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Twitter’s Highest-Profile Users Get VIP Treatment When Trolls Strike

Twitter Inc.’s highest-profile users—those with lots of followers or particular prominence—often receive a heightened level of protection from the social network’s content moderators under a secretive program that seeks to limit their exposure to trolls and bullies. Code-named Project Guardian, the internal program includes a list of thousands of accounts most likely to be attacked… Twitter Inc.’s highest-profile users—those with lots of followers or particular prominence—often receive a heightened level of protection from the social network’s content moderators under a secretive program that seeks to limit their exposure to trolls and bullies. Code-named Project Guardian, the internal program includes a list of thousands of accounts most likely to be attacked or harassed on the platform, including politicians, journalists, musicians and professional athletes. When someone flags abusive posts or messages related to those users, the reports are prioritized by Twitter’s content moderation systems, meaning the company reviews them faster than other reports in the queue. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Twitter says its rules are the same for all users, but Project Guardian ensures that potential issues related to prominent accounts—those that could erupt into viral nightmares for the users and for the company—are dealt with ahead of complaints from people who aren’t part of the program. This VIP group, which most members don’t even know they’re a part of, is intended to remove abusive content that could have the most reach and is most liable to spread on the social-media site. It also helps protect the Twitter experience of those prominent users, making them more likely to keep tweeting—and perhaps less apt to complain about abuse or harassment issues publicly. “Project Guardian is just the internal name for one of many automated tools we deploy to identify potentially abusive content,” Katrina Lane, vice president for Twitter’s service organization, which runs the program, said in a statement. “The techniques it uses are the same ones that protect all people on the service.” The list of users protected by Project Guardian changes regularly, according to Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, and doesn’t only include famous users. The program is also used to increase protection for people who unintentionally find the limelight because of a controversial tweet, or because they’ve suddenly been targeted by a Twitter mob. That means some Twitter users are added to the list temporarily while they have the world’s attention; others are on the list at almost all times. “The reason this concept existed is because of the ‘person of the day’ phenomenon,” Roth says. “And on that basis, there are some people who are the ‘person of the day’ most days, and so Project Guardian would be one way to protect them.” The program’s existence raises an obvious question: If Twitter can more quickly and efficiently protect some of its most visible users—or those who have suddenly become famous—why couldn’t it do the same for all accounts that find themselves on the receiving end of bullying or abuse? The short answer is scale. With more than 200 million daily users, Twitter has too many abuse reports to handle all of them simultaneously. That means that reports are prioritized using several different data points, including how many followers a user has, how many impressions a tweet is getting, or how likely it is that the tweet in question is abusive. An account’s inclusion in Project Guardian is just one of those signals, though people familiar with the program believe it’s a powerful one. Roth said the distinction can’t apply to everybody, or it would mean that there’s no point in having a list. “If the list becomes too big, it stops being valuable as a signal,” he added. “We really want to focus on the people who are getting an exceptional or unprecedented amount of prominence in a specific moment…this is really focused on a small slice of accounts.” Project Guardian has been used to protect users from a range of different professions. YouTube star and makeup artist James Charles was added to the program earlier this year after being harassed online. Egyptian internet activist Wael Ghonim has also been part of Project Guardian, as has former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who tweets often about Covid-19 vaccines. The program has also included journalists—even news interns—who write about topics that can result in harassment, like 8chan or the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Twitter has used Project Guardian to protect its own employees, including Roth. After the company first fact-checked then-President Donald Trump’s tweets in May 2020, Roth was singled out by Trump and his supporters as the employee behind the decision, leading to attacks and death threats. Roth, who wasn’t actually the employee who made the call, says he was temporarily added to the Project Guardian list at the time. “All of a sudden I became a lot more famous than I was the day before,” Roth explained. He said he was removed from the program after the harassment started to slow down. Accounts are added to the list in several ways, including by recommendation from Twitter employees who witness a user getting attacked and request added protection. In some cases, a famous Twitter user’s manager or agent will approach the company and ask for extra protection for their client. Social media managers at news organizations have also requested extra protection for their colleagues who write high-profile or controversial stories. Users who are in the program don’t necessarily know they are receiving any extra attention. “We look at it as, who are the people who we know have been the targets of abuse or who are predicted to be likely targets of abuse?” Roth said. Twitter said it is getting better at detecting abuse and harassment automatically, meaning it doesn’t need to wait for a user to report a problem before it can send it to a human moderator. The company says its technology now flags 65% of the abusive content it removes or asks people to delete before a user ever reports it. Lane said Twitter uses both technology and human review “to proactively monitor Tweets and Trends, especially when someone is put in the spotlight unexpectedly or there is a significant uptick in abuse or harassment.” It’s not clear whether there was any one event or incident that sparked Project Guardian, though it has existed for at least a couple of years, people familiar with the program said. The list doesn’t just protect prominent users; it also helps protect Twitter’s reputation. In years past, Twitter’s image has suffered when high-profile users publicly criticize the service—or abandon it entirely—because of a failure to combat abuse and harassment. It’s been particularly common with famous women. Model Chrissy Teigen, singer Lizzo, actor Leslie Jones and New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman have all publicly stepped back from the service after being swamped with negative tweets and messages. (They’ve all since returned.) More recently, celebrities calling out Twitter for constant harassment seems to be happening less often, though, and some people familiar with the company believe Project Guardian is one reason. Twitter’s program is another instance of the different treatment that social media apps provide to certain pre-eminent users and accounts. A Wall Street Journal investigative report from September found that Meta Platforms Inc., which owns Facebook and Instagram, was giving some prominent users special exemptions from some of its rules, leaving up content from these people that would have been flagged or removed from others. Twitter officials are adamant that Project Guardian is different, and that all users on its platform are held to the same rules. Reports related to users who are part of Project Guardian are judged the same way as all other content reports—the process usually just happens faster. While Twitter’s rules may apply to everyone, punishments for breaking those rules aren’t always equal. World leaders, for example, have more leeway when breaking Twitter’s rules than most of its users. Twitter and Meta have also spent years cultivating relationships with high-profile users, creating teams to help those people use their products and to provide hands-on assistance when needed. In 2016, Twitter stopped showing ads to a small group of prominent users with the goal of improving their experience......»»

Category: topSource: TIME10 hr. 27 min. ago Related News

A Day After Rohingya Refugees Sued Facebook for $150B, the Company Announced Some Changes

BANGKOK — Facebook’s parent company Meta said Wednesday it has expanded its ban on postings linked to Myanmar’s military to include all pages, groups, and accounts representing military-controlled businesses. It had already banned advertising from such businesses in February. The February action, which also banned military and military-controlled state and media entities from Facebook and… BANGKOK — Facebook’s parent company Meta said Wednesday it has expanded its ban on postings linked to Myanmar’s military to include all pages, groups, and accounts representing military-controlled businesses. It had already banned advertising from such businesses in February. The February action, which also banned military and military-controlled state and media entities from Facebook and Instagram, followed the army’s seizure of power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The new action came just a day after a high-profile lawsuit was filed in California against Facebook parent Meta Platforms seeking over $150 billion for the company’s alleged failure to stop hateful posts that incited violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military and its supporters, which crested in 2017. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The army, known in Myanmar as the Tatmadaw, was notorious for a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, which drove more than 700,000 Rohingya to seek safety across the border in Bangladesh. Critics say the campaign, which included mass killings, rape and arson, constituted ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide. Since February’s takeover, security forces have used lethal force to put down nonviolent protests against military rule. At least 1,600 civilians have been killed by security forces, according to a detailed tally compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. The army also has been accused of abuses against villagers as it fights members of pro-democracy militias in the countryside. Activists say the military uses the internet to spread disinformation and hate speech. In April, Facebook announced it was “implementing a specific policy for Myanmar to remove praise, support and advocacy of violence by Myanmar security forces and protestors from our platform.” The group Burma Campaign UK, which had sought to get Facebook do more to curb the military’s reach through its platforms, welcomed the move but noted that Facebook had resisted taking down military companies’ pages. “The belated decision to remove military company pages appears more an act of desperation after being sued for $150 billion for being involved in Rohingya genocide than any genuine concern for human rights,” Burma Campaign UK’s director, Mark Farmaner, said in a statement. Wednesday’s statement from Rafael Frankel, Asia-Pacific director of policy for Meta, said the company was taking action “based on extensive documentation by the international community of these businesses’ direct role in funding the Tatmadaw’s ongoing violence and human rights abuses in Myanmar.” The military controls major portions of Myanmar’s economy, largely through two big holding companies. Because corporate links are not always clear, Meta said it is using a report compiled by U.N, investigators in 2019 to identify relevant firms. In response to the abuses committed against the Rohingya, Facebook in 2018 banned 20 military-linked individuals and organizations including Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who now leads the army-installed government. From 2018 to 2010, Facebook removed six networks of accounts controlled by the military, which did not acknowledge the backing. This year, Facebook disabled pages belonging to state media that violated Facebook rules about promoting violence and harm to others......»»

Category: topSource: TIME10 hr. 27 min. ago Related News

US Businesses Posted 11 Million Open Jobs in October—But Only 7.4 Million People Are Looking

U.S. employers posted 11 million open jobs in October, nearly matching a record high reached in July and a sign that companies were confident enough in the economy to expand. A government report Wednesday also showed that the number of people quitting their jobs dropped slightly in October to 4.2 million, from 4.4 million in… U.S. employers posted 11 million open jobs in October, nearly matching a record high reached in July and a sign that companies were confident enough in the economy to expand. A government report Wednesday also showed that the number of people quitting their jobs dropped slightly in October to 4.2 million, from 4.4 million in September, though that is still the third-highest number of monthly resignations on records dating back to 2000. The figures from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, show that with so many companies chasing relatively few unemployed people, job-seekers have the most bargaining power they have had in at least two decades. Wages are rising at a healthy pace, particularly for lower-paid employees, though much of that bump in pay is being eroded by higher inflation. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] There were just 7.4 million people counted as unemployed in October, equal to just two-thirds of the 11 million open jobs. Before the pandemic, there were usually more unemployed people than available workers. Larger paychecks are luring many employees to leave their jobs for new work, pushing up the number of quits. A high number of resignations is a sign of a strong labor market because it shows that people are confident they can find a new job. The vast majority of people who quit do so to take new jobs. Separate data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that people switching jobs are receiving bigger pay raises than those who stay put. Job openings rose about 4% in October to 11 million, just below July’s peak of 11.1 million. The biggest increase was in restaurants, bars and hotels, where they leapt nearly 20% to 1.6 million. Manufacturing firms are also seeking more employees, even as many struggle to obtain supplies amid widespread supply chain bottlenecks. The number of available factory jobs jumped 6% in October, to just over 1 million, more than double the pre-pandemic level and the highest on record......»»

