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Fragile Fertility & Human Extinction

Fragile Fertility & Human Extinction There has been an alarming decrease in the average sperm count of Western men over the last few decades. As Statista's Martin Armstring shows in the infographic below, from their 'Then & Now' series, research has revealed a 59 percent fall between 1973 and 2011 - from 337.5 million to just 137.5 million. You will find more infographics at Statista Commenting on the decline, lead author of the study, Hagai Levine, said "the results are quite shocking...this is a classic under the radar huge public health problem that is really neglected". Going further, Levine warned that "eventually we may have a problem and with reproduction in general. It may be the extinction of the human species." As noted in the research paper, the economic and societal burden of male infertility is high and increasing. The researchers advise that "because of the significant public health implications of these results, research on the causes of this continuing decline is urgently needed." Fertility research has in the past been criticised for not taking into account the potentially biased sampling methods of earlier studies, citing also the variable of changing laboratory methods. The researchers in this case though say that such issues have been taken into account - only considering samples where the same count method was used, were of an acceptable size and did not include men known to have fertility problems. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/26/2021 - 21:10.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 26th, 2021

Green energy is rapidly nearing a turning point. To combat climate change, our leaders need to point to a cleaner, cheaper tomorrow.

We've been told that saving the planet will cost us all a great deal in profits, convenience, and quality of life. New research says that's wrong. Environmental activists protest climate change on Indigenous Peoples Day, outside the White House in October.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and cohost of the "Pitchfork Economics" podcast. In a recent episode, he spoke with two professors at the Institute of New Economics at Oxford University. There are many flaws in the way we discuss the problems of, and solutions to, climate change. For decades, our conversation about climate change has been stunted by mixed signals. Our elected leaders' speeches aim high, with lofty talk about coming together to avert calamity, but their policies fail to address the scale of the crisis. Now, with most parts of the country regularly experiencing extreme weather events, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the government should do more to combat climate change — but world leaders still failed to take dramatic action to limit the global rise of temperatures at the COP26 climate conference convened by the United Nations this fall. On the latest episode of Pitchfork Economics, two professors at the Institute of New Economics at Oxford University, Erick Beinhocker and Doyne Farmer, join Nick Hanauer to address the flaws in the way we discuss the problems of, and solutions to, climate change."We've had the wrong economic ideas about how climate change is framed," Beinhocker explains. As an example of this flawed thinking, he cites the the Nobel Prize-winning work of Yale economist William Nordhaus, which has warned since the 1990s "that it's going to be very expensive and costly to transition from our fossil fuel economy to a clean energy economy, but those costs have to be weighed against the benefits of avoiding an ecological collapse and potential mass extinction event."Nordhaus's models have helped frame the conversation about climate change as a negative one. We've been told since the dawn of the modern environmental movement in the 1990s that saving the planet will cost us all a great deal in profits, convenience, and quality of life.Environmental advocacy groups often explain their policies in terms of what ordinary people will have to give up, both financially and in terms of convenience, in order to save the planet. New research indicates that this punitive, eat-your-spinach style of thinking may be completely wrong. "We think that converting to renewables, and doing so reasonably quickly within a span of about 20 years, is going to save the world money," Farmer says. "It's going to make energy cheaper for us, as well as evading climate change."Farmer participates in one of the two major academic groups researching rates of technological advancement, and the indicators point to a fast-growing future for affordable green energy. While green energy keeps getting cheaper, fossil fuels and their attendant costs have remained basically flat for nearly a century and a half. If solar, wind, and hydrogen power continue to stay on their current development path for another decade or two, and if battery storage capacity continues to improve as well, green energy will overtake fossil fuels to become the world's dominant power source. "We're going to see energy cheaper than it's ever been" in the history of the world, Farmer predicts. "We still have a long way to go," Beinhocker warns. "Only about 20 percent of global energy is from non-fossil fuels today, and 80 percent from fossil fuels. But the growth [of green energy] has been extraordinary."Beinhocker says that renewable energy capacity increased by 45 percent in 2020, making it "the only energy source to actually grow during the pandemic, and 90 percent of new power additions in the world now in the electrical sector are from renewables." The global switch to green energy is nearing "a tipping point," he says, "but it's a race against the clock."This research, though, should mark a significant change in the conversation about climate change. Rather than focusing on punitive policies which make fuel more expensive for the average American, our leaders should instead be investing deeply into research to advance cheap clean technologies, as well as speeding up the construction of green infrastructure, making the adoption of clean fuels more desirable. As we've seen in increased electric vehicle adoption rates around the world, consumers are happy to make the switch to a clean alternative, when they're presented with an affordable, convenient option.  The evidence is clear: it's time for the environmental conversation in America to become an additive, positive one, rather than a negative story of sacrifice and punishment. When it comes to the green economy, it's no longer about saying no to Exxon; it's about saying yes to building a faster track to a cleaner, cheaper future for the whole human race.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider2 hr. 42 min. ago

Learning From James Dyson

When you look back in history at some of mankind’s greatest achievements, one of the things that stands out in almost every case is that those successes came with a lot of blood, sweat and tears and an incredible amount of persistence. Often what appeared on the surface to be an “overnight success’’ actually took […] When you look back in history at some of mankind’s greatest achievements, one of the things that stands out in almost every case is that those successes came with a lot of blood, sweat and tears and an incredible amount of persistence. Often what appeared on the surface to be an “overnight success’’ actually took years to achieve. Henry Ford and his self-propelled vehicle, Walt Disney and his animated pictures, Alexander Bell and his telephone and even the Wright Brothers and their aeroplane; all were examples of people who failed many, many times before they eventually succeeded, often facing distressing financial hardship along the way. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Icahn eBook! Get our entire 10-part series on Carl Icahn and other famous investors in PDF for free! Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet or print it! Sign up below. NO SPAM EVER (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more But if you were one of these people and were inventing something that could be potentially momentous and change things forever, at what point would you give up after encountering multiple failures? After 10 attempts? 50? What about 1,000? You’d have to think you were on a road to nowhere if you had failed that many times. So how about 5,127 times? How does that grab you? Incredibly, that’s the number of hand-made prototypes James Dyson built over a four year period before he finally achieved success with his cyclonic vacuum cleaner. Labouring through trial and error, Dyson overcame a brutal patent abuse, endless rejections from both venture capitalists and the world’s leading appliance manufacturers whilst managing an ever expanding overdraft he didn’t extinguish until the age of forty-eight. Contrast that with today, Sir James Dyson is the UK’s fourth richest resident with a net worth of c.US$9.7 billion. Dyson struck on the idea of a cyclonic vacuum from his experience manufacturing his first product, the ‘Ballbarrow.’ Applying paint to the metal frame created havoc in the factory - excess waste and mess. Seeking a solution, Dyson asked around the trade and eventually arrived at a cyclonic separator. He recalled, ‘I found the centrifuge dust extraction principle of the cyclonic separator utterly fascinating.’ James Dyson’s recently published memoir, ‘James Dyson - Invention: A Life,’ is a tale of constant innovation, incredible challenges overcome and the deep resilience required to create one of today’s leading technology companies. One of my favourite insights from the book relates to the opportunity set afforded Dyson by the vacuum industry’s incumbent players. Hamilton Helmer labelled this power ‘Counter-Positioning’ in his best-selling book on competitive strategy, ‘7 Powers.’ The opportunity arises when a newcomer adopts a new, superior business model which the incumbent doesn’t mimic due to anticipated damage to their existing business. In the case of vacuum cleaners, the incumbents were making billions selling replacement bags to their customers. Why create a product which puts at risk that perpetual revenue stream? If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about successful business founders, it’s that there is no straight line to success. Without perseverance and resilience beyond the scope of all but the rarest of people, these businesses would die on the vine. I’ve included some of my favourite extracts below. Failure and 'Trial & Error' “This might sound boring and tedious to the outsider. I get that. But when you have set yourself an objective that, if reached, might pioneer a better solution to existing technologies and products, you become engaged, hooked and even one-track-minded. Folklore depicts invention as a flash of brilliance. That eureka moment! But it rarely is, I’m afraid. It is more about failure than ultimate success. I even thought about calling this book ‘James Dyson: Failure’, but was talked out of it because it might give the wrong impression.” “The failures began to excite me. ‘Wait a minute, that should have worked, now why didn’t it?’” “Research is about conducting experiments, accepting and even enjoying failures, but going on and on, following a theory garnered from observing the science. Invention is often more about endurance and patient observation than brainwaves.” “Learning by trail and error, or experimentation, can be exciting, the lessons learned deeply ingrained. Learning by failure is a remarkably good way of gaining knowledge. Failure is to be welcomed, rather than avoided. It should not be feared by the engineer or scientist or indeed by anyone else.” “The Ballbarrow - my first consumer product, my first solo effort - was a failure but one from which I learned valuable lessons. There was a lesson about assigning patents, another about not having shareholders. I learned the importance of having absolute control of my company and not undervaluing it.” “One of the really important principles I learned to apply was changing only one thing at a time to see what difference that one change made. People think that a breakthrough is arrived by a spark of brilliance or even a eureka thought in the bath. I wish it were for me. Eureka moments are very rare. More usually, you start off by testing a particular set-up, and by making one change at a time you start to understand what works and what fails. By that empirical means you begin the journey towards making the breakthrough, which usually happens in an unexpected way.” “I worked on the [production] line for two weeks to understand how to make the vacuum cleaner more efficiently and have watched all of our lines ever since .. I learned which components were difficult to assemble and encouraged our engineers to visit lines frequently. Most importantly, this experience helped me look as all our subsequent products to understand where production inefficiencies fell.” “Of the 5,127 prototypes I made in the coach house of the cyclone technology for my first vacuum cleaner, all but the very last one were failures. And yet, as well as painstakingly solving a problem, I was also going through a process of self-education and learning. Each failure taught me something and was a step towards a working model. I have been questioning things and learning every day ever since.” “Learning by doing, Learning by trial and error. Learning by failing. These are all effective forms of education.” “When I was trying, unsuccessfully, to raise capital to start my vacuum cleaner business, all the venture capitalists turned me down, with one even saying that they might consider the opportunity if I had someone heading up the company from the domestic appliance industry. This was at a time when that industry was vanishing from Britain because, taken as a whole, its products were uncompetitive.” Life Lessons “Every day is a form of education.” “It was playing games, however, that taught me the need to train hard and to understand teamwork and tactics. The planning of surprise tactics, and the ability to adapt to circumstance, are vital life lessons. These virtues are unlikely to be learned from academic life and certainly not from learning by rote.” “Long-distance running taught me to overcome the pain barrier: when everyone else feels exhausted, that is the opportunity to accelerate, whatever the pain, and win the race. Stamina and determination along with creativity are needed in overcoming seemingly impossible difficulties in research and other life challenges.” “Doing things with my hands, often as an autodidact and with an almost absence of fear, became second nature. Learning by making things was as important as learning by the academic route. Visceral experience is a powerful teacher. Perhaps we should pay more attention to this form of learning. Not everyone learns in the same way.” Creativity & Invention “In order to stay ahead we need to focus increasingly on our creativity.” “At Dyson, we don’t particularly value experience. Experience tells you what you ought to do and what you’d do best to avoid. It tells you how things should be done when we are much more interested in how things shouldn’t be done. If you want to pioneer and invent new technology you need to step into the unknown and, in that realm, experience can be a hindrance.” “[You] need to listen to your customers, aiming to improve products wherever necessary and, if you are an inventor, simply for improvements sake. This is not to say we at Dyson ask our customers what they want and build it. That type of focus-group-led designing may work inn the very short term, but not for long.” “I still find myself saying and putting into practice some of the same things Jeremy Fry [an early mentor/employer] said and did when I worked for him half a century ago. As an inventor, engineer and entrepreneur, he believed in taking on young people with no experience because this way he employed those with curious, unsullied and open minds.” “The inventing mind knows instinctively that there are always further questions to be asked and new discoveries to be made.” “The Land Rover, the Swiss Army penknife, the Citroen 2CV, the Bell 47 helicopter and Alec Issigoni’s Mini - what I liked so much about these machines - and my affection for them remains undimmed - is their ingenuity and the fact that the power of invention invested in them made for designs that re-imagined and revolutionised their market sectors and even created wholly new markets. And yet, for all their functionality, each is a highly individual product with a character and charm of its own. What is equally interesting is that these radical machines made use of pre-existing ideas and components.” “A design might be considered ahead of its time and, sometimes because of this, even ridiculous. The hugely successful Sony Walkman was dismissed when first launched because who could possibly want a tape recorder that couldn’t record. And it was received knowledge, until Volkswagen and, later, Honda crossed the Atlantic with the Beetle and the Accord that Americans were wedded resolutely to big cars.” “The Sony Walkman is another fascinating success story because, at first, its design appeared to defy common sense. Priced at $150, the compact silver and blue Walkman wasn’t cheap, while within Sony it was controversial and brave because it was unable to record, and no one made a ‘tape recorder’ that wouldn’t do so before… With lightweight foam headphones and no function other than playback, the Walkman emerged. The press lampooned it. Even the name was ridiculous. The Japanese press was wrong, although the market hadn’t known it wanted a tiny personal stereo. When it saw the attractive little device, and heard it in action, it fell in love with it… By the mid-1980’s, the word had entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Sony’s Masura Ibuka - one of the Japanese company’s founders - hoped to sell 5,000 Walkmans a month. He sold 50,000 in the first two months. By the time production ended in Japan in 2010, more than 400 million had been sold worldwide.” “Without entrepreneurship, an inventor may not be able to bring their radical or revolutionary products to the marketplace or at least not under their own control. Without becoming an entrepreneur, they have to licence their technology, putting them at the mercy of other companies that may or may not have a long-term commitment to a particular new idea or way of thinking about the future.” “The idea [for the cyclonic vacuum cleaner] had been in my head since welding up the giant metal cyclone for the Ballbarrow factory. Now it made increasing sense. Here was a field - the vacuum cleaner industry - where there has been no innovation for years, so the market ought to be ripe for something new. And, because houses need cleaning throughout the year, a vacuum cleaner is not, like my Ballbarrow, a seasonal product. It is also recession proof. Every household needs one. It seemed to tick all the boxes. In any case, I’d used one since childhood and knew from experience that there had to be a better vacuum cleaner.” “If you believe you can achieve something - whether as a long distance runner or maker of a wholly new type of vacuum cleaner - then you have to give the project 100% of your creative energy. You have to believe that you’ll get there in the end. You need determination, patience and willpower.” “Bio-mimicry is clearly a powerful weapon in an engineer’s armoury.” “It’s a part of the Dyson story that I made 5,127 prototypes to get a model I could set about licensing. This is indeed the exact number. Testing and making one change after another was time-consuming. This, though, was necessary as I needed to follow up and prove or disprove every theory I had. And, however frustrating, I refused to be defeated by failure. All of the 5,126 I rejected - 5,126 so-called failures - were part of the process of discovery and improvement before getting it right on the 5,127th time. Failure, as I had already begun to learn with my experience with the Ballbarrow business is very important. I find it important to repeat that we do, or certainly should, learn from our mistakes and we should be free to make them.” “Every judgement in science stands on the edge of error and is personal… I have long had great admiration for engineers like Alec Issigonis [designed the Mini] and Andrew Lefebvre of Citroen .. they questioned orthodoxy, experimented, took calculated risks, stood on the edge of error and got things right. And when they got there, they continued to ask questions.” “One of the ways we made Dyson distinctive is by not allowing ourselves to rest on our laurels.” “A jet engine spins at 15,000 rpm, a Formula 1 engine at 19,000 rpm and a conventional vacuum cleaner motor at 30,000 rpm. Why go very much faster? Although at the time we were neither designers nor manufacturers of electric motors, we wanted to come up with a breakthrough in their design, creating a quantum leap in performance: many times faster, much lighter and smaller, brushless for a longer life and no emissions, more electrically efficient and above all controllable for speed, power and consumption.. The turbine speed we initially aimed for was 120,000 rpm.. Today, Dyson pioneers the world’s smallest high-speed motors. These have enabled us to reinvent the vacuum cleaner again with a pioneering new Dyson format. They have also allowed us to improve products in wholly new areas.” “People often ask if we would supply other companies with our motors. Although it might be profitable to do so, we supply no one other than ourselves. This is because I want Dyson engineers to be 100% focused on our next exciting motor development and not retrofitting our motors to someone else’s product.” “With each new motor we aimed to double its power output and halve it’s weight.” “We had been experimenting for some time with blades of air and working with sophisticated computational fluid-dynamics models for a project that remains secret… We had accidentally developed a new form of hand dryer. What’s more it didn’t need a heater… It has a carbon footprint six times smaller than that of paper towels… Despite our inroads, the paper towel industry retains 90% of the hand-drying market, worth billions of dollars each year. The big players want to defend a highly lucrative status quo.” “As often happens, our observations during the development of the Dyson Airblade hand dryer led us to the principles used in other products, like our Air Multiplier fans and, in turn, to heaters, humidifiers and air purifiers.” “For me, [the hairdryer] was another of those products, used frequently by hundreds of millions of people, stuck in a technological time warp. Existing hairdryers were heavy and uncomfortable to use.” “Ever since the Industrial Resolution, inventions had tended to compound inventions.” “It is hard for other people to understand or get excited about an entirely new idea. This requires self-reliance and faith on part of the inventor. I can also see that it is hard for an outsider to understand the challenge and thrill of inventing new technology, designing and manufacturing the product then selling it to the world.” “After the event, a revolutionary new idea can look so obvious - surely no one could possibly have doubted it? At their conception, though, new ideas are not blindingly obvious. They are fragile things in need of encouragement and nurturing against doubting Thomases, know-it-alls and so-called experts. Just as Frank Whittle discovered, it is easy for people to say ‘no,’ to dismiss new ideas and to be stick-in-the-muds, pessimists, or even cynics. It is much harder to see how something unexpected might be a success.” “We certainly have taken big risks, with the digital electric motors, the washing machine, the electric car and our research into solid-state batteries. Not all have been commercially successful. That is the point. By its very nature, pioneering will not always be successful, otherwise it would be all too easy. We don’t start these ventures with the inevitability of success - we are all to aware we may well fail.” Obliquity “Inventors rarely set out to make money per se, and if they do theirs is more often than not a pipe dream.” “I didn’t work on those 5,127 vacuum cleaner prototypes or even set up Dyson to make money. I did it because I had a burning desire to do so. And as do my thousands of colleagues, I find inventing, researching, testing, designing and manufacturing both highly creative and deeply satisfying.” Focus Groups & Experts “Just before the launch of the Mini car, Austin Morris did indeed consult a focus group, and nobody wanted this tiny car with small wheels. So they cut the production lines down to one. When the public saw it on the street, they were most enthusiastic for it. Austin Morris never caught up with demand, missing out on serious profits.” “The bestselling British car of all time is the Mini - If market research had ruled Alec Issigoni’s roost at BMC, it would never had existed… Alec’s view [was] that ‘market research is bunk’ and that one should ‘never copy the opposition.’” “I am cautious of experts .. Experts tend to be confident that they have all the answers and because of this trait, they can kill new ideas. But when you are trying to break new ground, you have no interest in getting stuck in engineering conventions or intellectual mud.” “Venture capitalists proved to be no help. [Six] venture capitals turned me down.” “I had been warned that at £200, or at least three times as expensive as most other vacuum cleaners, the DC01 would prove to be too expensive. It sold really well.” “The marketing team, who I listened to, said to me, ‘If you make it £200 cheaper you will sell a lot more [Dyson washing machines],’ and I believed them. We made it £200 cheaper and sold exactly the same number at £899.99 as we had a £1,089 and ended up losing even more money. I had made a classic mistake. This might sound counter-intuitive, but I should have increased the price. The Contrarotator was not meant to be a low cost washing machine.” “Although there is no guarantee of success, disruptive ideas can revolutionise a company and its finances through intuition, imagination and risk-taking as opposed to market research, business plans and strategic investment.” “Early on in our story, the [Dyson vacuum cleaner’s] clear bin was another ‘clear’ example of going our own way regardless. Trusting our own instincts, we decided to ignore the research and the retailers. Pete and I had been developing the vacuum cleaner and we loved seeing the dust and the dirt. We didn’t want to hide all the hard work the machine had done. Going against established ‘experts’ was a huge risk. No one could confirm that what we were doing was a good idea. Everyone, in fact, confirmed the reverse. The data were all against it. If, however, we had believed ‘the science’ and not trusted our instincts, we would have ended up following the path of dull conformity.” Innovation, Constant Improvement & Change “I greatly admire Soichiro Honda for his addiction to the continuous improvement of products. and Takeo Fujisawa. Their genius was to think against the grain while focusing on continuous improvement. The company [Honda] continues to invest a sizeable chunk of its income into R&D, aiming for constant improvement and innovation.” “Rather like the way some sharks have to keep moving to stay alive, innovative engineering-led manufacturers need continuous innovation to stay competitive. Striving for new and better products is often what defines such companies. At Dyson, we never stand still. In a quarter of a century, we have gone from making a revolutionary vacuum cleaner to prototypes of a radical electric car. Invention tends to compound invention and companies need to be set up for this.” “What was exciting is that, although our main focus was the vacuum cleaner, our thinking was that of a tech company. How else could we evolve cyclonic technology? What other uses could we put it to?” “Investment in new technologies requires many leaps of faith and huge financial commitment over long periods.” “I believe that it is critical to keep on improving and never to relax with a product that appears to be selling well. Permanently dissatisfied is how an engineer should feel.” “Our product development process is now truly a twenty-four hours a day process.” “What I can say is that if you came back to see what Dyson’s up to in five, ten, twenty or a hundred years from now, whether with our products or through our farms, things will be very different indeed. It’s all tremendously exciting and we should have cause for optimism.” “Every day is an adventure and a response to the unexpected. Even if things appear to be in some kind of stasis, a company must move on. It has to get better, evolve and improve in order to survive. There is no greater danger than satisfaction.” “What we do know is that companies always have to change to get better at what they do, plan to do and even dream of doing in the future. The adage that the only certainty is change is true, and this means not being afraid of change even if, for a company, it means dismantling what you have built in order to rebuild it stronger or killing your own successful product with a better one, as we did with our new format battery vacuum cleaners.” Counter-Positioning “Anyone watching me at work might reasonably have wondered why Electrolux and Hoover weren’t making and selling a vacuum cleaner like mine. With all their resources, surely they could have leaped ahead of me - one man and his dog, as it were, in a rural coach house - and cornered the market between them. There were though, at least three good reasons why they didn’t even think of pursuing a similar path to me. One, which went without saying, was that the ‘No Loss of Suction’ vacuum cleaner had yet to be invented. The second was that the vacuum cleaner bag replacement business was highly profitable. And the third, to my surprise, was that well established electrical goods companies seemed remarkably uninterested in new technology. With no outside challenges, they could afford to rest on their laurels. For the moment at least.” “I went to see Electrolux, Hotpoint, Miele, Siemens, Bosch, AEG, Philips - the lot - and was rejected by every one of them. Although frustrating, what I did learn is that none of them was interested in doing something new and different. They were, as I had already understood, more interested in defending the vacuum cleaner bag market, worth more than $500 million in Europe alone at the time. Here, though was an opportunity. Might consumers be persuaded to stop spending so much on replacement bags, which, by the way, are made of spun plastic and are not biodegradable, and opt for a bag-less vacuum cleaner that offered constant suction instead? If so, I might stand a chance against these established companies.” Multi-Disciplinary Approach “I loved my time at the Royal College of Art not least because of its lively and inventive cross-disciplinary approach. Here, as I progressed, I realised that art and science, inventing and making, thinking and doing could be one and the same thing. I dared to dream that I could be an engineer, designer and manufacturer at one and the same time.” Commerciality & The ‘Art of Selling’ “Inventions, though, no matter how ingenious and exciting, are of little use unless they can be translated through engineering and design into products that stimulate or meet a need and can sell.” “Even the most worthwhile and world changing inventions, from ballpoint pen to the Harrier Jump Jet, need to be a part of the process of making and selling to succeed.” “Selling goes with manufacturing as wheels do with a bicycle. It is far more than flogging second-hand cars or contraband wristwatches. Products do not walk off shelves and into people’s homes, And when a product is entirely new, the art of selling is needed to explain it. What it is. How it works. Why you might need and want it.” “Jeremy Fry taught me not to try to pressure people into buying but to ask them lots of questions about what they did, how they worked and what they might expect of a new product. Equally, I learned that most people don’t really know exactly what they want, or if they do it’s only from what they know , what is available or possible at the time. As Henry Ford said, famously if he asked American farmers what they wanted in terms of future transport, they would have answered ‘faster horses.’ You need to show them new possibilities, new ideas and new products and explain these as lucidly as possible. Dyson advertising focuses on how our products are engineered and how they work, rather than on gimmicks and snappy sales lines.” “Word of mouth and editorial remain the best way to tell people what you have done. It is far more believable than advertising and a real compliment when intelligent journalists want to go off and talk about your product on their own free will. If you have new technology and a new product, a journalist’s opinion and comment is far more important and believable than an advertisement.” “Within eighteen months, the DC01 vacuum cleaner was the biggest seller in the UK market. Our first sales were through hefty mail order catalogues. These devoted a few pages to vacuum cleaners. We were among the last pages, at the bottom, with a small, square picture of the DC01… Ours was the most expensive in these catalogues by some margin and they were not the sort of place you would expect expensive items to be sold. Both we and the buyers at the catalogue were, in fact, astonished that DC01 did so well through their pages, with repeat orders coming in. I have never, though, believed that someone’s income is a bar to them wanting to buy the best product and a vacuum cleaner is an important purchase.” “We decided to highlight the Achilles’ heel of other vacuums - the bag and its shortcomings.” “I love the fact we tackled prosaic products, making the vacuum cleaner into a high-performance machine.” “From the beginning we decided that we would create our own publicity materials and advertising. We would not use outside agencies. This is because we want to talk fearlessly about technology, which, of course is what had driven Dyson into being. Since we have developed the technology, we should know how to explain it to others.” “I didn’t want anyone to buy our vacuum cleaner through slick advertising. I wanted them to buy it because it performed. We could be straightforward in what we said, explaining things simply and clearly.” “I believe that trustworthiness and loyalty come from striving to develop and make high performing products and then looking after customers who have bought them. I am not a believer in the theory that great marketing campaigns can replace great products. What you say should be true to who you are.” Manufacturing “Experience taught me that, ideally, a manufacturer - Dyson certainly - should aim to source as little as possible from outside the company. Those of us who drove British cars made in the 1970’s know pretty much exactly why. Poor assembly aside, what often let these cars down were components sourced from poor-quality external suppliers. Electrical failures were legion.” “Obviously at Dyson we cannot make absolutely everything on own own, but we work with suppliers so that they are in tune with us, with our manufacturing standards and our values. Because what we’re doing is special and different, we can’t go to a company like Foxconn, for example. which makes well known American, Canadian, Chinese, Finnish & Japanese electronic products. Those products are mostly made from off-the-shelf components. We design our own components. We don’t buy them off the shelf.” “You can manufacture good-quality, pioneering technology much more readily when you sit side by side with your suppliers rather than 10,000 miles away in a different time zone.” “We build close relationships with owners of factories so we can build our machines in their premises. The tooling, assembly lines and test stations are ours and we control the purchasing and quality. We don’t approach a sub-contractor and say, ‘Make me a product of this or this design.’ We tend to go to outfits which have never made vacuum cleaners before or hairdryers, robots, fans and heaters or purifiers or lights, and we teach their people to make things using our production methods. It’s a heavily engaged and involved process of learning and improvement.” “We need other factories because, expanding at the rate of 25% each year, we simply couldn’t cope with the planning and building of new factories even in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philiipines.” Going Global “I knew that if Dyson was to be a successful technology company, rather than just a British vacuum cleaner manufacturer, we couldn’t be Little Englanders. We needed to become global, and quickly. England, and the rest of the United Kingdom, is simply not a big enough market on its own to sustain the constant and huge investment technology requires.” “In 2004, we took the DC12 cylinder vacuum to Japan, calling it the ‘Dyson City.’ It was engineered specifically for the tiny, perfectly formed homes of Japan. We were amazed by its success. Within three months it had captured 20% of the Japanese market.” “Dyson has become as much an Asian business as a British one: our products are sold in eighty-three countries around the world, so we are arguably a truly global company. Having started in Britain and consistently grown in Britain, we, for some time now, sell over 95% of our products in our global markets.” Acquisitions “We are not in the business of buying up other companies. It may be a quick way to acquire technology or a business that would augment a company, but it can be difficult to assimilate the people and their ways of doing things. Usually, I feel, it’s better to start your own research project or your own business, which, although slower to begin with, develops organically and is stronger for it.” Dyson Electric Car “Because of the shifting commercial sand, we made the decision to pull out of production [of our electric car] at the very last minute. N526 was a brilliant car. Very efficient motors. Very aerodynamic. Wonderful to drive and be driven in. We just couldn’t ever have made money from it, and for all our enthusiasm for the project we were not prepared to risk the rest of Dyson.” “Fortunately, we were able to stomach the £500 million cost and survive. We did, though, push ourselves to learn a great deal in areas including batteries, robotics, air treatment, and lighting. We also learned more about virtual engineering as a tool in the design process and how, we would be able to make products more quickly and less expensively. These were all valuable lessons for the future.” Private Company & Long Term Thinking “Today, Dyson is a global company. I own it, and this really matters to me. It remains a private company. Without shareholders to hold back, we are free to take long-term and radical decisions. I have no interest in going public with Dyson because I know that this would spell the end of the company’s freedom to innovate in the way it does.” “When you own the whole company, and especially if you are free of debt, from the early days and for better or worse, all decisions are your own. So you take these very seriously and follow your own view of risk balanced, hopefully, with reward. This certainly sharpens the mind.” “We’re one family-owned company following its interest and passions.” “The advantages of a family business are that they can think in the very long term, and invest in the long term, in ways public companies are unable to do. I also believe that family-owned enterprises have a spirit, conscience and philosophy often lacking in public companies.” Win-Win & ESG “In our first year in Currys [retailer], Mark Souhami, one of the bosses alongside the founder Stankley Kalms, invited me to lunch with them both. They explained that because of Dyson they were now making a profit in their vacuum cleaner section and he wanted more Dyson products.” “I have always loathed companies that use ‘greenwash’ as part of their marketing. I would rather reduce our environmental impact quietly and by action. We were, and remain, a company primarily of engineers and because of this we have sought from the outset to use as little energy or materials as possible to solve or complete one particular task. Lean engineering is good engineering.” “For me, as for all Dyson engineers, lightness - lean engineering and material efficiency - is a guiding principle. Using less material means using less energy in the process of making things. It also means lighter products that need less energy to power them and are easier to handle and so more pleasurable to use.” “Dyson has always focused on making long-lasting machines that use fewer resources while achieving higher performance. Lighter machines resulting from developing new technology and reinventing the format, consumer less energy and are not only better for the planet but also more pleasurable to use. Our cord-free vacuum cleaners, for instance, are a fraction of the weight and use a fraction of the electricity than their predecessors did. This has come about by taking an entirely different approach and developing new technology, motors and batteries, from the ground up.” “We must move ever closer to a culture whereby we minimise the use of materials through lean engineering along with the recycling of products at the end of their lives. It’s not just okay to politely offset our carbon footprint. We have to deal with it at source.” “As Dyson, we are trying at every turn to touch the ground lightly in everything we do, to make more from less and to create a circular system through which we aim to recycle everything we use.” Removing Middlemen “Over the past three years we had been striving to sell more products direct to our customers ourselves, either online or through Dyson Demo stores. By early 2021 we had 356 Dyson stores. We have been opening them around the world so that customers can try our Dyson products in the best possible way. There are two reasons for this. First, we like to have a direct relationship with our customers, who are buying our product for which we are responsible, and we want to know how we can help them. Secondly, retailers around the world are declining in numbers and sales. They are nothing like the force they were, due of course to the decline of the high street and the rise of internet shopping. If you want to buy from a website, why not buy from the Dyson website! Why not deal directly with the manufacturer?’” “When I started out with the vacuum cleaner business, wholesales and retailers made most of the money .. which is why today a lot of our sales at Dyson are direct.” “Cutting out the middleman, and those who add no value, ought to be a popular national campaign. It would mean a possibility of profit for risk takers and producers, and lower prices for consumers.” Listen to Customers “Listening to what our users say is gold dust and I really enjoy reading or hearing about complaints. We devised a system of reporting all remarks heard by customers in stores or by store salespeople from all over the world, so that everyone in the company can see this priceless intelligence.” Optimism “I have great faith that science and technology can solve problems, from more sustainable and efficient products to the production of more and better food, and a more sustainable world. It is technological and scientific breakthroughs, far more than messages of doom, that will lead to this world. We need to go forwards optimistically into the future as if into the light, and with bright new ideas rather than darkness and end to human ingenuity portrayed by doomsayers.” “The depressing thing is that harbingers of doom and gloom get far more attention than optimists and problem solvers. I feel very strongly that progress should be embraced and encouraged, and it is a duty of governments and companies to catalyse the ideas of the progressive and harness them to achieve good ends.” Summary Most people would consider someone who’d failed 5,126 times and succeeded just once, a failure. Yet, that’s exactly what James Dyson did. That one success was the acorn that grew into a $US10 billion dollar fortune (talk about asymmetric returns!) There’s a myriad of lessons for inventors, investors and entrepreneurs in the pages of this book. Many of the lessons are equally applicable to each endeavour; maintaining focus, taking a long term view, continuously learning, challenging conventional wisdom and adopting a multi-disciplinary mindset. As you delve into the story an investment case emerges and the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together. An inventive fanatic full of passion, tenacity, resilience and self-belief recognises a prosaic industry that’s been neglected by technology and ripe for disruption. The target market is huge and somewhat immune from the vagaries of the economic cycle. A kernel of inventive insight, a variant perception on consumers preparedness to pay more for quality products and constant iteration leads to the development of a revolutionary product. Driven by a purpose beyond wealth accumulation (obliquity), a ‘technology’ business emerges. Full control of the ecosystem and intellectual property become further competitive attributes difficult to challenge. As technology compounds (a’la Brian Arthur) the barriers to competition widen. The tone is set from the top - a culture of continuous innovation and rejecting the status quo flourishes. Risk taking on a scale where failure is tolerable (a’la Palchinsky principle) is encouraged, creating new possibilities. Private ownership and low debt affords a long term view - no one is watching the quarterly shot clock. While there is no spreadsheet or financial model, there is a full scale mental model, or theory, developing. The component mental models, together, shed light on the Dyson company’s extraordinary success. My contention is this latter model will prove more useful in determining whether Dyson will continue to prosper in the future. Let’s not forget however, that without James Dyson, there would be no Dyson. Like many of the great businesses we’ve studied, it started with a fanatic. Source: ‘James Dyson - Invention: A Life,’ James Dyson, Simon & Schuster, 2021. Further Learning: ‘James Dyson - Invention: A Life - Interactive Portal.’ Follow us on Twitter : @mastersinvest * NEW * Visit the Blog Archive Article by Investment Masters Class Updated on Nov 22, 2021, 3:44 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 22nd, 2021

