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Offline knarf

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Colt to Suspend Production of AR-15 Rifles for Consumers
« Reply #14100 on: September 20, 2019, 06:25:55 AM »
The gun manufacturer said the market had an adequate supply of sporting rifles and it would focus on its military and law enforcement contracts instead.


Three variations of the AR-15 rifle, a semiautomatic weapon that the gun manufacturer Colt said it would halt producing for the consumer market.

The gun maker Colt said on Thursday that it would effectively suspend production of sporting rifles, including the AR-15, for the civilian market but continue to manufacture rifles for government weapons contracts.

In a statement on its website, Colt emphasized that the company remained “committed to the Second Amendment,” but cited market conditions for its decision.

“Over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” Dennis Veilleux, the company’s chief executive, said in the statement. “Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.”

Colt’s decision is unlikely to make it more difficult for gun buyers to get their hands on powerful semiautomatic weapons, said Timothy D. Lytton, an expert on the gun industry at Georgia State University.

“If there’s market demand,” he said, “I’m sure there are other companies with the capacity to fill it.”

The AR-15, a military-style weapon, has been used in several recent mass shootings, including in Newtown, Conn.; Orlando, Fla.; and Parkland, Fla.

[Fans explain the appeal of the AR-15.]

Major retailers and other businesses linked to the gun industry have faced growing public pressure to take steps to curb gun violence in response to recent mass shootings. After a shooting in August at one of its stores in El Paso, Walmart said it would stop selling ammunition that could be used in military-style assault rifles.

Colt did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday. But in the statement, Mr. Veilleux emphasized that the company, whose products are available at more than 4,000 dealers across the country, would continue to manufacture handguns for the consumer market.

The financial effect of the decision is unclear. Colt, a private company, does not list sales for its sporting rifles on its website.

While Colt has framed it as an economic decision, Mr. Lytton said, the public pressure may have influenced the company. He noted that Colt was based in Hartford, Conn., not far from the site of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

“The mass shootings are probably making the company a little bit brand-sensitive,” Mr. Lytton said. “They’re probably feeling a kind of pressure or heat that manufacturers in other parts of the country may not be.”

The news that Colt would stop producing rifles for consumers was reported last week in an industry blog, The Truth About Guns, which cited an email the RSR Group, a firearms distributor, had sent to retailers saying Colt had informed it of the policy change. A spokeswoman for the RSR Group declined to comment.

And last week, a Colt marketing executive told the National Rifle Association’s publication Shooting Illustrated that the company had seen “a pretty sharp decline in rifle sales.”

“We listen to our customers,” the Colt executive, Paul Spitale, told Shooting Illustrated.

Colt is the manufacturer most closely associated with the AR-15, a lightweight, semiautomatic weapon. The Colt Armalite Rifle-15 Sporter hit the market in the early 1960s as the first civilian version of the military’s M16 rifle.

Over the years, however, the AR-15 has become a catchall for a range of weapons that look and operate similarly, including the Remington Bushmaster, the Smith & Wesson M&P15 and the Springfield Armory Saint.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/19/business/colt-ar-15.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage
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Offline knarf

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Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
« Reply #14101 on: September 20, 2019, 06:55:07 AM »


A very large chasm exists between those in power, including most of the 2020 presidential candidates, and environmentalists and scientists intent on acting now to resolve growing environmental crises. To reiterate what is known, the United Nations, through its IPCC and the IPBES committees, has provided comprehensive evidence that little time remains to avert catastrophic global warming. And the world is already in the midst of the sixth mass extinction.

Given that oligarchs, corporate executives and politicians are at least in theory physical beings as dependent on a livable world as the rest of us, it is incompatible views of the world that are illustrated by this indifference. Some people care more about wealth and power than they do about the environment, the planet and the rest of us. Lest this be confused with the human condition, the power to destroy the world has only existed for about seven decades.

The conclusion of the UN committees, considered conservative by many environmentalists, is that the opportunity to make incremental changes to industrial practices has passed. There is no way to achieve necessary goals without quickly and radically reorganizing Western political economy. And the alternative isn’t to continue on the current path. Doing nothing will alter the world in ways that will put hundreds of millions of people’s lives and livelihoods at risk.


Graph: the IPCC estimated that the world has twelve years from one year ago to cut carbon emissions in half or adverse consequences will rise at an increasing (exponential) rate. Many environmental scientists view this window as too conservative. They argue that adverse consequences are already assured by carbon releases to date. The American political class remains unbowed. Climate science believers in congress have joined deniers to assure that no environmental legislation of consequence will be passed.

The words and tenor of these UN reports, along with hundreds of related scientific papers, place the onus on governments to lead the transition away from industrial capitalism. Left to be worked through is the premise that governments and capital are separable. There are certainly differences by degree amongst capitalist nations, if not precisely type. However, in the belly of the beast— the U.S., the fantasy that capitalism moved beyond state dependence is belied by something as simple as property, which is 1) a legal device, 2) fundamental to capitalism, 3) enforced through state power.

For four or so decades the theorized line of political division was between those who believe climate science and those who deny it. From the perspective of power, these are equivalent appeals to different constituencies. Democrat Nancy Pelosi believes the climate science while doing everything in her power to assure that nothing substantial is done to address it. To date, the political contest has been to effectively manage the polity for the rich, not to enact legislation in the public interest.

Over the last twenty-five years an area the size of New York state has been converted into strip malls, car dealerships, fast food restaurants and ‘logistics’ facilities. There was nothing ‘natural’ about this process— it was the result of the radical reorganization of Western political economy that took root in the 1980s. The point: the contention that large-scale, radical action to solve environmental and social problems is impossible is belied by the scale and scope of the changes that have already taken place.

The length and breadth of this build-out suggests that it is an aggregation of smaller economic decisions, and therefore is in some sense the result of a democratic process. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It was the result of ‘macro’ factors like the abandonment of anti-trust enforcement, the deregulation of finance and neoliberal capture of state and local governments. The individual parts are subject to variation, but the broad trajectory was determined from above.

While the unmolested landscapes were varied, diverse, and existed in their particularity before they were ‘developed,’ what was built on / in them is remarkably uniform. The strip malls, office parks, car dealerships and retail outlets are virtually indistinguishable across the vast expanse of the U.S. Aside from ‘natural’ details like landscape and regional variations in housing styles, it is virtually impossible now to know what region of the country one is in without additional information.

This is to make the point that one Green New Deal or Medicare for All program was funded and built every year or so for twenty-five years. In an existential sense, no accounting was made for what was destroyed. Land, air, water, and ecosystems existed before a Chuck E. Cheese or mini-mart was built on / in it. Money exchanged hands and activity was undertaken, but the claim that value was created is indeterminate when climate change and mass extinction threaten life on the planet.

