Area. Think about the tech center of our country. Technology is driving so much of your economy and there’s no WNBA team in the Bay Area. But we’re open to all options. In March, Sports Illustrated reported that the New York Liberty was fined $500,000 for using charter flights on trips last season, and for violating other league rules. But critics noted that the league was essentially punishing a team for treating its players too well. What’s your response to that? We have rules for a reason. The players are unionized, and the players signed the collective bargaining agreement. We’d love to be able to have an economic model for better travel. But it comes back to this undervaluation of women. If we had billion-dollar media deals, we’d be flying on charters. They’d be making a lot more money. But you just can’t allow the violation of the agreements that both owners and players sign. You can’t allow one team a competitive advantage. That’s why we’re working on this transformation to try to get an economic model to support all of these things that the players complain about. You have to have thick skin to run a professional sports league. But you have to also enforce the rules that you have. That’s what we did here. What challenges are unique to running a sports league that you didn’t find in your prior CEO life at Deloitte? What’s different is you have 12 owners who are all competing against one another. And they all want to win a championship. And then you have, obviously the media, it’s much more of a public facing role than I thought. Certainly versus Deloitte, a private company. And then the fan stakeholder is really interesting. When I go to arenas, I like to meet with fan groups and hear what their peeve points are about us, and what their positives are. I never had a union workforce. Right now it’s a union workforce. So I went from 100,000 people to 144. And you might think it’s a lot easier. Nope. So given the nature of the fan stakeholder, I assume you don’t get yelled at as much as the CEO of Deloitte walking into your workplace as you might in the WNBA, right? [Laughs] Yeah, especially complaints about refereeing. I love that part of the job because fans are so avid and rabid around their team. I’m one of eight kids with five brothers. I’ve been a huge sports fan my whole life and we all think there’s biases in this system. So but I love that part. Because that means we’re relevant. What’s your de-stressing technique? A couple of things, I learned this at Deloitte because when you’re running a firm of that size, you have to find time. We dubbed them smors. My EA used to put them on my calendar: Small moments of recovery. You need moments during the day. One thing as an executive, you can’t wait for the weekend. You’ve got to put the smors on your calendar during the day or you’ll go crazy. I didn’t know this when I took the job, but once our games start, this calmness comes over me. It’s kind of neat. Can you give our readers a prediction, or projection, on what the WNBA will look like in five years? We’re hopefully going to have more teams. We’re going to have more household names, more people knowing who WNBA players are, what they stand for. And I think we’re going to hopefully have players, who are really proud of what they’ve accomplished, to set the next generation of players up for the next 20 years after that. Let’s get to the point where our players are known worldwide, not just here in the US. On a scale of one on a scale of one to 10, what’s your belief that that’s going to happen? Probably a nine. If I could control it all I would be a 10. But since I don’t control the whole ecosystem, I have to leave myself a little bit of room......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 15th, 2022Related News