Mark Zuckerberg"s metaverse could fracture the world as we know it — letting people "reality block" things they disagree with and making polarization even worse

"Instead of us just kind of being in our own information bubbles, we're going to be segmented into our own custom realities," an expert told Insider. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows off his vision for the metaverse during Facebook's Oculus Connect conference on October 28, 2021.Facebook/Handout via REUTERS The so-called metaverse could give us our own virtual echo chambers and tailored realities. Advertisers and third parties could inject someone's virtual world with ads and overlays unique to them. Experts told Insider the result could be a fractured reality where we all exist in different worlds. In the metaverse of the future, two people could be walking down the same street and see very different things thanks to the AR glasses they're wearing.One, who may lean conservative, could "reality block" out aspects they've been conditioned to oppose, like a fertility clinic. The other, a liberal, could walk by a gun store and not even know it's there.Others could have paid for a third-party "app" that lets them instantly know identifying traits about people they pass on the street thanks to the data that Facebook, now Meta, has collected on its users. The word "Republican" hangs over the head of one passerby in big block virtual letters, for example.The result is these two people believing that they're seeing the same street, only they're not — they are existing in diverging realities within this virtual overlay of the real world.Experts told Insider that the metaverse could fracture reality as we know it, allowing advertisers and third parties to give people the personalized worlds they desire and making political polarization even worse. "Instead of us just kind of being in our own information bubbles, we're going to be segmented into our own custom realities," Louis Rosenberg, a 30-year veteran of AR development and the CEO of Unanimous AI, told Insider.Social media's woes will be amplified in the metaverseGetty ImagesThe kinds of AR technology proposed through this grand metaverse concept, thrust into the limelight recently by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has the potential to transform our lives."It will make our world feel like Harry Potter," Rosenberg said.But, as social media has done before, could also create monumental problems for society and how we agree on what's real and what's not. Rosenberg said the risks of the metaverse probably outweigh the good, but it doesn't matter — this new iteration of the internet is inevitable.Social media is already allowing third parties to mediate our lives through targeted news feeds and targeted advertising based on the massive knowledge that firms have collected on us. Everybody thinks they must be seeing the same thing that everyone else is — only they may not be, since algorithms can target content to you in your echo chamber.But that will be amplified in a virtual world, where third parties can dictate what you see in your home, on the street, and at work. And experts agreed that it'll be more difficult to identify misinformation and division."Folks should be worried," Shawn Frayne, CEO of holographic tech startup Looking Glass Factory, told Insider. "If you think Facebook on your phone has been bad for democracy, think about your entire field of view controlled by a company like that."As Ethan Zuckerman, who designed one of the first metaverses in the 1990s, wrote in a cautionary piece about Meta's metaverse in The Atlantic last month: "How will a company that can block only 6 percent of Arabic-language hate content deal with dangerous speech when it's worn on an avatar's T-shirt or revealed at the end of a virtual fireworks display?"The metaverse will also transform the advertising world, Rosenberg said.Advertisers could pay for filters within a person's virtual world to inject their reality with specific messaging. And it may not only be traditional billboards — it could be a virtual product placement where you pass a person that's not even real holding a can of a specific brand's soft drink, said Rosenberg.Or it could be a simulation of a human that engages you in conversation in line for coffee, a human that you think is real, only for them to covertly talk about whatever an advertiser paid them to try to sell to you, whether it's a bag of potato chips or political messaging.Experts agreed that the metaverse will need one key thing to be healthy for people, the same thing that social media needs: regulation."Who would the governing and enforcing entity [be] in a borderless virtual world?" Ahmer Inam, chief AI officer at Pactera EDGE, told Insider.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 20th, 2021

Abbott (ABT) Introduces New Next-Generation Infant Formula

Abbott's (ABT) Similac 360 Total Care contains five different HMOs, similar to human breast milk, to support the health and development of an infant. Abbott Laboratories ABT recently launched the Similac 360 Total Care, the company's next generation of infant formula. The Similac 360 Total Care contains human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), major prebiotics structurally identical to those present in human breast milk.Even though the benefits of breast milk are irreplaceable, some parents are unable to breastfeed, whether by choice or out of choice, leaving infant formula as the only nutritionally complete option for babies. With the launch of Similac 360 Total Care, Abbott is bringing the closest formula to breast milk ever (following the delivery of its first infant formula containing HMOs in 2016) to bridge the gap between breast milk and formula so that newborns get the required building blocks to learn, grow and thrive.The Similac 360 Total Care is likely to bolster Abbott’s Pediatric Nutrition business.Few Words on Similac 360 Total CareThe Similac 360 Total Care is the first and only infant formula in the United States to contain a combination of five different HMOs, which were previously found in breast milk only. This formula is intended to provide nutrition that promotes the health and development of the entire infant, including the developing immune system, digestive system and brain.The Similac 360 Total Care will be available online at www.AbbottStore.com as well as at major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Target, both in-store and online.Abbott’s Commitment to Infant HealthFor more than two decades, Abbott scientists have researched HMOs in breast milk. Even though breast milk is the gold standard for infant nutrition, approximately 75% of parents introduce infant formula within the first six months of their child's life for various reasons. Abbott is devoted to standing by parents, regardless of their feeding decision. Per management, Abbott strives to provide parents with advanced products like Similac 360 Total Care as well as resources and information to help them with their feeding decisions.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchThe launch of Similac 360 Total Care demonstrates Abbott's commitment to support health from infancy onward. This commitment supports Similac's Promises Project, the promise to support all parents regardless of their feeding choices via ongoing research, investment and innovation.Industry ProspectsPer a report published in Fortune Business Insights, the global infant formula market is expected to see a CAGR of 10.6% from 2020 to 2027. Promising demand dynamics such as fertility rates and suboptimal breastfeeding rates, modernization and evolving lifestyle, the convenience of the product coupled with compositional enhancement, increasing research and development activities by key players and growing focus on infant care and nutrition, among other factors, are driving the market.Given the substantial market prospects, Abbott’s recent launch of Similac 360 Total Care seems strategic.Recent Notable DevelopmentsIn November 2021, Abbott and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) launched their first joint community health initiative in Columbus, OH. This community initiative is the first program to debut under the ADA's Health Equity Now platform. This program will be run in collaboration with the National Center for Urban Solutions (NCUS). Under this program, NCUS will provide health education and access to Abbott's FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring technology to about 150 Black adults living with diabetes in the Columbus community.In the same month, the company released new, late-breaking data from the global Leadless II IDE study. This study assessed Abbott's investigational Aveir leadless pacemaker in patients with certain abnormal heart rhythms. The data from the study demonstrated that the Aveir device met its pre-specified primary endpoints and also suggested that, once authorized, the Aveir system could provide new benefits to patients who require the use of a pacemaker to treat slow heart rhythms. The data from the study has been submitted to the FDA, as the Aveir leadless pacemaker is currently evaluated for approval in the United States.Share Price PerformanceThe stock has outperformed its industry over the past year. It has grown 19.3% compared with the industry’s 0.4% growth.Zacks Rank and Key PicksCurrently, Abbott carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).A few better-ranked stocks in the broader medical space are GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK, Chemed Corporation CHE and Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings or LabCorp LH.GlaxoSmithKline, carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), has a long-term earnings growth rate of 5.8%. The company surpassed earnings estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed in one, delivering an average surprise of 15.3%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.GlaxoSmithKline has underperformed its industry over the past year. GSK has gained 16.1% against a 21.3% industry rise.Chemed, carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), has a long-term earnings growth rate of 7.7%. The company surpassed earnings estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed in one, delivering a surprise of 5.6%, on average.Chemed has outperformed its industry over the past year. CHE has gained 5.8% against a 35.6% industry decline.LabCorp, sporting a Zacks Rank #2, has a long-term earnings growth rate of 10.6%. The company surpassed earnings estimates in the trailing four quarters, delivering an average surprise of 25.7%.LabCorp has outperformed the industry it belongs to in the past year. LH has gained 44.9% versus the industry’s 19.5% growth. Zacks’ Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence This world-changing technology is projected to generate $100s of billions by 2025. From self-driving cars to consumer data analysis, people are relying on machines more than we ever have before. Now is the time to capitalize on the 4th Industrial Revolution. Zacks’ urgent special report reveals 6 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 6 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK): Free Stock Analysis Report Abbott Laboratories (ABT): Free Stock Analysis Report Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LH): Free Stock Analysis Report Chemed Corporation (CHE): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 17th, 2021

The Resistance Liar

The Resistance Liar Authored by Eli Lake via Commentary.org, A Review of 'Midnight in Washington' by Adam Schiff Adam Schiff was one of the star attractions at Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial. In his role as one of the House impeachment managers, Schiff pressed his case on the Senate floor by summoning an earnest indignation. He would at times get hoarse and weary. He would jab the air and lower his voice. He was a showman playing the role of a statesman. The bulk of Schiff’s new memoir, Midnight in Washington, focuses on the scandal that erupted when President Trump sought to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden’s son Hunter. The whole affair was a gift from heaven for the Democratic congressman who represents Burbank, California. Schiff claimed to be in possession of evidence proving that Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia. When special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation yielded no evidence of such a conspiracy, Schiff looked ridiculous—the supposedly dogged prosecutor had suddenly become the boy who cried collusion. Then the House Intelligence Committee, of which Schiff became chairman in 2019, received a whistleblower’s complaint that alleged a sordid scheme to strong-arm the new Ukrainian president into cooperating with Trump crony Rudy Giuliani’s “investigation” of Hunter Biden. Schiff’s career was revived. And this time, he had the goods. We never learn the identity of the whistleblower Schiff once promised would testify. Nor does Schiff acknowledge that Hunter Biden did indeed entangle himself in seedy foreign dealings. But he does share details of the sheepish conversation he had with reporter Sam Stein, during which he had to walk back his earlier comment that the whistleblower had not had contact with the House Intelligence Committee he chairs. “I had been thinking about securing the whistleblower’s testimony before the committee, not any prior contact with my staff,” he recalls telling Stein. “But I screwed up and wanted him to know it.” As Schiff hung up the phone, he felt sick to his stomach, he says. This passage gives the reader the false impression that Schiff is reflective and honest about his mistakes. But it’s best to read this admission as calculated contrition. For most of his memoir, Schiff writes as though he actually did reveal a Trump-Russia collusion scandal—and he ignores the ample public evidence of its debunking. Schiff makes no mention of Michael Horowitz, the FBI inspector general who uncovered abuses so grave in his agency’s surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page that the secret court which had granted the bureau’s four surveillance warrants withdrew three of them. Schiff and his committee’s Democrats waged an 18-month campaign to defend the surveillance of Page, claiming without evidence that it was his Republican counterpart, Devin Nunes, who had misrepresented the classified record. Then there is the matter of the Trump-Russia conspiracy itself. Schiff now maintains that his committee and other investigations did find collusion, but that Mueller failed to find enough evidence to prosecute the Trump campaign (or any U.S. citizen, for that matter) for conspiring with the Kremlin’s election interference. “The president’s campaign could, and did, try to collude with the Russians to get help in the election,” he says in explaining why he declined to apologize for his earlier accusations in an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos. “Whether Mueller believed he could satisfy a jury that all of the elements of the crime of conspiracy had been met was another matter, and that would be up to him.” Schiff’s argument rests primarily on a meeting that took place in New York’s Trump Tower in 2016. Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and campaign manager Paul Manafort all met with a delegation led by a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya. Emails between Don Jr. and a British promoter revealed that Veselnitskaya had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton and that Don Jr. had been receptive to hearing her out. Schiff describes Veselnitskaya as someone with “ties to senior Kremlin officials but no official role.” He says she made her approach as a way for Moscow to determine whether Trump’s campaign would be open to cooperation down the road. Schiff neglects to mention that Veselnitskaya had been lobbying the U.S. government for years to roll back human-rights sanctions on officials tied to the imprisonment and death of the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The dirt she provided to the Trump campaign, as I wrote in Commentary’s January 2021 issue, was provided not by Russian spies but by American opposition researchers working for the firm Fusion GPS. In the end, the meeting had nothing to do with enlisting the Trump campaign in Russia’s hacking or social-media campaign; it was about gaining Trump’s support for lifting the Magnitsky sanctions. Fusion GPS was the same firm that contracted the retired British spy Christopher Steele to develop the infamous dossier that alleged the Trump campaign had struck a foul bargain with Russia. Fusion did so on behalf of the Democrats. In 2017, Schiff ran wild with the Steele dossier. During the hearing when then–FBI director James Comey confirmed the existence of an FBI investigation into Trump’s campaign, Schiff asked Comey about several claims Steele had made. Schiff specifically zeroed in on Page and the now-discredited allegation that Page had been offered a hefty brokerage fee for selling off a 19-percent stake in the Russian energy concern Rosneft during a visit to Moscow in July 2016. “Here are some of the matters, drawn from public sources alone, since that is all we can discuss in this setting, that concern us and should concern all Americans,” is how Schiff qualified his remarks at the time. In this way, Schiff gave the impression that he knew more than he could say in public because the evidence in question was classified. He continued to play this game for the next two years, claiming in media interviews that he had “more than circumstantial evidence” of collusion. But in fact, Schiff didn’t know anything more. In 2020, the Trump administration declassified the transcripts of depositions given to the House Intelligence Committee. Every witness had been asked whether or not he or she had seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. None of them—not James Clapper, not Sally Yates, not Susan Rice—said they did. Schiff never accounts for the gulf between what witnesses told his committee behind closed doors and what he claimed to know before the cameras. This is a shame. A more honest author would have pondered how his prevarications on the matter of Russian collusion ended up damaging his case with Republicans when it came to Trump’s impeachment for pressuring Ukraine. A more honest author might have taken a few pages to apologize to Carter Page and others he falsely accused. Doing so would have given some credibility to the parts of his narrative about Trump’s very real threats to our republic. But Schiff is a resistance leader, not a truth-teller, and he knows the likely audience for his book will overlook a few fibs and elisions for the greater cause of defeating the orange menace. What Schiff and his admirers do not understand is that in their resistance, they are simply mirror images of Trump’s supporters. In 2016, Michael Anton said the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton constituted the “Flight 93 election”—meaning that true conservatives had no choice but to support a deeply flawed candidate because the republic was on the verge of extinction. That formulation gave Trump’s supporters permission to explain away his lies and cruelty because the alternative would be so much worse. The difference between Anton’s nonsense and Schiff’s is that Schiff doesn’t acknowledge the bargain he has struck. He ends his book lamenting the perils of a political culture in which different parties cannot agree on basic facts: “In the absence of that shared understanding—if indeed each party is entitled to its own alternative facts—then what basis is left for judging the merits of any particular agenda or platform? If everything could be true, then nothing is true.” In the end, then, Schiff is describing a problem he helped create. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/15/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 15th, 2021

5 kinds of technology that the US"s top spy catchers say rivals are gaining an edge in

That tech "may determine whether America remains the world's leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors," the NCSC says. Chinese President Xi Jinping on screen at a gala for the 100th anniversary of Chinese Communist Party, at the Olympic Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, June 28, 2021. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images The top US counterintelligence agency recently published a list of five tech sectors it says are vital to US interests. Those sectors are also vulnerable to adversaries, according to the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. That tech "that may determine whether America remains the world's leading superpower," the NCSC says. The US's top counterintelligence and security agency recently published a list of five technology sectors vital to US national and economic security that it says are vulnerable to malicious actors and adversaries.According to the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, those five prized sectors are artificial intelligence, bioeconomy, autonomous systems, quantum information science and technology, and semiconductors."These sectors produce technologies that may determine whether America remains the world's leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors in the next few years," the NCSC says.Although the threat mainly comes from near-peer adversaries, such as China and Russia, it isn't limited to those countries. In addition to publishing the list, the US intelligence community is contacting private industry with advice and training to protect US national security and the US's competitive advantages.Artificial intelligence Children dance with a companion robot at the World Robot Conference, in Beijing, October 21, 2016. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan Artificial intelligence is a constellation of technologies that demonstrate cognition and creative problem-solving, essentially enabling machines to perform the tasks of humans.Uses for AI range from narrow applications designed to solve specific problems to broad applications, such as Artificial General Intelligence, that have the potential to match or even exceed the understanding and learning abilities of humans.Artificial intelligence also has many military applications. The F-35 stealth fighter jet relies heavily on artificial intelligence for many of its functions. Compromising that technology could undermine or negate many of the jet's capabilities.Artificial intelligence is also key to bulk data collection. The NSA, for example, uses it to quickly process and help analyze the immense amount of data it collects daily.Quantum information science and technology Google CEO Sundar Pichai, left, with a Google quantum computer in a company lab in Santa Barbara, October 2019. Google/Handout via Reuters This technology uses the fundamental properties of matter to create new information technologies. For example, quantum computers use atoms and photons to accelerate some kinds of problem-solving.Quantum-related technology has been used in the development of semiconductor microelectronics, the global positioning system, and magnetic resonance imaging.Quantum technology could also have a critical impact on cryptography, or the encryption and decryption of communications. Were China to gain an advantage in quantum, it could target the essential encrypted communications of the US military, intelligence agencies, and private sector."In short, whoever wins the race for quantum computing supremacy could potentially compromise the communications of others," the NCSC states.Bioeconomy Technicians in a biotech lab. picture alliance/Getty Images Bioeconomy is economic activity related to and driven by research and innovation in biotechnology.The US bioeconomy improves many aspects of daily life, such as food and healthcare. It can also present a serious threat to national security and even humanity.China is aggressively collecting domestic and foreign DNA material to gain an advantage in biotechnology and for more sinister reasons. The uniqueness of DNA makes it virtually impossible for a person or group to hide from an oppressive surveillance state like China.Genomic technology that is designed to treat diseases can also be used against specific individuals or whole populations.Semiconductors A researcher plants a semiconductor on an interface board at Tsinghua Unigroup research centre in Beijing, February 29, 2016. Reuters These small pieces of technology have become essential to most aspects of modern life, powering military technology such as satellites and stealth fighter jet and consumer products integral to everyday activity, such as TV and toasters.The lighter, faster, and cheaper a semiconductor is, the better it is, and global nature of the semiconductor supply chain raises challenges to ensuring steady access for the US, which is reliant on Taiwan and China for most of those chips.Adversaries have targeted the US semiconductor industry, draining talent and resources, and future attacks on that supply chain could further undermine the US economy."Since semiconductors are such key components, the fragile supply chain for semiconductors puts virtually every sector of the economy at risk of disruption," the NCSC says.Autonomous Systems Navy maintainers prepare to run diagnostics on a MQ-8B unmanned helicopter aboard USS Gabrielle Giffords, May 14, 2020. US Navy/MCS2 Brenton Poyser Unmanned systems perform tasks without or with limited human intervention or control, though many of them, such as remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned undersea vehicles, require some human involvement.Such systems can improve productivity and safety for humans, but those systems' reliance on software, computing, and connectivity creates opportunities for malicious cyberattacks against them. They're also vulnerable to supply-chain disruptions.Foreign and malicious actors can also target autonomous systems for intelligence gathering, using malicious software to compromise them.Beijing and Moscow Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters China and Russia are the main threats to the above five tech sectors.Beijing seeks global leadership in those and other technologies by 2030, and has pursued that goal through several avenues, including legal means and outright theft. The Kremlin also views the development of advanced science and technology as national security and strategic priority.Both countries employ various methods to get their hands on such technologies, including operations by their intelligence services, investments in private companies, promotion of academic collaboration and research partnerships, and luring top talent.A transformation in intelligence collection is driving Beijing's and Moscow's targeting of these five sectors. During the Cold War, adversary intelligence agencies went after classified military and intelligence secrets, but now they have shifted toward the private sector."If you look back 20 years ago, what we were most concerned about was intelligence services targeting the US government for classified information or targeting DOD technologies," Mike Orlando, acting director of the NCSC, said in an interview earlier this year."What we've seen over the last 20 years is the shift to private-sector intellectual-property research and development, particularly by China, who has been the most egregious one in stealing those technologies," Orlando added.Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021