Lest the stakes be underestimated, the industrialized world has twelve years from one year ago to cut carbon emissions in half. Otherwise, climate change will produce adverse consequences on an increasing scale. The sixth mass extinction is already underway. Nothing less than the complete reorganization of Western political economy, from what goods are produced to industrial methods, global supply chains, resource extraction, energy production and use, transportation, agriculture, housing and building design and the organization of employment, is needed.

In addition to this build-out of a totalizing, state-corporate hellscape, what collective resources have been put into is the creation of the carceral and surveillance states and the militarization of the police. Following the attacks of 9/11, anti-terrorism legislation was written to place environmental and animal rights activists as threats to the public order equivalent to those who flew airplanes into the Twin Towers. Assuring that no counter-balance arose to the power of the oligarchs was / is the implied goal.


Graph: Productivity is a measure of what labor produces. The capitalist concept of just distribution has labor being paid according to what it produces. Since the onset of neoliberalism in the 1970s, capitalists have taken all of the gains in labor productivity for themselves. This means that even within capitalist theory, capitalists have been exploiting labor.

It is only through fantastical history and magical prisms that ‘we’ came to this point in history accidentally. From the inception of capitalism through its early imperial, industrial, late imperial and neoliberal incarnations, the consolidation and concentration of political and economic power has been the goal. As late as early 2017— with Donald Trump’s electoral victory a fait accompli, Barack Obama was pushing for passage of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) to shift sovereign power to the corporations that are the operational backbone of state-corporatism.

In the U.S. in particular, slavery and genocide were / are ideologically and historically related to the environmental devastation that capitalism has wreaked on the planet. Genocide was undertaken to acquire the land and resources that fueled industrialization. By the late nineteenth century, most of the forests that had once covered the U.S. had been cut to the ground. The hills of Pennsylvania and West Virginia still bear the scars of strip-mining done a century ago. By the 1960s rivers and lakes were catching fire from industrial pollution.

That environmental destruction is economic expropriation is capitalism 101. It is the up-to-now abstractness of who it is who has been expropriated-from that led to political confusion. P = R – C; where P = profits, R = Revenues and C = costs. To the extent that P belongs to capitalists and C is forced onto the world, capitalists benefit. P is the realm of the ruling class and C is the realm of the rest of us. Class warfare was / is the base state of capitalism with or without Karl Marx. If environmental destruction were really ‘external’ to capitalist production, then it would have ended already.

From this profit equation and the graph of wages and labor productivity provided above, a pattern emerges. To the extent that their power allows them to, capitalists will take wages that belong to workers. And to the extent that their power allows them to, capitalists will force their environmental costs onto ‘the world,’ meaning the rest of us. It is this relation of exploiters to exploited that makes capitalism an engine of social injustice.

Oligarchs; corporate executives and the political class are doing everything in their power to stop accumulating environmental crises from being resolved. Capitalists could have voluntarily stopped destroying the environment, but they didn’t. Capitalists could have voluntarily paid workers the product of their labor, but they didn’t. It is only through taking away the power to exploit that these problems can be resolved.

This is why proposed ‘solutions’ that leave the existing distribution of power untouched aren’t solutions. And the oligarchs and their political servants know it. If one’s priority is the acquisition of power, then why would the choice be made to voluntarily give it up? The answer: it wouldn’t. This upends the liberal theory that better information will solve the world’s problems. Those in power have good information, but their priority is power.

The question then is when is enough, enough? When will the rest of us decide that the wealth and power of those who possess it is the problem? To be clear, this isn’t a matter of envy, the proto-typical right-wing canard posed to portray political opposition as an emotional disturbance. If the environment were stable and social justice prevailed, who cares if the greed-heads choke on their money? Capitalism is oppressive political economy through the tie of wealth to dispossession.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made her hostility to programs that address environmental and social justice problems known. But she is just a placeholder, the operative who currently has the position of managing the polity for the benefit of the rich. Changing placeholders— the central role of electoral politics up to the present, leaves the political economy they represent intact.

To solve environmental problems and achieve social justice requires a fundamental reordering of political and economic power. Refusing to act as functionaries for capital is a necessary first step. Only when this refusal has achieved critical mass— when the ordinary functioning of Western political economy is no longer perceived to be feasible by the existing powers, will the rich and powerful see their lots tied to ours.

Strike for the environment, strike for social justice, strike!

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/09/20/strike-for-the-environment-strike-for-social-justice-strike/
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Offline knarf

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Flooding from Imelda turns deadly in Texas as rainfall totals approach 4 feet
« Reply #14102 on: September 20, 2019, 07:02:01 AM »
Imelda loaded widespread flooding across southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana with over 40 inches of rain falling in several communities. The catastrophic flooding is bringing back unwanted memories of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the region back in 2017.

Hundreds of water rescues have been performed across the region with the worst of the flooding taking place near Beaumont, Texas, located east of Houston.

At least two fatalities have been reported in Texas amid the widespread flooding. The first happened in Jefferson County when a person drowned while trying to move a horse to safety. The second occurred in Harris County after a vehicle with several occupants became submerged while attempting to drive through a flooded road.

A look at Imelda's rainfall accumulations through 6 p.m. CDT Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

Authorities have urged residents to shelter in place and seek higher ground if possible. However, despite the warnings, there have been over 400 high-water rescues, many of which taking place after people attempted to drive through floodwaters. Officials said there were also nearly 1,000 weather-related calls for service.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for 13 counties that were experiencing the flooding. Gov. Abbott also declared a state of emergency to give counties access to state resources as they respond to the flooding.

“The State of Texas is working closely with local officials and emergency personnel to provide the resources they need to keep Texans safe from Tropical Storm Imelda,” Abbott said in a statement. “I thank our first responders who are acting swiftly to help the communities that are facing this severe weather event. I urge all those in the path of this storm to take the necessary precautions and heed all warnings from local officials.”

As the rain tapered off by Thursday night, several locations have already been inundated with feet of rain, including multiple communities topped the 40-inch mark. The highest total rainfall report so far has been 43.35 inches at Taylor’s Bayou in Port Arthur, Texas. Texas Greens Bayou, northeast of Houston, recorded 9.68 inches in 3 hours during the middle of the day Thursday.

The torrents of rain that Imelda unleashed set numerous records, and the storm also became the seventh-wettest tropical cyclone in U.S. history.