Employers Take Note: Young Workers Are Seeking Jobs with a Higher Purpose

Liz Paquette felt clueless when she walked into her college advisor’s office two years ago seeking his help to find an internship. She told him she had just one requirement: The company had to treat its people, its customers, and the planet well. Paquette did the research with her advisor at Assumption University in Worcester,… Liz Paquette felt clueless when she walked into her college advisor’s office two years ago seeking his help to find an internship. She told him she had just one requirement: The company had to treat its people, its customers, and the planet well. Paquette did the research with her advisor at Assumption University in Worcester, Mass., and they found an internship at organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, in nearby Londonderry, N.H. But they also discovered that she had lots of competition: Some 212 other like-minded do-gooders applied for the same role. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Paquette persevered and landed the internship. But the company’s mission to make the planet better, which she says she saw and experienced at Stonyfield, helped her make an even more important decision. She accepted a full-time job at Stonyfield when the company unexpectedly made her an offer. Stonyfield Liz Paquette, associate brand manager at Stonyfield, says she joined the company primarily because of its “do good” philosophy. If a company can be tagged as a do-gooder, Stonyfield wears that label like a badge of honor. Particularly on environmental issues. For the past five years it has donated millions of dollars to help convert ballfields and parks in 40 U.S. cities to pesticide-free maintenance. It has committed to a carbon positive dairy supply chain and to reducing its carbon footprint by 30% by 2030. It’s almost invested millions of dollars in training the next generation of dairy farmers–some of whom are not even suppliers of milk to Stonyfield. “I fell in love with their mission,” says the 24-year-old, who in less than two years with the company has been promoted from an associate portfolio manager in sales to associate brand manager in marketing. “It’s important to work for a good company because they can do good things on a greater scale than I can do individually.” Many workers no longer want to just do work—they want to do good. Some 70% of Americans say they define their sense of purpose through work, according to a recent study by McKinsey & Co. Millennials, in particular, are looking for opportunities in their work to contribute to what they believe is their wider purpose, the study suggested. Welcome to the new American workplace, where having a positive impact and embracing a sense of purpose are mandatory for attracting younger workers, who demand that employers demonstrate purpose beyond profit. Their thinking goes like this: “Hey, I don’t want to be associated with people who are scumbags or do things that hurt the world. I want to be associated with people who are a force for good,” explains Bill Schaninger, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co. The symbolic essence of this do-good culture can come down to one simple act: do you wear — or remove — your company’s badge when you go out to lunch? If you nix the badge, that’s a pretty telling sign that you don’t approve of your company’s actions, says Schaninger. Good matters. The response to one revealing question that a Gallup survey recently posed to workers proves it: Does your organization make a positive impact on people and the planet? Only 43% of respondents agreed. For today’s employers—who are having a hard enough time hanging on to workers—this can be deadly. Those employees who agree with the question are twice as likely to be engaged in their work and 5.5 times more likely to trust their company’s leadership, says Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist of workplace. Employee expectations at work have fundamentally changed, particularly since the onset of Covid-19, says Harter. “It’s a real opportunity for organizations to figure out the next new normal.” Millennials and Gen Z workers are not just talking the do-good talk. Perhaps no one knows that better than former Stonyfield CEO Gary Hirshberg who co-founded the company in 1983. The 67-year old, who describes his current role at Stonyfield as chief organic optimist, and who recently announced plans to run for New Hampshire governor, says he’s never seen a generation so motivated to do good at work. Stonyfield Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield, says he’s never seen a generation so motivated to “do good” at work. “Since Millennials began coming into early adulthood around 2000, there’s been an epidemic of interest in doing good,” says Hirshberg. He is a key investor — or sits on the boards — of 25 companies, and each of them has young sales and marketing chiefs who very specifically opted not to go “the Procter & Gamble route,” he says, and are making far less because their chief goal is to make the world a better place. Now, larger companies also are embracing these same concepts, mostly because Millennials are embracing them, says Hirshberg. But they also must be