Skip to main content
U.S. Elections

Biden has only weeks to safeguard policies from potential Trump victory

Monday

Share

President Joe Biden has eight months remaining on his presidential first term. However, he has only weeks to safeguard his key policies and regulations from a potential Donald Trump victory in November.

“The Biden administration is right now trying to rush out in final form all of the regulations that he’s been working on for a couple of years to make sure that they are final before the Congressional Review Act cutoff date,” Columbia Law Professor Michael Gerrard said.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

The 1996 law allows an incoming president to unravel the previous administration’s recent rules and regulations with support from a simple majority in the House and Senate. 

“It was adopted during the time when Bill Clinton was president and Newt Gingrich was the speaker of the House. There were a lot of conflicts and Congress — the majority in Congress — felt that it should have more ability to control what the administrative state does,” Gerrard said.

The rules are obscure, but essentially, once a federal agency reports a new rule to Congress, Congress has 60 working days to introduce a joint resolution disapproving of the rule. The review also includes a “lookback” provision that allows the next session of Congress to review rules if passed with fewer than 60 chamber work days left in the session.

It had been considered to be an extraordinary step.

Michael Gerrard, Columbia Law Professor

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) essentially gives Congress the opportunity to get on the record, but it rarely makes it to the president’s desk. That’s largely because no sitting president is likely to overturn a rule he or she made. This is why the act has only ever succeeded when a new president comes in.

“It had been considered to be an extraordinary step,” Gerrard said.

“Before this administration, only one time in our history had a president signed a bill that used the CRA to cancel a federal regulation,” then-President Trump said in 2017. “So we’re doing a lot of them.”

That one time in history was at the beginning of former President George W. Bush’s term. But then Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress used the CRA to overturn 16 Obama-era rules.

“I will keep working with Congress, with every agency, and most important with the American people, until we eliminate every unnecessary, harmful and job-killing regulation that we can find,” Trump said.

The impacts of a successful CRA are long-lasting. When a president signs a CRA that overturns a rule, it prevents federal agencies from ever issuing a “substantially similar” rule unless specifically authorized by Congress. After Trump successfully used the CRA 16 times, Biden’s first months in office included three of his own.

“The fact that we have the Congressional Review Act means that we can undo that damage and undo it quickly,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in 2021.

Now, with Trump back on the ballot, George Washington University research shows the Biden administration is finalizing rules this spring at a pace that far exceeds any other time in his term to get ahead of the 60-working-day window.

“There’s every reason to believe that [Trump] would want to revoke as many of the Biden-era regulations as he could, just as in the first term he revoked a lot of the Obama-era regulations,” Gerrard said.

Trump’s campaign confirmed as much.

“When re-elected, President Trump will immediately cut Joe Biden’s burdensome regulations, unleash our domestic energy industry and implement a pro-worker agenda that will uplift all Americans,” Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said.

Gerrard said it’s only in the past couple of decades that federal policy has shifted so radically from one party to the next, and that political environment has made the business environment more chaotic.

“It’s completely disruptive,” he said. “Because for one thing, industry needs to know what investments to make. They need to know how clean their power plants need to be, what kind of automobiles to make. All across industries, companies rely on predictability for what regulatory schemes will apply.”

Of course, CRAs just scrape the surface of what’s possible to undo presidential legacies. Executive orders, court challenges, new legislation and agency rules are other ways to attack previous policies and implement new ones.

Any rule that can be adopted with the stroke of a pen can be revoked with a stroke of a pen.

Michael Gerrard, Columbia Law Professor

“On the day that Donald Trump was first inaugurated as president, we launched our climate deregulation tracker because we knew what was coming,” said Gerrard, who is the founder and director of Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. “And on the day that Joe Biden was inaugurated, we rebranded it the Climate Reregulation Tracker.”

The Sabin Center tracked 176 deregulation actions during Trump’s administration and 214 reregulation actions during Biden’s. Gerrard said since it’s so difficult to get new legislation through Congress, presidents are increasingly resorting to executive moves.

“On the day that Joe Biden was inaugurated, he walked into the White House for the first time as president and had on his desk in the Oval Office a stack of executive orders that he signed within hours of taking the oath of office,” Gerrard said. “He was signing those in order to revoke a lot of the Trump policies that had been issued just as executive orders and to start instituting new policies.”

Executive action can be swift, which means it can also be fleeting. 

“Any rule that can be adopted with the stroke of a pen can be revoked with a stroke of a pen,” Gerrard said. “And that makes it far more difficult for industries to predict what’s going on and to act accordingly.”

Gerrard said the energy industry in particular — from renewables to fossil fuels — is downshifting ahead of the election, hesitant to make large investments without knowing what November will bring.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Simone Del Rosario: Joe Biden is president for – at the very least – another eight-plus months.

But he has only weeks left to safeguard his key policies and regulations from a potential Donald Trump victory.

Columbia Law Professor Michael Gerrard: The Biden administration is right now trying to rush out in final form all of the regulations that he’s been working on for a couple of years to make sure that they are final before the Congressional Review Act cutoff date.

Simone Del Rosario: The 1996 law allows an incoming president to unravel the previous administration’s recent rules and regulations with support from a simple majority in the House and Senate. 