While Houston initially avoided the heaviest rainfall from Imelda, heavier bands of rain began shifting southward over the city as of late Thursday morning, and Bayous were rising rapidly, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

On Thursday afternoon, a very heavy rain band east of Houston continued to drop copious rainfall amounts of 3 to 4 inches per hour, adding to the significant and even major flooding that is ongoing, forecasters said.

Imelda first came to life on Tuesday as a depression before it rapidly grew into a short-lived tropical storm.

Following landfall in Freeport, Texas, the storm crept inland and began to trigger the deluge. Forecasters say the threats of flooding will spread northward toward the Arklatex region on Friday. Lingering downpours along the southeast Texas coast can further delay the recession of floodwaters.

The flooding rain has resulted in an increase in power outages and travel shutdowns. Due to the impacts from Imelda, there were no arriving flights into Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday. Additionally, more than 70,000 were without power for a time. Interstate 10 was shut down in both directions near Fannett while access to I-10 was also limited near Beaumont as many access roads were flooded.

In Vidor and Winnie, officials interviewed by separate media outlets both spoke of the dangerous waters and the severity being worse than Harvey in 2017.

Vidor, Texas, Police Chief Rod Carroll told KFDM News that the situation in town was "catastrophic" and the flooding in town was worse than Harvey. 

Videos on social media Thursday morning showed numerous water rescues being carried out by airboats, including some by the Texas Game Warden.

The Beaumont Police Department urged residents to seek shelter and move to higher ground Thursday morning as many access roads were flooded around town. Officials said that rescues and evacuation requests were being prioritized.

As flooding overwhelmed many access roads, access to Interstate 10 and Highway 69 from Beaumont became "extremely limited," the police department said. The City of Beaumont closed non-essential offices on Thursday.

Lamar University said it was closing its campus on Thursday and urged students and faculty to stay off the roads and avoid areas with standing water.

Beaumont received nearly 2 inches of rain in one hour on Wednesday night and has picked up over 18 inches of rain since Wednesday morning.

Farther south, Chambers County Emergency Management stated early Thursday morning that significant flooding was occurring in Winnie, with water coming into homes and businesses. Riceland Hospital has been evacuated, and a flood shelter has been opened at White’s Park Community Center.

The Chambers County Sheriff's Office said the community of Winnie was "devastated" by rising water and high water rescue vehicles and airboats had been deployed.

In an interview with ABC News, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said the flooding in Winnie was "absolutely horrible" and homes and businesses that never got water during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 have been overwhelmed by flooding.

Elsewhere in Beaumont, the dual ABC/NBC affiliate,12 News, was forced to evacuate Thursday morning due to the rising floodwaters. The station said on its Facebook page that news anchors would broadcast from their sister station KHOU 11 out of Houston.

Imelda could be responsible for a few tornadoes that spun up in Chambers and Harris counties on Wednesday. Beaumont was under a tornado warning for a time early Thursday morning, but there have been no initial reports of a confirmed tornado.

What’s left of Imelda will dissipate by Friday, but the threat of ongoing flooding will persist across eastern Texas through the weekend as rivers and streams continue to rise.

https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/imelda-triggers-widespread-flooding-across-southeastern-texas/535882
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Re: Colt to Suspend Production of AR-15 Rifles for Consumers
« Reply #14103 on: September 20, 2019, 07:31:17 AM »
The gun manufacturer said the market had an adequate supply of sporting rifles and it would focus on its military and law enforcement contracts instead.


Three variations of the AR-15 rifle, a semiautomatic weapon that the gun manufacturer Colt said it would halt producing for the consumer market.

The gun maker Colt said on Thursday that it would effectively suspend production of sporting rifles, including the AR-15, for the civilian market but continue to manufacture rifles for government weapons contracts.

In a statement on its website, Colt emphasized that the company remained “committed to the Second Amendment,” but cited market conditions for its decision.

“Over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” Dennis Veilleux, the company’s chief executive, said in the statement. “Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.”

Colt’s decision is unlikely to make it more difficult for gun buyers to get their hands on powerful semiautomatic weapons, said Timothy D. Lytton, an expert on the gun industry at Georgia State University.

“If there’s market demand,” he said, “I’m sure there are other companies with the capacity to fill it.”

The AR-15, a military-style weapon, has been used in several recent mass shootings, including in Newtown, Conn.; Orlando, Fla.; and Parkland, Fla.

[Fans explain the appeal of the AR-15.]

Major retailers and other businesses linked to the gun industry have faced growing public pressure to take steps to curb gun violence in response to recent mass shootings. After a shooting in August at one of its stores in El Paso, Walmart said it would stop selling ammunition that could be used in military-style assault rifles.

Colt did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday. But in the statement, Mr. Veilleux emphasized that the company, whose products are available at more than 4,000 dealers across the country, would continue to manufacture handguns for the consumer market.

The financial effect of the decision is unclear. Colt, a private company, does not list sales for its sporting rifles on its website.

While Colt has framed it as an economic decision, Mr. Lytton said, the public pressure may have influenced the company. He noted that Colt was based in Hartford, Conn., not far from the site of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

“The mass shootings are probably making the company a little bit brand-sensitive,” Mr. Lytton said. “They’re probably feeling a kind of pressure or heat that manufacturers in other parts of the country may not be.”

The news that Colt would stop producing rifles for consumers was reported last week in an industry blog, The Truth About Guns, which cited an email the RSR Group, a firearms distributor, had sent to retailers saying Colt had informed it of the policy change. A spokeswoman for the RSR Group declined to comment.

And last week, a Colt marketing executive told the National Rifle Association’s publication Shooting Illustrated that the company had seen “a pretty sharp decline in rifle sales.”

“We listen to our customers,” the Colt executive, Paul Spitale, told Shooting Illustrated.

Colt is the manufacturer most closely associated with the AR-15, a lightweight, semiautomatic weapon. The Colt Armalite Rifle-15 Sporter hit the market in the early 1960s as the first civilian version of the military’s M16 rifle.

Over the years, however, the AR-15 has become a catchall for a range of weapons that look and operate similarly, including the Remington Bushmaster, the Smith & Wesson M&P15 and the Springfield Armory Saint.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/19/business/colt-ar-15.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage


Cobra Effect.....
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline knarf

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Protestor dropped an 800-pound opioid spoon in front of the Johnson & Johnson HQ
« Reply #14104 on: September 20, 2019, 07:54:42 AM »


Activist artist Domenic Esposito placed an opioid spoon sculpture at Johnson and Johnson headquarters in New Brunswick.

An 800-pound opioid cooking spoon delivered to the front door gets your attention.