genuine in their actions. “Companies that play fast and loose do so at their own peril,” he says. “Not only can these young people find out if you’re genuine, but they will never forgive you if you break their trust.” Genuine cannot be ambiguous. Just ask Starbucks. Although the coffee kingpin remains a leader in its field offering healthcare and college tuition benefits, even to part-time employees, Starbucks currently garners fewer headlines for the years of efforts on behalf of its employees, than it does when a location votes to unionize. It also has kept an eye open for the well-being of its coffee farmers around the globe as well as the well-being of the planet. In 2020, Starbucks announced its commitment to reduce our carbon, water, and waste footprints by 50% by 2030. Perhaps most intriguing has been the actions of Howard Schultz since recently returning as CEO. He announced an end to a multi-billion-dollar stock buyback program that was benefiting investors a lot more than employees. Schultz said the company will instead invest in its employees and its stores. “Our vision is to once again reimagine a first-of-a-kind, for-purpose company in which the value we create—for each of us as partners, for each of us as customers, for our communities, for the planet, for shareholders—comes because our company is designed to share success with each of us.” Schultz also announced plans to go on a listening tour and meet with employees around the world to hear their ideas “about how to build this next Starbucks.” Next, he said, Starbucks employees of all levels would meet to “co-create a future of mutual thriving.” While skeptics might suggest these actions could be more about staving off further unionization, Shultz’s actions suggest he knows that doing good has become an even greater employee magnet. As part of a global survey last year, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) asked 6,000 people what attributes they want most from their leaders at work. The top four qualities are all related to what BCG calls actions of the “heart” (emotional well-being), says Debbie Lovich, managing director and senior partner. Respondents said they most want more recognition, coaching, listening, and caring from their leaders. There’s still an enormous gap between what employees want and what employers do—but thanks to the pandemic, it’s finally starting to close, says Lovich. “No leader can ignore the need to do good.” Even some companies and organizations whose sole mission is to benefit humanity are seeking ways to do even better—and attracting new employees because of it. Chabeli Wells wasn’t sure what she wanted from her first employer, but after interning for a lobbying firm for a major tobacco company in Richmond, Va., she quickly knew what she didn’t want. “I learned to ask myself: What is the kind of work they are doing—and do I agree with it?” Jeremiah Huston Chabeli Wells (left), volunteer coordinator at the Arlington Food Assistance Center, greets volunteers as they arrive. The 24-year-old answered that question when she began her first full-time job as volunteer coordinator at the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), a food bank in Arlington, Va. that distributes food to 2,400 local families every week. “I want a career that I’m proud of — knowing that I’m actively, not just passively, helping others.” Wells says that she was not only attracted by the charity’s mission to feed families in need, but some specific sections in the organization’s employee handbook that demonstrated they also care for their workers—and the planet. It may seem like a small thing, she says, but she was drawn to the charity’s composting of its food waste. “My generation is frustrated by the state of the planet and wants to keep it a viable place to live,” she says. Then she saw something in the handbook that really impressed her: up to three days off for bereavement if your dog or cat dies. Charlie Meng, CEO of AFAC, is particularly proud of that benefit, which he calls “Spencer’s Rule.” Spencer was Meng’s beloved cat who died — after which, a heartbroken Meng took a few days off to mourn. “We all have deep connections to our pets. It’s an appropriate thing to do,” says Meng, who, even at age 70, clearly understands the mindset of his mostly twenty-something and thirty-something workforce. Jeremiah Huston Charlie Meng (left), CEO of the Arlington Food Assistance Center, says “a little bit of generosity goes a long way.” Meng instituted “Spencer’s Rule” shortly after the death. It’s been in place several years and only three employees have asked for pet bereavement time off. Employees might not use it much, but they still recognize it for what it is: a signal that they’re working for a company with heart, says Meng. “A little bit of generosity goes a long way.” Which is precisely why Wells says she’s working there. “I’d much rather be happy in my work than worry about what the money looks like,” says Wells. “Many of my peers feel the same.” Savvy companies are catching on: doing good apparently does good all around. At some workplaces, it may even be the tail that wags the dog — or cat......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 13th, 2022Related News