Michael Gerrard: It was adopted during the time when Bill Clinton was president and Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the House. There were a lot of conflicts, and Congress, the majority in Congress, felt that it should have more ability to control what the administrative state does.

Simone Del Rosario: The rules are obscure, but basically, once a federal agency reports a new rule to Congress, Congress has 60 working days to introduce a joint resolution disapproving of the rule. 

The Congressional Review Act essentially gives Congress the opportunity to get on the record, but it rarely makes it to the president’s desk. That’s largely because no sitting president is likely to overturn a rule he or she made. 

Which is why the CRA has only ever succeeded when a new president comes in.

Michael Gerrard: It had been considered to be an extraordinary step.

Donald Trump: Before this administration, only one time in our history had a president signed a bill that used the CRA to cancel a federal regulation. So we’re doing a lot of them. 

Simone Del Rosario: In 2017, then-President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress used the CRA to overturn 16 Obama-era rules. 

Donald Trump: I will keep working with Congress, with every agency and most important with the American people, until we eliminate every unnecessary, harmful and job killing regulation that we can find. We have a lot more coming (applause)

Simone Del Rosario: And when a president signs a CRA that overturns a rule, it prevents federal agencies from ever issuing a “substantially similar” rule unless specifically authorized by Congress. 

After Trump successfully used the CRA 16 times, Biden’s first months in office included three of his own.

Sen. Chuck Schumer: The fact that we have the Congressional Review Act means that we can undo that damage and undo it quickly. 

Simone Del Rosario: And now, with Trump back on the ballot, George Washington University research shows the Biden admin is finalizing rules this spring at a pace that far exceeds any other time in his term, to get ahead of that 60-working-day window.

Michael Gerrard: There’s every reason to believe that he would want to revoke as many of the Biden-era regulations as he could, just as in the first term he revoked a lot of the Obama-era regulations.

Simone Del Rosario: Trump’s campaign confirmed as much. Spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said, “When re-elected, President Trump will immediately cut Joe Biden’s burdensome regulations, unleash our domestic energy industry, and implement a pro-worker agenda that will uplift all Americans.”

Michael Gerrard: It’s only in the last couple of decades that we’ve tended to have such radical shifts in federal policy as we go from one party to another.

Simone Del Rosario: And Gerrard says that environment has made the business environment more chaotic. 

Michael Gerrard: It’s completely disruptive. Because for one thing, industry needs to know what investments to atmake. They need to know how clean their power plants need to be, what kind of automobiles to make. All across industries, companies rely on predictability for what regulatory schemes will apply. 

Simone Del Rosario: Of course, CRAs just scrape the surface of what’s possible to undo presidential legacies. 

Michael Gerrard: On the day that Donald Trump was first inaugurated as President, we launched our climate deregulation tracker because we knew what was coming. And on the day that Joe Biden was inaugurated, we rebranded it the climate reregulation tracker.

Simone Del Rosario: Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law tracked 176 deregulation actions during Trump’s administration, and 214 reregulation actions during Biden’s.

Gerrard says since it’s so difficult to get new legislation through Congress, presidents are increasingly resorting to executive moves.

Michael Gerrard: On the day that Joe Biden was inaugurated, he walked into the White House for the first time as president and had on his desk in the Oval Office a stack of executive orders that he signed within hours of taking the oath of office. He was signing those in order to revoke a lot of the Trump policies that had been issued just as executive orders and to start instituting new policies.

Simone Del Rosario: Executive action can be swift, which means it can also be fleeting. 

Michael Gerrard: Any rule that can be adopted with the stroke of a pen can be revoked with a stroke of a pen. And that makes it far more difficult for industries to predict what’s going on and to act accordingly.

Simone Del Rosario: Gerrard says the energy industry is downshifting ahead of the election, hesitant to make large investments without knowing what November will bring.

I’m Simone Del Rosario for Straight Arrow News.

Business

Streaming looking more like cable with price hikes, bundling

May 13

Share

Streaming services were once seen as the modern alternative to cable. The services were cheaper, ad-free and tailored to specific interests for viewers looking to cut the cord.

But with rising prices and streamers putting their attention to ad-supported tiers, it is getting more difficult to tell the difference between streaming and cable. Some even began calling the streaming industry “Cable 2.0.”

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

According to research from the online platform Bango, the average American has 4.5 total subscriptions, including audio, fitness and news apps, as well as these streaming services.

Subscriptions to these streaming platforms cost the average customer in the U.S. $1,000 per year. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported the average cable plan costs around $83 per month, or $996 a year.

Price hikes for streaming seem to be just part of the process nowadays. NBC Universal recently announced a price hike for its Peacock service will go into effect just before this summer’s Paris Olympics.

Analysts at UBS Securities said Netflix users should prepare for another price hike this year following one last October.

Bloomberg reported Warner Bros. Discovery is planning to hike the price of its Max platform soon, as well.

As more media companies look to make a profit on their streaming services — and battle the reigning king of streaming, Netflix — they are turning to each other for help.

Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery announced their Disney+, Hulu and Max streaming services will soon be offered in one bundle.

All the three streamers’ offerings — including content from HBO, HGTV, ABC, CNN and more — will be packaged together. 

Sounds like a cable TV package, doesn’t it?