Shellenberger: Why Progressives Ruin Democrats

Shellenberger: Why Progressives Ruin Democrats Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, Since the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016, progressives have made the argument that taking back the presidency, the Congress, and winning swing states requires that Democrats move to the Left on social and economic issues, aggressively confront structural racism, and stand more firmly with longstanding allies like the teachers’ unions, environmentalists, and criminal justice reformers.  But the election of an underdog Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin, as governor of Virginia on Tuesday night, the election of Republicans in state races in New Jersey and New York, and the repudiation of progressives in Seattle and Minneapolis on issues relating to criminal justice, suggest that voters in even liberal cities are turning against progressive policies and ideology, particularly on issues relating to race, education, and crime, as part of a backlash to “woke” ideology. Some progressives say this is a misreading of the evidence. Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Terry McAuliffe, is a Clinton-era Democrat, who ran on a centrist agenda. Progressive candidates won in other cities around the U.S., including in Boston. And, they argue, it was President Joe Biden’s unpopularity, partly due to the obstinance of moderate Democrats like Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema to Biden’s budget proposal, that is to blame for the Democrats’ electoral losses.  But progressive efforts to deflect blame don’t stand up under scrutiny. While it’s true McAuliffe ran on a moderate platform, he refused to acknowledge much less renounce the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms, opposed expanded parental involvement, and campaigned with the teachers union. While Boston’s new mayor promotes progressive policies she also supports shutting down open drug scenes. And progressive demands for expanded federal control over regional electricity markets prevented a budget deal from passing before the election, contributing to Biden’s poor approval ratings, and giving Democratic candidates little upon which to campaign. “I think Democrats have to look in the mirror now,” said CNN contributor, Van Jones, on election night. “I think Democrats are coming across in ways that we don’t recognize, that are annoying, offensive, and seem out of touch in ways that don’t show up in our feeds, in our echo chamber —” “When you’re talking about ‘our,’” interrupted Anderson Cooper, “you’re talking about Democrats?” “Democrats” confirmed Jones “Because,” said Cooper, “it seems annoying to a lot of people.” Former advisor to Barack Obama, David Axelrod, agreed. “I think the attitude [of Democrats] is important,” he said. “The Democratic Party has become a more college-educated and urban party coalition with minority voters and the messages tend to be moralizing.” “Moralizing,” agreed Jones. “Self-righteous.” “It’s, ‘We’re going to tell you what’s right,’” said Axelrod. Democratic political strategist James Carville was even more blunt. "What went wrong is stupid wokeness,” he told PBS. “Don’t just look at Virginia and New Jersey. Look at Long Island, Buffalo, look at Minneapolis, even look at Seattle, Washington. I mean, this ‘Defund the police!’ lunacy. This, ‘Take Abraham Lincoln’s name off of schools!’... people see that. And it really has a suppressive effect on all across the country on Democrats. Some of these people need to go to a woke detox center or something.” In the coming months and years, the rejection by voters of the progressive  agenda could extend to climate and environmental issues. Despite gasoline prices remaining high, progressives, including the Biden White House, remain opposed to expanded oil and gas production — at least in the U.S. — to lower them. Meanwhile, progressive climate change policies are increasing electricity prices, increasing blackouts, and resulting in greater dependence on imported foreign oil.  In truth, Carville, Axelrod, Jones and many others, including Obama himself, have been warning progressives that they had become too self-righteous, extreme, and shrill for years. Progressives have waved away, ridiculed, and even denounced such concerns as racist. And even after losing on Tuesday, many progressives took to the TV airwaves to assert that Democratic losses were due to racism. Progressives appear, in other words, determined to stick with an approach that is making Democratic candidates lose. Why is that? Luxury Beliefs Democratic and progressive elites often come across as out of touch. “I think Democrats are coming across in ways that we don’t recognize,” said Van Jones, because alternative views “don’t show up in our feeds, in our echo chamber.”  The sociologist Chistopher Lasch predicted as much in his 1995 book, Revolt of the Elites. “The physical segregation of the population is self-enclosed, racially homogeneous enclaves has its counterpart in the balkanization of opinion,” he wrote. “Each group tries to barricade itself behind its own dogmas.” Keep in mind that all of that was happening more than a decade before Twitter.   There is also tone deafness. In 2019 Prince Harry and Meghen Markle, other celebrities, and CEOs flew private jets, which produce eight to ten times the emissions as flying commercial, and stayed in yachts at a Google conference in Sicily to discuss climate change. In 2020, dozens of important policymakers around the world were caught violating their own covid regulations, and sometimes didn’t seem to care. When San Francisco Mayor London Breed was caught on video dancing at a packed night club without her mask on, she demonstrated no remorse. Breed told a television reporter that she was just letting off steam and people should lay off. Progressives wave away concerns of elitism. Earlier this year, Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went, unmasked, to the swanky Met Gala, wearing a dress emblazoned with the words, “Tax the Rich,” and surrounded by masked help, including a man subserviently holding the dress train. Progressive “fact checkers” pointed out that somebody else paid for Ocasio-Cortez’s $35,000 ticket, as though that made her behavior less elitist. In Apocalypse Never, I wrote that the hypocrisy of Prince Harry and Markle and other celebrities ostensibly concerned about climate change was the ultimate power move because it allowed them to communicate that they followed a different set of rules from the plebes. My suspicions were proven correct in September when the couple once again flew back to L.A. in a private jet after attending a climate change conference in New York. “It’s really not a good look!” scolded Marie Claire. But perhaps it is a good look if good looks are about advertising social status.  A worse look is calling half of the country racist, which is what many progressives and Democrats have done since 2016. Since then, Latino support for Trump and Republicans grew significantly. In Virginia, it was independents and white women who voted for Biden who were decisive, and education, particularly the influence of Critical Race Theory, appeared to be a deciding issue.  Documentary filmmaker Christopher Rufo has brought to light a significant quantity of evidence showing the teaching in schools, and the training of public and private sector employees, of the principles of critical race theory, or CRT for short. These activities include segregating employees and students by race; teaching children and training employees that there are essential differences between races; and claiming that all white people are inherently racist.  The Virginia vote showed that CRT views are highly unpopular with many voters, including African Americans and Democrats. Americans still hold race-neutrality, not race-obsession, as our goal, and reject the progressive moral panic over race and racism. Why, then, do progressives and Democrats insist, simultaneously, and incoherently, both that CRT doesn’t exist, and that it is good? CRT is an off-shoot of critical theory, the most important Marxist intellectual tradition of the 20th Century. Critical theory includes thinkers including Herbert Marcuse, Angela Davis, and Antonio Gramsci. Critical theorists, including Gramsci, argued that Marxist socialists should try to occupy key positions in important social institutions, including universities, churches, and labor unions. The idea was that Marxists would have more power to transform social institutions from the inside as NGO professionals, journalists, teachers, professors, university administrators, and corporate human relations officers than as shouty protesters outside the system.  Fast-forward 50 years later, and CRT and climate change have become the dominant ideology of elites, and aspiring elites, known as the professional managerial class, including the progressive nonprofit sector, and the news media. Wokeism is a “luxury belief system” of the ruling class, according to sociologist Rob Henderson. “Luxury beliefs are ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class,” Henderson argues. “In the past, people displayed their membership of the upper class with their material accoutrements,” he noted. “But today, luxury goods are more affordable than before… When someone uses the phrase “cultural appropriation,” what they are really saying is ‘I was educated at a top college.’.. Only the affluent can afford to learn strange vocabulary because ordinary people have real problems to worry about.” [my emphasis]. Progressive, educated, and affluent people “promote open borders or the decriminalization of drugs,” writes Henderson, “because it advances their social standing, not least because they know that the adoption of those policies will cost them less than others.” That’s what’s occurred in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and other Democratic cities. Progressive city council members and District Attorneys are allowing large open air drug markets to to persist so long as they remain in poor, historically black, neighborhoods. Unlike traditional religion, woke victimology seeks not universal morality, and laws, but rather one aimed at dismantling “the system.” It is for this reason that progressives are narrowly concerned with African Americans killed by the police rather than with the 30 times more African Americans killed by civilians. And the narrow concern among progressives for victims of “the system” is why progressives in San Francisco are allowing hundreds of people to die every year from drug overdose deaths, since the alternative requires working with the system. Progressive activists on CRT, criminal justice, and climate change don’t believe, in my experience, that they are adherents to a new religion, but rather that they are more compassionate and more moral than those who hold more traditional views. And that lack of self-awareness is part of why victimology is so powerful. But it may also be what makes it politically vulnerable. Progressives in recent years were on the rise in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and nationally, but the governance of those cities is failing dramatically. Voters in California appeared willing to wave away growing public unhappiness when they rejected a proposed recall of Gavin Newsom in September. But Tuesday’s vote, including a vote in Seattle for a Republican as City Attorney, suggests that even many liberal Democrats are fed up with the “woke” victim-centered ideology that has taken over the party.  A Based Wokelash A few weeks ago Penguin published Woke Racism by Columbia University linguist John McWhorter, whose book has in common with San Fransicko the view that wokeism is a religion. In Woke Racism, McWhorter humorously ridicules the irrationality, immorality, and supernatural components of woke religion. McWhorter lampoons its contradictions. If whites move into black neighborhoods they are causing gentrification, which is racist, but if they move out of them they are engaging in “white flight,” which is racist. If whites appreciate black culture, they are engaging in “cultural appropriation,” but if they ignore it they are ostracizing. How can these beliefs, which McWhorter calls “the catechism of contradictions,” be part of the same woke religion? Because they’re all in service of singular goal of calling white people racist in order to gain cultural power.   One question I have long wondered about woke religion is why I could tomorrow declare myself a woman, and be praised for my bravery by progressives, but if I declared myself black, I would run out of Berkeley. Physically speaking, I have far more in common with a black man than a white woman. Why, then, does progressive morality hold that my becoming a woman is not only acceptable but laudable, whereas my becoming black is not only unacceptable but offensive? After I read Woke Racism, I realized the answer: because progressive trans activists have historically wanted to enlarge the number of people who identify as trans, whereas progressive black activists have wanted to stigmatize blacks for “acting white.” They are an entirely arbitrary and irrational reasons chosen, like McWhorter’s catechism of contradictions, to gain social and political power. Like other religions, wokeism promotes supernatural views. There is no evidence that climate change threatens human extinction, and yet progressive keep insisting that it does. Racism has declined dramatically over the last 200 years and yet progressives insist that it remains as powerful as ever, just more hidden, like a hidden demonic force. And sex is genetic and biological, and yet many progressives describe it as something that can be simply chosen at will, as though people are just random assemblages of body parts. Critics including Lasch, historian Michael Lind, and more recently, Democratic analysts David Shor and Ruy Teixeira, have been warning Democrats of the danger of becoming a party of moral relativism, and arguing that Democrats should emphasize the importance of intact families, race-neutrality, and economic growth. These warnings have been validated by strong evidence that the class-focused messages of Republicans, including Trump, have been winning over Latinos, and Tuesday’s elections. Climate alarmism has long created serious vulnerabilities for Democrats. “Very liberal white people care way more about climate change than anyone else,” Shor told The New York Times. “So when you talk about climate change, you sound like a weird, very liberal white person. This is why policy issues matter more than people realize. It’s not that voters have these very specific policy preferences. It’s that the policies you choose to talk about paints a picture of what kind of person you are.” And that was the case before the energy crisis. For weeks, the Biden White House has been pleading with the Saudis, the Russians, and other OPEC members to produce more oil and natural gas, even as it has restricted new oil and gas development in the United States. That doesn’t make sense, even to New York Times journalists. “What we are now seeing in soaring energy prices as we transition away from carbon is also a political risk for environmentalism,” argued conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan recently. “People notice unaffordable energy bills and gas prices very quickly. If they attribute that to the inconstancy of renewables — and in Europe, a sharp drop in winds was indeed a factor — then a populist backlash can happen.” Will Democrats moderate their agenda and attitudes in response to electoral defeat? Perhaps. Democrats may finally accept the advice of Carville, Jones, and Axelrod, and move away from the fringes and back toward the mainstream. In some parts of the U.S., Democratic candidates may reject CRT by name, embrace oil and gas production, and support greater parental involvement, including school choice, even though doing so would likely be opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter, the teachers’ unions, and the Sierra Club. But the reaction to Tuesday’s election suggest that many other progressives will double down on off-putting attitudes and unpopular policies. After all, the progressive insistence that Democrats spend their social and political capital demonizing their opponents as racist, depicting criminals as victims, and portraying climate change as apocalyptic was never about creating a successful politics. It was about evangelizing for a new religion.  *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here   Tyler Durden Sat, 11/06/2021 - 23:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 6th, 2021

Investor calls for criminal charges and prison for Facebook execs as tech world enters open revolt against social media

Attacks on Facebook and Google dominated the 2021 iteration of Web Summit. How can the tech world disrupt their dominance? Former Facebook investor Roger McNamee (L) at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, in November 2021. Jim Edwards/Insider Longtime Facebook investor Roger McNamee called for criminal probes into the company at Web Summit. His call, echoed by others, shows the tech world is in open revolt against its leading platforms. Nick Clegg, vice‑president for global affairs at Meta, defended Facebook at the conference. When longtime Facebook investor Roger McNamee took the stage and called for six different criminal investigations into Facebook, and prison sentences for any executive found responsible, it became obvious that this year's Web Summit would be different from previous iterations of the annual Lisbon-based tech conference.Normally, Web Summit is a largely apolitical gathering of tech startup founders, software nerds, hackers, and the venture capitalists who want to give them money.The conference is huge - 80,000 people in some years - and it sprawls across four days on the shoreline of the Portuguese capital. Usually, the chatter is of initial public offerings, "scaling," valuations, and "exits".Not this time. The tech world is now in open revolt against its own big platforms. This year, Facebook is public enemy no.1. Social media is now the devil. Much of the chatter among attendees is about how to kill social media, regulate Google, or detour around them both.The conference was officially opened by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who told the 20,000-capacity audience at the centre stage that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should step down."They were putting lives in jeopardy … Facebook is currently prioritising content in the news feed that has a side effect of prioritising and amplifying the most extreme and divisive content," she said.She cited Ethiopia as an example. It is currently enduring a civil war that may topple its government.The "most fragile" countries don't have artificially intelligent moderation that can remove toxic content automatically, because Facebook prioritizes English and its American users over everyone else, she said.In Ethiopia, "where ethnic violence is happening right now," there are 100 million people who speak six languages and 95 dialects. Content moderation "doesn't scale to the most fragile places in the world."Attendees gave her a huge round of applause.The next day, McNamee did a fireside chat with Guardian journalist Jane Martinson in front of an audience of about 1,000. McNamee has been complaining about Facebook for years, of course.But Haugen's leak of thousands of internal Facebook documents to The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets has given McNamee a new moment in the spotlight. McNamee's Elevation Partners invested $210 million in Facebook before it went public in 2011. McNamee only began to sell his stake in 2019, according to the New Yorker.Between those two times, the value of Facebook roughly quadrupled. At one time, he was Zuckerberg's mentor."I think there are at least six areas where felony investigations are warranted," he told the audience:The US Securities and Exchange Commission should look at Facebook's failure to disclose information about its business.Facebook allowed human trafficking on its platform and was "paid to enable it to happen"Facebook's management was "complicit" in the "Stop the Steal" campaign which led to the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.The company is the subject of a state attorney general investigation in Texas into whether Facebook worked with Google to fix prices. "The standard penalty for that is three and a half years in prison for all of the executives and it is the clearest cut case of price fixing in the United States in decades," he railed.(McNamee didn't elaborate on the other two investigations he believes are warranted.)These speeches weren't isolated incidents.Before McNamee spoke, soccer legend Thierry Henry told the audience he abandoned all his social media accounts earlier this year because he was tired of the racist abuse he received from them. "When you find that they generate money through hate, it is very difficult when your medicine is your poison," he said.And in a conversation with Insider, DJ Sam Feldt - who is also the founder of Fangage, a promotional software platform for artists and musicians - said one of his primary motivations for starting the business was his increasing alienation from Facebook."At one point, I had a million followers, but I was also realising that, the more followers I got the less people I was reaching because of the algorithms. So my reach is getting restricted by Mark Zuckerberg in Silicon Valley … I would assume if you have a million followers on your Facebook page, the number of people you reach goes up."But no, essentially, right now, it's around 2%," he said. "I'm sick of social media, limiting how I can engage with my friends." DJ Sam Feldt, the founder of Fangage. Fangage In the old days - pre-pandemic - Web Summit visitors used the word "disruption" to describe how they wanted their apps and coding to replace brick-and-mortar industries (think Airbnb vs hotel chains) or legacy cash businesses (Uber vs taxis).This year, in conversations with half a dozen attendees at the conference, the same theme kept coming up: How to disrupt Facebook and Google. Or abandon them, or undermine them, or avoid them, or block them, or otherwise replace their businesses with more ethical software.Sridhar Ramaswamy, the former senior vice president of ads and commerce at Google, told Insider of the day in late 2017 when he realised he wanted to quit after 15 years there. A tabloid newspaper had published a headline blaming YouTube for running ads against child pornography."There was a lot of godawful content on YouTube and ads were shown against the godawful content. I remember the day," he said. "I was like, 'I am so done with this job.'"He was careful to add that he did not believe the tabloid story was accurate. However, he was sick of defending Google: "You want to have dignity in your work," he said. Sridhar Ramaswamy, the former senior Vice President of ads and commerce at Google. Neeva Ramaswamy is now the cofounder and CEO of Neeva, a subscription-only search engine that offers a more private, ad-free service drive by quality rankings, not engagement.Engagement is the problem, not the solution, he said. Engagement-based ecosystems reward the worst actors on any platform, because their awful behaviour gets the most attention."It's this combination of the relentless drive for attention that the ad model produced. A never-ending quest for more time and more attention."In a quiet conversation backstage after his speech, McNamee told Insider that engagement coupled with anonymity were the two chief poisons delivered by social media."Historically, anonymity has given trolls enormous power relative to their numbers … [and yet] you can target them perfectly [with ads]. And then you create economic incentives for the most emotionally extreme voices, right?"Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister and now vice‑president for global affairs at Facebook's corporate parent Meta, appeared at the conference via video screen to defend the company.Facebook didn't want hate-mongering on its platform any more than anyone else, he said. "The people who pay to generate those ads - advertisers - they do not want that content next to us. … users won't continue to use our products if they are getting a bad experience." Meta vice president for global affairs Nick Clegg seen speaking at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. Jim Edwards/Insider "For every 10,000 bits of content you see on the news feed only five will be hate speech," Clegg said.Haugen, speaking earlier, agreed that only a small number of people on Facebook drive most of the "integrity problems." But that doesn't mean those problems are small, she said, because their engagement is higher than everyone else's."Engagement based ranking is dangerous because right now the most extreme content wins out on that foot race. It's like viral variant factors and the ones that are going to be the most extreme and polarizing are the ones that get the most audience."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 3rd, 2021

Huxley"s New World, Part 2: The War On Science

Huxley's New World, Part 2: The War On Science Authored by Cynthia Chung via The Strategic Culture Foundation, Huxley makes it crystal clear that he considers the world to be overpopulated, and that science and progress cannot be free to advance without limits. In Part 1 the question was discussed what was Aldous’ real intention in writing the Brave New World; was it meant as an exhortation, an inevitable prophecy or as an Open Conspiracy? An Open Conspiracy closely linked to not only H.G. Wells, who clearly laid out such a vision in his book by the same title, published in 1928, but a vision also in the vein of Aldous’ famous grandfather Thomas Huxley “Darwin’s bulldog” and mentor to Wells. It is from here that we will continue to discuss what exactly were Aldous’ views on such matters, did he in fact believe in the need for a scientific dictatorship? A scientific caste system? Was he actually warning the people that such a dystopia would occur if we did not correct our course or was it all part of a mass psychological conditioning for what was regarded as inevitable, and that Aldous’ role was rather to “soften the transition” as much as possible towards a “dictatorship without tears”? The War on Science “ ‘A New Theory of Biology’ was the title of the paper which Mustapha Mond had just finished reading. He sat for some time, meditatively frowning, then picked up his pen and wrote across the title-page: ‘The author’s mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published.’ … A pity, he thought, as he signed his name. It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose – well, you didn’t know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castes – make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere, that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being [as happiness and comfort], but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible.” – Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” This is the credo for all scientific dictatorships, to forbid any search for knowledge whose purpose is the discovery of a universal truth, something that “is beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere.” Something that is and will remain always true, and not just true so long as people are led to believe it is so. Thus, a scientific dictatorship must deny purpose by all means and promote an artificial “cushy” conception of happiness and comfort, since the former makes for very bad servants/slaves and the latter for very good ones. Purpose leads to unpredictability in the status quo, there are no sureties for an oligarchic system of governance in a world that is motivated by a purpose towards truth, beauty, and knowledge, as Mustapha Mond succinctly lays out. It is also the case that whenever one discovers a universal truth, it unifies rather than divides, truth is thus the very enemy of tyranny, for it offers clarity. And one can no longer be ruled over when they can see a superior alternative to their oppression. Therefore, under the rule of tyranny, truth must when possible be snuffed out, otherwise it is contorted until it is no longer recognizable, it is broken into fragments of itself in order to create factions, schools of opposing thought that are meant to confuse and lead its followers further astray. To deny purpose is thus the necessary condition to rule within a scientific dictatorship. Whether its controllers believe in purpose or not is irrelevant, since it is simply not admissible. The question thus is, where does Aldous fit into all of this? For starters let us take a look at Aldous’ family roots to see if indeed the apple did not fall too far from the tree… Aldous’ grandfather T.H. Huxley (1825-1895) had made a name for himself by the age of twenty-five and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1950. Within a span of just a few years he would rise to become a leading member of Britain’s scientific establishment. By the late 1700s, discoveries in geology began to contradict the accepted religious view of Creation. It was increasingly found that steady changes were the primary cause of most geological formations which developed over very long spans of time and that these changes had even led to the extinction of certain organisms/creatures. This was the first time that the biblical view of Creation was ever challenged as a mainstream argument within the sciences. By the first part of the 1800s the scientific community was primarily in agreement that living processes and their environments did indeed “evolve.” In the 1820s Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) and Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844), once friends, had come into severe disagreement over the origins of anatomical forms which lead to a historic debate in 1830, raising issues that have yet to be resolved to this day. In 1838, upon reading Thomas Malthus’ “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” (who is known for calling for the courting of the plague to address the crisis of overpopulation), Darwin formulated his theory for “evolution” based on the “natural selection” of the fittest, he coined the term as an analogy of what he termed the “artificial selection” of selective breeding, with reference in particular to the practice of horse breeding. Darwin saw a similarity between farmers picking the best stock in selective breeding, and a Malthusian “Nature” selecting from chance variants. That is, Darwin’s ideas of “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” implied no directionality to evolution but rather was based upon Nature’s selection of random variants. But how does one part of an organism evolve without affecting the other parts of said organism? According to Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, there is an inherent “potential” in evolution; the potential for change is inherent within the organism, and the shaping of its many parts occurs in a harmonic, coherent way. That is, change moves in a purposeful manner, not a random manner. The evolution of wings for flight, the eyes for sight, the nervous system for thought; Geoffroy was stating that these were not the result of countless minute mutations occurring and being selected upon separate from the other, but that the transformations were occurring with the very intention to create forms of flight, sight and thought. By Darwin rejecting this thesis, he created a paradox within his own theory. Either the potential for change is inherent in the organism in which many parts are able to change in a harmonic/coherent way, or it is not. However, if it is the latter, as Darwin claims it to be, random change of any part by itself without acknowledgement of the whole would more often than not lead to the death of the organism, as seen in studies of embryo formation, or would create a Dr. Moreau’s Island of freaks (which by the bye is another novel by our anti-hero H.G. Wells). The elegant creations we actually do see arise through evolutionary processes would be an extreme rarity in such a world of randomness. With everything we know today of the incredibly intricate details of biochemistry, the coordination of metabolic processes which occur in their thousands of “parts” would all need to evolve as randomly separate processes and yet, would also need to occur simultaneously and in conjunction with the other functioning parts. This would make Darwin’s concept for the selection of random variants within a coordinated functioning whole fundamentally impossible. Not only is the evolution of the eye one of the miracles of evolution, it has countless variations upon itself, such that there is no one standard model for what is an “eye.” Are we thus to believe that this has randomly occurred not only once but thousands of times in each species with its own distinct variation of what is an “eye”? In the early 1850s, Huxley had been introduced to Darwin and by the middle of the 1850s they were in close collaboration. Though Huxley never fully took to Darwin’s theory, he did become an avid defender and promoter of it nonetheless. At the time there was strong opposition to Darwin and Huxley within Europe and the United States. James Dwight Dana (1813-1895), a contemporary of T.H. Huxley, was among the American leadership that opposed this view, and argued that evolution did progress with a directionality, using examples such as the observation that biological organisms were proceeding towards greater “cephalization.” That is, that evolution was forming a general trend towards increasingly sophisticated nervous systems that could respond and interact with their environment. Thus, evolution was towards greater forms of complexity with more sophisticated forms of function. However, Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s bulldog” was vehemently against this view of purposeful directionality in Nature. It did not matter that Darwin’s theory was just that, a theory, which still failed to explain much that was being observed in the evolutionary process. Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss this in further detail (for more refer here), one cannot deny two major changes that occurred in “modern science” as a result of T.H. Huxley’s avid promotion of Darwin’s theory of evolution, that 1) Nature, and thus one could say the Universe, was not governed by purpose but rather by randomness, and that 2) man was but a beast, no longer to be among the children of God, no longer regarded as partaking in anything that was divine or sacred. And if man is but a beast what does he care for higher truths? What more does a beast need than the simple forms of comfort and happiness? Modern Science begets Modern Religion begets a Modern Utopia? Before we go on to speak about Aldous’ brother Julian Huxley, I will say just a few words on his father Leonard. Leonard Huxley published in 1926 his “Progress and the Unfit,” which was subsequently used to promote the Eugenics movement, to which H.G. Wells and Leonard’s son Julian were outspoken avid supporters of. Leonard also wrote favourably of his father T.H. Huxley’s views and that of Charles Darwin. In his book, Leonard discusses how modern-day science is only to look at the interdependence of body and mind, that the existence of the soul has been discredited by modern science, and thus that conditions for improvement on the human condition must solely rely upon the social and biological. He goes on to state that modern society has too long tolerated the proliferation of the feeble minded and so creates an ever-lasting burden for itself. He claims that mental defectiveness (which ranged from criminal behaviour, insanity, physical deformities and forms of mental retardation to addictions such as alcoholism and gambling, homelessness, owing massive debt etc. etc.) were all to be considered heritable qualities. Thus, those in possession of such unwanted qualities should be segregated from society or sterilised. He acknowledges that such measures may appear immoral, but that it is only immoral when coercion is used against persons of “normal intelligence,” for those who are deemed abnormal, unable to use reason, such standards of morality do not apply. This also appertained to what were considered to be the “lower” races, to which, T.H. Huxley was outspoken in his view that the “white race” was indeed the most superior race of all and that the “black race” was amongst the most inferior. With “modern science,” what stood in the way of the “mechanics of enforced good breeding” if humankind were to be regarded as no different from other beasts? And if we were judged to have no soul, the application of so-called “morality” was up for interpretation if not deemed entirely irrelevant. Julian Huxley (1887-1975), the older brother of Aldous, after serving in WWI became a Fellow at New College Oxford, serving as Senior Demonstrator in the University Department of Zoology. In 1925 he moved to King’s College London to work as Professor of Zoology. However, after only two years he resigned his chair to work full-time for H.G. Wells and his son G.P. Wells on “The Science of Life.” For those who are not too familiar with the views of H.G. Wells, I think it apt to share a quote, from part of his “new Bible” trilogy, “Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought” published in 1901: “It has become apparent that whole masses of human population are, as a whole, inferior in their claim upon the future, to other masses, that they cannot be given opportunities or trusted with power as the superior peoples are trusted, that their characteristic weaknesses are contagious and detrimental to the civilizing fabric, and that their range of incapacity tempts and demoralizes the strong. To give them equality is to sink to their level, to protect and cherish them is to be swamped in their fecundity. “ I assure you, there is plenty more where that came from. “The Science of Life,” which was also a part of Wells’ “new Bible” trilogy, was to give a popular account of all major aspects of biology as known in the 1920s. It is credited in introducing modern ecological concepts and emphasised the importance of behaviourism and Jungian psychology. At the very end of the 900 page volume, it is written: “To have a world encumbered for a time with an excess of sterile jazz dancers and joy riders may be a pleasanter way to elimination than hardship and death. Pleasure may achieve what force and sword have failed to do. The world can afford it; it is not a thing to fret about. It is only a passing fashion on a grand scale this phase of sterilized “enjoyment.” The great thing is that it should be able and willing to sterilize itself…The types that have a care for their posterity and the outlook of the race will naturally be the types which will possess the future.” This, believe it or not, is H.G. Wells at his best behaviour, amply toned down so to speak. To Wells this is a rather humane proposition, since those who are considered of defective biological stock are simply to be sterilised but are otherwise free to mingle within society, free to live out a comfortable life of pleasures in all their degeneracies with no threat that such contaminants will continue on in the future breeds of humankind. Thus, the age of pleasure will be more effective than the age of the sword (such as WWI), at diminishing the lower castes into a more “manageable” number. Within a generation, the human stock will be purified and a “Modern Utopia,” another book of H.G. Wells, can finally begin. Earth will become a paradise full of plenty, largely made up of a higher caste of reasonable, intelligent, healthy and attractive individuals and we will finally obtain world peace and harmony, until perhaps the next purge…. Besides Julian Huxley acting as Vice-President from 1937-1944 and President from 1959-1962 of the British Eugenics Society, he was also the first director-general of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1946, to which he wrote its mandate “UNESCO: Its Purpose and Its Philosophy” that same year. In it Julian lays out the need for a world government as the only means for avoiding war, and that the full sovereignty of separate nation states should be transferred over to this world government accordingly, under one political unity to which he expands upon, writing: “At the moment, it is probable that the indirect effect of civilization is dysgenic instead of eugenic, and in any case it seems likely that the dead weight of genetic stupidity, physical weakness, mental instability and disease proneness, which already exist in the human species will prove too great a burden for real progress to be achieved. Thus even though it is quite true that any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that is now unthinkable may at least become thinkable.” (For more on this refer here.) In 1928, H.G. Wells publishes his “The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution,” where he calls for the reform of religion into a “modern religion,” which was only fitting now that science had become a “modern science.” In his concept of modern religion, he states that it will be necessary to strip religion down to its raw elements of service and subordination. Wells also wrote “The New World Order” in 1940, and no doubt, was a guiding influence on Julian’s outlook when he wrote the manifesto for UNESCO. The reader should also know that T.H. Huxley was the mentor of H.G. Wells and introduced him to the writings of Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin. [Refer to Part 1 of this series for an in-depth discussion on how H.G. Wells influenced the works of Aldous Huxley.] The 20th Century Descent of Man At the very start of the 20th century, the influential International Congress of Mathematicians organised a conference in Paris, France 1900. It was at this conference that David Hilbert, a leading mathematician at Göttingen University was invited to speak on the future of mathematics, where he stressed the need for the field of mathematics to “prove that all axioms of arithmetic are consistent” and to “axiomatize those physical sciences in which mathematics plays an important role.” What Hilbert was calling for in his challenge for the future of mathematics was that all scientific knowledge be reduceable to the form of mathematical “logic” so to speak; that it be contained within a minimum of accepted truths and rules of derivation, which could be proven by consistent and complete formal mathematical proofs. Thus, all scientific knowledge would in the future be deduced from such mathematical models, there was nothing left to “discover” in the typical sense of what defined scientific investigations during the 19th century and earlier, they only need refer to the appropriate mathematical model. In 1900, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead set out to meet Hilbert’s challenge which resulted in the “Principia Mathematica,” published thirteen years later. Although Kurt Gödel would disprove the entire premise for the “Principia Mathematica” with his “incompleteness theorems” which show the limits of provability in formal axiomatic theories, the “Principia Mathematica” is one of the most influential works of the 20th century, on not only shaping modern logic but also formed the basis for the latter development of cybernetics and systems analysis by Russell’s student Norbert Wiener during WWII. Before you conclude that Russell himself didn’t personally believe that irrationality was a fundamental force in the Universe simply because he tried formalizing said Universe, it is worth reading a section of his bitterly misanthropic view of humanity presented in his 1903 “A Free Man’s Worship”: “That man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand… Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” Whether deterministic or random in view, the goal was the same, to promote a concept of the Universe that had no governing purpose, no directionality and no morality, that it was essentially a mechanism, discoverable by a few simple laws. This was not something new, the Enlightenment had already done much to emphasize individualism, skepticism and “science” reduced to the confines of empiricism and agnosticism. With such a view our connection to the Universe becomes inconsequential, with the Universe seen as something cold, unknowable and ultimately dead or dying. Such a concept only further enforces that there is no real meaning to anything, there is no purpose, at least, it is not a purpose that we have any place in. During the First World War, Aldous Huxley spent much time at the Garsington Manor, home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, a lover of Bertrand Russell, who believed (as Aldous and Julian would also), in the concept of open marriage. Although T.H. Huxley knew Russell’s parents, Lord and Lady Amberley, it was at the Garsington Manor that Aldous first met Bertrand Russell and the Bloomsbury Group. It is also where he met his first wife Maria Nys, a wartime Belgian refugee who had been invited to stay with Lady Ottoline Morrell. Maria, who was bisexual, had entered into a several year love affair with Lady Ottoline starting at the age of sixteen. Maria did finally accept Aldous’ proposal and they were married in 1919 keeping an open marriage. The Bloomsbury Group or Set, which met regularly at Lady Ottoline’s was an association of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists which reflected in large part the influence of G.E Moore (who wrote the “Principia Ethica” in 1903) and Bertrand Russell who were amongst the founders of analytic philosophy. Alfred North Whitehead was also a member of the group. As Dorothy Parker, American poet and writer, described them in a famous quote of hers, “they lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”. Aldous Huxley would maintain a loose association with the Bloomsbury Group. It appears Aldous had a similar approach to Russell as he did with Wells, although he seems to have a serious dislike for both men, he nonetheless was greatly influenced by their works. In 1932, Russell exclaims in a letter to his publisher that the “Brave New World” was “merely an expansion of the two penultimate chapters of his ‘The Scientific Outlook,’ “ adding that “the parallelism applies in great detail, e.g., the prohibition of Shakespeare and the intoxicant producing no headache.” Russell went so far as to contemplate charging Aldous with plagiarism, to which his publisher dissuaded him from pursuing. In Russell’s “The Scientific Outlook” published in 1930 he describes a caste system with the need for two separate modes of education, one for the elite ruling class and the other for the slave class. The ruling class is to be concerned with improving the scientific technique, while “the manual workers [are to be] contented by means of continual new amusements.” Aldous echoes this sentiment in his “Brave New World Revisited,” where he writes: “The older dictators fell because they could never supply their subjects with enough bread, enough circuses, enough miracles and mysteries.” Although it is said that Aldous wrote the “Brave New World” as a satire of the works of H.G. Wells, and what appears to be the works of Russell as well, as already shown in Part 1 this is not true. Aldous is incorporating the ideas of Wells and Russell into his works, and though he may find these men dislikeable, he nonetheless never actually contradicts their views in any of his writings or lectures. The entire premise for his “Brave New World Revisited,” published in 1958, instead reinforces those very views. Aldous makes it crystal clear that he considers the world to be overpopulated, that this is a crisis that must be checked, and that science and progress cannot be free to advance without limits. He restresses these very themes again in his last novel “The Island” as well. In “Brave New World Revisited” he writes: “The annual increase of numbers should be reduced. But how? We are given two choices – famine or pestilence and war on the one hand, birth control on the other…how can those who ought to take the pill, but don’t want to, be persuaded to change their minds?…In reducing the birth rate of those industrially backward societies where such a reduction is most urgently needed?…Or consider the backward societies that are now trying to industrialise. If they succeed, who is to prevent them, in their desperate efforts to catch up and keep up, from squandering the planet’s irreplaceable resources as stupidly and wantonly as was done, and is still being done, by their forerunners in the race?” Here we need only replace the word “pill” with “sterilisation” and not much has changed. In fact, as published in The Guardian, “Huxley was in favour of genetic breeding programmes to arrest the multiplication of the unfit. In a particularly unsavoury article, published in 1930 in the Evening Standard, he confessed anxiety about the proliferation of mental defectives and called for their compulsory sterilisation.” Brave New World was written one year later in 1931. It looks like the apple did not fall too far from the tree after all… [Part 3 will discuss Aldous’ role in shaping the Esalen Institute, the Vedanta Society, his relationship to William Sargant and the CIA’s MKUltra, and how Aldous’ form of ideological spirituality went on to shape the drug-counter-culture movement.] Tyler Durden Mon, 11/01/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