Elon Musk Sows Doubt Over His $44 Billion Twitter Takeover

Elon Musk Sows Doubt Over His $44 Billion Twitter Takeover.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 13th, 2022Related News

Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Vague Approach to the Philippine Economy Is Making Investors Nervous

Investors need to see concrete proposals before having confidence in Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is poised to become the Philippines’ next president after taking a massive lead in the May 9 election. Voters, many too young remember, were partly seduced by the 64-year-old’s misleading presentation of his late father’s dictatorial rule as a halcyon economic age to be revived. In truth, the elder Marcos, a brutal kleptocrat who killed thousands of political opponents and bled state coffers, was a disaster for the Philippine economy. Before his ouster in a 1986 uprising, the dictator used foreign loans to fund an infrastructure binge—building, among other things, a nuclear power plant that was never used. The country’s external debt ballooned from $599 million at the start of his rule in 1965, to $28.3 billion, or some 80% of the country’s GDP, when he fled into exile. Much of the money went in kickbacks to cronies and Marcos Sr. may have stolen up to $10 billion of the country’s funds. The proportion of the population living below the poverty line grew from 42% before the dictatorship to 59% after. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The younger Marcos has also promised showy projects and pledged to continue, if not beef up, the “Build Build Build” infrastructural program of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte, meant to usher in the Philippines’ “golden age of infrastructure.” The Marcos camp says it has blueprints for the revival of the agricultural and transportation sectors, as well as plans for SMEs. But Marcos Jr. faces undeniable economic obstacles if he is indeed confirmed the election winner and takes office on June 30. Read More: Why the World Should Be Concerned by the Marcos Victory The Philippine economy grew by 8.3% in the first quarter of this year‚ more than the median 6.8% predicted in a Bloomberg survey, which gives him time to get his feet under the desk. However, growth could be undermined if rising inflation curtails consumer spending. The war in Ukraine and COVID-19 lockdowns in China also pose ongoing threats to global markets. “The economic managers are going to be critical in the next several years because of the pandemic and the economic crisis, so that is something that we’re looking at very carefully,” Marcos told reporters on May 11. In line with his central campaign message of “unity,” he has offered to work with technocrats from across the political aisle. Markets have certainly made no secret of their preference for Marcos’ main rival, incumbent vice president Leni Robredo—a economics graduate and lawyer with experience in poverty alleviation, rural development, and housing. Some $9.3 billion was wiped off the Philippine bourse the day after the vote went against her and analysts do not expect a rally until Marcos unveils more detailed plans. CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP via Getty Images A child stands next to campaign posters on display in a slum area in Manila on May 4, 2022. The Marcos legacy With its choice location on the edge of the South China Sea, the Philippines has been wooed by both the U.S. and China. Its sea ports and young population (nearly 30% of its 110 million people are between 10 and 24 years old) make it a desirable partner—especially if it could start to fulfill its economic potential. Whether that will be possible under Marcos remains to be seen. In a report released before the election, investment bank JP Morgan expressed misgivings over Marcos’ “lack of an articulated substantive economic platform” and flimsy record in government. Concern has also been expressed over his proposal to revive some of his father’s economic initiatives, such as an oil price stabilization fund that the state eventually had to subsidize. “Marcos tends to bring up many of the programs of his father in the hope of stealing people’s emotions and trying to evoke some false nostalgia about his father’s legacy,” says J.C. Punongbayan, assistant professor of economics at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. A 2021 study coauthored by Punongbayan found that it took 23 years for the country’s per capita GDP to recover from the doldrums of the dictatorship’s final years. Read More: A Short History of the Rise, Fall and Rise of the Marcos Family There are fears too that cronyism will make a comeback. Political allies of the elder Marcos were given top positions in government and other perks, such as loans guaranteed by the government. After his ouster, many of the companies owned by such individuals were unable to service their debts, went bankrupt, and were taken over by the state. “If the second Marcos administration will reassemble this kind of coalition, then it might mean that the Philippine economy will suffer,” says political science lecturer Cleve Arguelles at De La Salle University in Manila. In the meantime, uncertainty prevails. Marcos Jr., says Punongbayan, “has failed to really outline a comprehensive and a well researched plan when it comes to the economy.”.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 13th, 2022Related News

Elon Musk Declares $44 Billion Twitter Takeover ‘On Hold’

Elon Musk Declares $44 Billion Twitter Takeover ‘On Hold’.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 13th, 2022Related News

Twitter to Freeze Hiring, Rescind Offers Ahead of Musk Deal

The hiring freeze is a reflection of the company’s state of uncertainty while it awaits Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover. Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal announced a hiring freeze and other cost-cutting efforts on Thursday, a reflection of the company’s state of uncertainty while it awaits Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover. Twitter won’t hire new employees and may rescind offers already out, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg. Some exceptions will be made for business-critical roles, as determined by Twitter leadership. The company is also pulling back on costs such as travel, consulting and marketing, according to the memo. Agrawal said global events, including the war in Ukraine and the supply chain crunch, have hurt Twitter’s business results and may continue to do so. The company isn’t planning company-wide job cuts, “but leaders will continue making changes to their organizations to improve efficiencies as needed,” Agrawal wrote. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the decision was made to invest aggressively to deliver big growth in audience and revenue, and as a company we did not hit intermediate milestones that enable confidence in these goals,” Agrawal said. “In order to responsibly manage the organization as we sharpen our roadmaps and our work, we need to continue to be intentional about our teams, hiring and costs.” Two of Twitter’s top leaders are also departing. Kayvon Beykpour, head of consumer product, and Bruce Falck, in charge of revenue, are both leaving the company. Jay Sullivan will take over as head of product and interim head of revenue. Sullivan has talked about re-focusing the company on fewer projects during recent team- and company-wide meetings, according to a person familiar with the matter. Beykpour said on Twitter that it’s not how he imagined leaving the company. “Parag asked me to leave after letting me know that he wants to take the team in a different direction,” he said. The truth is that this isn’t how and when I imagined leaving Twitter, and this wasn’t my decision. Parag asked me to leave after letting me know that he wants to take the team in a different direction. — Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) May 12, 2022 A Twitter spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment. As Musk doesn’t yet own Twitter, he is not yet directly influencing the company’s decision-making. Larger competitor Meta Platforms Inc. also recently said it will reduce planned expenditures. Read More: Twitter Employees Have Spent Years Trying to Make the Platform Safer. Elon Musk Could Undermine All That The changes reflect Twitter’s current state of limbo while it awaits a new owner. Musk, the world’s richest man and CEO of Tesla Inc., agreed to buy the company for $44 billion last month, but the deal may not be finalized for months, as Musk is still working to secure the financing. On Tuesday he suggested that the deal could still fall apart. That has left Twitter employees in a lurch, as many don’t know whether the projects or teams they are working on will be prioritized under new leadership......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 12th, 2022Related News