The bundle will be available in the U.S. starting in the summer, though the streamers have not shared a price yet. There will be versions with ads and without.

The move comes after the announcement of Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox’s joint venture sports streaming service that will launch in the fall.

Another way these streaming platforms are looking to gain subscribers and revenue is by cracking down on password sharing. 

Netflix implemented the practice, which led, in part, to 30 million additional subscribers in 2023. Disney+ is looking to do the same starting in June.

So until cable starts cracking down on passwords like streaming, there is at least one way to tell the two apart. 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

[JACK AYLMER]

STREAMING SERVICES WERE ONCE SEEN AS THE MODERN ALTERNATIVE TO CABLE –

CHEAPER, AD-FREE AND TAILORED TO SPECIFIC INTERESTS FOR VIEWERS LOOKING TO CUT THE CORD.

FORGET PAYING FOR 200 PLUS CHANNELS YOU DON’T WANT.

YOU LIKE FOOD SHOWS? YOU GOT DISCOVERY PLUS.

YOU LIKE LIVE SPORTS? ESPN PLUS.

YOU LIKE BRITISH FARE? THERE’S BRITBOX.

BUT WITH RISING PRICES – AND STREAMERS PUTTING THEIR ATTENTION TO AD-SUPPORTED TIERS – IT’S GETTING MORE DIFFICULT THESE DAYS TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STREAMING AND CABLE. – WITH SOME CALLING THE STREAMING INDUSTRY – CABLE 2 POINT 0.

ACCORDING TO RESEARCH FROM THE ONLINE PLATFORM BANGO –  THE AVERAGE AMERICAN HAS 4 POINT 5 TOTAL SUBSCRIPTIONS – INCLUDING ENTERTAINMENT STREAMING SERVICES.

AND SUBSCRIPTIONS TO THESE STREAMING PLATFORMS COST THE AVERAGE CUSTOMER IN THE U.S. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS PER YEAR.

WHILE — AS THE FINANCIAL TIMES REPORTS – THE AVERAGE CABLE PLAN – COSTS AROUND 83 DOLLARS PER MONTH – OR 996 DOLLARS A YEAR.

NBC UNIVERSAL ANNOUNCED A PRICE HIKE FOR ITS PEACOCK SERVICE WILL GO INTO EFFECT JUST BEFORE THIS SUMMER’S PARIS OLYMPICS.

ANALYSTS AT UBS SECURITIES SAY NETFLIX USERS SHOULD PREPARE FOR ANOTHER PRICE HIKE THIS YEAR FOLLOWING ONE LAST OCTOBER.

AND BLOOMBERG REPORTS WARNER BROTHERS DISCOVERY IS PLANNING TO HIKE THE PRICE OF ITS DISCOVERY PLUS PLATFORM IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

NOW THE LATEST TERM DISRUPTING THE STREAMING REVOLUTION – BUNDLING.  

AS MORE MEDIA COMPANIES LOOK TO MAKE A PROFIT ON THEIR STREAMING SERVICES – AND BATTLE THE REIGNING KING OF STREAMING – NETFLIX  — THEY ARE TURNING TO EACH OTHER FOR HELP.

DISNEY AND WARNER BROTHERS DISCOVERY ANNOUNCING THEIR DISNEY PLUS, HULU AND MAX STREAMING SERVICES WILL SOON BE OFFERED IN ONE BUNDLE.

ALL THE 3 STREAMERS’ OFFERINGS – INCLUDING CONTENT FROM HBO, HGTV, ABC, CNN, AND MORE – WILL BE PACKAGED TOGETHER. 

SOUNDS LIKE A CABLE TV PACKAGE, DOESN’T IT?

THE BUNDLE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE US STARTING IN THE SUMMER – THOUGH NO PRICE HAS BEEN GIVEN.  AND THERE WILL BE BOTH A VERSION WITH ADS AND WITHOUT.

THIS COMES ON THE HEELS OF DISNEY AND WARNER BROTHERS DISCOVERY’S OTHER JOINT VENTURE – WITH FOX. A SPORTS STREAMING SERVICE THAT WILL LAUNCH IN THE FALL.

IN YET ANOTHER WAY THESE STREAMING PLATFORMS ARE LOOKING TO GAIN SUBSCRIBERS AND REVENUE – CRACKING DOWN ON PASSWORD SHARING. 

NETFLIX HAS DONE IT – LEADING IN PART TO 30 MILLION ADDITIONAL SUBSCRIBERS LAST YEAR. AND DISNEY PLUS IS LOOKING TO DO THE SAME STARTING IN JUNE.

SO UNTIL CABLE STARTS CRACKING DOWN ON PASSWORD SHARING LIKE STREAMING – THERE’S AT LEAST ONE WAY TO TELL THE TWO APART. 

 

 

U.S.

The power of social connection: How hanging out impacts our well-being

May 13

Share

Remember the times of just hanging out with friends, maybe in a basement – like the kids from “That ’70s Show.” Today, just “hanging out” is no longer the norm, and it’s not only noteworthy for inspiring future sitcoms; it’s also impacting our health.

In 2023, the U.S. surgeon general released a report titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” detailing how loneliness is plaguing the country.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

According to Dr. Sarah Fischer, a psychologist at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, loneliness can be worse for individuals than moderate smoking.