The Bonfire Of The Currencies?

The Bonfire Of The Currencies? Authored by Benjamin Cohen via Project Syndicate, Two recent books by renowned economists have set the stage for today's great debate over the future of money in a digital age. In particular, public and private moneys are entering into a sustained rivalry, with far-reaching implications for markets and politics. Eswar S. Prasad, The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution Is Transforming Currencies and Finance, Harvard University Press, 2021. Kenneth S. Rogoff, The Curse of Cash: How Large-Denomination Bills Aid Crime and Tax Evasion and Constrain Monetary Policy, Princeton University Press, 2017. Ready or not, the financial world is being forced to face the possibility of a future without traditional notes and coins. Is cash going the way of the dodo? Should the prospect of its extinction be welcomed or feared? And what would its disappearance mean for domestic and global markets and politics? Two recent books by renowned economists have set the stage for the coming debates, highlighting two questions in particular. The first is whether cash should disappear. The second is whether it actually will disappear. Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University and Eswar Prasad of Cornell University have much to say on both issues. DOES MONEY MAKE THE WORLD GO AROUND? For Rogoff, cash is a curse. Paper currency, he argues, “lies at the heart of some of today’s most intractable public finance and monetary problems,” and thus should be phased out as quickly as possible. He highlights two big problems. On one hand, by permitting large recurrent and anonymous transactions, cash facilitates tax evasion and other crimes. High-denomination bills like US “Benjamins” ($100 notes) or Switzerland’s 1,000 franc note play a starring role in a broad range of criminal activities, from drug trafficking and money laundering to racketeering and extortion. On the other hand, cash handicaps monetary policy. The availability of currency effectively sets a “zero lower bound” on interest rates. Returns on Treasury bills or other fixed-income securities cannot fall much below zero so long as people have the option of holding paper money, which at least pays zero interest. Cash therefore ties central bankers’ hands, inhibiting negative-interest-rate policies. The Curse of Cash represents the culmination of a campaign that Rogoff has waged for more than two decades, and he pulls no punches in his advocacy of a “less-cash” economy. Written in accessible if somewhat colorless language, it is a clarion call for action – in effect, a manifesto for our times. The sense of urgency is palpable. Prasad, by contrast, is more in the forecasting business. He believes we are in the midst of a financial revolution that is being driven by “FinTech” – the ongoing wave of innovations in financial technologies that are dramatically disrupting traditional ways of doing business. In the vanguard are cryptocurrencies, a new class of financial instruments that threaten to displace conventional notes and coins. “The era of cash is drawing to an end,” Prasad declares, though he hesitates to offer any firm predictions concerning what will come next. Prasad’s text is relatively easy to read, showing flashes of humor despite the complexities of the subject. Its analysis, however, is ultimately inconclusive, because most of its discussions end cautiously (and rather unhelpfully) with words like “seem,” “may,” or “could.” In a book that aspires to be virtually encyclopedic in its coverage, Prasad’s takeaway message is that there remain “many unanswered questions.” THE FINTECH DISRUPTION Cryptocurrencies have become one of the hottest sectors in finance, led by Bitcoin, which is barely a decade old. New cryptocurrencies have since proliferated like dandelions; according to the International Monetary Fund, there are around 9,000 digital tokens listed on various exchanges today. Earlier this year, the market value of all crypto assets surpassed $2 trillion – a tenfold increase in not much more than a year. The roots of the crypto boom go back to the dawn of the digital age in the last years of the twentieth century. Traditional notes and coins are creatures of an analog world, physical in nature and reliant on face-to-face interactions. Cryptocurrencies, by contrast, are digital – that is, based on encrypted strings of zeros and ones – and transferable through vast electronic networks. Once computers and the internet came to be part of our daily life, smart operators realized that it might be possible to create units of purchasing power that would be fully usable through cyberspace. The race was on to produce “virtual” money that could be employed as easily as conventional paper money or coins to acquire real goods, services, or assets. The earliest attempts to achieve this, going back to the 1990s, aimed simply to facilitate the settlement of payments electronically. These initiatives, which The Economist once playfully labeled “e-cash version 1.0,” included diverse card-based systems as well as network-based systems. Operating on a principle of full pre-payment by users, each scheme functioned as not much more than a convenient proxy for conventional cash – in effect, something akin to a glorified traveler’s check. Few caught on with the general public. Subsequent models, “e-cash version 2.0,” were more ambitious, aspiring to produce genuine substitutes for traditional notes and coins. Examples included Flooz (using the comedienne Whoopi Goldberg as a spokesperson) and Beenz. But the impact of these schemes, too, was limited, because most were offered as a reward for buying products or services from designated vendors – constituting, in effect, updated electronic versions of ancient scrip. Vendor-specific media live on in airline mileage programs and the like; but they failed to provide a direct substitute for traditional currency. Most disappeared after the brief downturn in financial markets at the turn of the century. REVOLUTIONARY DAWN Then came Bitcoin, a revolutionary innovation introduced in 2009 by a person (or persons) who remains anonymous. Bitcoin could be called “e-cash version 3.0.” Designed as a decentralized payments system independent of governments and private financial institutions, the currency has soared in popularity. Since Bitcoin’s unheralded inception, its price has skyrocketed from $1 per unit to as much as $66,000 earlier this month. Many other digital currencies, including increasingly well-known rivals such as Ether, Litecoin, and Ripple, have followed in its wake, especially over the past year. Prasad calls Bitcoin the “granddaddy” of cryptocurrencies. Digital money is now an established part of the global financial ecology, and has been declared legal tender in two countries, El Salvador and Cuba. Prasad finds it hard to conceal his enthusiasm for Bitcoin, which he describes as “truly ingenious and innovative.” Words like “magic,” “genius,” and “elegant” are liberally sprinkled throughout his discussion. For anyone who really wants to understand how the currency works in all its technical splendor, there is no better introduction than Prasad’s fourth chapter, which dwells on the Bitcoin revolution in elaborate detail. There you will find a step-by-step tutorial on the currency’s underpinnings – the so-called blockchain technology that enables Bitcoin to function without any trusted central authority to manage it. No government agency or private institution is needed to validate transactions. Instead, blockchain relies exclusively on a public consensus mechanism managed through a peer-to-peer network that alerts participants to every exchange in real time. A publicly shared ledger of transactions is created and maintained in a decentralized network. The ledger is called a blockchain because once transactions coming into the network are grouped into blocks of data and validated, the blocks are then chained together. The “magic” comes from delegating trust and verification to the public square. As Prasad breathlessly puts it, “This is people power, backed up by computing power, at its finest.” People power to manage money is obviously attractive to libertarians and others who, taking inspiration from the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, have long argued for the “denationalization” of currency. Governments, driven by politics, all too frequently abuse their control of “state” money, sooner or later generating runaway inflation. In recent years, we have seen that ruinous process devastate countries like Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Cybercurrencies, by contrast, are designed to rely on market forces to keep the growth of money supply in line with real economic activity. Inflation, crypto enthusiasts contend, will be contained by the wisdom of crowds. THE CRACKS IN CRYPTO But there are also downsides, and they are not insignificant. First and most obvious is the danger that competition among cybercurrencies could lead their sponsors to take ever greater risks. Many of the thousands of digital tokens currently available are backed by nothing more than flimsy promises. Even so-called “stablecoins” like Tether or USD Coin, which in principle are fully backed by conventional reserves, are in practice often quite lacking in transparency. Observers frequently liken today’s cybercurrencies to the private bank notes that circulated in the United States during the co-called free-banking era of the nineteenth century. But that system was fragile and frequently subject to “runs,” owing to the ebb and flow of public trust. Crowds did not always show the greatest wisdom. Why should we expect today’s cybercurrencies to be any less prone to panics and wild price fluctuations? Just in the last year, Bitcoin has traded up and down by over 50%. Prasad calls it “wacky ... a wild roller-coaster ride.” Others might call it a bubble that could burst any time. Second, the prospect of unfettered price volatility limits cybercurrencies’ usefulness as a medium of exchange. Who wants to accept payment in a currency whose value might drop through the floor tomorrow? Admittedly, there will always be some market actors, particularly criminal elements, who might value cryptocurrencies’ supposed anonymity enough to take the risk. It stands to reason, then, that Rogoff’s complaints about the role of cash in facilitating tax evasion and other nefarious activities apply to cybercurrencies as well. But Rogoff himself suggests that the real threat from cybercurrencies lies elsewhere. “Yes,” he says, “digital currencies raise important questions for the future, but more as competitors for other financial instruments and institutions, not so much for paper currency.” Prasad agrees, suggesting that the allure of digital currencies for illegal activities is wearing off. Some scholars, however, estimate that criminal activities still account for as much as 50% of Bitcoin transactions. Moreover, the legitimate business world does not appear to be attracted to the quotidian use of cybercurrencies. Instead, cybercurrencies have primarily become a vehicle for risk-loving investors, serving as a class of speculative assets reminiscent of the seventeenth-century tulip mania in the Netherlands, when a single bulb sold for the equivalent of a mansion on the Amsterdam Grand Canal. In a sense, the “cybercurrency” label is a misnomer, because none of these new creatures actually perform all three of the traditional functions of money: medium of exchange, unit of account, and store of value. They are, at best, liquid quasi-moneys. THE STATE VS. CRYPTO Looming over the entire incipient debate is the possibility of a real threat to state authority in monetary affairs. The more that ordinary transactions come to be conducted in cryptocurrencies, the more difficult it will be for monetary authorities to manage existing payments systems via traditional interest-rate policy or open-market operations. If traditional cash becomes largely extinct, so, too, does much of the power of central banks. That is why we now see mounting interest around the world in the development of central-bank digital currencies (CBDCs). As Prasad points out, there is nothing mysterious about central-bank digital money. It is simply an existing fiat currency that is issued by a monetary authority in digital form as a complement to or in place of conventional notes and coins. For a clear guide to the merits and risks of such an innovation, readers could do worse than to consult Prasad’s sixth chapter, which provides a careful point-by-point examination of the case for CBDCs. The rationale for CBDCs is simple: fight fire with fire. If conventional paper money really is going the way of the dodo, monetary authorities should create a more attractive alternative. In any competition with privately issued rivals, CBDCs would have the advantage of being firmly backed by the full faith and credit of their sovereign governments. One country, the Bahamas, has already created a CBDC of its own – the sand dollar – and others like Sweden and Uruguay are quickly moving in the same direction. Who will prevail? Writing some five years ago, before the cryptocurrency craze really took off, Rogoff expressed confidence in governments’ ability to fend off any competitive threat from the private sector. This is not the first time, he points out, that currency innovations have emerged from the private sector to leapfrog ahead of publicly issued money, at least for a time. In every previous instance, he insists, innovations were either tamed by regulation or appropriated by governments, which have broad advantages in providing a safe guaranteed asset. Some governments, most notably China, have already begun cracking down on cryptocurrencies. “If the private sector comes up with a much better way of doing things,” Rogoff observes, not without a touch of cynicism, “the government will eventually adapt and regulate as necessary to eventually win out.” But Prasad is not so sure. Writing more recently, he notes that cryptocurrencies have come a long way in the last half-decade. Yes, he concedes, central banks are likely to remain central. But that does not rule out sustained rivalry between the private and public sectors. Privately issued digital currencies have competitive advantages of their own, including faster, lower-cost transactions and broader access to financial products and services. A “glorious future” beckons, Prasad concludes – before adding, “perhaps.” Tyler Durden Sat, 10/30/2021 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 30th, 2021

Waypoints On The Road To Currency Destruction (And How To Avoid It)

Waypoints On The Road To Currency Destruction (And How To Avoid It) Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, The few economists who recognise classical human subjectivity see the dangers of a looming currency collapse. It can easily be avoided by halting currency expansion and cutting government spending so that their budgets balance. No democratic government nor any of its agencies have the required mandate or conviction to act, so fiat currencies face ruin. These are some waypoints to look for on the road to their destruction: Monetary policy will be challenged by rising prices and stalling economies. Central banks will almost certainly err towards accelerating inflationism in a bid to support economic growth. The inevitability of rising bond yields and falling equity markets that follows can only be alleviated by increasing QE, not tapering it. Look for official support for financial markets by increased QE. Central banks will then have to choose between crashing their economies and protecting their currencies or letting their currencies slide. The currency is likely to be deemed less important, until it is too late. Realising that it is currency going down rather than prices rising, the public reject the currency entirely and it rapidly becomes valueless. Once the process starts there is no hope for the currency. But before we consider these events, we must address the broader point about what the alternative safety to a fiat collapse is to be: cryptocurrencies led by bitcoin, or metallic money to which people have always returned when state fiat money has failed in the past. Introduction When expected events begin to unfold, they can be marked by waypoints. These include predictable government responses, and the confused statements of analysts who are unfamiliar with the circumstances. We see this today in the early stages of an inflation that threatens to become a terminal cancer for fiat currencies. Harder to judge is the human element, the pace at which realisation dawns and the public’s consequential response to the discovery that their currency is being debauched and their wealth being transferred stealthily to the state. But history can provide some guidance. If we consider the evidence from Austria before the First World War, we see that the economic prophets who truly understood economics became thoroughly despondent long before the First World War and the currency collapse of the early 1920s. Carl Menger, the father of subjectivity in marginal price theory became depressed by what he foresaw. As von Mises in his Memoirs wrote of Menger’s discouragement and premature silence, “His keen intellect had recognized in which direction Austria, Europe, and the world were pointed; he saw this greatest and highest of all civilizations rushing toward the abyss”. Mises then recorded a conversation his great-uncle had had with Menger’s brother, which referred to comments made by Menger at about the turn of the century, when he reportedly said, “The policies being pursued by the European powers will lead to a terrible war ending with gruesome revolutions, the extinction of European culture and destruction of prosperity for people of all nations. In anticipation of these inevitable events, all that can be recommended are investments in gold hoards and the securities of the two Scandinavian countries” [presumably being on the periphery of European events]. The few economists who have studied American and European monetary and economic policies dispassionately and how they have evolved since the Nixon shock will resonate with Menger’s concerns. Mises also noted that this “pessimism consumed all sharp-sighted Austrians”. Menger’s pupil and friend, Crown Prince Rudolf, successor to the Austro-Hungarian throne took his own life and that of his lover in 1889 because of his despair over the future of his empire and that of European civilisation, and not because of his love affair. As with all historical comparisons, today’s decline in American hegemony is only a most generalised repetition of the process by which an empire dies. But from this distance of over a century from events in Vienna it is easy to forget how important the Hapsburgs were and that before Napoleon the Austro-Hungarian empire had been the largest and most important of the European empires. But putting aside the obvious differences between then and now, today we see little or no evidence of cutting-edge economists sharing the despair of the early Austrians. There is a good reason why this despair is absent today. Instead of economists independent from the state, universities, and professorial sponsorship, the entire economic profession is paid for by governments and their departments to promote statist intervention in the economic affairs of humanity. Feeding off statistics, mathematics is every policy-makers and investor’s religion. But economics is not a natural science governed by mathematics, like physics or chemistry, but a social science governed by markets; markets being forums where humans interact to satisfy their needs and wants, to exchange their production for consumption, and to manage their savings and capital. As Hayek said of his friend Keynes, Keynes was a mathematician and not an economist. Today we can confidently state that students are taught mathematics and not economics. Economists are no longer economists, but statisticians and mathematicians devoid of the a priori reasoning that was central to the science before Keynes. With the entire profession taught to believe in statist intervention, perhaps we should not be surprised that economists are not ringing the alarm bells warning of the consequences of decades of state manipulation of markets and of the catastrophe that evolves from denying there is any difference between money and currency, that is gold or silver, and infinitely expandable promissory notes and credit. Even many modern “Austrians” seem oblivious to the danger of a fiat money collapse, let alone the dire economic consequences. Among them there is even an antipathy against metallic money, which suggests they have not fully absorbed the theories of money and credit so lucidly explained by their earlier mentors. Hopefully, the decline of America and its dollar hegemony we will not result in military conflict, let alone one on the scale of the 1914-18 European catastrophe. But that might be a vain hope. In today’s America we see a hegemon struggling to get to terms with its decline and the reality that the rise of Asia cannot be stopped. But what concerns us here is the more obvious and immediate problem of its currency, dollars backed by nothing more than the faith and credit of the declining US Government. It is not too late to avoid a complete collapse of the dollar-led global currency regime, but there is no sign that the measures to avoid it will be taken. And with the exclusive dominance of mathematical economists: neo-Keynesians, monetarists, and modern monetary theorists alike, there is hardly anyone, like Menger, Mises, and the other Austrian economists who, before the First World War foresaw the economic and monetary consequences of unfettered statism and inflationary financing. Bitcoin — the canary in the currency mine We find ourselves not being warned of potential inflationary dangers by the state-educated pseudo-economists but by a motley crowd of geeks and speculators instead, who have grasped the relative price effect from different rates of currency issuance. Bitcoin’s quantity is capped while those of fiat currencies are not. All you need to exploit this simple fact is believe and convince yourself and others that bitcoin is the replacement currency of tomorrow for the comparison between bitcoin and state fiat to appear valid. This was certainly the story being promoted by crypto enthusiasts from shortly after bitcoin’s first trade until the end of last year. But they have become increasingly convinced that the future for bitcoin is not so much as a currency (after all, while its price in dollars is rising it is in no one’s interest to use it as a medium for exchanging goods), but simply that, like a stock index on steroids, it is the inflation hedge par excellence. And for fear of missing out, even investing institutions run by custodians of other peoples’ money are now piling in. But an index based on equities has the fundamental prop under it of being comprised of stocks the objective of which is to earn money for shareholders by selling goods and services for profit. With bitcoin there are no underlying earnings and nothing which is inflation-linked. In that sense it is a chimera. An argument has therefore developed, with investors and speculators buying bitcoin only because the relative rate of issue relative to fiat currencies is capped, which is expected to drive the price still higher as governments continue to print their currencies. The underlying rationale, that bitcoin is a replacement currency for state fiat currencies has been disproved and I have little more to add in this respect. It cannot be used for economic calculation, because for a borrower there is uncertainty of repayment value. Nor does bitcoin as a rival to state currencies hold water because no central bank will permit it to act as such. This is one reason why they are heading private cryptocurrencies off at the pass by developing their own, state-issued, and state-controlled digital currencies which can be used for economic calculation. Not only has the argument for ever rising bitcoin prices become its sole support, but the underlying rationale, that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin qualify as a medium for transactions and will be permitted to replace state-issued fiat currencies cannot apply. By identifying relative rates of currency issue as a valuation factor the tech-savvy millennial generation has understood a partial truism. The other part of which they appear not to be fully aware is that the effect of monetary inflation is to undermine a currency’s purchasing power. It is a separate argument from one based solely on relative rates of currency issue. However, having half the story understood at least is an advance from not comprehending any of it, and when further rises in prices for goods become widely expected, as they appear to be beginning to today, crypto fans are likely to learn the consequences of monetary inflation earlier than their non-tech predecessors, and perhaps even before state-educated economists as well. For now, investors are being enticed by nothing other than the promise of riches to buy bitcoin as an inflation hedge, being disappointed by gold’s non-performance. In a recent quote in the UK’s Daily Telegraph a Morgan Stanley analyst stated just that: “We believe the perception of bitcoin as a better inflation hedge than gold is the main reason for the current upswing… triggering a shift away from gold [funds] into bitcoin funds since September”. But without the prop of being a credible form of replacement money the only reason to buy bitcoin is that circular argument: it should be bought because it is being bought. Furthermore, buying bitcoin funds dissipates potential bitcoin demand, because for a bitcoin fund to qualify as a regulated investment, obtaining regulatory permission is easiest when a fund deals mostly or wholly in contracts on a regulated futures exchange instead of the underlying unregulated bitcoin. In other words, much of the demand for bitcoin is being side-lined into paper versions rather than for bitcoin itself. Bubbles based on pure speculation always fail. That is not to say that speculative flows won’t drive bitcoin’s price higher still; as a possibility it seems highly likely. But that is for speculators, not those who seek protection from evolving economic and monetary events. Attention should be paid to Menger’s reported words 120 years ago, quoted above, that “In anticipation of these inevitable events, all that can be recommended are investments in gold hoards and the securities of the two Scandinavian countries” — except the securities of the two Scandinavian countries offer no escape today. That being the case, the price of gold measured in bitcoin would appear to present a remarkable opportunity for lucky holders of bitcoin and similar private-sector cryptocurrencies. This is shown in Figure 1 below. Since April 2015, the ratio of gold to bitcoin prices has fallen from over 5 to 0.03, a decline of over 99%. We have established why bitcoin has advanced: it is now due solely to the madness of an investing crowd, given that it is apparent that it will have no monetary role in the future. Market participants have either forgotten about or turned their backs against the metallic monies of millennia which have always returned as circulating media when state-issued fiat currencies fail. Why gold is under-owned and unappreciated Bitcoin is just part of this story: the other is the central banks’ resistance to rivalry to their fiat currencies from sound money. When US citizens were banned from owning gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates by executive order in 1933, the US Government’s desire to escape the discipline of gold as money became public. The resetting of international currency arrangements at Bretton Woods replaced gold with the dollar as the reserve currency with convertibility into gold limited to central banks and certain post-war supranational organisations. Even that failed, leading to the Bretton Woods agreement being suspended by President Nixon in 1971. Led by the US Fed, ever since the Nixon shock central banks have run a propaganda campaign to convince their private sectors that gold’s historic role as the money “of last resort” had been made redundant through the magic of monetary progress. That propaganda campaign is now fifty years old and encompasses the entire working lives of employees in all financial sectors. The dollar myth as the ultimate form of money is now fully institutionalised. In parallel with statist propaganda there has been a fundamental reform of the financial system to permit the development of various forms of derivatives. While derivatives previously existed in limited quantities, their massive expansion since the mid-eighties big-bang and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act created the means to absorb speculative demand for all commodities, including metallic money. According to the Bank for International Settlements, outstanding notional amounts of gold OTC derivatives at the end of last year stood at $834bn, to which must be added derivatives on regulated markets totalling a further $100bn. Together they are the equivalent together of over 15,000 tonnes of gold. There is little doubt that, like bank credit, the financial system’s ability to create paper gold out of thin air has had a profound effect on the price. Backing this inflation of derivative paper has been the expansion of bank and shadow bank credit. That is now coming to an end, with the implementation of the latest phase of Basel 3 banking regulations. Basel 3 and the net stable funding ratio If you Google it, you find that Basel 3 is an internationally agreed set of measures developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in response to the financial crisis of 2007-09. It was a crisis centred on derivatives, which highlighted the inadequacies of minimum capital requirements, banking supervision and market discipline, the three pillars of banking regulation. Basel 3 is gradually being introduced, but the regulations which concern gold and silver derivatives are what specifically concern us. Curbing balance sheet risk from inappropriate funding of precious metal derivative positions has already been introduced in Europe, Switzerland, and the US with the introduction of the net stable funding ratio. The last major financial jurisdiction to be affected is the UK, which introduces appropriate regulations from the first trading day of 1922 — in only nine weeks’ time. Put briefly, a bank will no longer be able to run unrestricted derivative assets and liabilities without them being tied together. In other words, if a bank has a derivative as an asset on its balance sheet, it must relate specifically to and match a liability for netting purposes and be otherwise unencumbered if a balance sheet funding penalty is to be avoided. If a bank owns unencumbered physical gold as an asset, it can match that against a customer’s unallocated account without a funding penalty, if it has successfully sought and obtained regulatory permission to do so. Two consequences follow. The first is that a bullion bank can only run an uneven book if it is prepared to accept a funding penalty through the application of the net stable funding ratio.[iii]Therefore, liquidity will almost certainly be withdrawn from futures and forwards markets, at least because banks want to appear fully compliant with the regulations. And the second is that most of the BIS gold derivative number of $834bn referred to above reflects bullion banks liabilities to their gold deposit accounts. By the year-end bullion banks will want to remove them, and the only way this can be achieved is by paying off customer gold accounts in fiat currency. There could be thousands of tonnes equivalent of paper gold to reconcile in this way, leaving gold account depositors to either abandon their gold exposure entirely or to buy physical replacements in the market. And while the gaff is being blown on gold forwards and futures, reconciling central bank swaps and leases could also emerge as a problem. In short, the factors that have suppressed the gold price since the early 1970s are not only coming to an end but are being reversed. The liquidation of paper gold threatens a gold liquidity crisis, which in the past would have been resolved by making bullion available through central bank gold swaps. But with central banks already owed bullion by the commercial banks and increasingly concerned about monetary inflation, this facility may be restricted. For the leading central banks, the introduction of Basel 3’s net stable funding ratio therefore comes at a difficult time. They are already fighting to convince their markets that inflation is only a transient price effect and are beginning to reluctantly admit it is more intractable than they thought. The last thing they need is for the gold price to be forced higher by their own regulations, adding to fears of yet higher inflation to come. But for individuals seeking to escape a fiat money catastrophe it appears that the ratio of gold to bitcoin is at an extreme of overvaluation for bitcoin and an extreme undervaluation for gold. The next waypoints in understanding inflation Because bitcoin has introduced the concept of relative rates of issue for currencies, the masses of the millennial generations will be alerted to the debasement of fiat currencies sooner than they would otherwise have been. We are less interested in how this is reflected in cryptocurrency prices than how this knowledge changes relations between consumers and state currencies. Statist economists and monetary policy makers at the major central banks insist that higher prices for consumer goods are being driven by a combination of increased spending, which was stored up during covid lockdowns, and logistics disruption. To this can be added labour problems, with acute shortages in certain industry sectors and absenteeism due to continuing covid infections. Furthermore, energy and other input costs for businesses have been rising rapidly. Monetary policy makers are aware that a wider consumer panic over rising prices must be avoided. They understand that continuing reports of product shortages will risk encouraging consumer stockpiling, driving consumer prices even higher. They will fear that interest rates would have to be increased significantly to bring price inflation back under control. But growth in the major economies appears to be stalling, which in the Keynesian playbook calls for lower interest rates and monetary stimulation instead. This leads us to... Waypoint 1. Commentary in the main-stream media has yet to address this dilemma. It is to be expected at any time. Following our first waypoint, we can assume that interest rates will be forced to rise by markets beginning to discount further losses of currency purchasing power for which interest compensation is demanded. That will inevitably terminate the bull market in equities because it undermines bond prices, pushing up yields and disrupting relative valuations. Figure 2 shows that this process has probably started, though markets are not yet discounting a rise in bond yields beyond a minor amount. The technical message from this chart confirms that the 10-year UST yield is set to go significantly higher, affecting government borrowing adversely through rising interest costs. And when the bear market in these bonds becomes more obvious to investors and foreign holders of them alike, funding the government deficit will become much more difficult. The scale of the rise in fixed interest yields is likely to take market participants and policy planners alike by surprise. The only way in which monetary policy planners can attempt to control rising bond yields and to stop equities sliding into a bear market is to increase the pace of currency creation, particularly through enhanced QE. But for now, the Fed’s stated intention is to taper QE, not increase it. This leads us to... Waypoint 2. No anticipation of this dilemma in the media or independent commentary has yet been detected. Look out for it. In the run up to the northern hemisphere winter and the Christmas shopping season, energy prices and fuel costs are set to rise further. There is no sign of product shortages being resolved. The danger is that with continuing product shortages, consumers will push their purchases of goods not immediately needed even further into the future in case they become unavailable. This will drive consumer prices even higher, creating expectations of yet higher interest rates in financial markets. The Fed will have a straightforward choice: resist market pressures for higher interest rates to save financial markets, stave off insolvencies by over-leveraged borrowers and minimise government funding costs; or protect the dollar by raising the funds rate sufficiently to take all expectation of higher rates out of the market and ignore the financial carnage. This will be next... Waypoint 3. No anticipation of this dilemma in the media or independent commentary has yet been detected. There is a specific danger developing from consumer demand leading to a general stockpiling goods. When the process goes beyond a certain point the consequences of consumers disposing of their currency and credit in favour of goods become apparent. Currency no longer works as the objective value in a transaction, this role being switched to goods, because people begin to buy goods just to get rid of currency. When that process starts in earnest, the fate of the currency is sealed. A hundred years ago this was called the crack-up boom, the final abandonment of currency. Waypoint 4. No anticipation of the final nails in the fiat currency coffin is currently anticipated. When it is, the fate of the currency will have already been sealed. Summary and conclusions Those of us not under the direct management of the US monetary policies will not escape the consequences. All western central banks accept the dollar as their reserve currency and not metallic money, so events affecting the dollar affect all the other fiat currencies. Furthermore, the other major central banks led by the Bank of Japan, European Central Bank, and the Bank of England are pursuing similarly inflationary monetary policies. Central bank groupthink is concreted into global monetary policies. Without a change in their mandate the end of modern currencies is only a matter of time — and a shortening one at that. The dying days of fiat are foreshadowed by the speculative fervour in bitcoin and other leading cryptocurrencies. A new millennial tech-savvy class of investors has got at least half the message, that fiat currency quantities are being inflated. That a significant element of the population has grasped this much about currencies early challenges the long-held wisdom that not one in a million understands money, which allows governments to oversee a limitless expansion of currency and credit for significant periods of time. Therefore, the danger to state inflationism is that significant numbers will act sooner to avoid currency depreciation by dumping it in favour of goods. It is a process that once started is impossible to stop. While the establishment appears vaguely aware of this danger, it lacks the theoretical knowledge to deal with it. Ninety years of denying classical economics in favour of Keynesianism and other statist monetary theories are too embedded in the official mind. And in the absence of understanding the destructive forces of inflationism, prescient individuals seeking protection for their families, close friends and themselves have no option but to reduce their dependency on fiat currencies and all ephemeral financial assets tied to them. These include savings deposits and “stores of wealth”, particularly fixed-interest bonds and equities. The fashionable alternative is distributed ledger cryptocurrencies which are beyond the interference of the state, exemplified by the rise and rise of bitcoin. But this article points out that this has now become dominated by speculation, so much so that in their ignorance of catallactics investors are discarding metallic money in favour of bitcoin. This is a mistake. There are sound reasons why metallic money, gold and silver, have always been money used as a medium of exchange. And as Figure 1 in this article illustrates, relative to bitcoin gold is now less than 1% of its value in 2016. Bitcoin is the bubble; gold has become the anti-bubble. The systematic suppression of gold in favour of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency is now coming to an end. The fact that westerners hardly own any bullion as part of their savings is a mistake they will rue, if, as seems inevitable, current monetary and economic policies persist. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/29/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 29th, 2021