Proton’s CEO Wanted to Fight Dictatorships. Now He’s Fighting Big Tech Too

Andy Yen stands at a panoramic window in his headquarters in Switzerland, surveying what on a clearer day would be a beautiful view. Ahead on the horizon, the Alps are shrouded in gray rain clouds. So Yen points down instead, at Proton’s neighbors in this nondescript business park near Geneva: several wristwatch companies and a… Andy Yen stands at a panoramic window in his headquarters in Switzerland, surveying what on a clearer day would be a beautiful view. Ahead on the horizon, the Alps are shrouded in gray rain clouds. So Yen points down instead, at Proton’s neighbors in this nondescript business park near Geneva: several wristwatch companies and a dairy factory. “The surroundings are very Swiss,” he says with a laugh. “It’s a weird location for a tech company. But we have our reasons.” Among Geneva’s benefits: strict privacy laws, and proximity to the world’s largest particle physics lab, out of which Yen hires much of his company Proton Technologies’ top talent. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Proton has quietly risen to become one of the most vital tech companies for people who need to communicate without government surveillance, such as political dissidents and journalists. Its most well-known offerings are ProtonMail, its encrypted email service, and ProtonVPN, its virtual-private-network. Originally founded to erode the power of oppressive dictatorships, Proton’s tools are now used widely around the world, including in Ukraine and Russia as the current war rages. Proton’s products are end-to-end encrypted, meaning that in transit and in storage on Proton’s servers, users’ data are scrambled so that—with mathematical certainty—they can only be decoded by the intended recipients. The team at Proton could not read the messages even if they wanted to. Neither can state authorities. It’s the same technology that banks use to make sure your credit card details can’t be stolen while you’re shopping online, and the way that encrypted instant messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp ensure the contents of your texts remain private. Read More: How Signal Became the Private Messaging App for an Age of Fear and Distrust Proton’s offering is also proving important for Russians seeking to evade the Kremlin’s web censorship. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, ProtonVPN has become one of the most popular tools for internet users to access blocked independent news sites and social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The app is currently the third-most popular iOS VPN in Russia, according to data shared with TIME by the analysis firm data.ai, which also shows that the app was downloaded 1.1 million times during March 2022. “It has been one of the most popular VPN services with our Russian users since the invasion,” says Simon Migliano, the head of research at the VPN comparison site Top10VPN. “It’s also among the most popular globally over the same period.” Pushing for privacy Proton offers versions of all of its apps for free, but provides extra features to users who pay a fee equivalent to several dollars per month. As a result, the company has found a path to profitability that doesn’t require surveilling users for ad dollars. “Our model is different,” Yen says. “We’re serving users and not advertisers.” The model appears to be working. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Proton counted around 100 staff around the world. Today it has more than 400, a number predicted to double in the next two years. Yen gestures to a wall in Proton’s headquarters that he says will soon be knocked down to accommodate new employees in the neighboring space. In the last year, Proton has also launched two major new products intended to compete with Big Tech: Proton Drive and Proton Calendar, two apps that are end-to-end encrypted, unlike the equivalent tools offered by Apple and Google. (Apple and Google both say they encrypt users’ mail data in transit, and their calendar and drive data both in transit and in storage. But the companies retain the ability to decrypt and process the data themselves, meaning the data is not encrypted from “end-to-end,” like Proton’s services are.) Yen says Proton’s new calendar and drive apps are part of a concerted push to build a privacy-focused “ecosystem” to rival the less private offerings from the Big Tech companies, many of whom profit from mining the personal data of users to sell targeted ads. Yen believes that if users had more privacy-protecting alternatives, they’d use them. “One of the reasons privacy doesn’t really exist online today is because there’s no competition,” Yen says. “For a long time, people looked at antitrust and privacy as separate issues. What is becoming more and more clear, is that these are actually one issue.” Read more: Democracy Can Still End Big Tech’s Dominance Over Our Lives As a result, Proton has become an increasingly vocal player in Washington, D.C., where some lawmakers want to rein in Big Tech. Earlier this month, Proton publicly lent its support to two draft antitrust bills in the U.S. Congress, which if passed would prevent Apple and Google from preferencing their own services (such as Google Drive or iCloud) on the phone operating systems that they own—or from taking cuts of payments made through their app stores. “By making it easier for companies like Proton to compete on a level playing field, Google will have to respond and provide more privacy in order to stay competitive,” Yen says. Apple spokesperson Hannah Smith declined to comment on the record, and Google did not respond to a request for comment. Both companies have previously rejected the argument that their app store rules are bad for competition and have said the antitrust bills would harm user privacy and security. “For many years,” Yen says, “the accepted common knowledge was that the only way to make money