Activist and artist Dominic Esposito brought the oversized spoon to pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson's New Jersey campus Wednesday as a way to protest prescription drugs' role in the opioid epidemic.

Three people wheeled the 10-foot long, four-foot tall aluminum spoon to the front door, making it impossible for commuters and workers not to see. The J and J logo was etched into the spoon handle.

“My mom would call me in this panic voice that she found a spoon in the house,” Esposito said. “It was the peak of my brother’s 12-year battle with addiction."

Johnson and Johnson security arrived and told Esposito he was on private property and he had to leave. They called the police, who asked Esposito to move his protest to the public sidewalk, and he did.

An Oklahoma judge last month ruled against Johnson and Johnson, fining the New Brunswick-based company $572 million, and saying its ads overstated drugs’ ability to treat chronic pain while downplaying their risk of addiction. Johnson and Johnson is appealing the decision.

"Johnson & Johnson did not cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma or elsewhere," the company's vice president, Ernie Knewitz, said in a statement about the protest. He noted that drug production is regulated by the FDA and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

"At the same time, we recognize that the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and have deep sympathy for everyone affected," the statement said.

Esposito delivered three additional spoons to other pharmaceutical companies and government offices.

His brother is still struggling with addiction, “but we are always hopeful he will win his battle one day,” he said.

https://expo.nj.com/news/g66l-2019/09/882cfdf62d2096/protestor-dropped-an-800pound-opioid-spoon-in-front-of-the-johnson-johnson-hq.html?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark
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U.S. senators urge FDA to remove pod, cartridge-based e-cigarettes from market
« Reply #14105 on: September 20, 2019, 11:52:00 AM »
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Friday urged federal regulators to immediately remove all pod and cartridge-based e-cigarettes from the market until it can be proven the products are safe.

In a letter to Ned Sharpless, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Senators Dick Durbin, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Merkley and Richard Blumenthal cited recent reports of 530 cases of vaping-related lung disease, as well as eight deaths, in asking for the ban.

The letter said cartridge or pod-based systems account for more than 70% of the overall e-cigarette market, and are favored by youth.

“Unfortunately, many cartridge-based systems are easily able to be opened and modified, exposing adolescents to the additional dangers associated with refillable, and modifiable, e-liquids,” the letter said.

Separately, Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi urged the FDA not to make an exemption for mint and menthol flavors in their pending guidelines that are expected to ban e-cigarette flavors.

“I say very strongly we are hearing that the vaping industry, the e-cigarette industry, is lobbying heavily for an exemption for mint- and menthol-flavored,” Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, said in a conference call with journalists.

“Any such exception or exemption would be a tremendous mistake ... we respectfully request the FDA to resist,” he said.

Krishnamoorthi chairs the House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. He and Durbin this week formed a bipartisan caucus to combat the “epidemic” of youth vaping, along with Republican Representative Peter King and others.

The lawmakers have cited health experts who say flavors like mint from popular e-cigarette companies like Juul Labs

Inc have caused the surge in youth vaping.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said last week that with President Donald Trump’s blessing, his department would move to ban all e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco in an effort to curb the use of e-cigarettes by youth.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-vaping-senators/u-s-senators-urge-fda-to-remove-pod-cartridge-based-e-cigarettes-from-market-idUSKBN1W51VW?utm_source=reddit.com
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The climate strike must be a beginning and not an end. Warming won’t be stopped by symbolism


 ‘Schoolchildren have spurred a movement that’s growing in almost every nation. If they can do that, what else could be possible?’

uring the carnage of the first world war, the poet Wilfred Owen revisited the biblical story in which God tests Abraham by commanding the sacrifice of Isaac, his son. In Genesis, Abraham dutifully prepares the lad for slaughter before God relents and tells him to offer a ram instead.

Owen’s bitter poem rewrites the ending:

    But the old man would not so, but slew his son,

    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

The parable illustrates global warming just as well as war – except, with CO2 levels higher than at any other time in human history, it’s a planet rather than a continent now under the knife.

That’s what makes the climate strike so fitting: an international rebellion led by the young against generations of betrayal. We know that, as far back as the late 50s, researchers for the oil industry understood the effects of carbon on the atmosphere but did nothing about it.

In 1988 George HW Bush promised on the campaign trail to fight climate change. “I am an environmentalist,” he declared. “Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the greenhouse effect are forgetting about the White House effect.”

There was, of course, no White House effect.

In 1997 the world’s leaders signed the Kyoto protocol, with Bill Clinton declaring “a commitment from our generation to act in the interests of future generations”. More emissions have been released since that agreement than in all of previous history.

How petty, how small, how childish do those politicians with the temerity to attack Greta Thunberg look! She speaks for science, idealism and hope; they embody an ignorance or cynicism so deep as to constitute depravity.

The ecological disaster that confronts us today extends way beyond climate. Some scientists speak of the “sixth extinction event” – but, as Justin McBrien argued, that phrase isn’t accurate.

We might less euphemistically discuss a “first extermination event”. Nature is not dying so much as being killed, by people who know perfectly well what they’re doing.

The need for protests could not be more urgent – and, at last, they’re happening. The global strike provides a perfect antidote to the despair so many of us have felt for so long.

There’s a nightmarishness to the isolated experience of climate change: a sense of paralysis and horror at a world sleepwalking into disaster. By coming together on the streets, we shake that off, and we grasp something of our collective strength.

In day-to-day life, there are few sections of society more powerless than schoolchildren. And yet, despite teachers and parents and politicians, they’ve spurred a movement that’s growing in almost every nation.

If they can do that, what else could be possible? What might the rest of us do, if we all act together?

Fairly obviously, the strike must be a beginning and not an end. This is not an issue where you can express your disapproval in a single rally and then go back to your daily life.

Atmospheric physics doesn’t care if we’re tired of marching or we feel that “done our bit”. Warming won’t be stopped by symbolism or fervent hopes: we need, as, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change argues, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

That’s no small task, especially given the vested interests in the status quo. It would be foolish not to expect difficult times ahead.

In 1848 Marx described the February insurgency in France as “the beautiful revolution” – and then contrasted it with the “ugly revolution” that followed. He meant that the initial uprising (a “revolution of universal sympathy”) united everyone other than utter reactionaries. It was only later that the divergent interests among the rebels became clear.

The same might be said today.

Will those businesses who encouraged their workers to strike support further stoppages? What about progressive politicians – will they back ongoing actions? How can we prevent protests falling back into tokenism? What kind of alliances might take the movement forward and what kind of deals will set it back? How does civil disobedience relate to the push for a Green New Deal?

All of these and other questions must be debated – and the necessary debates will be polarising, fractious and, yes, ugly. Again, though, the climate strike shows the basis for the struggle we need.