COVID-19: Moderna Gets Its Miracle

COVID-19: Moderna Gets Its Miracle Authored by Whitney Webb via Unlimited Hangout, COVID-19 erased the regulatory and trial-related hurdles that Moderna could never surmount before. Yet, how did Moderna know that COVID-19 would create those conditions months before anyone else, and why did they later claim that their vaccine being tested in NIH trials was different than their commercial candidate? In late 2019, the biopharmaceutical company Moderna was facing a series of challenges that not only threatened its ability to ever take a product to market, and thus turn a profit, but its very existence as a company. There were multiple warning signs that Moderna was essentially another Theranos-style fraud, with many of these signs growing in frequency and severity as the decade drew to a close. Part I of this three-part series explored the disastrous circumstances in which Moderna found itself at that time, with the company’s salvation hinging on the hope of a divine miracle, a “Hail Mary” save of sorts, as stated by one former Moderna employee.  While the COVID-19 crisis that emerged in the first part of 2020 can hardly be described as an act of benevolent divine intervention for most, it certainly can be seen that way from Moderna’s perspective. Key issues for the company, including seemingly insurmountable regulatory hurdles and its inability to advance beyond animal trials with its most promising—and profitable—products, were conveniently wiped away, and not a moment too soon. Since January 2020, the value of Moderna’s stock—which had embarked on a steady decline since its IPO—grew from $18.89 per share to its current value of $339.57 per share, thanks to the success of its COVID-19 vaccine. Yet, how exactly was Moderna’s “Hail Mary” moment realized, and what were the forces and events that ensured it would make it through the FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA) process? In examining that question, it becomes quickly apparent that Moderna’s journey of saving grace involved much more than just cutting corners in animal and human trials and federal regulations. Indeed, if we are to believe Moderna executives, it involved supplying formulations for some trial studies that were not the same as their COVID-19 vaccine commercial candidate, despite the data resulting from the former being used to sell Moderna’s vaccine to the public and federal health authorities. Such data was also selectively released at times to align with preplanned stock trades by Moderna executives, turning many of Moderna’s highest-ranking employees into millionaires, and even billionaires, while the COVID-19 crisis meant economic calamity for most Americans.  Not only that, but—as Part II of this three-part series will show, Moderna and a handful of its collaborators at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) seemed to know that Moderna’s miracle had arrived—well before anyone else knew or could have known. Was it really a coincidental mix of “foresight” and “serendipity” that led Moderna and the NIH to plan to develop a COVID-19 vaccine days before the viral sequence was even published and months before a vaccine was even considered necessary for a still unknown disease? If so, why would Moderna—a company clearly on the brink—throw everything into and gamble the entire company on a vaccine project that had no demonstrated need at the time? The Serendipitous Origins of Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine When early January 2020 brought news of a novel coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan, China, Moderna’s CEO Stéphane Bancel immediately emailed Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, and asked to be sent the genetic sequence for what would become known as SAR-CoV-2, allegedly because media reports on the outbreak “troubled” him. The date of that email varies according to different media reports, though most place it as having been sent on either January 6th or 7th. A few weeks before Bancel’s email to Graham, Moderna was quickly approaching the end of the line, their desperately needed “Hail Mary” still not having materialized. “We were freaked out about money,” Stephen Hoge would later remember of Moderna’s late 2019 circumstances. Not only were executives “cutting back on research and other expenditures” like never before, but – as STAT News would later report – “cash from investors had stopped pouring in and partnerships with some drug makers had been discontinued. In meetings at Moderna, Bancel emphasized the need to stretch every dollar and employees were told to reduce travel and other expenses, a frugality there were advised would last several years.” At the tail end of 2019, Graham was in a very different mood than Bancel, having emailed the leader of the coronavirus team at his NIH lab saying, “Get ready for 2020,” apparently viewing the news out of Wuhan in late 2019 as a harbinger of something significant. He went on, in the days before he was contacted by Bancel, to “run a drill he had been turning over in his mind for years” and called his long-time colleague Jason McLellan “to talk about the game plan” for getting a head start on producing a vaccine the world did not yet know it needed. When Bancel called Graham soon afterward and asked about this new virus, Graham responded that he didn’t know yet but that “they were ready if it turned out to be a coronavirus.” The Washington Post claimed that Graham’s apparent foreknowledge that a coronavirus vaccine would be needed before anyone officially knew what type of disease was circulating in Wuhan was a fortunate mix of “serendipity and foresight.”  Dr. Barney Graham and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, VRC coronavirus vaccine lead, discuss COVID-19 research with U.S. legislators Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Sen. Benjamin Cardin and Rep. Jamie Raskin, March 6, 2020; Source: NIH A report in Boston magazine offers a slightly different account than that reported by the Washington Post. Per that article, Graham had told Bancel, “If [the virus] is a coronavirus, we know what to do and have proven mRNA is effective.” Per that report, this assertion of efficacy from Graham referred to Moderna’s early stage human-trial data published in September 2019 regarding its chikungunya vaccine candidate, which was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as well as its cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine candidate.  As mentioned in Part I of this series, the chikungunya vaccine study data released at that time included the participation of just four subjects, three of whom developed significant side effects that led Moderna to state that they would reformulate the vaccine in question and would pause trials on that vaccine candidate. In the case of the CMV vaccine candidate, the data was largely positive, but it was widely noted that the vaccine still needed to pass through larger and longer clinical trials before its efficacy was in fact “proven,” as Graham later claimed. In addition, Graham implied that this early stage trial of Moderna’s CMV vaccine candidate was somehow proof that an mRNA vaccine would be effective against coronaviruses, which makes little sense since CMV is not a coronavirus but instead hails from the family of viruses that includes chickenpox, herpes, and shingles.  Bancel apparently had reached out to Graham because Graham and his team at the NIH had been working in direct partnership with Moderna on vaccines since 2017, soon after Moderna had delayed its Crigler-Najjar and related therapies in favor of vaccines. According to Boston magazine, Moderna had been working closely with Graham specifically “on [Moderna’s] quest to bring a whole new class of vaccines to market” and Graham had personally visited Moderna’s facilities in November 2019. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIH’s infectious-disease division NIAID, has called his unit’s collaboration with Moderna, in the years prior to and also during the COVID-19 crisis, “most extraordinary.” The year 2017, besides being the year when Moderna made its pivot to vaccines (due to its inability to produce safe multidose therapies, see Part I), was also a big year for Graham. That year he and his lab filed a patent for the “2P mutation” technique whereby recombinant coronavirus spike proteins can be stabilized in a prefusion state and used as more effective immunogens. If a coronavirus vaccine were to be produced using this patent, Graham’s team would financially benefit, though federal law caps their annual royalties. Nonetheless, it would still yield a considerable sum for the named researchers, including Graham. However, due to the well-known difficulties with coronavirus vaccine development, including antibody dependent enhancement risk, it seemed that commercial use of Graham’s patent was a pipe dream. Yet, today, the 2P mutation patent, also known as the ’070 patent, is not just in use in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, but also in the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer/BioNTech, and CureVac. Experts at New York University School of Law have noted that the 2P mutation patent first filed in 2016 “sounds remarkably prescient” in light of the COVID crisis that emerged a few years later while later publications from the NIH (still pre-COVID) revealed that the NIH’s view on “the breadth and importance of the ’070 patent” as well as its potential commercial applications was also quite prescient, given that there was little justification at the time to hold such a view.  On January 10, three days after the reported initial conversation between Bancel and Graham on the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, Graham met with Hamilton Bennett, the program leader for Moderna’s vaccine portfolio. Graham asked Bennett “if Moderna would be interested in using the new [novel coronavirus] to test the company’s accelerated vaccine-making capabilities.” According to Boston, Graham then mused, “That way . . . if ever there came a day when a new virus emerged that threatened global public health, Moderna and the NIH could know how long it would take them to respond.”  Graham’s “musings” to Bennett are interesting considering his earlier statements made to others, such as “Get ready for 2020” and his team, in collaboration with Moderna, would be “ready if [the virus then circulating in Wuhan, China] turned out to be a coronavirus.” Is this merely “serendipity” and “foresight”, as the Washington Post suggested, or was it something else? It is worth noting that the above accounts are those that have been given by Bancel and Graham themselves, as the actual contents of these critical January 2020 emails have not been publicly released.  When the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was published on January 11, NIH scientists and Moderna researchers got to work determining which targeted genetic sequence would be used in their vaccine candidate. Later reports, however, claimed that this initial work toward a COVID-19 vaccine was merely intended to be a “demonstration project.”  Other odd features of the Moderna-NIH COVID-19 vaccine-development story emerged with Bancel’s account of the role the World Economic Forum played in shaping his “foresight” when it came to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine back in January 2020. On January 21, 2020, Bancel reportedly began to hear about “a far darker version of the future” at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where he spent time with “two [anonymous] prominent infectious-disease experts from Europe” who shared with him data from “their contacts on the ground in China, including Wuhan.” That data, per Bancel, showed a dire situation that left his mind “reeling” and led him to conclude, that very day, that “this isn’t going to be SARS. It’s going to be the 1918 flu pandemic.”  Stéphane Bancel speaks at the Breakthroughs in Cancer Care session at WEF annual meeting, January 24, 2020; Source: WEF This realization is allegedly what led Bancel to contact Moderna cofounder and chairman, as well as a WEF technology pioneer, Noubar Afeyan. Bancel reportedly interrupted Afeyan’s celebration of his daughter’s birthday to tell him “what he’d learned about the virus” and to suggest that “Moderna begin to build the vaccine—for real.” The next day, Moderna held an executive meeting, which Bancel attended remotely, and there was considerable internal debate about whether a vaccine for the novel coronavirus would be needed. To Bancel, the “sheer act of debating” pursuing a vaccine for the virus was “absurd” given that he was now convinced, after a single day at Davos, that “a global pandemic was about to descend like a biblical plague, and whatever distractions the vaccine caused internally at Moderna were irrelevant.” Bancel spent the rest of his time at the Davos annual meeting “building partnerships, generating excitement, and securing funding,” which led to the Moderna collaboration agreement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations—a project largely funded by Bill Gates. (Bancel and Moderna’s cozy relationship with the WEF, dating back to 2013, was discussed in Part I as were the Forum’s efforts, beginning well before COVID-19, to promote mRNA-based therapies as essential to the remaking of the health-care sector in the age of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution). At the 2020 annual meeting attended by Bancel and others it was noted that a major barrier to the widespread adoption of these and other related “health-care” technologies was “public distrust.” The panel where that issue was specifically discussed was entitled “When Humankind Overrides Evolution.”  As also noted in Part I of this series, a few months earlier, in October 2019, major players in what would become the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, particularly Rick Bright and Anthony Fauci, had discussed during a Milken Institute panel on vaccines how a “disruptive” event would be needed to push the public to accept “nontraditional” vaccines such as mRNA vaccines; to convince the public that flu-like illnesses are scarier than traditionally believed; and to remove existing bureaucratic safeguards in the vaccine development-and-approval processes.  That panel took place less than two weeks after the Event 201 simulation, jointly hosted by the World Economic Forum, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Event 201 simulated “an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus” that was “modeled largely on SARS but . . . more transmissible in the community setting by people with mild symptoms.” The recommendations of the simulation panel were to considerably increase investment in new vaccine technologies and industrial approaches, favoring rapid vaccine development and manufacturing. As mentioned in Part I, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security had also conducted the June 2001 Dark Winter simulation that briefly preceded and predicted major aspects of the 2001 anthrax attacks, and some of its participants had apparent foreknowledge of those attacks. Other Dark Winter participants later worked to sabotage the FBI investigation into those attacks after their origin was traced back to a US military source.  It is hard to imagine that Bancel, whose company had long been closely partnered with the World Economic Forum and the Gates Foundation, was unaware of the exercise and surprised by the closely analogous event that transpired within three months. Given the accounts given by Bancel, Graham, and others, it seems likely there is more to the story regarding the origins of Moderna’s early and “serendipitous” push to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, given that Moderna was in dire financial circumstances at the time, it seems odd that the company would gamble everything on a vaccine project that was opposed by the few investors that were still willing to fund Moderna in January/February 2020. Why would they divert their scant resources towards a project born only out of Barney Graham’s “musings” that Moderna could try to test the speed of its vaccine development capabilities and Bancel’s doomsday view that a “biblical plague” was imminent, especially when their investors opposed the idea? Moderna Gets to Bypass Its Long-Standing Issues with R & D Moderna produced the first batch of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate on February 7, one month after Bancel and Graham’s initial conversation. After a sterility test and other mandatory tests, the first batch of its vaccine candidate, called mRNA-1273, shipped to the NIH on February 24. For the first time in a long time, Moderna’s stock price surged. NIH researchers administered the first dose of the candidate into a human volunteer less than a month later, on March 16.  Controversially, in order to begin its human trial on March 16, regulatory agencies had to allow Moderna to bypass major aspects of traditional animal trials, which many experts and commentators noted was highly unusual but was now deemed necessary due to the urgency of the crisis. Instead of developing the vaccine in distinct sequential stages, as is the custom, Moderna “decided to do all of the steps [relating to animal trials] simultaneously.” In other words, confirming that the candidate is working before manufacturing an animal-grade vaccine, conducting animal trials, analyzing the animal-trial data, manufacturing a vaccine for use in human trials, and beginning human trials were all conducted simultaneously by Moderna. Thus, the design of human trials for the Moderna vaccine candidate was not informed by animal-trial data.  Lt. Javier Lopez Coronado and Hospitalman Francisco Velasco inspect a box of COVID-19 vaccine vials at the Naval Health Clinic in Corpus Christi, TX, December 2020; Source: Wikimedia This should have been a major red flag, given Moderna’s persistent difficulties in getting its products past animal trials. As noted in Part I, up until the COVID-19 crisis, most of Moderna’s experiments and products had only been tested in animals, with only a handful able to make it to human trials. In the case of the Crigler-Najjar therapy that it was forced to indefinitely delay, toxicity concerns related to the mRNA delivery system being used had emerged in the animal trials, which Moderna was now greenlighted to largely skip. Given that Moderna had subsequently been forced to abandon all multidose products because of poor results in animal trials, being allowed to skip this formerly insurmountable obstacle was likely seen as a boon to some at the company. It is also astounding that, given Moderna’s history with problematic animal trials, more scrutiny was not devoted to the regulatory decision to allow Moderna to essentially skip such trials.  Animal studies conducted on Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine did identify problems that should have informed human trials, but this did not happen because of the regulatory decision. For example, animal reproductive toxicity studies on the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that are cited by the European Medicines Agency found that there was reduced fertility in rats that received the vaccine (e. g., overall pregnancy index of 84.1% in vaccinated rats versus 93.2% in the unvaccinated) as well as an increased proportion of aberrant bone development in their fetuses. That study has been criticized for failing to report on the accumulation of vaccine in the placenta as well as failing to investigate the effect of vaccine doses administered during key pregnancy milestones, such as embryonic organogenesis. In addition, the number of animals tested is unstated, making the statistical power of the study unknown. At the very least, the 9 percent drop in the fertility index among vaccinated rats should have prompted expanded animal trials to investigate concerns of reproductive toxicity before testing in humans.  Yet, Moderna declined to further investigate reproductive toxicity in animal trials and entirely excluded reproductive toxicity studies from its simultaneous human trials, as pregnant women were excluded from participation in the clinical trials of its vaccine. Despite this, pregnant women were labeled a priority group for receiving the vaccine after Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) was granted for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. Per the New England Journal of Medicine, this meant that “pregnant women and their clinicians were left to weigh the documented risks of Covid-19 infection against the unknown safety risks of vaccination in deciding whether to receive the vaccine.”  Moderna only began recruiting for an “observational pregnancy outcome study” of its COVID-19 vaccine in humans in mid-July 2021, and that study is projected to conclude in early 2024. Nevertheless, the Centers for Disease Control recommends the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in “people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.” This recommendation is largely based on the CDC’s publication of preliminary data on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine safety in pregnant women in June 2021, which is based on passive reporting systems in use within the United States (i. e., VAERS and v-safe). Even in the limited scope of this study, 115 of the 827 women who had a completed pregnancy during the study lost the baby, 104 of which were spontaneous abortions before 20 weeks of gestation. Of these 827 pregnant women, only 127 had received a mRNA vaccine before the 3rd trimester. This appears to suggest an increased risk among those women who took the vaccine before the 3rd trimester, but the selective nature of the data makes it difficult to draw any definitive conclusions. Despite claims from the New England Journal of Medicine that the study’s data was “reassuring”, the study’s authors ultimately stated that their study, which mainly looked at women who began vaccination in the third trimester, was unable to draw “conclusions about spontaneous abortions, congenital anomalies, and other potential rare neonatal outcomes.” This is just one example of the problems caused by “cutting corners” with respect to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trials in humans and animals, including those conducted by the NIH. Meanwhile, throughout February, March and April, Bancel was “begging for money” as Moderna reportedly lacked “enough money to buy essential ingredients for the shots” and “needed hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even more than a billion dollars” to manufacture its vaccine, which had only recently begun trials. Bancel, whose tenure at Moderna had long been marked by his ability to charm investors, kept coming up empty-handed. Then, in mid-April 2020, Moderna’s long-time cooperation with the US government again paid off when Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded the company $483 million to “accelerate the development of its vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus.” A year later, the amount invested in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine by the US government had grown to about $6 billion dollars, just $1.5 billion short of the company’s entire value at the time of its pre-COVID IPO. BARDA, throughout 2020, was directly overseen by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), led by the extremely corrupt Robert Kadlec, who had spent roughly the last two decades designing BARDA and helping shape legislation that concentrated many of the emergency powers of HHS under the Office of the ASPR. Conveniently, Kadlec occupied the powerful role of ASPR that he had spent years sculpting at the exact moment when the pandemic, which he had simulated the previous year via Crimson Contagion, took place. As mentioned in Part I, he was also a key participant in the June 2001 Dark Winter exercise. In his capacity as ASPR during 2020, Kadlec oversaw nearly all major aspects of the HHS COVID-19 response and had a key role in BARDA’s funding decisions during that period, as well as in the affairs of the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration as they related to COVID-19 medical countermeasures, including vaccines.  On May 1, 2020, Moderna announced a ten-year manufacturing agreement with the Lonza Group, a multinational chemical and biotech company based in Switzerland. Per the agreement, Lonza would build out vaccine production sites for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, first in the US and Switzerland, before expanding to Lonza’s facilities in other countries. The scale of production discussed in the agreement was to produce 1 billion doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine annually. It was claimed that the ten-year agreement would also focus on other products, even though it was well known at the time that other Moderna products were “nowhere close to being ready for the market.” Moderna executives would later state that they were still scrambling for the cash to manufacture doses at the time the agreement with Lonza was made. The decision to forge a partnership to produce that quantity of doses annually suggests marvelous foresight on the part of Moderna and Lonza that the COVID-19 vaccine would become an annual or semiannual affair, given that current claims of waning immunity could not have been known back then because initial trials of the Moderna vaccine had begun less than two months earlier and there was still no published data on its efficacy or safety. However, as will be discussed Part III of this series, Moderna needs to sell “pandemic level” quantities of its COVID-19 vaccine every year in order to avoid a return of the existential crises it faced before COVID-19 (for more on those crises, see Part I). The implications of this, given Moderna’s previous inability to produce a safe product for multidosing and lack of evidence that past issues were addressed in the development of its COVID-19 vaccine, will also be discussed in Part III of this series.  It is also noteworthy that, like Moderna, Lonza as a company and its leaders are closely affiliated with the World Economic Forum. In addition, at the time the agreement was reached in May 2020, Moncef Slaoui, the former GlaxoSmithKline executive, served on the boards of both Moderna and Lonza. Slaoui withdrew from the boards of both companies two weeks after the agreement was reached to become the head of the US-led vaccination-development drive Operation Warp Speed. Moderna praised Slaoui’s appointment to head the vaccination project.  By mid-May, Moderna’s stock price—whose steady decline before COVID-19 was detailed in Part I —had tripled since late February 2020, all on high hopes for its COVID-19 vaccine. Since Moderna’s stock had begun to surge in February, media reports noted that “nearly every progress update—or media appearance by Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel—has been gobbled up by investors, who seem to have an insatiable appetite for the stock.” Bancel’s tried-and-tested method of keeping Moderna afloat on pure hype, though it was faltering before COVID-19, was again paying off for the company thanks to the global crisis and related panic.  Some critics did emerge, however, calling Moderna’s now $23 billion valuation “insane,” especially considering that the company had posted a net loss of $514 million the previous year and had yet to produce a safe or effective medicine since its founding a decade earlier. In January 2020, Moderna had been worth a mere $5 billion, $2 billion less than its valuation at its December 2018 IPO. If it hadn’t been for the onset of the COVID crisis and a fresh injection of hype, it seems that Moderna’s valuation would have continued to shrink. Yet, thankfully for Moderna, investors were valuing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine even before the release of any clinical data. Market analysts at the time were forecasting Moderna’s 2022 revenue at about $1 billion, a figure based almost entirely on coronavirus vaccine sales, since all other Moderna products were years away from a market debut. Yet, even with this forecasted revenue, Moderna’s stock value in mid-May 2020 was trading at twenty-three times its projected sales, a phenomenon unique to Moderna among biotech stocks at the time. For comparison, the other highest multiples in biotech at the time were Vertex Pharmaceutical and Seattle Genetics, which were then trading at nine and twelve times their projected revenue, respectively. Now, with the implementation of booster shot policies around the world, revenue forecasts for Moderna now predict the company will make a staggering $35 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales through next year. To read the rest of the report, click here. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/29/2021 - 12:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 29th, 2021