online was to adopt Google’s model—that surveillance capitalism was the way to go if you wanted a profitable and sustainable and scalable business. We have proven that there is another path.” Changing course Yen never set out to run a tech company. He grew up in Taiwan, obtained a PhD in particle physics from Harvard, then came to Switzerland to take a job at CERN—the nuclear research facility where a young computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee had first sketched out a prototype for the World Wide Web in 1989. Yen always thought he’d be a physicist for life, but his background has influenced his views about internet freedom. He says that the experience of watching Beijing exert greater control over Hong Kong, Taiwan’s neighbor, revealed to him that privacy could quickly disappear in the face of authoritarian regimes. “Being from Taiwan, that does inform your worldview and your opinion,” he says. “ The reason I created Proton, and the reason that I’m very deeply committed to our mission, is because there is a direct link between what we do and what I see as ensuring that democracy and freedom can survive in the 21st century.” In 2013 Yen was knocked off his course as a particle physicist, down the path to becoming a tech CEO. That summer, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was routinely surveilling the internet activity of millions of people around the world, aided by compliant technology companies. To Yen, it was apparent that “the internet had moved in a very different direction from what the founding principles were when it was created at CERN,” he says. “Today, what we think of as the free and open internet is controlled by a small number of governments and an even smaller number of tech giants that really dominate and control every aspect of our lives. The motivation for creating Proton was that there had to be a different way for technology and the internet to evolve.” Yen references an obscure maxim from particle physics, perturbation theory, to explain his career trajectory. It is a method used for finding an approximate solution to a large, complex problem by first finding the exact answer to a related—but simpler—problem. In Yen’s view, the overarching problem laid bare by Snowden’s revelations was the lack of privacy-focused communications technologies that would make wholesale surveillance impossible. To arrive at an approximate solution to that problem, fixing email would be a simpler first step than stopping online surveillance altogether. The level of public enthusiasm took him and his nascent company by surprise. Within days of its launch in 2014, ProtonMail’s servers crashed due to unprecedented user demand. The company turned to a crowdfunding site, asking users for $100,000 to cover the costs of new infrastructure. Five days later, users had pledged double that number, and in the end the fundraiser collected some $550,000 from more than 10,000 supporters. Yen says the initial funding has helped Proton avoid giving control of the company away to external investors. Instead, he says, shares in the company are distributed almost entirely among employees. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, however. Last year, ProtonMail was hit with a round of bad press after it handed over data about one of its users to French police, in response to a legal request. Police investigating a group of climate activists in Paris had sought information about the identity of a person behind a specific ProtonMail address linked to the illegal occupation of a property. Swiss authorities approved the request, meaning Proton was forced to begin logging, and then hand over, the user’s IP address. It gave the police enough evidence to arrest the activist. ProtonMail users were outraged, with some questioning why a service committed to privacy would comply with such a request. Yen’s answer at the time was that, although he had chosen to base Proton in Switzerland due to the country’s strict privacy protections, the company still had to comply with Swiss law. And while generally protective of an individual’s privacy, the law does not guarantee it in all cases. Looking back several months later, Yen says that despite all the bad press, in some ways the case helped Proton to demonstrate just how little data it holds on its users. “This case very clearly demonstrated that Proton’s encryption cannot be bypassed—there was no way in which we could hand over the encrypted messages,” he says, noting that the only data the company had access to was the user’s IP address. With a smile, he confirms that Proton would not have been capable of even providing authorities with that, had the user been masking it with a VPN. A work in progress There’s no denying that today, Proton’s email, file-sharing and calendar services lack the bells and whistles of the alternatives by Apple and Google. Yen says that a key avenue of current work for Proton is making its existing services, which are available through app stores, more convenient. “If you ask anybody, ‘Do you want more privacy and security?’ the answer is never ‘No,’” he says.“The lower that [convenience] barrier goes, the more people are going to make the jump.” It’s a work in progress, just like the antitrust bills that Proton has lent its support to, which appear unlikely to make it into law any time soon due to inertia in Congress. But the company’s strategy has already paid an unexpected dividend. Today, many of Proton’s newest employees are arriving from the Big Tech companies themselves, determined to work toward a different vision of the internet, Yen says. “At the end of the day, employees face a choice,” he says. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life furthering the selling of advertisements, or would you like to work on something that is essential for defending democracy in the twenty-first century?”.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEMay 12th, 2022Related News