All over the globe, people have rejected the sacrifice of nature on the altar of greed. That should inspire us all to redouble our efforts. We need a new movement, akin to those that shook the world in the 60s and the 70s, and we have very little time to build one.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/commentisfree/2019/sep/20/this-isnt-extinction-its-extermination-the-people-killing-nature-know-what-theyre-doing?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
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Offline knarf

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Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone Since 1970
« Reply #14107 on: September 20, 2019, 05:23:40 PM »
A new study finds steep, long-term losses across virtually all groups of birds in the U.S. and Canada

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/cdzU84AyCdI&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/cdzU84AyCdI&fs=1</a>

The first-ever comprehensive assessment of net population changes in the U.S. and Canada reveals across-the-board declines that scientists call “staggering.” All told, the North American bird population is down by 2.9 billion breeding adults, with devastating losses among birds in every biome. Forests alone have lost 1 billion birds. Grassland bird populations collectively have declined by 53%, or another 720 million birds.

The Main Findings
Even Common Birds Are Vanishing

Common birds—the species that many people see every day—have suffered the greatest losses, according to the study. More than 90% of the losses (more than 2.5 billion birds) come from just 12 families including the sparrows, blackbirds, warblers, and finches.

The losses include favorite species seen at bird feeders, such as Dark-eyed Juncos (or “snowbirds,” down by 168 million) and sweet-singing White-throated Sparrows (down by 93 million). Eastern and Western Meadowlarks are down by a combined 139 million individuals. Even the beloved Red-winged Blackbird—a common sight in virtually every marsh and wet roadside across the continent—has declined by 92 million birds.

“We want to keep common birds common, and we’re not even doing that,” said Pete Marra, a study coauthor who formerly directed the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and now directs the Georgetown Environment Initiative.

Read the full "Living Bird" article at : https://www.allaboutbirds.org/vanishing-1-in-4-birds-gone/

https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/bring-birds-back

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Job One for Humanity is a respectful disruptor, but what do we mean by that?
« Reply #14108 on: September 20, 2019, 05:32:42 PM »


We are in an undeclared global warming extinction emergency. In a state of emergency, usually one has little time left to fix the emergency. Therefore, one must act accordingly and operate at new levels of direct intervention commensurate with the danger and ensuring the crisis will get resolved.

Our organization has adapted to the new reality that we are now in a global warming extinction emergency. Accordingly, we have become a respectful disruptor of any individual, company, not-for-profit environmental groups or global warming educational peers who are unintentionally or intentionally presenting false or misleading global warming information.

But what exactly do we mean by respectful disruptor?

A. Being a disruptor means that in peaceful and nonviolent ways, we will publicly challenge any organization or individual that presents false or underestimated global warming analysis or facts or, otherwise misrepresents, dummies down or "markets" global warming information in such a way that it becomes counter-productive to resolving the global warming extinction emergency.

We will disrupt any flow of false and misleading information where ever we find it to the best of our organization's abilities and resources.

We are compelled to disrupt wherever necessary. This new disruption policy is because our current global warming emergency is so great and the time to prevent a massive human, animal, and biological extinction event from occurring within our lifetimes is so short (only until 2025.)

We further hold that no well-intended or ill-informed organization or individual has the inherent right to do such things unchallenged when their actions and ideas lessen either the urgency or the effective means of resolving our current global warming extinction emergency.

Our unwelcome role as a disruptor is not just necessary, it is required. Any distress that we might cause by challenging an offending organization or individual is infinitely less when compared to the suffering, death, and damage that such unchallenged information could or will eventually cause to the world's efforts to reduce global warming in time to save humanity and the future.

B. Being respectful means that we will respectfully challenge any organization or individual that presents false or underestimated global warming analysis or, facts counter-productive to resolving the global warming extinction emergency.

We will do it respectfully because most individuals, companies, and nonprofit organizations are composed of good people and have done many good things for global warming education. In some cases, these same entities may have made essential and significant contributions to the global warming educational movement.

We also understand that in most cases, these organizations and individuals are probably not doing this awarely or intentionally. They are just doing the best they have with what they have.

We believe that when they have unintentionally presented false or underestimated global warming analysis or, facts or, that they have misrepresented other important global warming information, it is often because they have:

1. Failed to adequately challenge the existing paradigms of global warming climate models, analysis and interpretation for missing critical inputs, hidden political manipulation or manipulation by other hidden for-profit vested interests which have skewed or warped the integrity of other honest climate researchers results.

2. Failed to have any single individual or executive within their organization put in the tens of thousands of pages of research reading with the requisite analysis skills to have an adequate meta-systemic understanding of one of the most complicated issues of our time.

3. Listened to marketing advisors within their organizations, causing them to self-censor and treat their members like children who cannot be told or deal with the hard painful facts of the global warming extinction emergency.

In Summary

We will be respectfully disruptive of the incorrect facts, false beliefs, and ineffective global warming reduction plans of anyone presenting them. We do this only to call attention to more effective actions or more useful global warming facts and analysis.

We will provide useful and accurate information on the global warming state of emergency. This way, we can more quickly reduce global fossil fuel use by executing all of the actions necessary to prevent a massing human, animal, and biological extinction event occurring within our lifetimes because:

a. The faster and more we reduce global fossil fuel use, the more people that will survive to carry on humanity.

b. The quicker and more we reduce global fossil fuel use, the less future generations will suffer from an ever-increasing sequence of escalating global warming catastrophes.

We believe that everyone has the right to their own opinion. We also believe that anyone can and should be publicly challenged if the result(s) of their unchallenged opinions will cause grave harm to others!

Therefore, if anyone is forwarding ideas that will make it more difficult to slow ro resolve the global warming extinction emergency, we will present them with the information on this website in public and/or privately to disrupt the status quo of their actions.

Respectfully,

The Job One for Humanity Team

https://www.joboneforhumanity.org/our_policy_of_respectful_disruption
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Google reportedly attains 'quantum supremacy'
« Reply #14109 on: September 20, 2019, 05:45:48 PM »
Its quantum computer can solve tasks that are otherwise unsolvable, a report says.

Google has reportedly built a quantum computer more powerful than the world's top supercomputers. A Google research paper was temporarily posted online this week, the Financial Times reported Friday, and said the quantum computer's processor allowed a calculation to be performed in just over 3 minutes. That calculation would take 10,000 years on IBM's Summit, the world's most powerful commercial computer, Google reportedly said.

Google researchers are throwing around the term "quantum supremacy" as a result, the FT said, because their computer can solve tasks that can't otherwise be solved. "To our knowledge, this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor," the research paper reportedly said.