Category: topSource: TIME10 hr. 27 min. ago Related News

What to Know About Digital World, the Company Funding Trump’s New Social Media Platform ‘TRUTH Social’

Former President Donald Trump’s new media company, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), announced Saturday that it has secured $1 billion in funding from a “diverse group” of institutional investors ahead of going public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC)—a shell company set up for the sole purpose of raising money to acquire another… Former President Donald Trump’s new media company, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), announced Saturday that it has secured $1 billion in funding from a “diverse group” of institutional investors ahead of going public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC)—a shell company set up for the sole purpose of raising money to acquire another company. The $1.25 billion in proceeds that TMTG estimates will result from the planned merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a blank check company headed by financier Patrick Orlando that was set up with the intention of “combining with a leading tech company,” will ostensibly go toward the development and launch of Trump’s forthcoming social media platform, TRUTH Social, as well as future related ventures. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “$1 billion sends an important message to Big Tech that censorship and political discrimination must end. America is ready for TRUTH Social, a platform that will not discriminate on the basis of political ideology,” Trump said in a statement included in Saturday’s press release. “As our balance sheet expands, TMTG will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech.” While the identities of the investors that have entered into agreements with Digital World remain unknown—an unusual situation in a private investment in public equity, or PIPE, transaction— Orlando himself is a former Deutsche Bank AG derivatives trader who co-founded a sugar trading company and started a banking firm, Benessere Capital, before more recently turning to SPACs. “We believe the combined company can grow on an incredibly strong foundation,” Orlando said in a statement, adding that he believes TMTG will use the capital to continue to “attract top talent, hire top technology providers, and roll out significant advertising and business development campaigns.” As for Digital World’s board, Bloomberg reported in October that it is “light with people with media expertise.” The SPAC’s chief financial officer is Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Braganca, a member of Brazil’s National Congress and self-proclaimed prince who has called for a return to the Brazilian monarchy and is an ally of the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Digital World’s partnership with TMTG was announced in October—six weeks after the company certified at the time of its initial public offering in September that it did not have an acquisition target in mind—in conjunction with TMTG’s plans for TRUTH Social, a platform being touted as a refuge for free speech and the “first major rival to ‘Big Tech.'” TRUTH Social is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2022, about a year after Trump was permanently banned or suspended from several major social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, following the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced,” Trump said in an October statement. “This is unacceptable.” According to a regulatory filing by Digital World first reported by the New York Times, the company’s deal with TMTG is currently being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, with the SEC looking into “documents and communications” between Digital World and TMTG as well as “policies and procedures relating to trading” and the identities of certain investors. The filing states that Digital World is cooperating with regulators and that “the investigation does not mean that the SEC has concluded that anyone violated the law or that the SEC has a negative opinion of DWAC or any person, event, or security.” Digital World did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 7th, 2021Related News

Holiday Gifts That Actually Fight Climate Change

If you’re stuck on what to buy as Christmas gifts this year, a Swiss start-up has a suggestion: some carbon dioxide. Climeworks AG owns the world’s largest direct-air carbon capture facility, in Iceland, where dozens of machines suck in air and filter out the CO2, so it can be stored permanently underground and prevented from… If you’re stuck on what to buy as Christmas gifts this year, a Swiss start-up has a suggestion: some carbon dioxide. Climeworks AG owns the world’s largest direct-air carbon capture facility, in Iceland, where dozens of machines suck in air and filter out the CO2, so it can be stored permanently underground and prevented from contributing to global warming. For 85 euros (about $96), Climeworks will remove and store 85kg of CO2. You’ll be emailed a gift certificate to send to your loved one, helping them assuage their guilt over flying across the country, eating a lot of meat or other carbon-intensive activities they plan to engage in over the holidays. The company calls it “the world’s most sustainable gift.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] But while 85kg might sound like a reasonable amount of CO2, U.S. per capita greenhouse gas emissions are around 16 metric tons a year. That means you’d be removing only around 0.5% of the carbon your giftee put into the atmosphere this year. Removing all 16 metric tons would cost you $18,073. And if a lot of people wanted to do that, Climeworks would run out of gift cards pretty quickly: their plant can capture 4,000 metric tons of CO2 per year—or the annual emissions of 250 Americans. So, does gifting a few kilos of CO2 really help the climate? In the long run, it arguably does. Experts say that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will form a small, but crucial, part of the climate fight. And the burgeoning CCS industry needs money to grow so it can reduce costs and make it possible to remove meaningful amounts of CO2. (Gift certificates bought now will help pay for Climeworks to build new plants—the actual CO2 removal you order will happen within five years, the company says.) In any case, Climeworks’ sustainable Christmas gift idea is likely better than most, says Julio Friedmann, a carbon capture expert at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “A lot of people want to undo the damage they cause through their emissions and this is a valid, verified way of doing it,” he says. “Fundamentally, Climeworks will do what they say they’re doing.” Halldor Kolbeins—AFP/Getty ImagesClimeworks’ factory near Reykjavik on October 11, 2021. Trying to give a gift that helps rather than harms the climate is a greenwashing minefield: from unnecessary “eco-friendly” gadgets that your friends and family won’t use, whose production emits greenhouse gases, to less credible carbon offsetting schemes, which lack robust design and monitoring. It’s probably fair to say, as most climate experts I’ve consulted do, that the most sustainable thing to give at Christmas is nothing at all. But depending on how your friends and family feel about Christmas, giving nothing might not be very sustainable for your personal relationships. So, for those feeling helpless or climate-anxious this holiday season, I’ve tried to find the middle ground. Here’s a guide to how you can target your gift giving to help reduce emissions. Donate to Climate Change Organizations Right off the bat, we’ve got to acknowledge that the vast majority of the changes we need to make go far beyond what you can spend this Christmas. Governments need to set policies and make huge investments to drive the expansion of clean energy, the electrification of cars and buildings, and much more. Big businesses need to take responsibility for their emissions and make the decisions to cut them as fast as possible. So, give your most committed friends and family a donation in their name to an organization fighting for those systemic changes. You could support the climate fund at The Founders Pledge, which analyzes the work of NGOs and charities to identify the most cost-effective donations. Or you can choose a specific NGO—if you aren’t sure which, consult the guides produced by the non-profit initiative Giving Green. If you know your gift recipient well enough, you could also consider giving to a political campaign: there are a growing number of local politicians and candidates focusing on town or region-level climate action. Help Make Their Transportation Greener According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from transport, the greatest share of any sector. There are nearly two cars per household in the country, the vast majority fossil-fueled, and each one emits on average around 4.6 metric tons of carbon a year. If you can shift someone out of their car and on to zero or low-carbon transit, they’ll save roughly 404 grams of CO2 per mile travelled. You could buy them a used bike—cheap ones go for around $100. Or, pre-load $20 on a card for your local public transit system. The latter may be a little unsexy, but it has the added benefit of supporting a sector that is crucial for the climate and in dire financial straits thanks to falls in ridership during the pandemic. Maybe put a bow on the card. For longer distances, an Amtrak gift card—available for any amount up to $500—will cushion rail’s often prohibitively expensive prices in the U.S., helping your recipient choose trains over flights for their next trip. According to Amtrak, on Northeast Corridor services, travelling on their services produces 83% less emissions than driving alone and up to 73% less than flying. Quick Links: AVASTA Single-Speed Urban Commuter Bike | Amtrak Gift Card Give the Gift of More Efficient Electricity The second biggest source of emissions in the U.S. is electricity, representing 25% of the total. The key to cutting them is a) making buildings and products more energy efficient and b) switching out energy sources from dirty coal and natural gas, to clean wind, solar and hydropower. The Biden administration aims to reach “100% carbon pollution-free electricity” in the U.S. by 2035. Unless you have $20,000 to spend—the average cost of installing a set of solar panels in the U.S., according to energy marketplace EnergySage—you’re not going to be able to give anyone a renewable energy system. But you can help them reduce their electricity use, and their energy bills. Start with lighting, which makes up 10% of household electricity use: a set of energy efficient light bulbs, which consume up to 85% less energy than conventional bulbs, go for roughly $20. Or for a more exciting gift, try a smart light system, for around $200, which allows you to remotely control not only the brightness, which saves on wasted energy, but also the color of your lights, which is just fun. Another option, if they’ll definitely use it, is a solar charger for their devices, around $60; or even a solar-powered generator, for $200—$600. Quick Links: SYLVANIA LED A19 Light Bulb | Philips Hue Bluetooth Lighting | BigBlue Foldable Portable Solar Phone Charger Or Give Them Heating That Won’t Heat the Planet About 13% of U.S. emissions come from the non-electric needs of homes and businesses. Heating is the biggest culprit: combined, heating rooms and water makes up 62% of the energy used in an average home, per the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Again, you probably don’t have thousands of dollars to help your giftee replace their natural gas-powered stove or heating system with an electric one, or insulate their home. But a smart thermostat, available from under $100, for example, allows you to control your home’s heating and cooling remotely via an app, cutting down on waste. A low-flow shower head, for around $40, can cut water consumption per shower in half while maintaining the high-pressure feel of a normal shower. That reduces the amount of water that needs to be heated. Or, just get them a really comfortable sweater that they won’t want to take off, ideally from a thrift or consignment store. Quick Links: Google Nest Thermostat | High Sierra Low Flow Showerheads | Second-hand Sweaters on Depop | thredUP Presents For Foodies That Could Reduce Greenhouse Gases Agriculture-related emissions, which account for 10% of the U.S. total, are arguably the easiest area for an individual to have an impact. A 2020 study by researchers at John Hopkins University and other institutions found that the average U.S. resident would cut 30% off their food-related emissions by cutting out meat, which is more carbon-intensive to produce than plant-based foods. Cutting out animal products for two-thirds of meals, or all the time, would cut food-related emissions by nearly 60% and 85% respectively. Gifting a vegan or vegetarian cookbook could help spark a change in your recipient’s kitchen. Since plant-based cuisine has become a major trend in the food world, there are dozens of good ones to choose from, for around $25. For those less likely to change what they do at home, try a voucher for a fancy plant-based restaurant, which are increasingly popping up in U.S. cities. Or, for a lower budget option, make them a plant-based version of a dish you know they like. Quick Links: Ottolenghi Flavor: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi | Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero | The Vegan Butcher: The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Meat by Zacchary Bird If You Want to Gift Clothing or Similar Products A significant chunk of U.S. emissions—23%—come from industry: that is, gases released by the burning of fossil fuels and by chemical processes in the production of goods and raw materials that we consume. And that chunk doesn’t take into account the emissions generated by the many products U.S. residents buy from overseas. The best way to reduce those emissions is to reduce how much we buy. Obviously, Christmas gift-giving flies in the face of that idea. Buying second-hand goods, though, from thrift stores or online, is a very easy way to put something under the tree without causing unnecessary carbon emissions. And, as my colleague Alana Semeuls reports, buying used gifts brings Christmas joys all of its own. Another way to target consumption emissions is to give items that support the circular economy, a movement to cut waste out from global supply chains and re-use materials as much as possible. For example, Patagonia, the outdoor wear retailer, began selling “recrafted” items made from old clothes in 2019, for $40–$230. They also offer “gently used” items and provide information on how to repair Patagonia products. Sneaker brand Thousand Fell sells fully recyclable shoes for $100, plus a $20 recycling deposit that your friend or family will get back when they return the shoe to be recycled. Maybe they can spend that on a gift for you. Quick Links: Patagonia ReCrafted Down Jacket | Thousand Fell Men’s Court Sneakers | Thousand Fell Women’s Court Sneakers With thanks to Christos Maravelias, professor of energy and the environment, Claire White, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Forrest Meggers, associate professor of architecture, at Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, who provided suggestions for this guide......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 7th, 2021Related News