“So, the stress of loneliness can impact your body in a myriad of ways,” Dr. Fischer said. “Stress in general, it can impact your cardiovascular system, your immune system, your digestive system. It can have cognitive effects, right? Can make your blood pressure go up. And so, stress itself has all these different health effects. But then if we’re feeling lonely or we don’t have social support, that will also impact our behavior and our access to certain things.”

Multiple factors contribute to loneliness, including relationships, community and society. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans were already on a path to loneliness and isolation due to cellphones, technology and social media.

During the pandemic, reliance on technology accelerated. People found new norms for communicating in their professional and personal lives. However, relying solely on shallow forms of online socialization is not enough. In-person contact with other humans is crucial.

“If you can imagine a day at the office, right?” Dr. Fischer said. “If you were in-person, you would come in, kind of put your stuff down. You go to the break room to make your coffee, you run into people on the way. You chat about random stuff that’s kind of meaningless. And you know you have meetings and then after the meeting, you kind of hang back and you talk about your kids and your pets or whatever you want to talk about and it’s those pieces that we’re missing when we’re purely virtual.”

In-person contact is especially beneficial for young adults – who get a lot of socialization on their devices without actual social connection.

“A lot of social media is about comparison,” Dr. Fischer said. “And whichever way it goes, it’s really damaging. So, it can go the direction in which you would expect which is trying to upscale each other, right? so, who has the cutest kids or who’s skinniest or who has the coolest vacation, you know? Like trying to one up each other a little bit overtime and try to portray yourself in the best way.”

According to Professor Sheila Liming, author of “Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time,” even if a person does nothing while hanging out with other people, it ends up being beneficial for everyone involved.

“So I would say if that’s something that someone is trying to get better at or trying to do, it starts with realizing that that time is not wasteful,” Liming said. “Think about what exactly you get out of it. It might not seem valued or productive in a quantifiable sense, but also realize that it is mutual. It’s a two-way street. You’re not only benefiting in the moment, but you’re also contributing to someone else’s well-being.”

By hanging out with others, people gain social connection and interaction, even if they are doing “nothing.” Liming emphasized that a person’s ability to develop and maintain social connections is directly linked to their ability to create happiness for themself. Relationships significantly impact a person’s happiness.

For over 85 years, the Harvard Grant Study investigated what makes people happy. Researcher Robert Waldinger found that one’s relationships and how happy they are in them have a powerful influence on their health.

Dr. Fischer recommended addressing barriers that may prevent people from forming healthy relationships. If someone needs a starting point, consider their interests. Are they into concerts, game nights or art shows?

“Find a group that meets up for those interests,” Dr. Fischer said. “Facebook has opportunities where they have in-person groups.”

However, Fischer warns not not to get too caught up in internet culture. It is not real social connection, it is not truly hanging out and it cannot replace in-person contact.

“True social connection is about two people, or a group of people, talking to each other,” Dr. Fischer said. “Sharing interests, stories, and history. It’s not about comparison or self-image. It’s about pure connection.”

Tags: , , ,

[SINGING]

“HANGING OUT, DOWN THE STREET. THE SAME OLE THING, WE DID LAST WEEK”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

TAKE US BACK TO THE GOOD OLE DAYS.

THE TIMES OF JUST HANGING OUT WITH FRIENDS…

MAYBE IN A BASEMENT – LIKE THE KIDS FROM THAT 70’S SHOW.

IN TODAY’S WORLD JUST “HANGING OUT” IS NO LONGER THE NORM AND IT’S NOT JUST NOTEWORTHY FOR INSPIRING FUTURE SITCOMS – IT’S IMPACTING OUR HEALTH. 

LAST YEAR, THE U.S. SURGEON GENERAL RELEASED A REPORT TITLED “OUR EPIDEMIC OF LONELINESS AND ISOLATION” – DETAILING HOW LONELINESS IS PLAGUING OUR COUNTRY.

HE SAYS IT’S HAVING AN EFFECT ON OUR WELL-BEING.

AND HE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE.

DOCTOR SARAH FISCHER IS A PSYCHOLOGIST AT NEBRASKA MEDICINE IN OMAHA, NEBRASKA – AND SAYS LONELINESS CAN BE WORSE FOR YOU – THAN MODERATE SMOKING. 

[DR. SARAH FISCHER]

“So the stress of loneliness can impact your body in a myriad of ways. Stress in general, it can impact your cardiovascular system, your immune system, your digestive system. It can have cognitive effects, right? Can make your blood pressure go up. And so stress itself has all these different health effects. But then if we’re feeling lonely or we don’t have social support, that will also impact our behavior and our access to certain things right?”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

FISCHER SAYS THERE’S MULTIPLE FACTORS TO LONELINESS INCLUDING RELATIONSHIPS, COMMUNITY, AND SOCIETY.

SHE SAYS – BEFORE THE COVID PANDEMIC – MANY AMERICANS WERE ALREADY ON A PATH TO LONELINESS AND ISOLATION – WITH CELL PHONES, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIAL MEDIA ALREADY TAKING A TOLL.

[DR. SARAH FISCHER]

“And so, more and more we’re getting a lot more of what we think is our socialization online, right… especially through social media like twitter or facebook or instagram, you know all the classic offenders. And when covid hit, everyone was forced to just rely on that.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

RELIANCE ON TECH ACCELERATED DURING THE PANDEMIC.