Google declined to comment on the FT's report.

The tech giant unveiled its 72-qubit quantum computer chip Bristlecone in March 2018, saying at the time that it was "cautiously optimistic that quantum supremacy can be achieved with Bristlecone."

Quantum computing, which can simultaneously evaluate multiple possibilities, will likely be used for physics and chemistry simulations that aren't possible with classical computers, which can't simulate complex chemicals. They could also create new drugs and solar panels, help develop artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, and even manage investment portfolios.

Earlier this week, IBM unveiled its 14th quantum computer, which has 53 qubits. It'll be available for quantum computing customers in October.

AT&T also recently said it's working on quantum networking, or the technology to link quantum computers.

https://www.cnet.com/news/google-reportedly-attains-quantum-supremacy/
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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will deploy U.S. forces to the Middle East on the heels of the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Friday.

“The president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” Esper said, adding that Saudi Arabia requested the support. “We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves,” he added.

Esper reiterated that the United States does not seek a conflict with Iran and called on Tehran to return to diplomatic channels. He also said that there could be additional U.S. deployments if the situation were to escalate.

On Thursday, the Pentagon called the recent strikes on the Saudi Arabian oil facilities as “sophisticated” and represented a “dramatic escalation” in tensions within the region.

“This has been a dramatic escalation of what we have seen in the past. This was a number of airborne projectiles, was very sophisticated, coordinated and it had a dramatic impact on the global markets,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said, adding that the strike is an international problem.

The strikes on the world’s largest crude-processing plant and oil field forced the kingdom to shut down half of its production operations. What’s more, the event triggered the largest spike in crude prices in decades and renewed concerns of a budding conflict in the Middle East. All the while, Iran maintains that it was not behind the attacks.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s defense ministry said that drone and missile debris recovered by investigators shows Iranian culpability. Saudi coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said during a press briefing in Riyadh that all military components retrieved from the oil facilities “point to Iran.”

The latest confrontation follows a string of attacks in the Persian Gulf in recent months.

In June, U.S. officials said an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down an American military surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said the aircraft was over its territory. Hours later, Trump said Iran made a “very big mistake” by shooting down the spy drone. The downing came a week after the U.S. blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region and after four tankers were attacked in May.

The U.S. in June slapped new sanctions on Iranian military leaders blamed for shooting down the drone. The measures also aimed to block financial resources for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Though Trump has threatened to bring military action or even “fire and fury” against American adversaries, he has also said he does not want to throw the U.S. into another prolonged military conflict. In a tweet Tuesday, Trump called his measured response to the strikes “a sign of strength that some people just don’t understand!”

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/20/the-pentagon-will-deploy-us-forces-to-the-middle-east-on-the-heels-of-the-iranian-attack-on-saudi-arabian-oil-facilities.html
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Photos: What the youth climate strike looks like around the world
« Reply #14111 on: September 20, 2019, 06:05:39 PM »
These images of youth climate activists on strike around the world are simply inspiring.

Friday may be remembered as the largest global demonstration ever in the fight against climate change. Inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, young people around the world have organized to skip school and protest in the street over the climate crisis and the adults who aren’t doing enough to transition off fossil fuels.

Thunberg and her group Fridays for Future aren’t alone: They’ll be joined by adult climate activists, indigenous groups, workers from companies like Amazon and Google, and really anyone who feels like the world is overdue for dramatic action on climate change.

The event is truly global: There are 2,500 events scheduled in over 150 countries.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening around the globe.

23 pictures at:

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/9/20/20875523/youth-climate-strike-fridays-future-photos-global?fbclid=IwAR1a_sAe5QlJPuIXKSrPu3NMGfIATIT1u_YpjmKSZ6tZOLJpKlG7XrEkEQg
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Young Women Are Leading The Global Climate Strike
« Reply #14112 on: September 20, 2019, 06:23:02 PM »


The vast majority of world leaders and members of parliaments — the same politicians who are shuffling their feet when it comes to taking action on climate change — are men. But it’s women, particularly young women and women of color, who are at the forefront of climate-justice activism.
At New York City's Global Climate Strike on Friday in Battery Park, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has gone from unknown teenager to movement leader in just a year, took the stage to address the crowd, which was made up of every imaginable demographic, but primarily young women. There were college students in “Destroy the Patriarchy” shirts, high school kids in cutoffs and white sneakers, and even children being pushed in strollers holding signs like “More Gretas fewer Trumps.”
"This is what people power looks like," Greta said in her speech, looking every bit like someone who is beginning to take command of her presence in front of such a huge crowd. "We will rise to the challenge. We will hold those who are the most responsible for this crisis accountable, and we will make the world leaders act. We can and we will. And if you belong to that small group of people who feel threatened by us, then we have some very bad news for you. Because this is only the beginning."



We spoke with women in the crowd about their role in the fight against climate change.

Abby Terrigino, 20
A student at the New School, Terrigino (right) says she believes that “climate change is disproportionately affecting low-income communities, communities of color, and women of color.”
“I think throughout history, you see women leading all sorts of social movements, and being the real reason why any progressive change is being addressed in our society. But I think the liberation of women is especially connected to climate justice. Women cannot be liberated until our earth is liberated from the system of capitalism and exploitation, because women’s bodies have been taken over by capitalism and used to produce for the patriarchy, for the need of men.”
Shirley Aparicio, 19
Also a student at the New School, Aparicio (left) says she believes more people need to be made aware of ecofeminist thought, which she says provides an intersectional look at climate change.
“I think it’s not a coincidence that these things are happening disproportionately to minorities, women, people of color, marginalized communities. I feel like it’s a direct effect that has happened through racist science and racial capitalism that has targeted these communities, because in the patriarchy and white supremacy these people, these marginalized communities, are expendable, they’re discardable. That’s what needs to change.”

Taryn Matusik, 48
Matusik says she chose not to have children because of the climate crisis. She is a teacher and says she joined the movement because she is afraid for the future of her students. She says she admires women like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who introduced the Green New Deal, as leaders against climate change.
“I definitely think that women are leading this movement. Young women like Greta who are stepping forward and being brave, and just not taking it anymore — not taking people stealing their future.”

Nayla Nernekian, 9
Nayla has been interested in politics since kindergarten and wants to be a lawyer. “Of course it’s women leading this movement. Girls can change the world. They’re leading this.”
Nayla’s mom, 48, anonymous
“I do think women are more protective of the environment. We’re more preservationist by instinct, which is probably a combination of biology and history. I think it’s time for women to run things. I don’t think men have done such a fantastic job for the past few millennia.”