Samsung to Replace Co-CEOs, Reorganize Consumer Business

Samsung Electronics Co. is combining two of its three business divisions and appointing new leaders to replace its three co-chief executive officers in its biggest management shakeup since 2017. The reorganization, decided under the oversight of de-facto leader and Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee, will see the consumer and mobile divisions merged into a newly… Samsung Electronics Co. is combining two of its three business divisions and appointing new leaders to replace its three co-chief executive officers in its biggest management shakeup since 2017. The reorganization, decided under the oversight of de-facto leader and Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee, will see the consumer and mobile divisions merged into a newly formed SET Division, to be led by Jong-Hee Han. Promoted from the company’s TV research and development team, Han succeeds co-CEOs Dongjin Koh and Hyunsuk Kim, who had respectively led the smartphone and consumer appliances groups. Kyehyun Kyung is stepping in to lead the company’s Device Solutions group, which encompasses its key semiconductor business lines such as memory, logic processors and chipmaking for outside customers. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “Today’s announcement shows the company keeps its performance-driven culture,” said Kyungmook Lee, professor of business management at Seoul National University. “It also shows Jay Y. Lee’s willingness to more actively engage in management.” Since he was released from prison in August, Lee has gotten involved in major decisions for the company and recently traveled to the U.S. to conclude and announce plans for a $17 billion plant in Taylor, Texas. He is currently on a trip to the Middle East, where Samsung Electronics and Samsung C&T are participating in multiple projects. The consolidation of consumer offerings under one umbrella simplifies the company’s operational structure and may help the South Korean electronics giant better compete with U.S. archrival Apple Inc. “Apple uses one OS for phones, PCs and TVs and its products show seamless integration,” professor Lee said. “Samsung’s IT products, however, lack such seamless integration between phones and gadgets. The merger between its consumer and mobile divisions, which have until now operated independently, may help fix this issue.” The fact that the merged SET unit will be overseen by someone from home appliances rather than the smartphone business suggests that “the company probably thought the mobile unit needs a lot of improvement and consolidation,” said Daiwa Securities analyst SK Kim. Samsung remains the world’s biggest smartphone maker with 20.8% market share, according to the latest data from IDC. As part of the reorganization, Samsung also announced that Hark Kyu Park will be its new chief financial officer, having previously held a post in the Device Solutions team. Samsung Electronics shares rose after the announcement, though they remain more than 5% down for the year. —With assistance from Min Jeong Lee......»»

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United Arab Emirates Moves Weekend to Saturday-Sunday for Public Employees

The United Arab Emirates will move its weekend to Saturday and Sunday for state employees, breaking ranks with the rest of the Gulf as it accelerates a push to draw in international investment and business. The UAE—which has been the Middle East’s commercial capital for more than a decade and has been facing growing regional… The United Arab Emirates will move its weekend to Saturday and Sunday for state employees, breaking ranks with the rest of the Gulf as it accelerates a push to draw in international investment and business. The UAE—which has been the Middle East’s commercial capital for more than a decade and has been facing growing regional competition from Saudi Arabia—is seeking to reposition itself as a global hub for business. Like other Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, it currently has a Sunday-to-Thursday working week. The changes, which the government said will allow the UAE to align more closely with global markets, will come into effect Jan. 1 and apply to the public sector and schools. There will be a 4 1/2-day working week with Friday—a holy day in Islam—being a half day, the federal government said in a statement. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The government didn’t say whether the private sector would have to adopt the new 4 1/2-day week, with the door being left open for private companies to decide how to allocate resources. This could set companies up for a potentially tricky juggle between regional and global markets at a time when working practices worldwide have been transformed by the pandemic. “The private sector will have flexibility to decide the weekend,” Abdulrahman Al Awar, director general of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources, told Asharq TV. Companies can retain their flexibility as long as they abide by the labor law, he said. The country’s labor law allocates a maximum of 48 hours per working week and a minimum of one day off per week. All private schools in Dubai will move to the new weekend, the KHDA schools authority in Dubai said in a tweet on Tuesday adding it is “working closely with our community to ensure a smooth transition.” Regional competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia is rising as the oil-producing heavyweight engages in an unprecedented drive to attract overseas investment and diversify its economy. Throughout the pandemic, the UAE has sped up changes aimed at attracting foreign talent as well as strengthening trade ties beyond the Middle East, especially in Asia and Africa. The changes “will increase the number of days we do business with the rest of the world, which will boost trade,” said Nabil Alyousuf, chief executive officer of Dubai-based International Advisory Group. Other countries across the region may follow suit before long. In 2006, the UAE became the first in the Gulf to move its weekend from Thursday and Friday to Friday and Saturday. It was followed by Saudi Arabia in 2013 and then much of the Gulf. On Tuesday, however, Kuwait signaled it did not plan to make such a change. In Israel, more closely linked to the UAE since normalization of relations last year, discussions on shifting the working week have faltered. Traders and investors in the Gulf’s equity markets may struggle to find a balance between the UAE’s new working week and that of other countries in the region. Stocks in Saudi Arabia, home to the largest bourse in the Middle East, trade Sunday through Thursday. Dubai’s DFM Index rose as much as 1.7% Tuesday, while Abu Dhabi’s ADX gauge was little changed. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul advanced 0.7%. The change could still make life easier for companies involved in the energy sector, however. Many crude and fuel traders based in the region already work a Monday-to-Friday week in line with global oil markets. The emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi both trade their crude oil on exchanges following Monday-to-Friday hours. The announcement comes months after the UAE said it was allocating more than $6 billion to help push 75,000 citizens into private-sector employment. Like other Gulf countries, the UAE has a large proportion of citizens working in state jobs that offer better pay and shorter hours. As for setting a progressive 4-1/2 workweek in the country, the UAE made a “tactical mistake” by starting with the public sector, Pedro Gomes, an economist at Birkbeck, University of London, and author of the book “Friday is the New Saturday,” wrote on Twitter. “Starting by the public sector is a tactical mistake. It will exacerbate the narrative of hardworking private sector versus lazy bureaucrats. This is why the Utah 2011 4-day week failed. It should be implemented to the whole economy, giving 4/6 years for the adjustment,” he said......»»