Proposed Labor Provisions In Budget Reconciliation Bill Would Cost U.S. Billions in Tax Revenue Loss

STUDY: Proposed Labor Provisions In Budget Reconciliation Bill Would Cost U.S. Billions in Tax Revenue Loss And Force Thousands of Businesses to Close or Move Operations and Jobs Overseas Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Business leaders say report shows that revenue produced by increased Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) fines vastly offset by […] STUDY: Proposed Labor Provisions In Budget Reconciliation Bill Would Cost U.S. Billions in Tax Revenue Loss And Force Thousands of Businesses to Close or Move Operations and Jobs Overseas if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Icahn eBook! Get our entire 10-part series on Carl Icahn and other famous investors in PDF for free! Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet or print it! Sign up below. NO SPAM EVER (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Business leaders say report shows that revenue produced by increased Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) fines vastly offset by reduced economic activity it causes. Proposed Labor Provisions In The Budget Reconciliation Bill Could Result In A $33 Billion Revenue Loss Washington, D.C. – A new study conducted by George Washington University Adjunct Professor of Economics Diana Furchtgott-Roth found that the provisions in the U.S. House budget reconciliation bill creating new penalties under federal labor laws could put thousands of U.S. employers out of business and result in a $33 billion revenue loss in the franchise industry alone and a significant reduction in the federal government’s tax base due to companies moving operations off shore. The labor provisions, which are politically driven and constitute fundamental change to 85-year old statutory framework of the National Labor Relations Act, were tucked into the massive reconciliation bill as organized labor’s number one legislative priority, the Protecting Right to Organize (PRO) Act, stalled. Key findings of the study: Imposing new civil penalties of $50,000 to $100,000 would not gain $39 million over 10 years but would lose revenue, because some employers would move offshore, and others would become less productive and/or hire fewer workers, resulting in a loss of Federal, State, and Social Security tax revenue from the erosion of the tax base and from lower corporate profits and income levels. The average franchise would lose up to $142,000 in profits if the employees of a franchisee were required to be employed by a unionized franchisor, affecting 233,000 small business franchise owners across the country. Corporate tax losses for franchised businesses would range from $360 million to $2.1 billion annually. Federal, State, and Social Security losses in tax revenue for franchised businesses would range from $2 billion to $6 billion. This reduced economic activity and commensurate decline in tax revenues would surpass the $39 million CBO estimate over 10 years of revenue generated from increased civil penalties for ULPs. The provision would disproportionately disadvantage small businesses, who may make more unintentional errors because they do not have the human resources departments or the legal expertise of larger corporations – putting tens of thousands of small businesses at risk. The Fines Would Hinder The Nation’s Economic Recovery Kristen Swearingen, Chair of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), composed of more than 600 major business organizations, said the report illustrates how the proposed increase in fines would hinder the nation’s economic recovery and potentially put thousands of small businesses out of business, especially with unions now in control of the National Labor Relations Board. “This report shows that the poorly-vetted and radical changes to labor laws come with an big cost and would cripple small businesses, shrink the U.S. tax base and derail our country’s fragile economic recovery. With former union employees now controlling the NLRB and deciding who gets fined, we could see a massive wave of businesses closing or moving their operations and jobs overseas,” stated Swearingen. Swearingen said the fines would cause significant economic impact on the franchising industry alone. “An average franchise owner profits $433,000 annually, so a few of these fines would wipe them out. These fines also disincentivize entrepreneurs from starting a franchise in the first place. Bottomline, these fines are expected to wipe out up to $33 billion in revenue for franchisers and put the 233,000 small business franchise owners at risk of shutting down for good, negating any benefit of the increased fines.” Swearingen went on to say that these fines will cause further economic damage and hurt workers by forcing companies to move operations and jobs offshore. “In the end, it will be American workers and consumers that will pay the price for these increased and unnecessary fines,” said Swearingen. “Manufacturing and service companies, which often use union labor, will be forced to consider moving their operations outside of the U.S. to avoid these fines and drastic changes to established labor law. The ones that do stay may choose to operate in a diminished capacity in order to avoid the fines for small and technical infractions. These fines will result in untold economic damage from reduced economic activity from businesses across the U.S.” About The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) represents more than 600 major business organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Small Business Association, National Restaurant Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Retail Federation, National Grocers Association, International Franchise Association, National Association of Manufacturers, International Council of Shopping Centers and American Trucking Association. CDW is a broad-based coalition of hundreds of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of employers and millions of employees in various industries across the country concerned with a long-standing effort by some in the labor movement to make radical changes to the National Labor Relations Act without regard to the severely negative impact they would have on employees, employers, and the economy. CDW was originally formed in 2005 in opposition to the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – a bill similar to the PRO Act – that would have stripped employees of the right to secret ballots in union representation elections and allowed arbitrators to set contract terms regardless of the consequence to workers or businesses. Updated on Oct 28, 2021, 4:05 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 29th, 2021

DEI trailblazers: 16 diversity executives transforming the workplace in post-George Floyd corporate America

From Nike to Google to Bank of America, Insider's top diversity execs of 2021 have led transformative equity progress under immense pressure. From Nike to Google to Twitter, here are Insider's top diversity trailblazers of 2021. American Express; JP Morgan; Facebook; Nike; Alyssa Powell/Insider The echoes of Black Live Matter protesters may have died down since the summer of 2020, but America's CEOs know the pressure to advance racial equity still hovers over them since the murder of George Floyd.Chief diversity officers were hired at record rates to shoulder the brunt of demands placed on companies shortly after Floyd's death. Indeed found that listings for diversity roles jumped 56% between September 2019 and September 2020. LinkedIn data confirmed that the summer of 2020 saw a spike in the hiring of these roles. The year 2021 was the first test to see whether companies would make real progress. These chief diversity officers - often people of color - have enacted incredible change since then. And the work they do is complicated and exhausting. They are the shepherds of what could be a new era in corporate America. Insider is proud to present its second annual list of diversity officers changing the country. Collectively, these executives are helping break barriers for hundreds of thousands of workers while also challenging their CEOs to make their policies and business practices more inclusive. Rosanna Durruthy, vice president of global diversity, inclusion and belonging at LinkedIn Linkedin's Rosanna Durruthy. Courtesy of Rosanna Durruthy Key accomplishments: A result of Durruthy's diligence, LinkedIn announced in July that it would pay the global cochairs of its employee resource groups $10,000 per year for their work, in addition to their salary. "Historically, ERG leaders take on leadership roles and the associated work in addition to their day jobs, putting in extra time, energy, and insight. And despite the tremendous value, visibility and impact to the organization, this work is rarely rewarded financially," Durruthy said. "The work of ERGs is more important than ever." This past year, LinkedIn also created the option for users to share their preferred pronouns, a big move to make the jobs platform more inclusive, especially for transgender and nonbinary professionals. LinkedIn aims to double the number of Black and Hispanic leaders and managers on its US team over the next five years. Durruthy is also focused on increasing leadership training that focuses on inclusion and diversity. In their own words: "As a leader and an LGBTQ woman of color, it's been really important for me to be in conversation with my peers and to allow them to know that I see them as being responsible for helping create the change we're all endeavoring toward."  Brian Lamb, global head of diversity and inclusion at JPMorgan JPMorgan's Brian Lamb. JPMorgan Chase Key accomplishments: This year, Lamb, Jamie Dimon, and a group of other executives deployed funds from the firm's record-making 2020 $30 billion pledge to address racial injustice. The investment aims to boost the number of Black and Hispanic homeowners, create more affordable housing, and support small businesses through loans.  In September, JPMorgan committed an additional $100 million to Black and Hispanic-led minority depository institutions and community-development financial institutions. A month later, JPMorgan announced to Insider it was pressuring the businesses it works with to increase spending with Black- and Hispanic-led companies. Business professors and economists predicted the bank's efforts would have a ripple effect in the economy, boosting capital spent on minority-owned businesses.  In their own words: "Patience isn't a virtue for me. I'm inspired to live with purpose and positively impact the lives of others — to be bold in our thinking and hold myself and others accountable to both their personal and professional responsibility to drive sustainable change."  Melonie Parker, chief diversity officer at Google Google's Melonie Parker. Google Key accomplishments: With efforts overseen by Parker, Google added diversity, equity, and inclusion materials to orientation for all new hires along with training for managers on how to promote inclusion of employees who are neurodiverse, or people with different ways of brain processing, such as people with ADHD or autism. Google also made significant strides in hiring diverse candidates. It increased Black representation in its US workforce by nearly 20%, from 3.7% to 4.4% and increased Hispanic hiring by a third, from 6.6% to 8.8%, according to the company. Parker also interviewed former first lady Michelle Obama at Google's first Women of Color Summit aimed at promoting mentorship, sponsorship, and career development for women of color at the company.  In their own words: "I believe we need to further expand the horizon of what we do to support employees of color. To me, that means clearer pathways to leadership, mentorship opportunities, more safe spaces both on campus and virtually, and also more DEI exercise for white employees, because it is truly everybody's responsibility to create a welcoming and gainful environment for underrepresented employees." Lesley Slaton Brown, chief diversity officer at HP HP's Lesley Slaton Brown. HP Key accomplishments: Over the past year, Lesley Slaton Brown helped the tech giant increase the number of Black executives at the vice president level and up by 50% and the number of female executives by 32%. Additionally, over 60% of new US hires were from underrepresented groups, including women, people with disabilities, people from underrepresented races and ethnicities, and military veterans.In their own words: "My mantra, is 'Everyone in!' Everybody, especially leaders, must understand the business value of DEI. It's integral to drive meaningful change in the short term and long term." Tim Dismond, chief responsibility officer at the commercial real-estate firm CBRE CBRE's Tim Dismond. CBRE Key accomplishments: As a result of Dismond's efforts, over 50% of the company's promotions and nearly half of new hires in the past year were women, people of color, LGBTQ people, or people with disabilities.He also led an effort to increase spending with suppliers owned by people of color, women, or other historically marginalized group. Across 2020 and 2021, the company is projected to spend more than $1 billion with diverse suppliers. In their own words: "As a Black man, I'm not immune to the undertones of bias in professional settings, and while my experience is not unique, by sharing and showing vulnerability I can effect change and help others feel safe to share their experiences and perspectives."   Dalana Brand, VP of people experience and head of inclusion and diversity at Twitter Twitter's Dalana Brand. Twitter Key accomplishments: Brand has pushed Twitter to further diversify its leadership over the past year. Representation of women in leadership roles increased from 35.4% to 37.7% and Black representation in leadership positions increased from 5.6% to 7.3%.  Brand was also influential in Twitter announcing that employees have the option to work from home indefinitely. The move has helped attract and retain talent for whom working from home is best, such as working parents or people with disabilities.In their own words: "It's not enough for us to simply have diverse teams. We cannot check the box and keep on with our own careers because what we know is that diverse folks will remain excluded from opportunity unless we are intentional about inclusion."  Sonia Cargan, American Express' chief colleague inclusion and diversity officer American Express' Sonia Cargan. American Express Key accomplishments: This year, Cargan made pay equity a top priority. AmEx investigated salaries across gender, race, and ethnicity and made changes to correct any discrepancies, achieving 100% pay equity for colleagues across gender globally and across race and ethnicity in the US. Cargan said the company is working to achieve pay equity across race and ethnicity globally.Cargan was also instrumental in AmEx creating a new office of enterprise inclusion, diversity, and business engagement that works directly with the company's executive committee to weave DEI practices into business strategies. In their own words: "We understood that to drive real change, we needed to further intensify our focus and make inclusion and diversity the heart of not only our workplace but how we do business."  Tara Ataya, chief people and diversity officer at Hootsuite Hootsuite's Tara Ataya. Hootsuite Key accomplishments: After a powerful conversation with other Hootsuite leaders last year about how to better support employees, Ataya guided the company's redesign of its benefits package to make it more inclusive. The company now covers gender-affirmation surgeries, fertility treatment, and financial-counseling services under its health and employee-assistance plans, benefits that are highly coveted and not often offered. Hootsuite also expanded its mental-health counseling services to include more therapists of color. The company also conducted a third-party pay equity report and achieved pay equity. In their own words: "It's about time we see this level of change. Greatness comes from being challenged to be better and do better. I think it is so important that organizations understand the importance of and the business case for DEI in the workplace." Maxine Williams, chief diversity officer at Facebook Facebook's Maxine Williams. Courtesy of Maxine Williams Key accomplishments: Because of Williams' leadership, Facebook has seen a significant increase in women in technical roles (from 15% in 2014 to 24.1% in 2020), as well as Black people in nontechnical roles (from 2% in 2014 to 8.9% in 2020). In 2020, Williams helped Facebook achieve a 38.2% increase in Black leaders, according to the company's latest DEI report. In addition, Williams built a diversity advisory council, a group of 18 employees from diverse backgrounds across the globe who meet quarterly to consult on the company's content policies, products, and human-resources programs.In their own words: "Build DEI into business processes and products from day one. Don't wait for the right time. That time was yesterday." Jarvis Sam, Nike's vice president and head of global diversity, equity, and inclusion Nike's Jarvis Sam. Nike Key accomplishments: Sam drove Nike's plan to increase representation of historically marginalized communities at the leadership level. Over the past year, he helped the company increase representation of women and people of color and at the director level and above by 2 percentage points. Women now make up 43% of directors and above, and people of color make up 27%. Sam also created new coaching programs for vice presidents across all departments to gain new skills, including skills around DEI. Some 56% of the 2020 participants were promoted to new roles within the year.  In their own words: "We have to lift as we climb. If we're not bringing others along with us, we aren't doing our job right." Toni Thompson, VP of people and strategy at Etsy Etsy's Toni Thompson. Etsy Key accomplishments: Over the past year and a half, the company has doubled down on its efforts to hire and promote more people of color thanks to pressure from Thompson. Black, Latino, and Native American hires made up 20% of new hires in 2020, and Black, Latino, and Native American people now comprise 12.2% of Etsy's total workforce, according to the company's most recent diversity report. In addition, employees from these underrepresented communities now comprise 8.7% of Etsy's leadership. The company is on track to reach its goal of doubling the percentage of Black, Latino, and Native American employees by 2023.Thompson helped Etsy expand its mentorship opportunities for women and people of color in engineering. She also launched a third-party pay-equity analysis, which found no discrepancies in pay based on race, ethnicity, or gender, consistent with their first report conducted in 2018. In their own words: "It's very natural for companies to be laser-focused on the financials and goal achievement that influence the financial health of the company. There are many HR and DEI efforts that support the top and bottom line, but it's hard for people to make those connections. I'm thankful the executive team at Etsy gets it, but many leaders at other companies don't."  Kara Helander, managing director and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at The Carlyle Group The Carlyle Group's Kara Helander. The Carlyle Group Key accomplishments: In early 2020, Helander led the charge at the private-equity firm to set a new goal of having 30% of board directors at all of its portfolio companies hail from historically underrepresented groups within two years of ownership. The head of DEI also developed and implemented a new set of criteria for assessing employees up for promotion to managing director, with individuals taking part in an assessment that evaluated their skills in inclusive leadership and management.  In addition, she implemented a change that DEI will be integrated into compensation as part of managers' formal year-end assessments going forward. Helander wants to continue diversifying the financial firm. In 2020, 63% of people hired in the US were women or ethnic minorities, according to the company. In their own words: "Each and every person in an organization can contribute to advancing diversity and inclusion. Accountability is key to sustaining positive change."  Lorie Valle-Yanez, head of diversity, equity, and inclusion at MassMutual MassMutual's Lorie Valle-Yanez. MassMutual Key accomplishments: Valle-Yanez shepherded MassMutual's investments in racial justice to the tune of more than $200 million, with $150 million going to diversifying the businesses the company works with and $50 million to spur job creation among diverse entrepreneurs in Massachusetts.The financial company also released its first public DEI report, which includes a detailed breakdown of its leadership and workforce demographics. In their own words: "The biggest change since George Floyd has been the increased engagement and ownership coming from so many people in the company who are raising their hands and wanting to be part of the change."  Antoine Andrews, chief diversity and social-impact officer at Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey) Momentive's Antoine Andrews. Momentive Key accomplishments: Andrews was a key figure in Momentive's recent decision to financially recognize employees who lead the company's ERGs, though the company declined to disclose by how much. Working with CEO Zander Lurie, Andrews also shaped Momentive's initiative calling on its suppliers and vendors to increase diversity in their leadership. In their own words: "Stamina is the characteristic most needed to combat inequity, racism, and all other negative 'isms.' Those of us who do this work can easily get tired, frustrated, and discouraged when progress isn't made or is happening slowly. Change requires us to be in shape mentally and physically."  KeyAnna Schmiedl, global head of culture and inclusion at Wayfair Wayfair's KeyAnna Schmiedl. Lyndsay Hannah Key accomplishments: Schmiedl helped Wayfair conduct a third-party pay-equity survey and worked to achieve pay equity for all 16,000 employees across race, disability status, and gender and sexual identity. In addition, Schmiedl led the charge to tie executive compensation to DEI goals.She also helped diversify Wayfair's leadership. The company increased the share of women in leadership positions by 7 percentage points in six months from 25% at the end of the 2020 fourth quarter to 32.8% at the end of June. The company also hired its first two directors of Indigenous descent. In their own words: "I am more consistent in being authentically me from meeting to meeting, interaction to interaction, and I've experienced more folks in the workplace bringing more of their humanity to everyday interactions. I'm having more raw conversations."  Cynthia Bowman, chief diversity and inclusion and talent acquisition officer at Bank of America Bank of America's Cynthia Bowman. Bank of America Key accomplishments: Bowman played a key role in producing Bank of America's $1 billion, four-year commitment made in June 2020 to address underlying economic and social disparities that were exacerbated during the pandemic. In March, Bowman, CEO Brian Moynihan, and other executives expanded this commitment to $1.25 billion over five years to further support investments to advance racial justice through grants to historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and civil-rights organizations. Bowman has helped the financial giant deepen connections with HBCUs and HSIs over the past year and a half. Because of these efforts, the bank's 2021 entry-level class is at least 50% people from historically marginalized backgrounds.  In their own words: "There is no question that achieving strong operating results on equity — the right way — starts with our teammates. Our diversity makes us stronger, and the value we deliver as a company is strengthened when we bring broad perspectives together to meet the needs of our diverse stakeholders."  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 27th, 2021

Escobar: The World According To Vladimir Putin

Escobar: The World According To Vladimir Putin Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times, Russian president, in Sochi, lays down the law in favor of conservatism – says the woke West is in decline... The plenary session is the traditional highlight of the annual, must-follow Valdai Club discussions – one of Eurasia’s premier intellectual gatherings. Vladimir Putin is a frequent keynote speaker. In Sochi this year, as I related in a previous column, the overarching theme was “global shake-up in the 21st century: the individual, values and the state.” Putin addressed it head on, in what can already be considered one of the most important geopolitical speeches in recent memory (a so-far incomplete transcript can be found here) – certainly his strongest moment in the limelight. That was followed by a comprehensive Q&A session (starting at 4:39:00). Predictably, assorted Atlanticists, neocons and liberal interventionists will be apoplectic. That’s irrelevant. For impartial observers, especially across the Global South, what matters is to pay very close attention to how Putin shared his worldview – including some very candid moments. Right at the start, he evoked the two Chinese characters that depict “crisis” (as in “danger”) and “opportunity,” melding them with a Russian saying: “Fight difficulties with your mind. Fight dangers with your experience.” This elegant, oblique reference to the Russia-China strategic partnership led to a concise appraisal of the current chessboard: The re-alignment of the balance of power presupposes a redistribution of shares in favor of rising and developing countries that until now felt left out. To put it bluntly, the Western domination of international affairs, which began several centuries ago and, for a short period, was almost absolute in the late 20th century, is giving way to a much more diverse system. That opened the way to another oblique characterization of hybrid warfare as the new modus operandi: Previously, a war lost by one side meant victory for the other side, which took responsibility for what was happening. The defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War, for example, did not make Vietnam a “black hole.” On the contrary, a successfully developing state arose there, which, admittedly, relied on the support of a strong ally. Things are different now: No matter who takes the upper hand, the war does not stop, but just changes form. As a rule, the hypothetical winner is reluctant or unable to ensure peaceful post-war recovery, and only worsens the chaos and the vacuum posing a danger to the world. A disciple of Berdyaev In several instances, especially during the Q&A, Putin confirmed he’s a huge admirer of Nikolai Berdyaev. It’s impossible to understand Putin without understanding Berdyaev (1874-1948), who was a philosopher and theologian – essentially, a philosopher of Christianity. In Berdyaev’s philosophy of history, the meaning of life is defined in terms of the spirit, compared with secular modernity’s emphasis on economics and materialism. No wonder Putin was never a Marxist. For Berdyaev, history is a time-memory method through which man works toward his destiny. It’s the relationship between the divine and the human that shapes history. He places enormous importance on the spiritual power of human freedom. Nikolai Berdyaev. Photo: Center for Sophiological Studies Putin made several references to freedom, to family – in his case, of modest means – and to the importance of education; he heartily praised his apprenticeship at Leningrad State University. In parallel, he absolutely destroyed wokeism, transgenderism and cancel culture promoted “under the banner of progress.” This is only one among a series of key passages: We are surprised by the processes taking place in countries that used to see themselves as pioneers of progress. The social and cultural upheavals taking place in the United States and Western Europe are, of course, none of our business; we don’t interfere with them. Someone in the Western countries is convinced that the aggressive erasure of whole pages of their own history – the “reverse discrimination” of the majority in favor of minorities, or the demand to abandon the usual understanding of such basic things as mother, father, family or even the difference between the sexes – that these are, in their opinion, milestones of the movement toward social renewal. So a great deal of his 40 minute-long speech, as well as his answers, codified some markers of what he previously defined as “healthy conservatism”: Now that the world is experiencing a structural collapse, the importance of sensible conservatism as a basis for policy has increased many times over, precisely because the risks and dangers are multiplying and the reality around us is fragile. Switching back to the geopolitical arena, Putin was adamant that “we are friends with China. But not against anyone.” Geoeconomically, he once again took time to engage in a masterful, comprehensive – even passionate – explanation of how the natural gas market works, coupled with the European Commission’s self-defeating bet on the spot market, and why Nord Stream 2 is a game-changer. Afghanistan During the Q&A, scholar Zhou Bo from Tsinghua University addressed one of the key, current geopolitical challenges. Referring to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, he pointed out that, “if Afghanistan has a problem, the SCO has a problem. So how can the SCO, led by China and Russia, help Afghanistan?” Putin stressed four points in his answer: The economy must be restored; The Taliban must eradicate drug trafficking; The main responsibility should be assumed “by those who had been there for 20 years” – echoing the joint statement  after the meeting between the extended troika and the Taliban in Moscow on Wednesday; and Afghan state funds should be unblocked. He also mentioned, indirectly, that the large Russian military base in Tajikistan is not a mere decorative prop. Training bunker at Russia’s military base in Takikistan. Photo: Moscow Times Putin went back to the subject of Afghanistan during the Q&A, once again stressing that NATO members should not “absolve themselves from responsibility.” He reasoned that the Taliban “are trying to fight extreme radicals.” On the “need to start with the ethnic component,” he described Tajiks as accounting for 47% of the overall Afghan population – perhaps an over-estimation but the message was on the imperative of an inclusive government. He also struck a balance: As much as “we are sharing with them [the Taliban] a view from the outside,” he made the point that Russia is “in contact with all political forces” in Afghanistan – in the sense that there are contacts with former government officials like Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah and also Northern Alliance members, now in the opposition, who are self-exiled in Tajikistan. Those pesky Russians Now compare all of the above with the current NATO circus in Brussels, complete with a new “master plan to deter the growing Russian threat.” No one ever lost money underestimating NATO’s capacity to reach the depths of inconsequential stupidity. Moscow does not even bother to talk to these clowns anymore: as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has pointed out, “Russia will no longer pretend that some changes in relations with NATO are possible in the near future.” Moscow from now on only talks to the masters – in Washington. After all, the direct line between the Chief of General Staff, General Gerasimov, and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, General Todd Wolters, remains active. Messenger boys such as Stoltenberg and the massive NATO bureaucracy in Brussels are deemed irrelevant. This happens, in Lavrov’s assessment, right after “all our friends in Central Asia” have been “telling us that they are against … approaches either from the United States or from any other NATO member state” promoting the stationing of any imperial “counter-terrorist” apparatus in any of the “stans” of Central Asia. And still the Pentagon continues to provoke Moscow. Wokeism-lobbyist-cum-Secretary of Defense Lloyd “Raytheon” Austin, who oversaw the American Great Escape from Afghanistan, is now pontificating that Ukraine should de facto join NATO. That should be the last stake impaling the “brain-dead” (copyright Emmanuel Macron) zombie, as it meets its fate raving about simultaneous Russian attacks on the Baltic and Black Seas with nuclear weapons. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/24/2021 - 23:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 25th, 2021

A 193-million-year old nesting ground with more than 100 dinosaur eggs offers evidence they lived in herds

Paleontologists found 100 eggs and 80 skeletons from a dinosaur called Mussaurus at a site in Patagonia, suggesting the animals lived in groups. An artist's reconstruction of a Mussaurus patagonicus nest. Jorge Gonzalez Paleontologists found 100 eggs and 80 skeletons from a dinosaur called Mussaurus at a nesting ground in Patagonia. The fossils were grouped into clusters of adults and juveniles, suggesting Mussaurus lived in herds. The nesting ground is 193 million years old, making it the earliest evidence of dinosaur herds. A 193-million-year-old nesting ground containing more than 100 dinosaurs eggs is upending paleontologists' understanding of an early dinosaur species.Research published Thursday describes a collection of eggs and juvenile and adult skeletons from a dinosaur called Mussaurus patagonicus, which were found in Patagonia, Argentina. The dino is an ancestor of long-necked herbivores called sauropods, such as Brachiosaurus.Most of the chicken-sized eggs were discovered in clusters of eight to 30, suggesting they resided in nests as part of a common breeding ground. Researchers also found Mussaurus skeletons of similar sizes and ages buried together. Combined, these patterns offer evidence that the dinosaurs lived in herds."I went to this site aiming to find at least one nice dinosaur skeleton. We ended up with 80 skeletons and more than 100 eggs (some with embryos preserved inside!)" Diego Pol, a researcher with the Egidio Feruglio paleontology museum in Patagonia and the lead author of the new study, told Insider via email. He called the site "one of a kind."Before this discovery, researchers thought herding behavior was restricted to dinosaurs that came much later, in the very late Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods. That's because the earliest fossil evidence of sauropod herds only dates back 150 million years. This nesting ground, however, pushes that timeline back more than 40 million years. It's the earliest known evidence of social groups among dinosaurs, the study authors said.X-rays offer a peek into fossilized dinosaur eggs A fossilized Mussaurus egg that's more than 190 million years old, found in southern Patagonia, Argentina. Roger Smith Argentine paleontologists discovered the first Mussaurus skeletons at this Patagonian site in the late 1970s. The dinosaurs they found were no more than 6 inches long. Unaware that they'd uncovered newborns, the researchers named the creature "mouse lizard" because of the skeletons' tiny size.Pol decided to reexplore the area starting in 2002, and by 2013, he'd helped find the first adult Mussaurus fossils there. Those bones revealed that full-grown versions of these "mouse lizards" were closer in size to modern-day hippos. They grew to weigh about 1.5 tons, reaching lengths of 26 feet from nose to tail tip. But infants could fit in the palm of a human hand. A screen shot from a video showing how scientists like Diego Pol used high-energy X-rays to peek inside a Mussaurus egg without destroying it. Vincent Fernandez/Diego Pol/European Synchrotron Since then, Pol's team has also uncovered and studied the contents of the nesting ground, which measures just under half a square mile. In 2017, he took 30 of the eggs to a lab in France, and his group then used X-ray technology to peek inside and confirm the species of the embryos without breaking the shells.By analyzing the sizes and types of bones in the nesting ground, the researchers determined that the animals were buried near counterparts of a similar age. Some clusters had juveniles less than a year old, others consisted of individuals that were slightly older but not yet fully grown, and finally, there were smatterings of adults that had died solo or in pairs.That type of age segregation, the researchers said, is a key sign of herds: Juveniles hung out with others their age while adults looked for food and protected the community. "They were resting together and likely died during a drought," Pol said. "This is compatible with a herd that stays together during many years and within which the animals get close to each other to rest, or to forage, or do other daily activities."Another strong indication of herd behavior is a nesting ground itself: If Mussaurus lived as a community, it would make sense that they'd lay eggs in a common area. Living in herds may have helped Mussaurus survive Nest with Mussaurus eggs dated to more than 190 million years ago, found in Patagonia. Diego Pol To figure out the fossils' ages, researchers examined minerals in volcanic ash that was scattered around the eggs and skeletons, and determined that the fossils were about 193 million years old. Previously, scientists thought this type of dinosaurs lived during the late Triassic period, about 221 million to 205 million years ago. But the new date suggests instead that Mussaurus thrived during the early Jurassic period. That, in turn, is evidence that Mussaurus' ancestors survived a mass extinction event 200 million years ago.The key to that survival, the study suggests, may have been their herding behavior."These were social animals and we think this may be an important factor to explain their success," Pol said. An artist's depiction of the nesting ground of a Mussaurus herd of in what is now Argentina. Jorge Gonzalez Communal living likely helped Mussaurus find enough food, perhaps by making it easier for them to forage over larger areas.Mussaurus of the same size would likely "group together to coordinate their activities," Pol said, given that larger adults and tinier juveniles moved at different speeds.He added that given the size difference between newborns and adults, it probably took these dinosaurs many years to reach full size. So young Mussaurus might have been vulnerable to predation.By staying in herds, adults could better protect their young.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 23rd, 2021