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/09/8455535/women-leading-global-climate-strike-greta-thunberg
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This New Device Can Make Renewable Energy from the Cold Night Sky
« Reply #14113 on: September 21, 2019, 01:59:46 AM »

This thermoelectric generator harnesses temperature differences to generate renewable electricity. Here the device is powering a small LED light.

No sun? No problem.

A new thermoelectric device can generate electricity for an LED light bulb even during the blackest night, according to a report by researchers.

The secret is using a phenomenon known as radiative cooling, which happens when surfaces on the ground radiate heat into the atmosphere. This process can make a surface cooler than the air surrounding it, which explains why frost forms on grass even if the air temperature is above freezing.

Researchers say their device is a useful form of renewable energy, especially because lighting demand peaks at night. "Beyond lighting, we believe this could be a broadly enabling approach to power generation suitable for remote locations, and anywhere where power generation at night is needed," lead author Aaswath Raman, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement.

The prototype device was tested on a table 3 feet (1 meter) above the ground on a rooftop in Stanford, California, in late December. It was placed in a polystyrene enclosure covered in aluminized mylar (which minimizes thermal radiation) and protected by a wind cover. Inside the protective layers, researchers made the device draw heat from the air and send it back into the atmosphere, using a black emitter.

The researchers managed to power an LED using a voltage boost converter, and measured that over 6 hours the device can generate as much as 25 milliwatts of energy per square meter. That's much lower than typical solar cells, but the advantage is that the device works at night, while solar cells have no sunlight to convert into energy.

The researchers say that with some modifications, the device could be used over a wider scale since the radiative cooler is simple (an aluminum disk covered in paint) and the other components are commercially available. For example, the researchers suggest increasing heat-exchange efficiency by reducing heat gain in the radiative cooling part of the device. The device may also work best in hotter and drier climates, the team noted.


A schematic of the thermoelectric generator.

"Our work highlights the many remaining opportunities for energy by taking advantage of the cold of outer space as a renewable energy resource," Raman said. "We think this forms the basis of a complementary technology to solar. While the power output will always be substantially lower, it can operate at hours when solar cells cannot."

https://www.space.com/device-generates-electricity-from-cold-night-sky.html
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Steve Mnuchin dissed 181 major CEOs in a new battle over the future of profits
« Reply #14114 on: September 21, 2019, 05:51:50 AM »
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has his fair share of critics on the left and among the larger public, but last week he added close to 200 CEOs to a list of those who might have reason to hold something against him, and all it took was five words.

“I wouldn’t have signed it.”

With those five words, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin dismissed the 181 CEOs of major corporations — including the CEOs of Amazon, American Express, Apple, Coca-Cola, J.P. Morgan, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble, even the CEO of his old Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, and on and on, across all of the major industries in the U.S., from airlines to consumer goods, financial services, natural resources and utilities — who recently signed onto the Business Roundtable statement on the purpose of a corporation, committing to value customers, invest in employees, deal fairly with suppliers and support communities.

All of those goals seem worthy, but as far as Mnuchin is concerned, signing onto these goals as part of the purpose of a corporation is all wrong.

“I wouldn’t have signed, because I think it’s not a simple answer,” Mnuchin told Andrew Ross Sorkin in an interview at the DealBook DC Strategy Forum last week. “People on a lot of these issues want a one-sentence or two-sentence answer. Obviously, businesses should have a purpose, to be profitable you need to have a purpose. It’s not as simple as saying you have a purpose or profits. A simple answer does not fully explore the issues. Companies need to have a purpose and have profits.”

Ross Sorkin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that there was an audible “gasp” in the room when Mnuchin dismissed the Business Roundtable, but the Treasury Secretary is not alone in his skepticism. And it is not only rooted in thinking the CEOs signatures are the penned equivalent of lip service — “CEO virtue signaling” — that won’t be followed by action.

The BRT has always come in for criticism from shareholders, but typically it has been for being a behind-the-scenes power player in efforts to limit activist and impact investors, and on some of the issues that matter most to employees and communities: income inequality and climate change, as examples. Regulatory efforts to restrict shareholder proposals on annual proxies related to climate reporting and CEO pay have the BRT’s fingerprints all over them, socially minded shareholders say.

“Shareholders being restricted, restricted until their voice is simply silenced, that is the goal of the BRT,” said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, a nonprofit focused on environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy.

The CEO role is changing, and the social profile of the role is more undeniable today, from the recent Walmart CEO-led stance on gun control to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ announcement on Thursday that his company has set the goal of being 100% renewable energy well ahead of the timeline set by the Paris Agreement.

But with the BRT statement it is a broader group of shareholders, institutional investors and corporate governance experts blasting the Business Roundtable for dredging up an old idea about corporate accountability beyond shareholders that already proved it is bound to end badly.

Some are downright angry.

“Good for Mnuchin,” said Charles Elson, who heads the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware and has served on multiple corporate boards, including the current board of Encompass Health. “Did any of these CEOs ever contact the board about signing it? ... There is no way boards would have approved it, because it is shareholders who elect boards, who hire the CEO.”

Elson said talk among his fellow board members at Encompass Health was “highly negative.”
Putting shareholders last and calling them ‘suppliers of capital’ is kind of like calling parents genetic suppliers to existence.
Charles Elson
Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware

In an era of widening income inequality, it has become standard for CEOs like J.P. Morgan’s Jamie Dimon to signal that they understand the plight of the masses” and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty to focus on the jobs we need to create for former blue-collar workers of America. Both signed the BRT statement.

Two of the world’s largest investment managers, BlackRock and Vanguard Group, signed the BRT statement, too. But what corporate governance experts like Elson see in the language is a downgrade of the investor class. Literally.

“I think a lot of these guys signed it without thinking about it. ... Putting shareholders last and calling them ‘suppliers of capital’ is kind of like calling parents genetic suppliers to existence,” Elson said, using an analogy he said will soon publish in an op-ed he wrote for Directors and Boards, an information source in the field of corporate governance.

“How can you tell people who had confidence in you and devoted their hard-earned money to you that they are last in line. It’s not a relationship you should have. Putting them last does not comport to legal standard and is disrespectful in my view,” Elson said.

While the Business Roundtable statement refers to all stakeholders, Elson said many investors and directors zeroed in on the placement shareholders received in the list of stakeholders: last.



“Shareholders are last in line in a bankruptcy,” Elson said. “If you want to change that and say shareholders are first in line then we can talk about fiduciary duty.” He added, “In a bankruptcy, the first obligation is paying employees. Common shareholders end up with nothing. Everyone else has the ability to protect themselves. Debt holders have contracts. Employees have contracts. Shareholders have nothing but fiduciary duty.”