Crypto Meltdown Prompts Treasury Secretary to Call for New Regulation

“We really need a regulatory framework to guard against the risks,” Yellen said of cryptocurrencies called stable coins WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, responding to the recent sharp decline in the value of cryptocurrencies, said Thursday that additional federal regulation was needed to respond to the wave of speculative investment in the currency whose secrecy is an essential part of its appeal. “We really need a regulatory framework to guard against the risks,” Yellen said of cryptocurrencies called stable coins, during a House committee hearing Thursday. Citing the rapid rise in use of digital assets, she added, “Really, we need a comprehensive framework so that there are no gaps in the regulation.” Stable coins are a type of cryptocurrency pegged to a specific value, usually the dollar, another currency or gold. Its parity with the dollar is what, in theory, makes it stable. However, volatility in the cryptocurrency market this week challenged that premise. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “We’ve had a real life demonstration of the risks,” she said, referring to the meltdown of the TerraUSD beginning on Monday. Read More: Here’s Why Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Keep Crashing A run — or sale by a large number of owners — on the Terra stable coin, caused it to drop in value from roughly $8 to below 30 cents. A Federal Reserve report released Monday outlines how stable coins are vulnerable to runs. “Terra broke the buck and this morning and yesterday the largest stable coin Tether a lso broke the buck,” referring to another token that dropped below its dollar peg this week. Yellen was also questioned at the hearing on the root cause of inflation, which has driven up prices, and how the administration plans to combat rising energy, housing and food costs. She said the administration is doing what it can to address supply chain issues and other contributors to inflation. “We have a really good strong labor market, we have household balance sheets that are in good shape,” as well as a strong banking sector, Yellen said. “All of those things suggest that the Fed has a path to bring down inflation without causing a recession,” she said......»»

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Deepica Mutyala Is a Beauty Influencer for Every Skin Tone

When Deepica Mutyala partnered her beauty brand with Mattel to launch the first ever South Asian CEO Barbie doll—made in Mutyala’s image—she wanted to make sure it was authentic. Growing up in Sugar Land, Texas, she’d had to navigate both colorism within her South Asian community and Western beauty standards outside of it. (She recalls… When Deepica Mutyala partnered her beauty brand with Mattel to launch the first ever South Asian CEO Barbie doll—made in Mutyala’s image—she wanted to make sure it was authentic. Growing up in Sugar Land, Texas, she’d had to navigate both colorism within her South Asian community and Western beauty standards outside of it. (She recalls wearing blue contact lenses and highlighting her hair blond when she was younger, in an attempt to fit in.) And so the doll not only pairs a “power red” pantsuit with Indian-style bangles and jhumkas—traditional South Asian earrings—but also has darker skin. “Whatever we can do to make people feel more seen,” says the 32-year-old entrepreneur. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]   Jasmine Archie for TIME That’s something of a mission statement for Mutyala, who went viral with a 2015 YouTube video showing how to use red lipstick to color-correct hyperpigmentation on darker skin tones. The video racked up nearly 11 million views and highlighted something beyond a useful makeup hack: most beauty products are not developed with people of color in mind and often do not meet their needs. To reach this huge market, she launched Live Tinted in 2018 as an online community, centering conversations around identity and culture. By 2019, Mutyala had taken members’ feedback to develop the innovative Huestick, an all-in-one color corrector, lipstick, eye shadow, and blush developed with people of color in mind. She raised $3 million from investors, including beauty mogul Bobbi Brown. Live Tinted now plans to introduce a foundation product “by us, for us, created with intentionality.” Mutyala isn’t deterred by the fact she’s up against much bigger industry players. “I really feel like this community is rooting for me,” she says. “So I just keep going.”.....»»