WE HAD TO FIND NEW NORMS OF COMMUNICATING IN OUR PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL LIVES.

[DR. SARAH FISCHER]

“And so that really just pushed the pedal down on the gas, ya know, in terms of really starting to rely more and more on more shallow forms of socialization, I think, and not having that same community integration that we really need as a human species.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

AND – DOCTOR FISCHER SAYS THAT KIND OF COMMUNICATION – IS NOT ENOUGH.

IN-PERSON CONTACT WITH OTHER HUMANS – IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US.

 

[TAKE SOT]

[DR. SARAH FISCHER]

“Like if you can imagine a day at the office, right, if you were in-person. You would come in, kind of put your stuff down. You go to the break room to make your coffee, you run into people on the way. You chat about random stuff that’s kind of meaningless. And you know you have meetings and then after the meeting, you kind of hang back and you talk about your kids and your pets or whatever you want to talk about and it’s those pieces that we’re missing when we’re purely virtual.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

IN-PERSON CONTACT IS ESPECIALLY BENEFICIAL FOR YOUNG ADULTS – WHO GET A LOT OF SOCIALIZATION ON THEIR DEVICES – WITHOUT ACTUAL SOCIAL CONNECTION.

[DR. SARAH FISCHER]

“A lot of social media is about comparison and whichever way it goes, it’s really damaging. So it can go the direction in which you would expect which is trying to upscale each other, right? So who has the cutest kids or who’s skinniest or who has the coolest vacation, ya know? Like trying to one up each other a little bit overtime and try to portray yourself in the best way.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR] 

SO WHAT’S A SOLUTION?

PROFESSOR AND AUTHOR OF “HANGING OUT: THE RADICAL POWER OF KILLING TIME” -SHEILA LIMING- SAYS EVEN IF YOU DO NOTHING WHILE HANGING OUT WITH OTHER PEOPLE. IT ENDS UP BEING BENEFICIAL FOR YOU AND THEM.

[SHEILA LIMING] 

“So I would say if that’s something that someone is trying to get better at or trying to do that, it starts with realizing that that time is not wasteful. Thinking about what exactly you do get out of it. That might not seem like it’s valued or it’s productive and maybe like a more quantifiable sense, but then also realizing that it is mutual. It’s a two way street, right? So it’s not just that like you’re getting a benefit in the moment too, but you’re also participating in someone else’s benefits as well and contributing to it.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

AND WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU GETTING BY JUST HANGING OUT WITH OTHERS?

SOCIAL CONNECTION AND INTERACTION – EVEN IF YOU’RE DOING “NOTHING.”

[SHEILA LIMING] 

“Our ability to develop and maintain those social connections is linked to our ability to create happiness for ourselves.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

THAT’S RIGHT – YOUR RELATIONSHIPS ARE DIRECTLY LINKED TO YOUR HAPPINESS.

FOR MORE THAN 85 YEARS – THE HARVARD GRANT STUDY HAS BEEN LOOKING INTO WHAT MAKES PEOPLE HAPPY.

RESEARCHER ROBERT WALDINGER SAID THE STUDY FOUND “that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.”

DOCTOR FISCHER RECOMMENDS TACKLING THE BARRIERS THAT MAY BE PREVENTING YOU FROM FORMING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS.

IF YOU NEED SOMEWHERE TO START – FIGURE OUT YOUR INTERESTS – IS IT CONCERTS? GAME NIGHTS? ART SHOWS?

[DR. SARAH FISCHER]

“And then find a group that does that meet up is good for that. Facebook, I think, has some opportunities where they have groups that meet in person.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

DON’T GET TOO CAUGHT UP IN INTERNET CULTURE – SHE SAYS – BECAUSE THAT’S NOT REAL SOCIAL CONNECTION – IT’S NOT REALLY HANGING OUT – AND CAN’T BE A REPLACEMENT FOR IN-PERSON CONTACT.

[DR. SARAH FISCHER]

“Where as true social connection is about two people, or a group of people, like talking to each other, right? And sharing interests, and sharing stories, and sharing history. And it’s not about how am I comparing myself to you or how am I? How is my self-image maybe wrapped up in what I see in you? Right. It’s just about pure connection, if that makes sense.”

Business

With TikTok ban, US raises stakes in US-China tit for tat

May 7

Share

China has yet to retaliate for the U.S. passing legislation that either bans or forces the sale of TikTok. However, history dictates China will act in an ongoing, technological tit for tat.

On Tuesday, TikTok owner ByteDance sued to block the legislation, claiming it violates the U.S. Constitution. The government itself has not yet reacted but did respond to the proposed ban or forced divestment.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

“If the United States persists, China will take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its sovereignty, security and development interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said.

“It’s playing its cards very carefully in a geopolitical chess game,” said Doug Guthrie, a professor of global leadership and executive director of China initiatives at Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Guthrie used to work for Apple in Shanghai, helping executives understand how to navigate Xi Jinping’s leadership.

“I do think that there are people at high levels of the government who are watching very carefully and thinking very carefully about how far the U.S. is pushing the negative narrative about China as a nefarious controller and spreader of false information,” Guthrie said.