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American Airlines CEO Doug Parker Joins a Wave of Airline CEOs Retiring Amid Pandemic Struggles

(DALLAS) — American Airlines CEO Doug Parker will retire in March and be replaced by its current president, Robert Isom, as the airline seeks to rebuild after massive losses caused by the pandemic. Parker, 60, has led Texas-based American since late 2013, when he engineered a merger with smaller US Airways. He will remain as… (DALLAS) — American Airlines CEO Doug Parker will retire in March and be replaced by its current president, Robert Isom, as the airline seeks to rebuild after massive losses caused by the pandemic. Parker, 60, has led Texas-based American since late 2013, when he engineered a merger with smaller US Airways. He will remain as chairman, American said Tuesday. Isom, 58, has been the heir apparent since becoming American’s president in 2016 after Scott Kirby was forced out and joined United Airlines, where he now serves as the CEO. Isom has overseen American’s operations, including sales and pricing, and its alliances with other airlines. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] American struggled through most of the summer with high numbers of canceled and delayed flights. The disruptions were due in large part to staffing issues after American persuaded thousands of employees to leave last year, only to be caught short when air travel recovered faster than expected from the depths of the pandemic. American posted a profit of $169 million in the third quarter, thanks to nearly $1 billion in federal pandemic relief that covered most of the airline’s payroll costs. Yet its debt has ballooned to more than $36 billion as it borrowed to get through the worst of the pandemic. Airline officials say they will be able to pay down debt once business and international travel recover. American faces other challenges, including a Justice Department lawsuit that seeks to cancel an agreement to work with JetBlue Airways in setting schedules and service in the Northeast. Relations with unions, particularly that of the pilots, have worsened under the pressure of the airline’s operational shortcomings. “Over the past several years, our airline and our industry have gone through a period of transformative change, and with change comes opportunity,” Isom said in a prepared statement. Parker, who will step down as CEO on March 31, said American is “well-positioned to take full advantage of our industry’s recovery” from the collapse in travel caused by the pandemic, “and now is the right time for a handoff we have planned and prepared for.” Parker is the latest CEO of a major U.S. airline to announce his retirement this year. In June, Southwest Airlines Gary Kelly said he would step down, with longtime executive Robert Jordan taking over. Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden was succeeded by Ben Minicucci in April. Parker has spent two decades as an airline CEO since becoming the head of America West Airlines just days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The Phoenix carrier survived a downturn in travel with help from a federal loan. In 2005, Parker engineered a merger with larger but bankrupt US Airways, and he repeated the same strategy in December 2013 with American, which was just emerging from bankruptcy protection. Parker enlisted the support of American’s labor unions to dump the bigger airline’s management after the merger. American is led by a tight-knit group of executives — including Isom — most of whom have been together with Parker since their America West days. Isom was previously American’s chief operating officer and held the same job under Parker at US Airways, where he was responsible for improving the airline’s on-time performance......»»

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Crypto CEOs Head to Congress to Push Back on Looming Regulations. Here’s What to Expect

As debates about cryptocurrency regulation continue to be waged around the world, six key executives will attempt to defend the rapidly growing field before Congress on Wednesday.  While cryptocurrencies have exploded over the last couple years, U.S. regulators have been slow to keep up, leaving crypto investors at risk of being swindled out of thousands of dollars or more. On Wednesday, the first major in-person faceoff will occur between crypto companies and regulators, when six key crypto executives will arrive in Washington for a Congressional hearing. Led by Maxine Waters—an advocate of cryptocurrency regulation—members of Congress will likely call upon CEOs to be more accountable to their consumers and investors; the CEOs, conversely, hope to educate lawmakers about their rapidly evolving field and stress the potentially transformative impacts cryptocurrencies could have on the U.S economy. Overly stringent regulations, they fear, could dampen that growth. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The hearings come during a tense time for crypto. Last week, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler once again called for regulation of crypto, calling it an asset class “rife with fraud, scams, and abuse.” Over the weekend, major cryptocurrencies took a nosedive, with bitcoin prices dropping more than 17 percent, while the trading platform Bitmart suffered a hack in which $196 million was swiped, according to a security firm. Even so, when viewed from a wider lens, cryptocurrencies are still in an enormous boom period: they now make up a $2 trillion market and are being gradually accepted by major institutions. Here’s what to know about the hearing before it begins. Who will participate in the hearing? The hearing will be led by Waters (D-CA), the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services. (The hearing’s full title is “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States.”) Over the last few years, Waters has held several panels on crypto and digital currencies. In June, she pledged a “thorough examination of this marketplace” and warned of the “systemic risks presented by hedge funds rushing to invest in highly volatile cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency derivatives.” Waters’ committee has called six witnesses to the hearing, who are executives for major cryptocurrency companies and exchanges including Coinbase, Circle and FTX. Some of them have expressed support for increased regulation: Charles Cascarilla, president and CEO of Paxos, told CNBC last month that “you need regulation, you need clarity in order for everyone to understand how you can operate in the industry.” Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of FTX, told Coindesk in September that he would be “excited” to work with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on “common-sense regulations.” On Friday, FTX published on their blog a list of ten general proposals that Congress should consider, including the implementation of a single market regulator with a single rulebook, and the requirement that cryptocurrency exchanges “conduct regular anti-money laundering surveillance.” Read More: Inside the World of Black Bitcoin, Where Crypto Is About Making More Than Just Money Other members of the panel have used slightly more contentious language with regards to regulators. Brian Brooks, the CEO of Bitfury group who served as the Comptroller of the Currency under President Trump, told CNBC this week that he hoped the hearings would include discussions about “Kafka-esque contradictions” surrounding cryptocurrency regulations, including the relationship between banks and stablecoins. And in September, Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, accused the SEC of “engaging in intimidation tactics behind closed doors” after the SEC threatened to sue the company over a new product called Lend. Perhaps uncoincidentally, Coinbase is the only company not sending their CEO to the hearing: Alesia Jeanne Haas, the CFO of Coinbase Global Inc., will appear instead. What does cryptocurrency regulation look like at the moment? Decentralization is baked into the very conceit of cryptocurrency. Major figures in that world have long been extremely resistant to the idea of regulation. Its freewheeling nature has allowed many investors to make enormous amounts of money, including from extremely volatile meme currencies like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu. DeFi, or decentralized finance, has also risen dramatically in usage over the last year, creating an unregulated infrastructure for lending and trading on the blockchain. But while crypto’s lack of connection to formal institutions is a key part of its appeal, its lack of a central authority has also made it susceptible to theft, fraud and hacks. In June, a cyberattack on the oil company Colonial Pipeline led to a massive shutdown that caused a spike in gas prices and panic buying; the company paid out a $2.3 million ransom that was later recovered by authorities. More recently, a hack of the decentralized finance platform BadgerDAO led to the loss of $120 million. Because transactions on the blockchain are largely irreversible, victims of crypto scams usually have little recourse to recover their money. These sorts of activities have put cryptocurrencies in the crosshairs of the SEC. Last December, the agency filed a lawsuit against Ripple Labs, arguing that the company violated securities laws when it sold over $1 billion of a digital coin without registering with the commission or providing adequate disclosures to investors. The lawsuit has become highly contentious, with Ripple arguing that the SEC is overstepping its bounds. Gensler, who was tapped by President Biden to become the new SEC Chairman this year, has expressed plenty of skepticism about cryptocurrencies and called for the need of “guardrails” to protect individual investors from bad deals. Some crypto advocates fear that this animosity could culminate in much larger crackdowns akin to those seen in China–which banned all transactions involving cryptocurrencies–and India, where the government proposed a bill that seeks to ban all private cryptocurrencies in the country. What do key U.S. officials think about cryptocurrencies? The first roadblock for the government to set regulations is to determine who has jurisdiction. The SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have argued over who should oversee the space, creating confusion and redundancy. The acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu has argued for consolidated oversight of cryptocurrencies, and has pled for “less regulatory competition and more cooperation.” He says that his office’s position should not be “interpreted a green light or a solid red light, but rather as reflective of a disciplined, deliberative, and diligent approach to a novel and risky area.” In Congress, there are unsurprisingly both allies and skeptics of crypto fiercely advocating their positions. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also been extremely vocal in calling for the regulation of cryptocurrencies. On the other side are Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)–whose home state of Wyoming has become a cryptocurrency haven–and Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA), who says that “cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies be as revolutionary as the internet.” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen falls somewhere in the middle: she has been wary about cryptocurrencies being used for illegal purposes, but has also said that stablecoins can be useful if they’re carefully regulated. What legislation might emerge from this hearing? The session likely won’t immediately produce landmark crypto legislation, but it does signal a desire of members of Congress to learn more about the technology. (There is still plenty of miseducation and misunderstanding around the topic whizzing from all sides, and the learning curves remain very steep.) One proposed bill that could be elevated by the hearings is the Token Taxonomy Act, which aims to specify that digital tokens are not securities......»»

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New for Some DoorDash Deliverers: Full Time Hours and Health Insurance

Starting Monday, DoorDash is offering grocery delivery in 15 minutes or less in the Chelsea neighborhood in New York. But instead of the army of gig workers it typically relies on to fulfill orders, DoorDash is forming a new company — called DashCorps — to employ couriers to handle the deliveries. Unlike DoorDash’s gig workers,… Starting Monday, DoorDash is offering grocery delivery in 15 minutes or less in the Chelsea neighborhood in New York. But instead of the army of gig workers it typically relies on to fulfill orders, DoorDash is forming a new company — called DashCorps — to employ couriers to handle the deliveries. Unlike DoorDash’s gig workers, who set their own hours and decide which orders to deliver, DashCorps workers will work a set schedule, usually between 25-40 hours per week, said Max Rettig, DoorDash’s vice president of public policy. Pay starts at $15 per hour; they will also be offered medical, dental and vision insurance. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The move is a big departure for DoorDash, which has long fought efforts to classify its gig workforce as employees because it would significantly raise the company’s costs. DoorDash backed Proposition 22, a ballot measure approved by California voters in 2020 that lets DoorDash, Uber and others treat their workers as independent contractors. But Rettig said DoorDash started DashCorps not to avoid directly employing DoorDash workers, but because it wants to focus on building a new, standalone service that could eventually be marketed to a wide variety of stores. And because of the specific challenge of speed, the company must rely on the employee model so that workers are ready to respond to orders as soon as they come in. Rettig added that DoorDash is excited to offer a regular employment option for those who don’t want to do gig work. “We want to meet people where they are,” he said. “We also believe people should have more choices, not fewer choices.” DashMarts, which are warehouses filled with grocery and convenience staples as well as local specialties, will employ around 50 DashCorps couriers per location, Rettig said. DoorDash employees will continue to staff the warehouse and pack orders. DoorDash hopes to expand 15-minute delivery in more neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn in the coming year. Until now, the company was offering online grocery delivery in as little as 30 minutes from many of its DashMart locations. But the company is finding that customer satisfaction and order rates improve when delivery times are even faster, said Fuad Hannon, DoorDash’s head of new verticals. Customers were happy with 45-minute delivery times when the company launched in 2013, but they wouldn’t be now, he said. “What we’ve seen since the early days of DoorDash is the desire for convenience only moves in one direction,” Hannon said. DoorDash is also seeing pressure from competitors like Jokr, a 15-minute grocery delivery startup that launched in New York in June and is entering Boston this month. Fast delivery has been a safety issue in the past. Domino’s Pizza stopped promising 30-minute delivery in 1993 after it was sued by a St. Louis woman who sustained severe injuries when she was hit by a speeding delivery driver. Rettig said couriers will have safety equipment that meets New York’s requirements and the company won’t make delivery promises it can’t keep. Fast deliveries will only be offered in a tight radius, he said. Hannon added that preparing an order within a DashMart will only take a few minutes, leaving more than 10 minutes for couriers to get to their destination. But he added that couriers’ performance won’t be based on delivery times. “The focus will be on their safety and getting the customers what they want,” Hannon said. For now, fast delivery won’t cost more than regular delivery, Hannon said, but that could change in the future. Customers who are part of DoorDash’s DashPass program, which charges $9.99 per month, can get fast service without a delivery fee......»»