The Business Roundtable published a blog post shortly after its statement was released, headlined “Welcoming the debate,” addressing some of these concerns:

“We have not called for, and do not support, radical changes to corporate governance structures, which could have serious unintended consequences. We fully expect that shareholders will continue to hold companies accountable if they fail to generate long-term returns. However, our companies are also challenging themselves to do more.”
Accountability to everyone, or no one?

Critics say the new Business Roundtable idea is actually very old and already failed once. It resurrects a statement the BRT first published in 1981 on the purpose of a corporation, which they say the trade group ended up revising in 1998 because it did not work, ushering in the era of shareholder primacy.

“Good results don’t come from claiming equal accountability to everyone on every decision,” Elson said.

As an example, he cited a company that decides to keep a plant open because of its commitment to employees and the community, but which leads to the company ultimately failing and all employees losing their jobs and multiple communities suffering the loss of a major employer. “Lots of bad things happen,” Elson said.

“These companies started to get into big trouble when they were responsible to everyone. ... It was the stakeholder approach so lauded years ago by corporate America that led to the awful corporate results which in turn sparked the large institutional investors, led by the public pension funds, to press for the dramatic corporate governance reforms of the past twenty-five years.”

The Council of Institutional Investors, whose voting members manage $4 trillion in assets at pension funds, labor funds and foundations and endowments, said in a statement that focusing on long-term value generation does not mean putting social goals ahead of shareholders. “It is government, not companies, that should shoulder the responsibility of defining and addressing societal objectives with limited or no connection to long-term shareholder value.”

The investor group added, “Accountability to everyone means accountability to no one.”

The issue is dividing those within the investment community accustomed to working together: while BlackRock and Vanguard CEOs signed the BRT statement, historically they have worked with the Council on issues of importance to asset managers and investors, and BlackRock and Vanguard officials have served on the Council’s Corporate Governance Advisory Council.

The Council’s board of directors includes the chief governance officer from Chevron, whose CEO signed the BRT letter.
US firms feel the most short-term pressure

Shareholder primacy, investors say, does not mean a focus on the short-term.

“I am a long-term person,” Elson said. “Anyone who runs a company for the short-term is a fool. The market is efficient in the long run, not the short term. ... Directors and shareholders who view prospects quarter-to-quarter are making a mistake.”

Nevertheless, a recent CNBC survey of C-suite executives shows that the majority feel pressure to deliver on a quarterly basis for investors.

When CNBC asked chief financial officers about support for the Business Roundtable stated goals on the purpose of corporation, 78% said they supported it, according to the CNBC Global CFO Council survey for the third quarter 2019 — 17% opposed it.

But when asked over what time frame they feel the most pressure from investors to deliver performance results, near-57% of CFOs said quarterly.



“That is no way to run a business for the long-term,” said Jack McCullough, founder and president of the CFO Leadership Council. “How do you make decisions that are in the long-term best interests of the company when most of the pressure comes from the current quarter?”

Thirty-percent of CFOs said they feel the most pressure annually. Only 9% said they feel pressure from investors over a two- to three-year period.

When asked over what time frame they feel the most pressure from the CEO/board to deliver performance results, only 13% of CFOs said quarterly. But the majority was still one year or less — 43% said they feel the most internal pressure annually.

The disconnect between the internal, longer-term focus and the short-term investor pressure is an opportunity, according to Sarah Williamson, CEO of FCLT, a not-for-profit organization focused on improving capital markets and supported by more than 50 global corporations, asset owners and asset managers.

“I think most CFOs would find that if they provided their shareholders with a long-term plan similar to what they present to their CEO and board, there would be very little pushback — in fact, shareholders would welcome that strategic foresight.”

FCLT is focused on specific ways to focus more investors and companies on the long-term, for starters, ending the practice of quarterly earnings guidance. It says instances of companies issuing quarterly EPS guidance have been steadily declining since 2010 (currently around 27% when looking at the S&P 500).
There is a reality: Have a bad quarter and get pounded by the Street.
Jack McCullough
CFO Leadership Council

FCLT spokesman Ross Parker said while the declining quarterly guidance trend is encouraging, the 57% of CFOs in the CNBC survey that said they feel the most pressure from investors quarterly is “fairly high.”

“We’ve often heard from our corporate members that they hear a great deal from more short-term oriented investors and end up acting on those prompts. Companies hear about hitting or missing consensus earnings targets, read what the sell-side analysts write in their reports, and fear the impact of attention from activists, and their actions follow suit,” Parker said.

McCullough said in research he conducted for a book about CFOs there were those who indicated that they felt they alone were balancing the long term with the short term. “There is a reality: Have a bad quarter, and get pounded by the Street.”
Corporations already think too highly of their work

The CNBC CFO survey results reveal a potential problem for all stakeholders, whether it is those who believe in the BRT mission statement or the angry shareholder stakeholders: Corporate executive already think very highly of the work they are doing on behalf of everyone.

When asked how to rate their companies on delivering value to customers, investing in their employees, supporting communities and dealing with suppliers, almost 100% rated their companies as being, at minimum, “above average.”

No CFOs said their companies needed improvement in delivering value to customers, supporting communities or dealing with suppliers.

The results were similar when asked about delivering long-term value to shareholders, with 96% of respondents saying they were, at minimum, above average.

In fact, across all of the questions asking corporations to rate themselves, the most popular response was not “above average” but “best in class.” (61% said they were best in class at generating long-term returns for shareholders.)

“While the confidence is admirable, recruiting and retention – particularly of the highly-coveted young employees – is one of the biggest challenges employers face. ... Would you want to work for a company that does not think it needs to improve how it invests in employees? Me, either,” McCullough said.

He added: “Would you invest in a company if you knew the CEO felt this? Remember the Andy Grove quote: ‘Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.’ Seems like we need to relearn this lesson.”

Elson dismissed these results as revealing anything telling about the way C-suites think and act. He said most CFOs would not be inclined to say they disapproved of the BRT statement that their CEO had just signed, or rate their companies poorly on any metric that could become evidence in a shareholder lawsuit. And then there is their executive compensation to think about. “If they suggested they need to do something more, it suggests a deficiency in conduct, and anyone in that position wants their 110% percent bonus.”

“This is why we don’t let students grade their own exams. That’s why you have boards,” Elson said, though at a larger level the “why” of the corporate board seems to be something that today he is less sure about.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/20/steve-mnuchin-disses-181-ceos-in-new-battle-over-future-of-profits.html
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