He doesn’t expect China’s next move to be rash but strategic. He said he’s skeptical of China getting into micro-level tit for tat.

“What I think is there’s a much bigger chess game that’s going on,” Guthrie said. “And yes, sometimes signals are going to be sent out saying, ‘We can control the ways in which iPhones are sold and are popular.'”

Apple took a hit in China — and its stock price — when China banned government officials from bringing iPhones to work last year. The move didn’t just limit Apple’s appeal to government officials, it sent a chilling message to Chinese consumers. 

The biggest beneficiary might be Chinese smartphone-maker Huawei, whose market share in the country soared during the same time. Guthrie said Apple is collateral damage in a technological cold war between the U.S. and China, where both countries play the national security card. 

China’s iPhone ban came to light several months after the U.S. banned the sale of tech from China’s Huawei and ZTE. The Federal Communications Commission said it was to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications. Later, the U.S. Department of Commerce banned American companies from selling advanced AI chips to China.

“The idea that we can blame China for controlling information or watching information or acting in an authoritarian way and then we make these decisions that are tied directly to Huawei or directly to ByteDance and sort of act in our own authoritarian way, I think we lose stature, not just in China, but in the world,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie said America’s latest chess move with TikTok goes a step beyond China’s usual playbook.

For years, some American companies have bent over backward to continue doing business under Xi’s authoritarian rule, caving to demands on data control and censorship. Others, like Yahoo and LinkedIn, opted to leave, citing a challenging business environment, while China’s “Great Firewall” blocks internet users from accessing the likes of Google and Facebook.

“It’s absolutely the case that the Chinese government has put a stake in the sand and said you cannot cross over this line, and if you do, you’re not allowed to be here,” Guthrie said.

But he said, in pressuring divestment, the U.S. is making a demand of a Chinese company that China has not done to American companies.

For its part, Guthrie said he doubts ByteDance would cave to America’s demands. Given the two TikTok options — sell or be banned — he said ByteDance is likelier to choose the latter. 

“They’d rather it not happen and I think there will be a negotiated outcome, but I am very skeptical of the idea that ByteDance will just bow to the United States government and sell Tiktok,” Guthrie said. “I just don’t think it’s going to happen.”

In its lawsuit, TikTok and ByteDance said the Chinese government would not allow it to divest its recommendation algorithm, which makes TikTok so valuable.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Simone Del Rosario:

It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop. China has yet to retaliate for the US passing legislation that either bans or forces the sale of TikTok.

But history tells us – something is coming. And so does the Chinese government. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian: 

If the United States persists, China will take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.

Doug Guthrie: 

It’s playing its cards very carefully in a geopolitical chess game. My name’s Doug Guthrie. I’m a professor of global leadership at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. I’m also the executive director of China Initiatives here.

Simone Del Rosario:

Doug Guthrie used to work for Apple in Shanghai, helping executives understand how to navigate Xi Jinping’s leadership.

Doug Guthrie:

I do think that there are people at high levels of the government who are watching very carefully and thinking very carefully about how far the US is pushing the negative narrative about about China as sort of a nefarious controller and spreader of false information.

Simone Del Rosario:

Guthrie expects China’s next move to be a strategic one. 

Doug Guthrie:

Imagining getting into sort of micro-level tit-for-tat stuff, I just, I’m skeptical of it. What I think is there’s a much bigger chess game that’s going on, and yes, sometimes signals are going to be sent out saying, like, you know, we can control the ways in which iPhones are sold and are popular.

Simone Del Rosario:

Apple took a hit in China – and its stock price – when China banned government officials from bringing iPhones to work last year. The move didn’t just limit Apple’s appeal to government officials, it sent a chilling message to Chinese consumers. 

The biggest beneficiary might be Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, whose market share in the country soared at the same time. Guthrie says Apple is collateral damage in this technological cold war between the U.S. and China, where both countries play the national security card. 

See, China’s iPhone ban came to light several months after the U.S. banned the sale of tech from China’s Huawei and ZTE. The Federal Communications Commission said it was to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications. Later, the U.S. Department of Commerce banned American companies from selling advanced AI chips to China.

Doug Guthrie:

The idea that we can blame China for controlling information or watching information or acting in an authoritarian way, and then we make these decisions that are tied directly to Huawei or directly to ByteDance and sort of act in our own authoritarian way, I think we lose stature, not just in China, but in the world.

Simone Del Rosario:

Guthrie says America’s latest chess move with TikTok goes a step beyond China’s usual playbook.

For years, some American companies have bent over backward to continue doing business under Xi’s authoritarian rule, caving to demands on data control and censorship. Others, like Yahoo and LinkedIn, opted to leave, citing a challenging business environment, while China’s Great Firewall blocks internet users from accessing the likes of Google and Facebook.

Doug Guthrie:

It’s absolutely the case that the Chinese government has put a stake in the sand and said you cannot cross over this line, and if you do, you’re not allowed to be here.

Simone Del Rosario:

But has China had the gall to tell an American company you have to sell or else you can’t have access to our market?

Doug Guthrie:

No, no. I mean, I think it, it is, I like the word gall, and I think it’s just so much arrogance in the US approach to things.