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Barista Jaz Brisack Took on Starbucks—and Won

A Rhodes scholarship to the University of Oxford can open doors to elite worlds—to a life spent in boardrooms and at gilded galas. Bill Clinton, for example, famously smoked (though “didn’t inhale”) marijuana there before becoming President. Pete Buttigieg served as his cohort’s whiskey purveyor before serving as a Cabinet Secretary. But Texas-born Jaz Brisack… A Rhodes scholarship to the University of Oxford can open doors to elite worlds—to a life spent in boardrooms and at gilded galas. Bill Clinton, for example, famously smoked (though “didn’t inhale”) marijuana there before becoming President. Pete Buttigieg served as his cohort’s whiskey purveyor before serving as a Cabinet Secretary. But Texas-born Jaz Brisack was so unenthusiastic about her Rhodes acceptance that she almost didn’t go. At the time, she was a student at the University of Mississippi who also volunteered on union picket lines. Going to a fancy school to learn about organizing, rather than doing it, lacked appeal. “I wanted to be in the movement,” says the 24-year-old. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] So she raced through her studies, where she uncovered an early-1900s labor rallying cry: “Get on the job and organize.” The motto became not just a section in her thesis, but also a call to action. After Oxford, Brisack didn’t vie for a Yale law degree like Clinton, or a cushy consulting gig like Buttigieg. Instead, she got a job at the Elmwood Avenue Starbucks in Buffalo, N.Y. A year later, she organized the first successful unionization among staff of a corporate-owned Starbucks store in the United States. Wynne Neilly for TIME She rebuffs allegations that unionizing the location was a “grand scheme,” but also says she’d try to organize any place she worked. “There’s no unorganizable workplace,” she says. “There’s just workplaces that haven’t been organized yet.” COVID-19 sped up the timeline. Her colleagues wanted stronger safety provisions, better health benefits, more pay, and more of a voice in what their workplace looked like. As frustrations mounted, Brisack began to ask them, “Have you ever thought about Starbucks unionizing?” She didn’t swoop in out of nowhere; she learned the job, gained colleagues’ trust, and explained how a union might help them—brewing support for a barista collective that has since stood in defiance of the nation’s most recognizable coffee brand. The Elmwood café was ground zero, becoming the first of roughly 9,000 domestic Starbucks locations to unionize in December 2021. Drawing inspiration from Elmwood, 60-plus other locations have unionized, and at least 170 more have successfully filed to hold a vote—despite Starbucks’ retaining an infamous union-busting law firm and requiring employees to attend meetings about potential downsides of unionizing. The success of unionization efforts at Starbucks has not occurred in a vacuum. After decades of declining membership due to globalization and antiunion laws, union support reached a 56-year high in 2021 as wages flatlined and workers fell sick. Employers lost leverage, resulting in a string of union successes, including a once unimaginable winning union election at a Staten Island Amazon warehouse. Meanwhile, workers at the previously unionized John Deere and Kellogg’s, plus nurses and teachers around the country, have in the past year finalized major contract-negotiated improvements in salary and paid leave. It could take years before corporate Starbucks and union members codify contracts aimed at improving conditions for employees. But until then, Brisack says, she’s not going anywhere. “I have no plans to leave Starbucks,” she says. Neither is the unionization effort. “It would be amazing to see every Starbucks in the country unionized,” she says. “I think that’s very possible.”.....»»

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