Female African elephants evolved toward being tuskless over just a few decades as poachers sought ivory

During the civil war in Mozambique, armies hunted African elephants for ivory. That poaching led to an uptick in the number of tuskless animals born. A tusked African elephant in South Africa's Kruger National Park. Getty During the civil war in Mozambique, armies hunted African elephants to near extinction to collect ivory tusks. A study shows that the proportion of tuskless animals born during and after the war rose dramatically. The research suggests elephants quickly evolved to increase their chances of survival. Shane Campbell-Staton, an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University, spent most of his career researching lizards. But at 3:00 a.m. one morning in 2016, he was browsing YouTube and came across a video about African elephants. It described a bizarre trend: Many female elephants in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park lacked tusks.That was unusual, since usually just 2% of female African elephants are tuskless. Intrigued, Staton-Campbell reached out to colleagues who researched elephants, but found no one had looked into the mystery. But Princeton biologist Robert Pringle invited him to the park to study the phenomenon himself."It took me 1.5 seconds to say, 'Yea I'll definitely do that,'" Staton-Campbell told Insider.Seven months after watching that video, he found himself in a helicopter, counting elephants. After comparing current populations to historical video footage from Gorongosa park, he and Pringle came to a disturbing conclusion: The number of tuskless females had increased dramatically over about three decades. Between 1977 and 2004, the proportion of females who lacked tusks jumped from 18.5% to 33%.The results of their research were published Thursday in the journal Science.Victims of a civil warThe start of the trend away from tusks is no coincidence, the new study says. A carcass of an elephant killed by ivory poachers at Tsavo East Park in Kenya, 1988. William F. Campbell/Getty Mozambique entered a bloody civil war in 1977. Armies on both sides hunted African elephants for their tusks, selling the ivory to finance war efforts over 15 years. By 1992, the elephant population in Gorongosa had declined by more than 90%. During the war, the frequency of tuskless females in the park almost tripled, to the point where one in every two females lacked tusks. Given that poachers targeted tusked elephants, it made sense that the animals' rare tuskless counterparts had a greater chance of survival.That advantage persisted even once the civil war ended, though the proportion of tuskless females being born did go down somewhat. Between 1995 and 2004, one in every three females born in the park were tuskless, compared to about one in every five born before the war. Overall between 1972 and 2000, the researchers calculated, five tuskless females survived for every one tusked female.That suggested to Campbell-Staton's group that poaching had driven a rapid evolution. "It's extremely, extremely improbable to get that magnitude of change just from chance alone," he said.A lethal trait for malesThe researchers were puzzled, however, as to why tusklessness was a trait limited to females. An African elephant stands in a watering hole at the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique on May 28, 2016. John Wessels/AFP via Getty Even in areas with large African elephant populations outside of Gorongosa park, there are only scattered anecdotes of tuskless males. That pattern suggests a genetic origin for tusklessness that is linked to an elephant's sex. After sequencing the genomes of both tusked and tuskless females in the park, the researchers identified a dominant gene that could be responsible for tusklessness, called AMELX.AMELX gets passed from mothers to their offspring on the X chromosome, and humans have the gene, too. In people, the disruption of that gene causes brittle teeth and diminishes tooth growth in females, Campbell-Staton said. But if a human male inherits a disrupted AMELX gene on his X chromosome, he usually dies.The study authors think it could be the same with African elephants: If a male elephant inherits a disrupted AMELX gene, he dies; but the mutated gene would only result in tusklessness in a female elephant.The loss of tusks could create ripples through entire ecosystems A tuskless African elephant in Kruger National park, South Africa. Getty Tusklessness might seem like a non-critical issue, Campbell-Staton said, but the trend could impact African elephants' whole ecosystems."Tusks are multi-purpose tools to strip bark from trees, dig up valuable minerals, or uncover subterranean water sources," he said. "If you don't have your tusks, your behavior shifts - you're no longer pushing trees over because you can't strip their bark."Other animals in the African savanna are dependent on those elephant behaviors. When elephants push over trees, that creates new space for other grassland plants, which in turn create habitats for other species. A decline in tusked elephants hampers that process."This is an example of how human activity is changing the evolutionary trajectory of species all across the tree of life," Campbell-Staton said, adding, "humans are the most influential evolutionary pressure in history besides the five major mass extinction events." A group of African elephants cross a road in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Getty Although Mozambique's civil war is long over, it may take a century for the proportion of tuskless females to drop back to pre-war levels."It'll probably take five, six, or seven generations to get back to the 2% that you would expect absent any poaching pressure," Campbell-Staton said.That, of course, is far longer than the one generation that "it took to mess it up," he added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 21st, 2021