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

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

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Israel Tightens Rules on Cyber Exports After String of Scandals

The decision follows a string of scandals involving foreign governments allegedly abusing technology developed by Israeli firms to spy on civilians Israel said it will tighten supervision over the sale of cybersecurity exports, a decision that comes after a string of scandals involving foreign governments allegedly abusing technology developed by Israeli firms like NSO Group to spy on civilians. Countries will only be able to buy Israeli technology after signing a declaration that they will use it “for the investigation and prevention of terrorist acts and serious crimes only,” Israel’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Monday. Violators of the new terms could be banned from using those technologies, the ministry said. Read more: Pegasus Spyware Reportedly Hacked Thousands of iPhones Worldwide. Here’s What to Know Foreign governments such as in Mexico and Saudi Arabia have allegedly used NSO’s Pegasus software to hack mobile phones of journalists and dissidents. A number of U.S. State Department employees were also recently hacked with NSO spyware. The U.S. blacklisted NSO earlier this month. Read more: Governments Used Spyware to Surveil Journalists and Activists. Here’s Why Revelations About Pegasus Are Shaking Up the World Pegasus is malware that allows clients to gain access to a target’s mobile phone. NSO maintains that the techhnology is intended only for governments and law enforcement to hunt down criminals and terrorists......»»

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What Rising Oil Prices Can Teach Us About Climate Politics in the U.S.

For decades, U.S. presidents have reacted harshly to high oil prices, using whatever limited power they had to try to push them lower and then publicizing said efforts in hopes that they would win political points. Ronald Reagan took credit for oil prices falling during his tenure, crediting his deregulatory agenda. Bill Clinton released oil… For decades, U.S. presidents have reacted harshly to high oil prices, using whatever limited power they had to try to push them lower and then publicizing said efforts in hopes that they would win political points. Ronald Reagan took credit for oil prices falling during his tenure, crediting his deregulatory agenda. Bill Clinton released oil from the federal government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to try to stem prices, though retrospective analysis shows it had little effect. Trump tweeted at OPEC, the cartel of countries that controls 40% of the world’s oil production, as oil prices rose in early 2019 to demand more production that would drive lower prices. (They didn’t oblige him). [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Over the course of this year, as oil prices have risen steadily, the Biden Administration has sought at every turn to counteract the trend. Biden has called on OPEC to raise production, asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate big oil companies for “potentially illegal conduct” related to high gas prices and, last week, announced a release of oil from the SPR. “I will do what needs to be done to reduce the price you pay at the pump,” Biden said at a White House event on the economy on Nov. 23. “You’re the reason I was sent here: to look out for you.” But while Biden’s actions may seem similar to those of his predecessors, the context is wildly different. Historically, decisions to try to bring down oil prices were simply about the economy—and its political implications. Low oil prices stimulate consumption, which is good for the pocketbooks of everyday people as well as big companies, which in turn makes everyone happy with the incumbent party. Today, however, that is all complicated by the increasingly urgent reality of climate change, which creates a tension between pushing for lower oil prices and championing the energy transition. A version of this story first appeared in the Climate is Everything newsletter. To sign up, click here. Addressing climate change has never been a simple economics problem. It’s been clear for some time that the long-term benefits far outweigh the costs, but U.S. heads of state have either refused to act, like George W. Bush or Donald Trump, or had their efforts stymied by a lack of political consensus, like Barack Obama. There is a complex set of reasons why climate policies have failed in the past. One of the most powerful is the entrenched interests—primarily the fossil-fuel industry—that have financed campaigns to distort public understanding of climate change. But the core concern for many skeptical of taking big action on climate is that it will necessarily hurt both everyday people and the economy at large. In some cases—like low-income homeowners concerned about the cost of heating their homes—that’s a reasonable concern. In others—like oil and gas executives who claim fossil fuels are the only cost-effective form of energy—it’s not so much. Regardless, the current administration, hammered constantly by right wing media, is aware of the PR challenge. Showing concern about high energy prices is one small step to show that policies that foster the energy transition do not mean abandoning everyday people in the short term. “You have to do two things simultaneously,” David Turk, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy told me in Glasgow in November. “We’ve got to accelerate our energy transition… [And] we’ve got to be diligent in this time of transition.” John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, put it more bluntly during COP26. “If life is so miserable … and the prices go up and other things happen, you’re going to lose,” he said, referring to the implementation of climate policy. “It becomes more challenging to get the job done.” The current oil-price spike is just a small taste of the future. As the energy transition advances, the world is likely to experience more of these challenging dynamics—particularly without a concerted policy effort to stop them. It’s one thing to make largely symbolic gestures like releasing oil from the SPR. It’s another to actually implement policies with the real teeth needed to soften what is bound to be a bumpy transition (think of things like a payment program for low-income households vulnerable to high prices). “In a world where you expect oil demand to go down as a result of electric cars, sustainable aviation fuels, more efficiency … the price of oil will also go down,” Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, told me over the summer. “This is the basic rule, but, of course, between now and then, there will be a lot of volatility.” Amid that volatility, it will be crucial for leaders to show they’re still looking out for the little guy......»»

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BP’s CEO Is Trying to Convince the World He’s Serious About Going Green