Simone Del Rosario:

For its part, Guthrie doubts ByteDance would cave to America’s demands. Given the two TikTok options – sell or be banned – he said ByteDance is more likely to choose the latter. 

Doug Guthrie:

They’d rather it not happen. And I think there will be a negotiated outcome, but I am very skeptical of the idea that ByteDance will just bow to the United States government and sell Tiktok. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. 

Simone Del Rosario:

And TikTok says it’s not going anywhere. 

Energy

Scientists turn to colder methods to save coral from climate change

May 6

Share

The oceans are heating up and bleaching corals in what is now being called a global bleaching event. However, some scientists are working to freeze corals to help save them from starving to death.

“We have to come up with another product, another thing that we can use, a tool for our conservation toolbox,” said Mary Hagedorn, a senior research scientist with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

For the last two decades Hagedorn has worked to save the delicate corals that live on the ocean floor. In 2023, she and her team published a paper containing a breakthrough in coral cryopreservation.

The current method of freezing and preserving coral is to harvest the larvae and sperm, but the problem is that the window for gathering that material is only a couple days a year. Hagedorn’s proposal could change the field.

“We came up with the idea of trying to do coral fragment cryopreservation,” Hagedorn said. “Now, what this means is we’re actually freezing the whole coral organism. They’re tiny. Corals can grow from a thumbnail-sized piece. And so we’re using these very thumbnail-sized pieces to test our cryopreservation method. We’ve partnered with engineers around the country to use a process called isotope vitrification.”

This process eliminates the problems caused by ice crystals forming and damaging frozen material. 

Hagedorn described the process of cryopreserving the coral.

“We put them in highly concentrated cryoprotectants,” she said. “And think of them as kind of like a syrup, or if you’ve ever seen insects in amber. It’s not quite that viscous, but it’s the same sort of concept. We’re using these very viscous media that can go from a liquid state into a frozen state without any ice. So they turn into a glass.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this spring that the oceans are in the midst of a global coral bleaching event, making Hagedorn’s work all the more important.

“We’re very close now to having something that not only is going to be very helpful for coral cryopreservation and coral conservation, but what we hope will be very field-friendly as well, so that we can get it out into the field and train many professionals to do this so that we can quickly move across the oceans and start to take this biodiversity and bank it,” she said.

Hagedorn is part of the Coral Biobank Alliance, a group of scientists and conservationists who work together to either freeze or collect coral in aquariums around the world. They hope to preserve as many species as they can as the rising temperatures cause their wild counterparts to bleach and die.

“Given that climate change is causing this issue and we don’t have as much time as we would really like, this actually is a very good solution,” Hagedorn said. “I think we stand a very good chance in the next five years of capturing as much of the diversity as we can before certain ecosystems collapse in the coral world.”

Tags: , , , ,

EMMA STOLTZFUS: The oceans are heating up and bleaching corals in what is now being called a global bleaching event. But some scientists are working to freeze corals to help save them from starving to death.

MARY HAGEDORN: We have to come up with another product, another thing that we can use, a tool for our conservation toolbox.

EMMA STOLTZFUS: That’s Mary Hagedorn, a leading scientist in the field of cryopreservation. For the last two decades she’s worked to save the delicate corals that live on the ocean floor. Last year, she and her team published a paper containing a breakthrough in coral cryopreservation. The current method of freezing and preserving coral is to harvest the larvae and sperm, but the problem is that the window for gathering that material is only a couple days a year. Hagedorn has another proposal that could change the field. We spoke with her about the discovery and potential impact it could have on the future of coral preservation.

MARY HAGEDORN: We came up with the idea of trying to do coral fragment cryopreservation. Now, what this means is we’re actually freezing the whole coral organism. They’re tiny. Corals can grow from a thumbnail-sized piece. And so we’re using these very thumbnail-sized pieces to test our cryopreservation method. We’ve partnered with engineers around the country to use a process called isotope vitrification. 

We put them in highly concentrated cryoprotectants. And think of them as kind of like a syrup, you know, or if you’ve ever seen insects in amber. It’s not quite that viscous, but it’s the same sort of concept. We’re using these very viscous media that can go from a liquid state into a frozen state without any ice. So they turn into a glass. 

We’re very close now to having something that not only is going to be very helpful for coral cryopreservation and coral conservation, but what we hope will be very field-friendly as well, so that we can get it out into the field and train many professionals to do this so that we can quickly move across the oceans and start to take this biodiversity and bank it. 

Given that climate change is causing this issue and we don’t have as much time as we would really like, this actually is a very good solution

I think we stand a very good chance in the next five years of capturing as much of the diversity as we can before, you know, certain ecosystems collapse in the coral in the coral world.

EMMA STOLTZFUS: For more information about coral conservation and marine science, check out the Straight Arrow News app to follow our coverage of the current global bleaching event.

Business

Work 5 days a week? This US county is seeing success with 32-hour workweeks

May 3

Share

The island county of San Juan in Washington state was one of the first local governments in the U.S. to switch most of its employees to a 32-hour workweek. Now, six months in, the county is “encouraged” by what it has seen.