Transcript: Soraya Darabi

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This… Read More The post Transcript: Soraya Darabi appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest. Her name is Soraya Darabi. She is a venture capital and impact investor who has an absolutely fascinating background working for, first with the New York Times Social Media Group then with a startup that eventually gets purchased by OpenTable, and then becoming a venture investor that focuses on women and people of color-led startups which is not merely a way to, quote-unquote, “do good” but it’s a broad area that is wildly underserved by the venture community and therefore is very inefficient. Meaning, there’s a lot of upside in this. You can both do well and do good by investing in these areas. I found this to be absolutely fascinating and I think you will also, if you’re at all interested in entrepreneurship, social media startups, deal flow, how funds identify who they want to invest in, what it’s like to actually experience an exit as an entrepreneur, I think you’ll find this to be quite fascinating. So with no further ado, my conversation with TMV’s Soraya Darabi. VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. My special guest this week is Soraya Darabi. She is the Co-Founder and General Partner of TMV, a venture capital firm that has had a number of that exits despite being relatively young, 65 percent of TMV’s startups are led by women or people of color. Previously, she was the cofounder of Foodspotting, an app named App of the Year by Apple and Wire that was eventually purchased by OpenTable. Soraya Darabi, welcome to Bloomberg. SORAYA DARABI; GENERAL PARTNER & FOUNDER; TMV: My goodness, Barry, thank you for having me. RITHOLTZ: I’ve been looking forward to this conversation since our previous discussion. We were on a Zoom call with a number of people discussing blockchain and crypto when it was really quite fascinating and I thought you had such an unusual and interesting background, I thought you would make a perfect guest for the show. Let’s start with your Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media at the “New York Times” when social media was really just ramping up. Tell us about what that was like. Tell us what you did in the late aughts at The Times. DARABI: Absolutely. I was fresh faced out of a university. I had recently graduated with mostly a journalism concentration from Georgetown and did a small stint in Condé Nast right around the time they acquired Reddit for what will soon be nothing because Reddit’s expecting to IPO at around 15 billion. And that experience at Reddit really offered me a deep understanding of convergence, what was happening to digital media properties as they partnered for the first time when nascent but scaling social media platforms. And so the “New York Times” generously offered me a role that was originally called manager of buzz marketing. I think that’s what they called social media in 2006 and then that eventually evolved into manager of digital partnerships and social media which, in essence, meant that we were aiming to be the first media property in the world to partner with companies that are household names today but back in the they were fairly unbalanced to Facebook and Twitters, of course, but also platforms that really took off for a while and then plateaued potentially. The Tumblers of the world. And it was responsibility to understand how we could effectively generate an understanding of the burgeoning demographics of this platform and how we could potentially bring income into The Times for working with them, but more importantly have a journalist that could authentically represent themselves on new media. And so, that was a really wonderful role to have directly out of University and then introduce me to folks with whom I still work today. DARABI: That’s quite interesting. So when you’re looking at a lot of these companies, you mentioned Facebook and Twitter and Tumbler, how do you know if something’s going to be a Facebook or a MySpace, so Twitter or a Tumbler, what’s going to survive or not, when you’re cutting deals with these companies on behalf of The Times, are you thinking in terms of hey, who’s going to stick around, wasn’t that much earlier that the dot-com implosion took place prior to you starting with The Times? DARABI: It’s true, although I don’t remember the dot-com implosion. So, maybe that naivete helped because all I had was enthusiasm, unbridled enthusiasm for these new companies and I operated then and now still with a beta approach to business. Testing out new platforms and trying to track the data, what’s scaling, what velocity is this platform scaling and can we hitch a ride on the rochet ship if they will so allow. But a lot of our partnerships then and now, as an investor, are predicated upon relationships. And so, as most, I think terrific investors that I listen to, who I listen to in your show, at least, will talk to you about the importance of believing and the founder and the founder’s vision and that was the case back then and remains the case today. RITHOLTZ: So, when you were at The Times, your tenure there very much overlapped the great financial crisis. You’re looking at social media, how did that manifest the world of social media when it looked like the world of finance was imploding at that time? DARABI: Well, it was a very interesting time. I remember having, quite literally, 30-second meetings with Sorkin as he would run upstairs to my floor, in the eighth floor, to talk about a deal book app that we wanted to launch and then he’d ran back down to his desk to do much more important work, I think, and — between the financial crisis to the world. So, 30-second meetings aside, it was considered to be, in some ways, a great awakening for the Web 2.0 era as the economy was bottoming out, like a recession, it also offered a really interesting opportunity for entrepreneurs, many of whom had just been laid off or we’re looking at this as a sizeable moment to begin to work on a side hustle or a life pursuit. And so, there’s — it’s unsettling, of course, any recession or any great awakening, but lemonade-lemons, when the opening door closing, there was a — there was a true opportunity as well for social media founders, founders focusing on convergence in any industry, really, many of which are predicated in New York. But again, tinkering on an idea that could ultimately become quite powerful because if you’re in the earliest stage of the riskiest asset class, big venture, there’s always going to be seed funding for a great founder with a great idea. And so, I think some of the smartest people I’d ever met in my life, I met at the onset of the aftermath of that particular era in time. RITHOLTZ: So you mentioned side hustle. Let’s talk a little bit about Foodspotting which is described as a visual geolocal guide to dishes instead of restaurants which sounds appealing to me. And it was named App of the Year by both Apple and Wired. How do you go from working at a giant organization like The Times to a startup with you and a cofounder and a handful of other coders working with you? DARABI: Well, five to six nights a week after my day job at the “New York Times,” I would go to networking events with technologists and entrepreneurs after hours. I saw that a priority to be able to partner from the earliest infancy with interesting companies for that media entity. I need to at least know who these founders were in New York and Silicon Valley. And so, without a true agenda other than keen curiosity to learn what this business were all about, I would go to New York tech meetup which Scott Heiferman of meetup.com who’s now in charge LP in my fund would create. And back then, the New York Tech Meetup was fewer than 40 people. I believe it’s been the tens of thousands now. RITHOLTZ: Wow, that’s … DARABI: In New York City alone. And so, it was there that I met some really brilliant people. And in particular, a gentleman my age who’s building a cloud-computing company that was essentially arbitraging AWS to repopulate consumer-facing cloud data services for enterprises, B2B2C play. And we all thought it would be Dropbox. The company ultimately wasn’t, but I will tell you the people with whom I worked with that startup because I left the “New York Times” to join that startup, to this day remain some of the most successful people in Silicon Valley and Alley. And actually, one of those persons is a partner at our firm now, Darshan. He was the cofounder of that particular company which is called drop.io. but I stayed there very quickly. I was there for about six months. But at that startup, I observed how a young person my age could build a business, raise VC, he was the son of a VC and so he was exceptionally attuned to the changing landscape of venture and how to position the company so that it would be attractive to the RREs of the world and then the DFJs. And I … RITHOLTZ: Define those for us. RREs and BFJs. DARABI: Sorry. Still, today, very relevant and very successful venture capital firms. And in particular, they were backing a lot of the most interesting ideas in Web 2.0 era when I joined this particular startup in 2010. Well, that startup was acquired by Facebook and I often say, no, thanks to me. But the mafia that left that particular startup continues to this day to coinvest with one another and help one another’s ideas to exceed. And it was there that I began to build the confidence, I think, that I really needed to explore my own entrepreneurial ideas or to help accelerate ideas. And Foodspotting was a company that I was advising while at that particular startup, that was really taking off. This was in the early days of when Instagram was still in beta and we observed that the most commonly posted photos on Instagram were of food. And so, by following that lead, we basically built an app as well that activity that continues to take place every single day. I still see food photos on Twitter every time I open up my stream. And decided to match that with an algorithm that showed folks wherever they were in the world, say in Greece, that might want spanakopita or if I’m in Japan, Okinawa, we help people to discover not just the Michelin-rated restaurants or the most popular local hunt in New York but rather what’s the dish that they should be ordering. And then the app was extremely good was populating beautiful photos of that particular dish and then mirroring them with accredited reviews from the Zagats of the world but also popular celebrity shots like Marcus Samuelsson in New York. And that’s why we took off because it was a cult-beloved app of its time back when there were only three geolocation apps in the iTunes apparently store. It was we and Twitter and Foursquare. So, there was a first-mover advantage. Looking back in hindsight, I think we sold that company too soon. OpenTable bought the business. A year and a half later, Priceline bought OpenTable. Both were generous liquidity events for the founders that enabled us to become angel investors. But sometimes I wish that that app still existed today because I could see it being still incredibly handy in my day-to-day life. RITHOLTZ: To say the least. So did you have to raise money for Foodspotting or did you just bootstrapped it and how did that experience compare with what that exit was like? DARABI: We did. We raised from tremendous investors like Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures whom I think of as being one of the best angel investors of the world. He was on the board. But we didn’t raise that much capital before the business is ultimately sold and what I learned in some of those early conversations, I would say, that may have ultimately led to LOIs and term sheets was that so much of M&As about wining and dining and as a young person, particularly for me, you and I discussed before the show, Barry, we’re both from New York, I’m not from a business-oriented family to say the least. My mom’s an academic, my father was a cab driver in New York City. And so, there are certain elements of this game, raising venture and ultimately trying to exit your company, that you don’t learn from a business book. And I think navigating that as a young person was complicated if I had to speak economically. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. What is purposeful change? DARABI: Well, the world purpose, I suppose, especially in the VC game could come across as somewhat of a cliché. But we try to be as specific as possible when we allude to the impact that our investment could potentially make. And so, specifically, we invest in five verticals at our early stage New York City-based venture fund. We invest in what we call the care economy, just companies making all forms of care, elder care to pet care to health care, more accessible and equitable. We invest in financial inclusion. So this is a spin on fintech. These are companies enabling wealth creation, education, and most importantly literacy for all, that I think is really important to democratization of finance. We invest in the future of work which are companies creating better outcomes for workers and employees alike. We invest in the future of work which are companies creating better outcomes for workers and employers alike. We invest in purpose as it pertains to transportation. So, not immediately intuitive but companies creating transparency and efficiency around global supply chain and mobility. I’m going to talk about why we pick that category in a bit. And sustainability. So, tech-enabled sustainable solutions. These are companies optimizing for sustainability from process to product. With these five verticals combined, we have a subspecies which is that diverse founders and diverse employee bases and diverse cap table. It is not charity, it’s simply good for business. And so, in addition to being hyper specific about the impact in which we invest, we also make it a priority and a mandate at our firm to invest in the way the world truly look. And when we say that on our website, we link to census data. And so, we invest in man and women equally. We invest in diverse founders, almost all of the time. And we track this with data and precious to make sure that our investments reflect not just one zip code in California but rather America at large. RITHOLTZ: And you have described this as non-obvious founders. Tell us a little bit about that phrase. DARABI: Well, not obvious is a term you hear a lot when you go out to Silicon Valley. And I don’t know, I think it was coined by a well-known early PayPal employee turned billionaire turned investor who actually have a conference centered around non-obvious ideas. And I love the phrase. I love thinking about investment PC that are contrary because we have a contrary point of view, contrarian point of view, you often have outlier results because if you’re right, you’re taking the risk and your capturing the reward. When you’re investing in non-obvious founders, it should be that is the exact same outcome. And so, it almost sort of befuddled me as a person with a hard to pronounce name in Silicon Valley, why it was that we’re an industry that prides itself on investing in innovation and groundbreaking ideas and the next frontier of X, Y, and Z and yet all of those founders in which we were investing, collectively, tended to kind of look the same. They were coming from the same schools and the same types of families. And so, to me, there was nothing innovative at all about backing that Wharton, PSB, HBS guy who is second or third-generation finance. And what really excites me about venture is capturing a moment in time that’s young but also the energy is palpable around not only the idea in which the founder is building but the categories of which they’re tackling and that sounded big. I’ll be a little bit more speficic. And so, at TMV, we tried to see things before they’re even coming around the bend. For instance, we were early investors in a company called Cityblock Health which is offering best in class health care specifically for low income Americans. So they focus on the most vulnerable population which are underserved with health care and they’re offering them best in class health care access at affordable pricing because it’s predominantly covered through a payer relationship. And this company is so powerful to us for three reasons because it’s not simply offering health care to the elite. It’s democratizing access to care which I think is absolutely necessary in term out for success of any kind. We thought this was profoundly interesting because the population which they serve is also incredibly diverse. And so when you look at that investment over, say, a comparable company, I won’t name names, that offers for-profit health care, out-of-pocket, you can see why this is an opportunity that excites us as impact investors but we don’t see the diversity of the team it’s impact. We actually see that as their unfair advantage because they are accessing a population authentically that others might ignore. RITHOLTZ: Let me see if I understand this correctly. When you talk about non-obvious find — founders and spaces like this, what I’m hearing from you is you’re looking at areas where the market has been very inefficient with how it allocates capital … DARABI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … that these areas are just overlooked and ignored, hey, if you want to go on to silicon valley and compete with everybody else and pay up for what looks like the same old startup, maybe it will successful and maybe it won’t, that’s hypercompetitive and hyper efficient, these are areas that are just overlooked and there is — this is more than just do-goodery for lack of a better word. There are genuine economic opportunities here with lots of potential upside. DARABI: Absolutely. So, my business partner and I, she and I found each other 20 years ago as undergrads at Georgetown but we went in to business after she was successful and being one of the only women in the world to take a shipping business public with her family, and we got together and we said we have a really unique access, she and I. And the first SPV that we collaborated on back in 2016 was a young business at the time, started by two women, that was focused on medical apparel predominantly for nurses. Now it’s nurses and doctors. And they were offering a solution to make medical apparel, so scrubs, more comfortable and more fashionable for nurses. I happen to have nurses and doctors in my family so doing due diligence for this business is relatively simple. I called my aunt who’s a nurse practitioner, a nurse her life, and she said, absolutely. When you’re working in a uniform at the hospital, you want something comfortable with extra pockets that makes you look and feel good. The VCs that they spoke to at the time, and they’ve been very public about this, in the beginning, anyway, were less excited because they correlated this particular business for the fashion company. But if you look back at our original memo which I saved, it says, FIGS, now public on the New York Stock Exchange is a utility business. It’s a uniform company that can verticalize beyond just medical apparel. And so, we helped value that company at 15 million back in 2016. And this year, in 2021, they went public at a $7 billion market cap. RITHOLTZ: Wow. DARABI: And so, what is particularly exciting for us going back to that conversation on non-obvious founders is that particular business, FIGS, was the first company in history to have two female co-founders go public. And when we think of success at TMV, we don’t just think about financial success and IRR and cash on cash return for our LPs, of course we think about that. But we also think who are we cheerleading and with whom do we want to go into business. I went to the story on the other side of the fence that we want to help and we measure non-obvious not just based on gender or race because I think that’s a little too precise in some ways. Sometimes, for us non-obvious, is around geography, I would say. I’m calling you from Athens, as you know, and in Greece, yesterday, I got together with a fund manager. I’m lucky enough to be an LP in her fund and she was talking about the average size of a seed round in Silicon Valley these days, hovering around 30 million. And I was scratching my head because at our fund, TMV, we don’t see that. We’re investing in Baltimore, Maryland, and in Austin, Texas and the average price for us to invest in the seed round is closer to 5 million or 6 million. And so, we actually can capture larger ownership of the pie early on and then develop a very close-knit relationship with these founders but might not be as networked in the Valley where there’s 30 VC funds to everyone that exist in Austin, Texas. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And so, yes, I think you’re right to say that it’s about inefficiencies in market but also just around — about being persistent and looking where others are not. RITHOLTZ: That’s quite intriguing. Your team is female-led. You have a portfolio of companies that’s about 65 percent women and people of color. Tell us how you go about finding these non-obvious startups? DARABI: It’s a good question. TMV celebrates its five-year anniversary this year. So the way we go about funding companies now is a bit different than the way we began five years ago. Now, it’s systematic. We collectively, as a partnership, there are many of us take over 50 calls a month with Tier 1 venture capital firms that have known us for a while like the work that we do, believe in our value-add because the partnership comprised of four more operators. So, we really roll up our sleeves to help. And when you’ve invested at this firms, enough time, they will write to you and say I found a company that’s a little too early for us, for XYZ reason, but it resonates and I think it might be for you. So we found some of our best deals that way. But other times, we found our deal flow through building our own communities. And so, when I first started visit as an EM, an emerging manager of a VC firm. And roughly 30 percent of LP capital goes to EM each year but that’s sort of an outsized percentage because when you think about the w-fix-solve (ph) addition capital, taking 1.3 billion of that pie, then you recognize the definition of emerging manager might need to change a bit. So, when I was starting as an EM, I recognize that the landscape wasn’t necessarily leveled. If you weren’t, what’s called the spinout, somebody that has spent a few years at a traditional established blue-chip firm, then it’s harder to develop and cultivate relationships with institutional LPs who will give you a shot even though the data absolutely points to there being a real opportunity in capturing lightning in a bottle if you find a right EM with the right idea in the right market conditions which is certainly what we’re in right now. And so, I decided to start a network specifically tailored around helping women fund managers, connecting one another and it began as a WhatsApp group and a weekly Google Meet that has now blown into something that requires a lot of dedicated time. And so we’re hiring an executive director for this group. They’re called Transact Global, 250 women ex-fund managers globally, from Hong Kong, to Luxembourg, to Venezuela, Canada, Nigeria, you name it. There are women fund managers in our group and we have one of the most active deal flow channels in the world. And so two of our TMV deals over the last year, a fintech combatting student debt and helping young Americans save for retirement at the same time, as an example, came from this WhatsApp deal flow channel. So, I think creating the community, being the change, so to speak, has been incredibly effective for us a proprietary deal flow mechanism. And then last but not least, I think that having some sort of media presence really has helped. And so, I’ve hosted a podcast and I’ve worked on building up what I think to be a fairly organic Twitter following over the years and we surprise ourselves by getting some really exceptional founders cold pitching us on LinkedIn and on Twitter because we make ourselves available as next gen EMs. So, that’s a sort of long-winded answer to your question. But it’s not the traditional means by any means. RITHOLTZ: To say the least. Are you — the companies you’re investing in, are they — and I’ll try and keep this simple for people who are not all that well-versed in the world of venture, is it seed stage, is it the A round, the B round? How far into their growth process do you put money in? DARABI: So it is a predominantly seed fund. We call our investments core investments. So, these are checks that average, 1 and 1.5 million. So for about 1.25 million, on average, we’re capturing 10-15% of a cap payable. And in this area, that’s called a seed round. It will probably be called a Series A 10 years ago. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And then we follow on through the Series A and it max around, I think, our pro rata at the B. So, our goal via Series B is to have, on average, 10% by the cap. And then we give ourselves a little bit of wiggle room with our modeling. We take mars and moonshot investments with smaller checks so we call these initial interest checks. And initial interest means I’m interested but your idea is still audacious, they won’t prove itself out for three or four years or to be very honest, we weren’t the first to get into this cap or you’re picking Sequoia over us, so we understand but let’s see if we can just promise you a bit of value add to edge our way into your business. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And oftentimes, when you speak as a former founder yourself with a high level of compassion and you promise with integrity that you’re going to work very hard for that company, they will increase the size of their round and they will carve out space for you. And so, we do those types of investments rarely, 10 times, in any given portfolio. But what’s interesting in looking back at some of our outliers from found one, it came from those initial interest checks. So that’s our model in a nutshell. We’re pretty transparent about it. What we like about this model is that it doesn’t make us tigers, we’re off the board by the B, so we’re still owning enough of the cap table to be a meaningful presence in the founder’s lives and in their business and it allows us to feel like we’re not spraying and praying. RITHOLTZ: Spraying and praying is an amusing term but I’m kind of intrigued by the fact that we use to call it smart money but you’re really describing it as value-added capital when a founder takes money from TMV, they’re getting more than just a check, they’re getting the involvement from entrepreneurs who have been through the process from startup to capital raise to exit, tell us a li bit about how that works its way into the deals you end up doing, who you look at, and what the sort of deal flow you see is like. DARABI: Well, years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a world-class advertiser and I was at his incredibly fancy office down in Wall Street, his ad agency. And he described to me with pride how he basically bartered his marketing services for one percent of a unicorn. And he was sort of showing off of it about how, from very little time and effort, a few months, he walked away with a relatively large portion of a business. And I thought, yes, that’s clever. But for the founder, they gave up too much of their business too soon. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And I came up with an idea that I floated by Marina back in the day where our original for TMV Fund I began with the slide marketing as the future of venture and venture is the future of marketing. Meaning, it’s a VC fund where the position itself more like an ad agency but rather than charging for its services, it’s go-to-market services. You offer them free of charge but then you were paid in equity and you could quantify the value that you were offering to these businesses. And back then, people laughed us even though all around New York City, ad agencies were really doing incredible work and benefiting from the startups in that ecosystem. And so, we sort of changed the positioning a bit. And now, we say to our LPs and to our founders, your both clients of our firm. So, we do think of ourselves as an agency. But one set of our marketplace, you have LPs and what they want is crystal clear. The value that they derive from us is through a community and connectivity and co-investment and that’s it. It’s pretty kind of dry. Call me up once a year where you have an exceptional opportunity. Let me invest alongside you. Invite me to dinners four times a year, give me some information and a point of view that I can’t get elsewhere. Thank you for your time. And I love that. It’s a great relationship to have with incredibly smart people. It’s cut and dry but it’s so different. What founders want is something more like family. They want a VC on their board that they can turn to during critical moments. Two a.m. on a Saturday is not an uncommon time for me to get a text message from a founder saying what do I do. So what they want is more like 24/7 services for a period of time. And they want to know when that relationship should start and finish. So it’s sort of the Montessori approach to venture. We’re going to tell them what we’re going to tell them. Tell them what they’re telling them. Tell them what we told them. We say to founders with a reverse pitch deck. So we pitch them as they’re pitching us. Here’s what we promise to deliver for you for the first — each of the 24 months of your infancy and then we promise you we’ll mostly get lost. You can come back to use when your business is growing if you want to do it tender and we’ll operate an SPV for you for you or if you simply want advice, we’re never going to ignore you but our specialty, our black belt, if you will, Barry, is in those first 24 months of your business, that go-to-market. And so, we staffed up TMV to include, well, it’s punching above our weight but the cofounder of an exceptionally successful consumer marketing business, a gross marketer, a recruiter who helps one of our portfolio companies hire 40 of their earliest employees. We have a PR woman. You’ve met Viyash (ph), she’s exceptional with whom, I don’t know, how we would function sometimes because she’s constantly writing and re-editing press releases for the founders with which we work. And then Anna, our copywriter who came from IAC and Sean, our creative director, used to be the design director for Rolling Stone, and I can go on and on. So, some firms called us a platform team but we call it the go-to-market team. And then we promise a set number of hours for ever company that we invest into. RITHOLTZ: That’s … DARABI: And then the results — go ahead. RITHOLTZ: No, that’s just — I’m completely fascinated by that. But I have to ask maybe this is an obvious question or maybe it’s not, so you — you sound very much like a non-traditional venture capital firm. DARABI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Who are your limited partners, who are your clients, and what motivates them to be involved with TMV because it sounds so different than what has been a pretty standard model in the world of venture, one that’s been tremendous successful for the top-tier firms? DARABI: Our LP set is crafted with intention. And so, 50% of our investors are institutional. This concludes institutional-sized family offices and family offices in a multibillions. We work with three major banks, Fortune 500 banks. We work with a couple of corporate Fortune 500 as investors or LPs and a couple of fund to funds. So that’s really run of the mill. But 50 percent of our investors and that’s why I’m in Athens today are family offices, global family offices, that I think are reinventing with ventures like, to look like in the future because wealth has never been greater globally. There’s a trillion dollars of assets that are passing to the hands of one generation to the next and what’s super interesting to me, as a woman, is that historically, a lot of that asset transferred was from father to son, but actually, for the first time in history, over 50 percent, so 51% of those asset inheritors are actually women. And so, as my business partner could tell because she herself is a next gen, in prior generations, women were encouraged to go into the philanthropic or nonprofit side of the family business … RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And the sons were expected to take over the business or the family office and all of that is completely turned around in the last 10 years. And so, my anchor investor is actually a young woman. She’s under the age of 35. There’s a little bit of our firm that’s in the rocks because we’re not playing by the same rules that the establishment has played by. But certainly, we’re posturing ourselves to be able to grow in to a blue-chip firm which is why we want to maintain that balance, so 50 percent institutional and 50 percent, I would call it bespoke capital. And so, the LPs that are bespoke, we work at an Australian family office and Venezuelan family office and the Chilean family office and the Mexican family office and so on. For those family offices, we come to them, we invite them to events in New York City, we give them personalized introductions to our founders and we get on the phone with them. Whenever they’d like, we host Zooms. We call them the future of everything series. They can learn from us. And we get to know them as human beings and I think that there’s a reason why two thirds of our Fund I LPs converted over into Fund II because they like that level of access, it’s what the modern LP is really looking for. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about some of the areas that you find intriguing. What sectors are really capturing your attention these days? What are you most excited about? DARABI: Well, Barry, I’m most excited about five categories for which we’ve been investing for quite some time, but they’re really being accelerated due to the 2020 pandemic and a looming recession. And so, we’re particularly fascinated by not just health care investing as has been called in the past but rather the care economy. I’m not a huge fan of the term femtech, it always sounds like fembot to me. But care as it pertains to women alone is a multitrillion dollar opportunity. And so, when we think of the care economy, we think of health care, pet care, elder care, community care, personal care as it pertains to young people, old people, men, women, children, we bifurcate and we look for interesting opportunities that don’t exist because they’ve been undercapitalized, undervalued for so long. Case in point, we were early investors Kindbody, a reproductive health care company focused on women who want to preserve their fertility because if you look at 2010 census data, you can see that the data has been there for some time that women, in particular, were delaying marriage and childbirth and there are a lot of world-famous economists who will tell you this, the global population will decline because we’re aging and we’re not necessarily having as many children as we would have in the past plus it’s expensive. And so, we saw that as investors as a really interesting opportunity and jumped on the chance to ask Gina Bartasi who’s incredible when she came to us with a way to make fertility preservation plus expenses. So she followed the B2C playbook and she started with the mobile clinic that helps women freeze their eggs extensively. That company has gone on to raise hundreds — pardon me — and that company is now valued in the hundreds of million and for us, it was as simple as following our intuition as women fund managers, we know what our peers are thinking about because we talk to them all the time and I think the fact that we’re bringing a new perspective to venture means that we’re also bringing a new perspective to what has previously been called femtech. We invest in financial inclusion. Everyone in the world that’s investing fintech, the self-directed financial mobile apps are always going to be capitalized especially in a post Robin Hood era but we’re specifically interested in the democratization of access to financial information and we’re specifically interested in student debt and alleviating student debt in America because not only is it going to be one of the greatest challenges our generation will have to overcome, but it’s also prohibiting us from living out the American dream, $1.7 trillion of student debt in America that needs to be alleviated. And then we’re interested in the future of work, and long have been, that certainly was very much accelerated during the pandemic but we’ve been investing in the 1099 and remote work for quite some time. And so, really proud to have been the first check into a company called Bravely which is an HR chatbot that helps employees inside of a company chat a anonymously with HR representatives outside of that company, that’s 1099. That issue is like DEI, an inclusion and upward mobility and culture setting and what to do when you’re all of a sudden working for home. So that’s an example of a future of work business. And then in the tech-enabled sustainable solutions category, it’s a mouthful, let’s call that sustainability, we are proud to have been early investors of a company called Ridwell, out of Seattle Washington, focused on not just private — privatized recycling but upcycling and reconnaissance. Where are our things going when we recycle them? For me, it always been a pretty big question. And so, Ridwell allows you to re and upcycle things that are hard to get rid of out of your home like children’s eyeglasses and paints and battery, single-use plastic. And it shows you where those things are going which I think is super cool and there’s good reason why it has one of the highest NPS scores, Net Promoter Scores, of any company I’ve ever worked with. People are craving this kind of modern solution. And last but not least, we invest in transportation and part because of the unfair advantage my partner, Marina, brings to TMV as she comes from a maritime family. And so, we can pile it, transportation technology, within her own ecosystem. That’s pretty great. But also, because we’re just fascinated by the fact that 90 percent of the world commodities move on ship and the biggest contributor to emissions in the world outside of corporate is coming from transportation. SO, if we can sort of figure out this industry, we can solve a lot of the problems that our generation are inheriting. Now, these categories might sound massive and we do consider ourselves a generalist firm but we stick to five-course sectors that we truly believe in and we give ourselves room to kick out a sector or to add a new one with any given new fund. For the most part, we haven’t needed to because this remain the categories that are not only most appealing to us as investors but I think paramount to our generation. RITHOLTZ: That’s really intriguing. Give us an example of moonshot or what you called earlier, a Mars shot technology or a company that can really be a gamechanger but may not pay off for quite a while. DARABI: We’ve just backed a company that is focusing on food science. Gosh, I can’t give away too much because they haven’t truly launched in the U.S. But maybe I’ll kind of allude to it. They use crushed produce, like, crush potato skins to make plastic but biodegrades. And so, it’s a Mars shot because it’s a materials business and it’s a food science business rolled off into both the CPG business and an enterprise business. This particular material can wrap itself around industrial pellets. Even though it’s audacious, it’s not really a Mars shot when you think about the way the world is headed. Everybody wants to figure out how do we consume less plastic and recycle plastic better. And so, if there are new materials out there that will not only disintegrate but also, in some ways, feed the environment, it will be a no-brainer and then if you add to the equation the fact that it could be maybe not less expensive but of comparable pricing to the alternative, I can’t think of a company in the world that wouldn’t switch to this solution. RITHOLTZ: Right. So this is plastic that you don’t throw away. You just toss in the garden and it becomes compost? DARABI: Yes, exactly. Exactly. It should help your garden grow. So, yes, so that’s what I would call a Mars shot in some ways. But in other ways, it’s just common sense, right? RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about your investment vehicles. You guys run, I want to make sure I get this right, two funds and three vehicles, is that right? DARABI: We have two funds. They’re both considered micro funds because they’re both under 100 million and then we operate in parallel for SPVs that are relatively evergreen and they serve as opportunistic investments to continue to double down on our winners. RITHOLTZ: SPV is special purpose investment … DARABI: Vehicles. Yes. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And the PE world, they’re called sidecars. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. So how do these gets structured? Does everything look very similar when you have a fund? How quickly do you deploy the capital and typically how long you locked for or investors locked up for? DARABI: Well investors are usually in private equity are VC funds locked up for 10 years. That’s not usual. We have shown liquidity faster, certainly, for Fund I. It’s well in the black and it’s only five years old less, four and a half years old. So, how do we make money? We charge standard fees, 2 on 20 is the rubric of it, we operate by. And then lesser fees for sidecars or direct investments. So that’s kind of how we stay on business. When you think about an emerging manager starting their first fund, management fees are certainly not so we can live a lavish rock and roll life on a $10 million fund with a two percent management fee, we’re talking about 200K for the entire business to operate. RITHOLTZ: Wow. DARABI: So Marina and I, not only anchored our first fund with their own capital but we didn’t pay ourselves for four years. It’s not glamorous. I mean, there’s some friends of mine that thing the venture capital life is glam and it is if you’re on Sand Hill Road. But if you’re an EM, it’s a lot more like a startup where you’re burning the midnight oil, you are bartering favors with your friends, and you are begging the smartest people you know to take a chance on you to invite you on to their cap table. But it somehow works out because we do put in that extra effort, I think, the metrics, certainly for Fund I have shown us that we’re in this for the long haul now. RITHOLTZ: So your fund 1 and Fund 2, are there any plans of launching Fund III? DARABI: Yes. I think that given the proof points between Fund I and Fund II and a conversation that my partner and I recently had, five years out, are we in this? Do we love this? We do. OK. This is our life’s work. So you can see larger and more demonstrable sized funds but not in an outsized way, not just because we can raise more capital now but because we want to build out a partnership and the kind of culture that we always dreamed of working for back when we were employees, so we have a very diverse set of colleagues with whom we couldn’t operate and we’ll be adding to the partnership in the next two or three years which is really exciting to say. So, yes, the TMV will be around for a while. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. I want to ask you the question I ask any venture capitalist that I interview. Tell us about your best and worst investments and what did you pass on that perhaps you wish you didn’t? DARABI: Gosh. The FOMO list is so long and so embarrassing. Let me start with what I passed on that I regret. Well, I don’t know she really would have invited me to invest, but certainly, I had a wonderful conversation a peer from high school, Katrina Lake, when she was in beta mode for Stitch Fix. I think she was still at HBS at the time or had just recently graduated from Harvard. When Katrina and I had coffee in Minneapolis were we went to high school and she was telling me about the Netflix for clothing that she was building and certainly I regret not really picking up on the clues that she was offering in that conversation. Stitch Fix had an incredible IPO and I’m a proud shareholder today. And similarly, when my friend for starting Cloudflare which luckily they did bring me in to pre-IPO and I’m grateful for that, but when they were starting Cloudflare, I really should have jumped on that moment or when my buddy Ryan Graves whom I still chat with pretty frequently was starting out Uber in beta with Travis and Garrett, that’s another opportunity that I definitely missed. I was in Ireland when the Series A term sheet assigned. So there’s such a long laundry list of namedropped, namedropped, missed, missed, missed. But in terms of what I’m proud of, I’d say far more. I don’t like Sophie’s Choice. I don’t like to cherry pick the certain investments to just brag about them. But we’ve talked about someone to call today, I’d rather kind of shine a light — look at my track record, right? There’s a large realized IRR that I’m very proud of. But more on the opportunity of the companies that we more recently backed that prevent damages (ph) of CRM for oncology patient that help them navigate through the most strenuous time of their life. And by doing so, get better access to health care. And we get to wrote that check a couple of months ago. But already, it’s becoming a company that I couldn’t be more excited about because if they execute the way I think Shirley and Victor will, that has the power to help so many people in a profound way, not just in the Silicon Valley cliché way of this could change the world but this could actually help people receive better care. So, yes, I’m proud of having been an early investor in the Caspers of the world. Certainly, we’re all getting better sleep. There’s no shame there. But I’m really excited now today at investing in financial inclusion in the care economy and so on. RITHOLTZ: And let’s talk a little bit about impactful companies. Is there any different when you’re making a seed stage investment in a potentially impactful company versus traditional startup investing? DARABI: Well, pre-seed and seed investing isn’t a science and it’s certainly not a science that anyone has perfected. There are people who are incredibly good at it because they have a combination of luck and access. But if you’re a disciplined investor in any asset class and I talk to my friends who run hedge funds and work for hedge funds about 10 bets that they take a day and I think that’s a lot trickier than what I do because our do due diligence process, on average, takes an entire quarter of the year. We’re not making that many investments each year. So even though it sounds sort of fruity, when you look at a Y Combinator Demo Day, Y Comb is the biggest accelerator in Silicon Valley and they produce over 300 companies, three or four times a year. When you look at the outsized valuations coming out of Y Comb, it’s easy to think that starting company is as simple as sort of downloading a company in a Box Excel and running with it. But from where we sit, we’re scorching the earth for really compelling ideas in areas that have yet to converge and we’re looking for businesses that may have never pitched the VC before. Maybe they’re not even seeking capital. Maybe it’s a company that isn’t so interested in raising a penny eventually because they don’t need to. They’re profitable from day one. Those are the companies that we find most exciting because as former operators, we know how to appeal to them and then we also know how to work with them. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. Before I get to my favorite question, let me just throw you’re a curveball, tell me a little bit about Business Schooled, the podcast you hosted for quite a while. DARABI: So, Synchrony, Sync, came to me a few years ago with a very compelling and exciting opportunity to host a podcast with them that allowed me a fortunate opportunity to travel the country and I went to just under a dozen cities to meet with founders who have persevered past their startup phase. And what I loved about the concept of business school is that the cities that I hosted were really focused on founders who didn’t have access to VC capital, they put money on credit card. So I took SBA loans or asked friends and family to give them starter capital and then they made their business work through trying times and when you pass the five-year mark for any business, I’m passing it right now for TMV, there’s a moment of reflection where you can say, wow, I did it. it’s incredibly difficult to be a startup founder, more than 60 percent of companies fail and probably for good reason. And so, yes, I hosted business school, Seasons 2 and 3 and potentially there will be more seasons and I’m very proud of the fact that at one point we cracked the top 20 business podcasts and people seem to be really entertained through these conversations with insightful founders who are vulnerable with me about what it was like to build their business and I like to think they were vulnerable because I have a good amount of compassion for the experience of being founder and also because I’m a New Yorker and I just like to talk. RITHOLTZ: You’re also a founder so there’s going to be some empathy that’s genuine. You went through what they’re going through. DARABI: Exactly. Exactly. And so, what you do, Barry, is quite similar. You’re — you host an exceptionally successful business podcast and you’re also an allocator. You know that it’s interesting to do both because I think that being an investor is a lot like being a journalist. In both professions, you won’t succeed unless you are constantly curious and if you are having conversations to listen more than you speak. DARABI: Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret since it’s so late in the podcast and fewer people will be hearing this, the people I invite on the show are essentially just conversations I want to have. If other people come along and listen, that’s fantastic. But honestly, it’s for an audience of one, namely me, the reason I wanted to have you on is because I’m intrigued by the world of venture and alternatives and impact. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people have been somewhat disappointed in the results of ESG investing and impact investing that for — it’s captured a lot more mindshare than it has captured capital although we’re seeing signs that’s starting to shift. But then the real question becomes, all right, so I’m investing less in oil companies and more in other companies that just happen to consume fossil fuels, what’s the genuine impact of my ESG investing? It feels like it’s sort of de minimis whereas what you do really feels like it has a major impact for people who are interested in having their capital make a positive difference. DARABI: Thank you for saying that. And I will return the compliment by saying that I really enjoyed getting to know you on our one key economist Zoom and I think that you’re right. I think that ESG investing, certainly in the public markets has had diminished returns historically because the definition has been so bizarre and so all over the place. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And I read incredible books from people like Antony Bugg-Levine who helps coin the term the Rockefeller Foundation, who originally coined the term you read about, mortgage, IRR and IRS plus measurement and it’s so hard to have just standardization of what it means to be an impact investor and so it can be bothered but we bother. Rather, we kind of come up with our own subjective point of view of the world and we say what does impact mean to us? Certainly, it means not investing in sin stocks but then those sin stocks have to begin somewhere, has to begin with an idea that somebody had once upon a time. And so, whether we are investing in the way the world should look from our perspective. And with that in mind, it doesn’t have to be impact by your grandpa’s VC, it can be impact from modern generation but simply things that behave differently. Some folks with their dollars. People often say, well, my ESG portfolio is underperforming. But then if you dig in to the specifics, are you investing in Tesla? It’s not a pretty good year. Did you back Beyond Meat? Had a great year. And so, when you kind of redefine the public market not by a sleeve and a bank’s version of a portfolio, but rather by company that you think are making demonstrable change in the world, then you can walk away, realizing had I only invested in these companies that are purpose driven, I would have had outsized returns and that’s what we’re trying to deliver on at TMV. That’s the promise. RITHOLTZ: Really, really very, very intriguing. I know I only have you for a few minutes so let’s jump to my favorite questions that I ask all of our guests starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days. Give us your favorite, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any podcast that are keeping you entertained during the pandemic. DARABI: Well, my family has been binging on 100 Foot Wave on HBO Max which is the story of big wave surfer Garrett McNamara who is constantly surfing the world’s largest waves and I’m fascinated by people who have a mission that’s sort of bigger than success or fame but they’re driven by something and part of that something is curiosity and part of it is insanity. And so not only is it visually stunning to kind of watch these big wave surfers in Portugal, but it’s also a mind trip. What motivates them to get out of bed every day and potentially risk their lives doing something so dangerous and so bananas but also at the same time so brave and heroic. So, highly recommend. I am listening to too many podcasts. I listen to, I don’t know, a stream of things. I’m a Kara Swisher fan, Ezra Klein fan, so they’re both part of the “New York Times” these days. And of course, your podcast, Barry. RITHOLTZ: Well, thank you so much. Well, thank you so much. Let’s talk a little bit about who your early mentors were and who helped shape you career? DARABI: It’s going to sound ungrateful but I don’t think, in like a post lean in definition of the word, I ever truly had a mentor or a sponsor. Now, having said that, I’ve had people who really looked at for me and been incredibly gracious with their time and capital. And so, I would absolutely like to acknowledge that first and foremost. I think about how generous Adam Grant has been with his time and his investments for TMV in Fund I and Fund II and he’s a best-selling author and worked on highest-rated business school professor. So shout out to Adam, if he’s listening or Beth Comstock, the former Vice Chair of GE who has been instrumental in my career for about a decade and a half now. And she is also really leaning in to the TMV portfolio and has become a patient of Parsley Health, an early investment of ours and also an official adviser to the business. So, people like Adam and Beth certainly come to mind. But I don’t know, I just — I’m not sure mentors really exist outside of corporate America anymore and part of the reason why we started Transact Global is to kind of foster the concept of the peer mentor, people who are going through the same thing as you at the same time and allowing that hive mentality with an abundance mentality to catalyze people to kind of go further and faster. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about some of your favorite books and what you might reading right now. DARABI: OK, so in the biz book world, because I know your listeners as craving, I’m a big fan of “Negotiation Genius.” I took a crash course with one of the authors, Max Bazerman at the Kennedy School and it was illuminating. I mean, he’s one of the most captivating professors I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing lecture and this book has really helped me understand the concept of the ZOPA, the Zone of Possible Agreement, and how to really negotiate well. And then for Adam whom I just referenced, of all of his incredible books, my favorite is Give and Take because I try to operate with that approach of business. Give more than you take and maybe in the short term, you’ll feel depleted but in the long term, karma pays off. But mostly, Barry, I read fiction. I think the most interesting people in the world or at least the most entertaining at dinner parties are all avoid readers of fiction and history. So I recently reread, for instance, all of my favorite short stories from college, from Dostoyevsky’s “A Gentle Creature” to “Drown” Junot Diaz. “Passing” by Nella Larsen, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” by Fitzgerald. Those are some of my very favorite stories of all time. And my retirement dream is to write a book of short stories. RITHOLTZ: Really, really quite intriguing. Are they all available in a single collection or these just, going back to your favorites and just plowing through them for fun? DARABI: Those are just going back to my favorites. I try to re-read “Passing” every few years which is somehow seems to be more and more relevant as I get older and Junot Diaz has become so incredibly famous when I first read “Drown” about 20 years ago which is an original collection of short stories that broadened my perspective of why it’s important to think about a broader definition of America, I guess. And, yes, no, that’s just — that was just sort of off the top of my head as the offering of a few stories that I really love, no collection. RITHOLTZ: That’s a good collection. And we’re down to our final two questions. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who was interested in a career in either venture capital or entrepreneurship? DARABI: Venture capital or entrepreneurship. Well, I would say, learn as early as possible how to trust your gut. So, this could mean a myriad of things. As an entrepreneur, it could mean under the halo effect of an institution, university or high school or maybe having a comfortable day job, tinker with ideas, get feedback on that idea, don’t be afraid of looking or sounding dumb and build that peer network that I described. People who are rooting you on and are also insatiably curious about wonky things. And I would say that for venture capital, similar play on the same theme, but whether it’s putting small amounts of money into new concept, blockchain investing, or whether it’s meeting with entrepreneurs and saying maybe I only have $3,000 save up but I believe in you enough to bet amongst friends in Brooklyn on your concept if you’ll have me as an investor. So, play with your own money because what it’s really teaching you in return is how to follow instincts and to base pattern recognition off your own judgement. And if you do that early on, overtime, these all become datapoints that you can point to and these are lessons that you can glean while not taking the risk of portfolio management. So, I guess the real advice to your listeners is more action, please. RITHOLTZ: Really very, very intriguing. And our final question, what do you know about the world of venture investing today that you wish you knew 15 or 20 years ago when you first getting started? DARABI: Twenty years ago, I was a bit of a Pollyanna and I thought every wonderful idea that simply is built by smart people and has timed the market correctly will work out. And I will say that I’m slightly more jaded today because of the capital structure that is systematically allowing the biggest firms in the world to kind of eat up a generous portion of, let’s call it the LP pie, which leaves less capital available to the young upstart VC firms, and of course I’m biased because I run one, that are taking outsized risks on those non-obvious ideas that we referenced. And so, what I wish for the future is that institutional capital kind of reprioritizes what it’s looking for. And in addition to having a bottom line of reliable and demonstrable return on any given investment, there are new standards put into play saying we want to make sure that a portion of our portfolio goes to diverse managers. Because in turn, we recognize that they are three times more likely to invest in diverse founders or we believe in impact investing can be broader than the ESG definitely of a decade ago, so we’re coming up with our own way to measure on sustainability or what impact means to us. And if they go through those exercises which I know is hard because, certainly, I’m not trying to add work to anyone’s plate, I do think that the results will more than make up for it. RITHOLTZ: Quite intriguing. Thank you, Soraya, for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with Soraya Darabi who is the Co-Founder and General Partner at TMV Investments. If you enjoy this conversation, well, be sure and check out any of the prior 376 conversations we’ve had before. You can find those at iTunes or Spotify, wherever you buy your favorite podcast. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at MIB podcast@bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. Check out my weekly column at bloomberg.com/opinion. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps me put these conversations together each week. Tim Harrow is my audio engineer. Paris Walt (ph) is my producer. Atika Valbrun is our project manager, Michael Batnick is my head of research. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~     The post Transcript: Soraya Darabi appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 20th, 2021

PerkinElmer"s (PKI) New Deal to Improve Single-Cell Profiling

PerkinElmer (PKI) partners with Honeycomb Biotechnologies to launch HIVE scRNAseq Solution, which can advance single-cell profiling. PerkinElmer, Inc. PKI recently collaborated with Honeycomb Biotechnologies, Inc. to commercially introduce the first of its kind HIVE scRNAseq Solution for single-cell isolation and analysis. This unique product advances single-cell profiling, thereby enabling scientists to capture, store and study fragile cell types.Per management at Honeycomb Biotechnologies, the HIVE scRNAseq Solution merges sample storage into the single-cell workflow, thereby decoupling the site and time of sample collection from sample processing and analysis. Management is of the opinion that this flagship product will enable the next generation of single-cell profiling, while reducing variability and batch effects particularly for multi-site studies like distributed clinical trials, collaborations and service providers with remote customers.This collaboration is likely to provide a boost to PerkinElmer’s product portfolio and Diagnostics business.Significance of the CollaborationPer management at PerkinElmer, the company continues to move forward with respect to expansion of its core abilities in cellular analysis and applied genomics. Management is excited to partner with companies such as Honeycomb Biotechnologies that have the capability to transform the field of single-cell analysis.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchWith the rapid growth of single cell research and clinical markets, launching this product to market can broaden the number of labs, types of samples and range of cells, which can be analyzed with the HIVE platform.On the back of potential applications in diagnostics and therapeutics development, the HIVE platform streamlines single-cell profiling and enables labs to better understand health and disease at the single-cell level.Industry ProspectsPer a report by Grand View Research, the global single-cell analysis market was worth $2.2 billion in 2020 and is projected to witness a CAGR of 15% during the forecast period (2021-2028). Growing investments and government funds for research and development in the medical diagnostics space, availability of technically advanced products, and increase in adoption of single-cell analysis devices are some of the factors driving this market’s growth.Hence, this collaboration comes at an opportune time for PerkinElmer.Recent DevelopmentsThis month, the company announced that it has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA for the PKamp Respiratory SARS-CoV-2-RT-PCR Panel 1 assay. Following this announcement, qualified laboratories can commence using this single test immediately for the simultaneous qualitative identification and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2, influenza A, influenza B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — separated from nasopharyngeal swabs, anterior nasal swabs and mid-turbinate swabs.Again, this month, PerkinElmer’s company, EUROIMMUN, announced that it has received FDA’s EUA for its Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S1 Curve ELISA (IgG). This assay enables the qualitative and semi-quantitative detection of IgG antibodies produced against the SARS-CoV-2 S1 antigen in human serum and plasma.In September, the company completed its buyout of BioLegend for a total consideration of approximately $5.25 billion. The latest acquisition, which is historically the largest for the company, is expected to further expand its life science business into high-growth areas like cytometry, proteogenomics, multiplex assays, recombinant proteins, magnetic cell separation and bioprocessing.Price PerformanceShares of this currently Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have gained 38.2% in the past year compared with the industry’s growth of 47%.Stocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked stocks from the broader medical space are West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. WST, Henry Schein, Inc. HSIC and Patterson Companies, Inc. PDCO, each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.West Pharmaceutical’s long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 27.3%.Henry Schein’s long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 13.9%.Patterson Companies’ long-term earnings growth rate is projected at 9.6%. Zacks' Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence In 2021, this world-changing technology is projected to generate $327.5 billion in revenue. Now Shark Tank star and billionaire investor Mark Cuban says AI will create "the world's first trillionaires." Zacks' urgent special report reveals 3 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 3 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Henry Schein, Inc. (HSIC): Free Stock Analysis Report PerkinElmer, Inc. (PKI): Free Stock Analysis Report Patterson Companies, Inc. (PDCO): Free Stock Analysis Report West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (WST): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 19th, 2021

911 System In Jeopardy As First Responders Reject Jab

911 System In Jeopardy As First Responders Reject Jab The American Ambulance Association (AAA) warned House and Senate leaders the "nation's EMS system is facing a crippling workforce shortage, a long-term problem that has been building for more than a decade. It threatens to undermine our emergency 9-1-1 infrastructure and deserves urgent attention by Congress." "The magnitude has really blown up over the last few months," AAA President Shawn Baird told NBC News. "When you take a system that was already fragile and stretched it because you didn't have enough people entering the field, then you throw a public health emergency and all of the additional burdens that it put on our workforce, as well as the labor shortages across the entire economy, and it really has put us in a crisis mode," Baird said. What's making the EMS labor shortage worse is President Biden's vaccine mandates. First responders are quitting across the county because they don't want to get the jab and have realized they can transfer to other higher-paying jobs.  Waldoboro, Maine, town manager Julie Keizer told News Center Maine that "the vaccine mandate has contributed to the loss of first responders."  "I think part of the problem is everybody thought they (workers) would conform because nobody wants to lose their jobs," Keizer added. "But when you look at the rate of pay for emergency workers, they can make more delivering packages than patients." The pushback against vaccine mandates is not just with EMS personnel. Hundreds of firefighters in Los Angeles have filed a notice of intent to sue the city over the order. The goal of federal, state, and local governments is to get everyone vaccinated, but opponents say constitutional authority to impose these requirements on the workforce is wrong.  The LA firefighters' attorney wrote that the vaccination order is "blatantly wrongful conduct," citing several reasons, including interference with employment rights; infliction of emotional distress; violation of constitutional privacy rights; and violation of the protection of human subjects in the medical experimentation act. ... and there's even LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who refused to enforce the vaccine mandate, saying he would risk losing up to 10% of his workforce if he did so.  What's becoming clear is that EMS, firefighters, and police, are not down with the mandated jab by the government, resulting in some to leave their posts - threatening the already fragile 911 system.  Tyler Durden Tue, 10/12/2021 - 13:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 12th, 2021