(To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Nothing in Bernard Looney’s youth suggested that he would find himself, at 50, leading one of the world’s biggest oil giants at the most tumultuous moment in its history. The CEO of the 112-year-old British company was raised in… (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Nothing in Bernard Looney’s youth suggested that he would find himself, at 50, leading one of the world’s biggest oil giants at the most tumultuous moment in its history. The CEO of the 112-year-old British company was raised in relative poverty on a farm in rural Ireland, and joined BP straight out of college 30 years ago. Then he rose through the ranks, and nailed the top job in February 2020. Now he says he is determined to remake BP entirely. Just weeks after becoming chief exec. last year, Looney announced the company would cut its oil and gas production by 40% by the end of this decade, plow billions into solar, wind and other renewables, and roll out electric-vehicle charging points at its convenience stations worldwide. By 2050, he says, BP will zero out its polluting carbon emissions—a whopping 415 million metric tons a year in 2019. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Climate activists are deeply skeptical, fearing Looney is tinkering at the edges, and claiming big loopholes in his plan; they hear echoes of BP’s failed attempt in the 1990s to ramp up clean energy, when it dropped its old name British Petroleum. Such skepticism was underlined in October, when the organizers of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow rebuffed requests of BP and other oil companies to formally join the massive confab of governments, businesses, and climate activists. BP’s plans, they said, did not match the climate goals. Looney says he understands the doubts, but insists he is “all in,” to use one of his favorite phrases. On November 22, he sat down with TIME in his sleek executive offices on London’s St. James’s Square, to explain the reach—and limitations—of his strategy, and to describe the immense complexity in resetting the company’s direction after a century of putting carbon into the atmosphere. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.) Some might say it’s an unenviable job leading a Big Oil company now. You’re the villain in the climate debate. We must change. We have to lean into the transition. We must give society what it wants and needs, and that is clean, reliable, affordable energy, and to do that, we have to change. And of course, we want to change and we want to change because our employees are part of society too. They have children, they have neighbors, they have friends. They want to make a difference in the world. And we also believe in this. And it’s an enormous business opportunity for us, because trillions of dollars are going to get spent rewiring and replacing the Earth’s energy system. So yes, it is complex. Yes, there are times when it is hard. But tell me something in life that was worthwhile, that was neither complex nor hard. People are skeptical that you are actually for real. We understand why people feel like that. They see us as part of the problem, not part of the solution. I believe that we are and will be and need to be part of the solution. I would go further and say that if BP doesn’t transition, the world won’t transition. Energy is where the emissions are. Tesla sells close to a million cars a year today. The world needs 70 million cars a year. Toyota, Volkswagen, Renault-Nissan: They make 30 million cars a year. When they go electric, the world goes electric. When companies and sectors like BP start to transition, the world will transition. You just cannot scale and build enough green companies fast enough at the pace enough to make the difference. Even so, climate activists say that word “ambition” is a fuzzy word. It’s not a real commitment. Any objective person would struggle to say we are not all in on this. We took the painful decision to cut our dividend in half last year. We wrote off over $20 billion worth of assets last year that we said neither should be produced nor could be produced. We took the difficult decision to have 10,000 people leave the organization. We are reallocating capital. We are increasing our spend. We are the only company who said that they’re going to reduce their production of oil and gas. We’re not doing this to window dress and we’re not greenwashing. We’re trying to do what is the right thing for our company, for its stakeholders and importantly, for its shareholders. Environmentalists say that’s all very well, but this does not include, for example, your joint venture with [Russian oil giant] Rosneft, which is a considerable amount of BP’s production—something like a third, I believe. It’s about a million barrels a day, about a third. We’ve been absolutely transparent. We said we will reduce our production by 40%. If you include Russia, it’s 28%—still a huge amount. It’s not like we control Rosneft. We’re a 20% shareholder. You would you be surprised to hear that Rosneft’s greenhouse gas intensity per barrel of oil is lower than BP’s. They have a plan to eliminate routine flaring. They’re reducing emissions as we speak. The question is, is the world better off by BP being there or not? It’s the same argument I would use for an investor: An investor has a choice to divest from BP or invest in BP. Some people feel that they should divest, they feel that’s the right thing for the world. I think many people feel they should divest. BP is hardly alone in this. Many people, many funds, endowments, are basically getting out of fossil fuel companies. How worrying is that for you? I can assure you that is not the right thing. Our shareholders own our company. We listen to our shareholders. The way to bring about change is to invest and make your views known. We need people to back the agenda that we’re on. A transition like this is going to be messy, it’s going to be complex. It does not lend itself to a simple, ‘Who’s good, who’s bad? Who’s green, who’s not?’ There is no simple solution here. The best thing you can do for climate is to invest in a carbon-intensive company like BP and back them going green. We’re going to reduce our emissions by between 35% and 40% by 2030. We’re going to invest 10 times more in low carbon than we do today by 2030, eight times by 2025. We’re going to install 70,000 charging points for electrification. We have the scale and the resources and the cash flows and the skills to do that. But you are also in the next several years adding barrels. If I read the the third-quarter results correctly, there has been an increase in production. I read that you have added 900,000 barrels a day. Yes, between 2016 and 2021, five years. We brought on seven projects this year, and we will bring on projects next year, and the year after. We will start up new oil fields and we will invest in new oil fields, but only the ones that have the best carbon intensity, only the ones that have the best economics, the shortest paybacks, the highest returns. But we will do that because we have a three-part strategy: Part one is resilient hydrocarbons. Part number two is convenience and mobility. Part three is low carbon energy. So part one of our strategy is hydrocarbons and will be for decades to come. We’re not shying away from that. Any scenario has oil and gas in the system in 2050. Our job is to produce those hydrocarbons with the lowest possible emissions. Oil and gas will continue to be needed. People may not like to hear that. It may be an unpopular truth. We will do that and we will use those cash flows to help us make the transition. We will continue very clearly to sanction and develop new oilfields. The existing oil fields decline, and some of them decline very quickly. So net-net our production goes down by 40% through this decade: 20% by 2025, 40% by 2030. The International Energy Agency projects something like 20 million barrels of oil a day global consumption by 2050. That’s a fraction of current demand. Yes, 80% less. Very, very much smaller. We’ve projected [BP’s production will be] 1.5 million barrels a day by 2030, down from 2.6 million today. Our focus is on is developing reserves on two criteria: How do we produce barrels with the lowest possible environmental footprint? Number two: What produces the best returns. We will invest in only the best because less barrels will meet those investment thresholds. Does this mean that from your reserves of 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent, a chunk of that will never be touched, that it will remain in the ground? We’ve said things like we are no longer going to explore into new basins for exploration, right? We are no longer going to enter a new country to find the next giant oilfield. But, for example, you are in Norway. So you are going to explore new oil prospects in Norway, correct? We have a joint venture in Norway, and they will develop new oil fields. And BP will explore for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, where we have existing infrastructure: It’s been growing and it will grow. It was a great success story for America and the world, and we believe we can grow it over the next three to four years. But that doesn’t mean that the overall picture doesn’t decline. That’s what we mean by “high grading.” We will develop the best barrels, will make the portfolio higher value. How much of your overall greenhouse gas emissions targets will rely on things like carbon capture and storage technology, which climate activists see as not a solution? We can do what we’ve set out to do between now and 2030 without using carbon capture. Beyond that, we believe that the world will need sort of every tool available to it to meet its net-zero. In the longer term, things like natural climate solutions, things like carbon capture and storage will be a very big part. What about offsets, like planting trees? That’s what I mean by natural climate solutions. Planting trees or preventing trees from being cut down. There is no silver bullet. I wish there was. The world is going to have to use every tool to help it get there. People like Mark Carney, Prince Charles, activists that I’ve spoken to, Conservation International, these people believe that this is part of the solution and it will be part of our toolkit in the medium term. The barrels where we have existing infrastructure are very positive, because you’re not having to build new infrastructure and start up new facilities. So places like the Gulf of Mexico will be very important to the company for a very long time to come. Our position in the onshore in the United States is very important to the company for a long time. We’re mainly in Texas. But you will still be exploring and producing new fields. It is a three-part strategy and there is not a light switch. We cannot turn off the business that generates the cash flow overnight. There is 100 million barrels a day being used in the world today. BP produces about 2.5 million barrels a day right now. If BP is somehow removed from the system, the 100 million demand isn’t going to go away. People still need the product they need. And you would somehow have just removed one of the greatest contributors for positive change. Why would you want to do that? What you really want to do is back those people, to make the transition a real success. But you can’t do it overnight. You simply cannot flick a switch. The market has not been particularly giddy with enthusiasm about your strategy. Why do you think that is? I don’t know. You tell me. Well, look, I think this is a big change. The most important part of our strategy is what we call performing while transforming. You have to do multiple things at once. It’s about reducing emissions, and it’s about growing cash-flow. It’s about purpose. We just had our third quarter in a row of strong results. Our business is running really, really well. I was struck by the testimony of oil executives before the U.S. Congress in late October. The whole framing of that was this is like the Big Tobacco testimony, which was so memorable. Hollywood movies were made of it. Firstly, what’s it like to be compared to Big Tobacco in the media? I think the provision of energy to the world is a very, very different proposition to tobacco. The energy that the world has consumed over the last many, many decades has brought about enormous increases in standards of living. So that’s how I think about it. Talking of that, climate activists say the industry never deals with its historic carbon emissions, and the fact that they have taken so much out of the world’s carbon budget. It has been a century. Aside from transitioning to green energy now, is there also a kind of debt to be paid to the planet? I’m not the best person to ask about that. What I can tell you is that in 1997, BP’s chief executive Lord Browne gave a speech at Stanford University, where he was the first leader in our industry to acknowledge that there was a link between human activity and carbon emissions. And if you look at the work that we have done since then, including investing $10 billion and writing off most of it between 2000 and 2010, because we were simply too early, the world wasn’t really ready for renewable energy. We established an internal emissions trading system. We’ve been doing everything that we can to put this on the agenda and be do something about it. We have both an opportunity and a responsibility to help the world transition. I actually believe that with the thousands of engineers and the thousands of scientists and one of the world’s largest trading organizations and decades of experience in the energy markets, we actually can help. Society wants reliable, affordable, clean energy. This is not easy when you have wind, solar, hydro, natural gas, nuclear in the mix. Somebody has to take those forms of energy and knit them together to give a hospital or give a data center what it needs. Think about it. We spent decades going offshore, drilling for oil, finding it, building big facilities, producing it, refining it, putting it into our retail network into your car. We’re going to take offshore wind. We’re going to build that. And this time we’re going to generate electrons rather than molecules, and we’re going to take those electrons in our energy system, take them to our charging network, and put them into your car. I am thinking of buying a car, trying to figure out what to get. Will you buy an electric vehicle? I think it may be a hybrid. The hybrid is a nice representation of a world in transition. You mentioned your trading business, which is a big business. The 40% cut in oil and gas production does not include that. How much of your oil and gas is from trading, selling oil and gas that other producers drill? I don’t have a number in terms of volume. A barrel might change hands 10 times. That’s why we focused on our aim, which is the oil and gas that we take out of the ground and introduce to the world. We’re going to reduce it by 40%. I genuinely believe that if we stick to our plot, and perform while we transform, that’s the formula for success. It’s not one at the expense of the other. We have to do both. Shareholders like what we’re doing. And increasingly, they understand it and back it. Moody’s credit agency published a report in October saying the oil and gas industry has a high probability for default, because they are the least prepared for the energy transition. Even if you are a standout in the industry, are you concerned that investors, that a major credit rating agency, sees the oil and gas industry as just not the place to put your money? Well, allow me to make the value argument. Oersted used to be an oil company called the Danish National Oil Company. It transformed itself from being an oil and gas company into being the world’s largest offshore wind company, and in the process, its value went up by 30 or 40 times. We are at the beginning of a journey that will take time. That has the potential to create enormous amounts of value for our shareholders who invest in us. Good for the world and good for the bottom line. You think you can convince the young generation of that? You talk to our employees, talk to our own young people. They’re very committed. They know this transition is not a light switch. It’s going to be hard work......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 6th, 2021Related News

The Best Holiday Gifts to Give Teachers This Year

The last few years have been rough, especially for teachers. From learning how to teach remotely to navigating COVID-19 protocols, educators have shouldered the pandemic’s burden often without complaint. To show the teachers and school staff members you know your appreciation, send them a gift for the holidays. This list has you covered whether you… The last few years have been rough, especially for teachers. From learning how to teach remotely to navigating COVID-19 protocols, educators have shouldered the pandemic’s burden often without complaint. To show the teachers and school staff members you know your appreciation, send them a gift for the holidays. This list has you covered whether you want to buy a present on your own or pitch in with the full class. Gifts for under $25 Adorable office supplies Price: $3 and up Teachers’ desks are their domain, so help them doll it up with adorable Kawaii Pen Shop office supplies. Cute cat pens, decorative washi tape, Shiba Inu dog sticky notes and sushi-shaped erasers are just a few of the many reasonably priced options that are sure to make the educators you know smile. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Buy Now: Baggu reusable tote bags Bookshop.org gift card Price: $10 and up Gift cards may have a bad reputation for being a little impersonal, but it’s hard to think of a better present for those you don’t know that well. Giving Bookshop.org gift cards is the perfect way to tell teachers thank you, while letting them buy the books they really want. Buy Now: D.S. & Durga Big Sur After Rain hand sanitizer spray Carter Move Mug Price: $30 Teachers get to school early and often stay late, meaning they likely need a coffee or tea break to get through their busy day. Carter Move Mugs are minimalist, personalizable travel tumblers that are the perfect gift for teachers because they’re designed to keep coffee hot until they have time to drink it. Buy Now: Compartes Chocolates gift set Phaidon books Price: $12.95 and up These gorgeous books from Phaidon are fun and informative to read, but also look great on a shelf or coffee table. They cover topics across the food, art, science, plant, and design worlds, including Annie Liebowitz’s latest art-filled retrospective, a cookbook of Middle Eastern sweets, a Nike lookbook and much more. Buy Now: DoorDash or Milk Bar gift box Omsom’s Try ’Em All bundle Price: $70 Send a teacher on a round-the-world tour, one meal at a time with this saucy sampler pack from Omsom. These sauce packs feature flavors from Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, among other countries, offering a flavor-packed pantry shortcut perfect for food-loving teachers who are short on time. Buy Now: The Sill subscription boxes Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Price: $189 Show teachers you care about them and their eyesight with the latest version of Amazon’s popular easier-on-the-eyes e-reader. This one features a larger screen, dark mode and water resistant technology, making it perfect for reading in the tub after a long day at work. Buy Now:.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 6th, 2021Related News

Food Delivery and Ride Hailing Apps Will Have to Shell Out Billions Under an E.U. Plan

As many as 4.1 million people working for the apps could be reclassified as employees, costing the sector billions more a year As many as 4.1 million people working through food delivery and ride-hailing apps could be reclassified as employees under a forthcoming European Union plan meant to improve gig workers’ labor rights. The draft proposal, seen by Bloomberg News, could cost the sector up to 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) more a year, the EU estimates. It would likely give millions more workers for companies like Uber Technologies Inc., Deliveroo PLC and Bolt Technology OU access to minimum-wage and legal protections. Another 3.8 million workers would receive confirmation they are self-employed. Shares in Deliveroo fell as much as 5.6% in early trading on Friday, while Delivery Hero SE fell 2.7%. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Digital platforms are pushing against the commission’s proposal, which they claim would lead to massive job losses. Earlier this year, Spain classified food delivery workers as couriers, prompting Deliveroo to pull out of the country and other food delivery apps to reduce their operations. In a risk assessment, the European Commission wrote that it wasn’t possible to calculate potential job losses and that the rule changes may “negatively affect” workers’ flexibility. The rules are also likely to increase the cost of delivery and rider apps, as the EU executive noted that “consumers may be faced” with part of the platforms’ increased costs. The bloc’s executive arm said the proposals were assessed to be the most effective way to improve conditions for workers and help them access social protections. Member states could see some 4 billion euros in increased tax and social security contributions annually. Under the proposed rules, which are expected to be made public next week, any worker whose job is controlled by a digital platform can presume that they are an employee regardless of what they are called in their contract. Digital platforms would have the legal obligation to prove that the worker isn’t an employee. The rules would affect operations that meet two of five criteria: determining pay for workers, setting appearance and conduct standards, supervising the quality of work, restricting the ability to accept or refuse tasks, or limiting the ability to build a client base. The commission will present its proposal next week and will still need to garner support from EU countries and the European Parliament before becoming law......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 4th, 2021Related News

MLB Opening Day Threatened By First Work Stoppage Since 1995

IRVING, Texas — Major League Baseball plunged into its first work stoppage in a quarter-century when the sport’s collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night and owners immediately locked out players in a move that threatens spring training and opening day. The strategy, management’s equivalent of a strike under federal labor law, ended the sport’s labor… IRVING, Texas — Major League Baseball plunged into its first work stoppage in a quarter-century when the sport’s collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night and owners immediately locked out players in a move that threatens spring training and opening day. The strategy, management’s equivalent of a strike under federal labor law, ended the sport’s labor peace after 9,740 days over 26 1/2 years. Teams decided to force the long-anticipated confrontation during an offseason rather than risk players walking out during the summer, as they did in 1994. Players and owners had successfully reached four consecutive agreements without a work stoppage, but they have been accelerating toward a clash for more than two years. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “We believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in a letter to fans. “We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the players’ association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive.” Talks that started last spring ended Wednesday after a brief session of mere minutes with the sides far apart on the dozens of key economic issues. Management’s negotiators left the union’s hotel about nine hours before the deal lapsed at 11:59 p.m. EST. MLB’s 30 controlling owners held a brief digital meeting to reaffirm their lockout decision, and MLB delivered the announcement of its fourth-ever lockout — to go along with five strikes — in an emailed letter to the Major League Baseball Players Association. “This drastic and unnecessary measure will not affect the players’ resolve to reach a fair contract,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “We remain committed to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that enhances competition, improves the product for our fans, and advances the rights and benefits of our membership.” This stoppage began 30 days after Atlanta’s World Series win capped a complete season following a pandemic-shortened 2020 played in empty ballparks. The lockout’s immediate impacts were a memo from MLB to clubs freezing signings, the cancellation of next week’s annual winter meetings in Orlando, Florida, and banishing players from team workout facilities and weight rooms while perhaps chilling ticket sales for 2022. The union demanded change following anger over a declining average salary, middle-class players forced out by teams concentrating payroll on the wealthy and veterans jettisoned in favor of lower-paid youth, especially among clubs tearing down their rosters to rebuild. “As players we see major problems with it,” New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer said of the 2016 agreement. “First and foremost, we see a competition problem and how teams are behaving because of certain rules that are within that, and adjustments have to be made because of that in order to bring out the competition.” Eleven weeks remain until pitchers and catchers are to report for spring training on Feb. 16, leaving about 70 days to reach a deal allowing for an on-time start. Opening day is set for March 31, and a minimum of three weeks of organized workouts have been required in the past. Management, intent on preserving salary restraints gained in recent decades, rejected the union’s requests for what teams regarded as significant alterations to the sport’s economic structure, including lowering service time needed for free agency and salary arbitration. “We offered to establish a minimum payroll for all clubs to meet for the first time in baseball history; to allow the majority of players to reach free agency earlier through an age-based system that would eliminate any claims of service time manipulation; and to increase compensation for all young players,” Manfred wrote. “When negotiations lacked momentum, we tried to create some by offering to accept the universal designated hitter, to create a new draft system using a lottery similar to other leagues.” Many clubs scrambled to add players ahead of the lockout, committing to more than $1.9 billion in new contracts — including a one-day record of more than $1.4 billion Wednesday. Two of the eight members of the union’s executive subcommittee signed big deals: Texas infielder Marcus Semien ($175 million) and Scherzer ($130 million). “This is actually kind of fun,” Scherzer said. “I’m a fan of the game, and to watch everybody sign right now, to actually see teams competing in this kind of timely fashion, it’s been refreshing because we’ve seen freezes for the past several offseasons.” No player remains active from the 232-day strike that cut short the 1994 season, led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years and caused the following season to start late. The average salary dropped from $1.17 million before the strike to $1.11 million but then resumed its seemingly inexorable rise. It peaked at just under $4.1 million in 2017, the first season of the latest CBA, but likely will fall to about $3.7 million when this year’s final figures are calculated. That money is concentrated heavily at the top of the salary structure. Among approximately 1,955 players who signed major league contracts at any point going into the regular season’s final month, 112 had earned $10 million or more this year as of Aug. 31, of which 40 made at least $20 million, including prorated shares of signing bonuses. There were 1,397 earning under $1 million, of which 1,271 were at $600,000 or less and 332 under $100,000, a group of younger players who shuttle back and forth to the minors. A union statement claimed the lockout “was specifically calculated to pressure players into relinquishing rights and benefits, and abandoning good-faith bargaining proposals that will benefit not just players, but the game and industry as a whole. … We have been here before, and players have risen to the occassion time and again — guided by a solidarity that has been forged over generations.” The union has withheld licensing money, as it usually does going into bargaining; cash, U.S. Treasury securities and investments totaled $178.5 million last Dec. 31, according to a financial disclosure form filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Some player agents have speculated that management’s credit lines already may be pressured following income deprivation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but the clubs’ finances are more opaque publicly than that of the union, making it difficult to ascertain comparative financial strength to withstand a lengthy work stoppage. Manfred succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner in 2015 following a quarter-century as an MLB labor negotiator. He was unusually critical publicly of the union’s stance. “They never wavered from collectively the most extreme set of proposals in their history,” he said, “including significant cuts to the revenue-sharing system, a weakening of the competitive balance tax, and shortening the period of time that players play for their teams. All of these changes would make our game less competitive.” ___ Blum reported from New York and Hawkins from Irving, Texas. AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed to this report......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 2nd, 2021Related News

‘Cows Are the New Coal.’ How the Cattle Industry Is Ignoring the Bottom Line When It Comes to Methane Emissions

One of the early, attention-grabbing announcements at November’s COP climate conference in Glasgow was a commitment by more than 105 countries to join a U.S.- and E.U.-led coalition to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030. The potent greenhouse gas, which is up to 80 times more effective at heating the planet than carbon dioxide… One of the early, attention-grabbing announcements at November’s COP climate conference in Glasgow was a commitment by more than 105 countries to join a U.S.- and E.U.-led coalition to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030. The potent greenhouse gas, which is up to 80 times more effective at heating the planet than carbon dioxide in the short term, has often been considered the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to slowing down global warming. The COP pledges alone would slash warming projections by 0.2°C by the 2040s, according to the United Nations Global Methane Assessment. But that low-hanging fruit is starting to rot. A new report produced by the FAIRR Initiative, an investor network worth about $45 trillion that is focused on the environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities of intensive livestock production, shows that the meat and dairy industries (including livestock suppliers to McDonalds, Walmart and Costco) is undermining COP26 pledges on methane reduction, by not tracking their own emissions and by failing to track those of their third-party suppliers. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Cows and other ruminants release methane as a byproduct of their digestive process. A single cow can release around 250-500 liters of methane a day. More methane is produced when the animals’ waste is collected in holding ponds, a typical practice for large scale industrial meat producers. The one billion cows used in the global meat and dairy industries, combined with other animals raised for livestock, are responsible for releasing the methane equivalent of some 3.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year—accounting for some 44% of global anthropogenic methane. If the global livestock industry were its own country, it would be the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, falling between U.S. and India when it comes to total greenhouse gas emissions. Read More: The Cow That Could Feed the Planet According to the Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index, which assesses sustainability in the factory farming sector, the industry isn’t making much of an effort to do anything about it. This year’s report found that only 18% of global meat and dairy producers are tracking their methane emissions at all. And of the companies tracking their emissions, one in four actually saw an increase this year. “The ambitions set at COP26 handed a big slice of responsibility to the food and agriculture sector,” says Jeremy Coller, chair of the FAIRR investor network. “We cannot deliver the COP26 commitments without addressing the protein supply chain…yet failures from methane to manure management underline the growing sense in the market that cows are the new coal.” The Index, now in its fourth year, assesses 60 global and publicly-listed animal protein producers—worth a combined $363 billion—against 10 environmental, social and governance-related factors including greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, antibiotic usage and investment in alternative proteins. FAIRR releases the results publicly so that its investors, as well as others, can assess the sustainability and climate commitments of companies in their portfolios. It also provides an industry benchmark, and an incentive for improvement. “If we are to avoid the meat and dairy sector becoming a stranded asset, we must harness the leadership emerging in parts of the industry and transform the way our food, particularly protein, is produced,” says Coller. Some of the companies assessed are ramping up investment into sustainable feed ingredients. Even though the world’s largest beef supplier, Brazil’s JBS, is not doing well when it comes to tracking emissions, it is taking steps to limit methane by partnering with the Netherlands-based feed additive company DSM to help cattle reduce their emissions through the use of a new food supplement. Of course, this still does not solve the problem of land-use changes like deforestation linked to feeding cattle, which also contributes to increased carbon emissions. The meat and dairy industries’ slow embrace of methane tracking and reduction mechanisms is ironic, given they are likely to be two of the industrial sectors most rapidly and catastrophically impacted by climate change. According to the FAIRR report, at least seven of the 60 companies are already reporting climate-related financial impacts. The U.S. based Tyson Foods’ operating income decreased $410 million year-over-year in the first nine months of 2021, in large part due to severe weather disruptions. Brazilian company BRF, one of the biggest food conglomerates in the world, estimates that climatically-influenced changes in precipitation rates are already resulting in annual losses of up to $140 million as the cost of feed increases. That alone should be a red flag for investors. “The science is clear that to avoid runaway climate change, high-emitting sectors such as agriculture must transform themselves in the next decade,” says Eugenie Mathieu, Senior Analyst at Aviva Investors, which is part of the FAIRR network. “Eighty-six percent of the world’s biggest meat and dairy suppliers are still failing to set meaningful reductions targets for emissions, which is enormously unhelpful given that extreme weather events are increasingly hurting the bottom lines of these companies. Investors can play their part by demanding that the animal protein producers they invest in step up to the plate and make change happen more quickly.”.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 2nd, 2021Related News

How the Enron Scandal Changed American Business Forever

It’s the kind of historic anniversary few people really want to remember. In early December 2001, innovative energy company Enron Corporation, a darling of Wall Street investors with $63.4 billion in assets, went bust. It was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Some of the corporation’s executives, including the CEO and chief financial officer, went… It’s the kind of historic anniversary few people really want to remember. In early December 2001, innovative energy company Enron Corporation, a darling of Wall Street investors with $63.4 billion in assets, went bust. It was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Some of the corporation’s executives, including the CEO and chief financial officer, went to prison for fraud and other offenses. Shareholders hit the company with a $40 billion lawsuit, and the company’s auditor, Arthur Andersen, ceased doing business after losing many of its clients. It was also a black mark on the U.S. stock market. At the time, most investors didn’t see the prospect of massive financial fraud as a real risk when buying U.S.-listed stocks. “U.S. markets had long been the gold standard in transparency and compliance,” says Jack Ablin, founding partner at Cresset Capital and a veteran of financial markets. “That was a real one-two punch on credibility. That was a watershed for the U.S. public.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The company’s collapse sent ripples through the financial system, with the government introducing a set of stringent regulations for auditors, accountants and senior executives, huge requirements for record keeping, and criminal penalties for securities laws violations. In turn, that has led in part to less choice for U.S. stock investors, and lower participation in stock ownership by individuals. In other words, it was the little guy who suffered over the last two decades. Americans lost trust in the stock market The collapse of Enron gave many average Americans pause about investing. After all, if a giant like Enron could collapse, what investments could they trust? A significant number of Americans have foregone participating in the tremendous stock market gains seen over the last two decades. In 2020, a little more than half of the population (55%) owned stocks directly or through savings vehicles such as 401Ks and IRAs. That’s down from 60% in the year 2000, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances from the U.S. Federal Reserve. That could have had a large financial impact on some folks. For instance, an investment of $1,000 in the S&P 500 at the beginning of 2000 would recently have been worth $4,710, including reinvested dividends. Wealthier people, who often employ professionals to handle their investments, were more likely to stick with their stocks, while middle class and poorer people couldn’t take the risk. Without doubt this drop in stock market participation has contributed to the growing levels of wealth inequality across the U.S. It became harder for companies to IPO While lack of trust in the market is a direct consequence of Enron’s mega fraud, the indirect consequences of government actions also seem to have hurt Main Street USA. Immediately following the bankruptcy, Congress worked on the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, which was meant to hold senior executives responsible for listed company financial statements. CEOs and CFOs are now held personally accountable for the truth of what goes on the income statement and balance sheet. The bill passed in 2002 and has been with us since. But it has also drawn harsh criticisms. “The most important political response was Sarbanes-Oxley,” says Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University. “It was unnecessary, and it was harmful.” In many ways, the legislation wasn’t needed because the Justice Department and the Securities Exchange Commission already had the powers to prosecute executives who cooked the financial books or at a minimum were less than transparent with the truth, Hanke says. The direct result of the legislation was that public companies got dumped with a load of bureaucratic form-filling, and executives would be less likely to take on entrepreneurial risks, Hanke says. There is also much ambiguity in the law about what is or what isn’t allowed and what are the ultimate consequences of non-compliance. “You don’t know what you are facing in terms of penalties, so you back off of everything risky,” he says. Quickly, that meant the stock market underwent two significant changes. First, fewer companies are listed now than since the 1970s. In 1996, during the dot-com bubble, there were 8,090 companies listed on stock exchanges in the U.S., according to data from the World Bank. That figure had fallen to 4,266 by 2019. That drop was partially a reflection of the regulatory burden of companies wishing to go public, experts say. “It costs a lot of money to employ the securities attorneys needed for Sarbanes-Oxley,” says Robert Wright, a senior fellow at the American Institute of Economic Research and an economic historian. “Clearly, fewer companies can afford to meet all these requirements.” Companies now wait under they are far larger before going public than they did before the Sarbanes-Oxley rules were introduced. Yahoo! went public with a market capitalization of $848 million in April 1996, and in 1995 Netscape got a valuation of $2.9 billion. Compare that to the $82 billion IPO valuation for ride share company Uber in 2019, or Facebook $104 billion IPO value in 2012. Now, companies grow through investments that don’t require a public market listing and that don’t involve heavy bureaucratic costs. Instead, startups go to venture capital firms or private equity. The recent rise in the use of Special Acquisition Corporations (SPACs) is seen by some as a relatively easy way to skirt some of the burdensome regulations of listing stocks. However, SPACs do nothing to reduce ongoing costs or burden of complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley rules. But when companies stay private longer, they spend more time without the public accountability required of listed companies. Former blood testing company Theranos famously remained private in a move some theorized was to avoid publicizing internal data. Because of the high barriers Sarbanes-Oxley placed on going public, the business world is now littered with large, private companies that don’t have to reveal their inner workings. Delaying going public also affects Main Street because most individual investors cannot buy shares in companies that aren’t public. They haven’t been able to share in the profits from the speedy early-stage corporate growth that is typically seen in companies like Facebook and Uber. Put simply, the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations have chased away some investing opportunities from the public market to the private ones. And in doing so have excluded small investors from participating—and gaining. “Now smaller investors are shut out and all the big economic profits go to venture capitalists and the like,” Wright says. That, in many ways, is the legacy of Enron......»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 2nd, 2021Related News

Facebook Parent Meta Removes China-Based Network Pushing COVID-19 Misinformation

Meta said it removed a China-based network of more than 500 Facebook accounts Meta Platforms Inc. said it removed a China-based network of more than 500 Facebook accounts that sought to push a false narrative about the U.S. government’s attempts to blame the Covid-19 pandemic on China. The campaign involved the fake persona of a Swiss biologist named Wilson Edwards, who in July posted on Facebook and Twitter Inc. that the U.S. was pressuring World Health Organization scientists to blame the virus on China, according to Meta’s monthly report on coordinated influence operations on its social networks. Within days of the first post, hundreds of social media accounts and a handful of Chinese state media sources amplified the story about alleged American intimidation, Meta said on Wednesday. But the following month the Swiss Embassy in Beijing said there was no Swiss citizen by the name of Wilson Edwards, the company said. Facebook investigated and removed the account the same day. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Meta said it took down 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four Groups and 86 Instagram accounts involved in the campaign, according to the report. The Menlo Park, California-based company said it found connections between the network and individuals in China, including employees of Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co. Chinese government officials also appeared to interact with the content posted by the network. The social network also removed a group of accounts based in Italy and France linked with an anti-vaccination movement that targeted journalists, medical professionals and politicians. Meta, formerly known as Facebook Inc., said bad actors continue to change their tactics to evade detection and enforcement action. One such strategy is known as “brigading,” where adversarial accounts work together to post or comment en masse in an attempt to harass or silence particular users. Another tactic these networks employ involves submitting a deluge of reports on an account or piece of content to get Meta to take it down. “What we have seen consistently is that the threat actors behind these harms are evolving their techniques,” said Meta Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher. “We build our defense with this expectation in mind: they are not going to stop. They are going to shift their tactics.”.....»»

Category: topSource: TIMEDec 1st, 2021Related News