San Juan didn’t move to 32 hours out of sheer curiosity, like some international experiments. This decision came from labor negotiations where the county said it could not afford to foot the hourly wage increase pushed by the union over 40-hour workweeks.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

Instead, the negotiations settled on higher wages for 32-hour workweeks. Employees are making about the same amount overall but working a full day less. In turn, the county is saving $975,000 by not paying the higher wage over 40 hours.

The change appears to be a hit with workers. Seventy-eight percent of employees reported the job impacts their overall health and well-being more positively since switching to 32 hours, while 83% agree that it has improved their work-life balance. The county has also seen a 31% decrease in sick leave. 

That said, 12% of respondents anecdotally mentioned feeling stressed about the 32-hour workweek in a six-month check-in survey. The report said many of those reporting more stress are managers and supervisors tasked with maintaining productivity over fewer hours. 

But this math may be the most interesting part of the initial results. Going from 40 hours to 32 hours per week is a 20% drop in hours worked. However, in San Juan County, total employee hours worked only dropped 8% over this change, partly because the county has improved recruiting and retention, meaning fewer vacancies and a fuller workforce. 

The county is filling open positions 62% faster since making the change. In 2023, the county received just one local applicant in the first quarter. This year, it had 53 local applicants in the first quarter. 

Also, 78% of county staff hired after the 32-hour workweek said the schedule was the main factor they considered when applying. Separations from the county dropped 46% and 67% of employees said the 32-hour week is a huge factor in their decision to stay. 

It’s not all smooth sailing. Employees said when it comes to the public, about a third had positive feedback while the same amount had negative feedback. Some departments are only available four days a week while others are staggering the shifts to stay open five days a week. Emergency services and the sheriff’s office are not part of the 32-hour workweek arrangement. 

The county admits there are still some decisions and improvements to work out to ensure maximum staffing and customer service.

“Six months is really just a drop in the bucket, and I look forward to seeing what the one-year and two-year check-ins will reveal,” Interim County Manager Mark Tompkins said.

Tags: , , ,

[SIMONE DEL ROSARIO]

Can you imagine a dreamier place to work?

Not convinced? 

What if I told you the work week is only 32 hours?

That’s more like it. 

The island county of San Juan in Washington state was one of the first local governments in the U.S. to switch most of its employees to a 32-hour work week. Now six months in, the county is encouraged by what they’ve seen.

First, the county didn’t move to 32 hours out of sheer curiosity, as we’ve seen in some international experiments.

This came out of labor negotiations where the county says they could not afford the extra $1 million to foot the hourly wage increase pushed by the union for 40 hours a week. 

Instead, they settled on higher wages for 32-hour work weeks, so employees are making about the same overall but working a full day less. 

78% of employees reported their job impacts their overall health and well-being more positively since switching to 32 hours. 

83% agree that it has improved their work-life balance. And the county has seen a 31% decrease in sick leave. 

12% of respondents anecdotally mentioned feeling stressed about the 32-hour work week. The report says many of those are managers and supervisors tasked with maintaining productivity over fewer hours. 

Here’s what really stuck out to me about this report: the math of it all. 

If you go from 40 to 32-hour weeks, that’s a 20% drop in hours worked. But in San Juan County, employee hours worked only dropped 8% over this change. How is that possible? Part of it is the county is better at recruiting and retaining employees, meaning fewer vacancies and a fuller workforce. 

The county is filling open positions 62% faster since making the change. Last year, the county received just one local applicant in the first quarter. This year, they had 53 local applicants in the first quarter. 

78% of county staff hired after the 32-hour work week say the schedule was the main factor they considered when applying. 

Also, separations dropped 46%, and 67% of employees say the 32-hour week is a huge factor in their decision to stay. 

It’s not all smooth sailing. Employees say when it comes to the public, about a third had positive feedback, but the same amount had negative feedback. See, some departments are only available four days a week while others are staggering the shifts to stay open five. 

I should note, emergency services and the Sheriff’s office are not part of the 32-hour week. 

Interim County Manager Mark Tompkins said six months is just a drop in the bucket, 

let’s see what the 1-year and 2-year check-ins reveal as San Juan County charters new territory. 

I’m SDR for SAN.

Business

Cocoa prices are rich. Here’s when it will hit the grocery store.

May 2

Share

In Steve Wateridge’s four decades covering cocoa, he said he’s never before experienced this level of global captivation by the cocoa market and its prices. Then again, prices have never been this high.

“It’s a shame they didn’t care about it a bit more five years ago when something could have been done and should have been done to address what are long-term structural issues, but that’s the way of the world,” said Wateridge, who is head of research for Tropical Research Services.

Before 2024, the historic high for cocoa sat around $5,000 per metric ton. So far this year, cocoa has traded as high as $12,000, and even as prices have gone down in recent days, futures are still double what they were at the start of the year.


“The cocoa market has been very quiet for a long period of time, but underneath the surface, there have been issues developing in the two largest producing countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana, which between them, account for 65% or 70% of world production,” Wateridge said. “There’s a disease called cocoa swollen shoot virus that spreads very slowly, but if it’s not controlled, it does eventually kill trees and it spreads further. In the last 12 months, I think there’s been a realization that we’ve reached a tipping point.”

The current prices haven’t been passed on to the consumers yet.

Steve Wateridge, Tropical Research Services

Though cocoa prices have tripled in the past year, it has yet to reach consumers, since the high prices are for future contracts.

“It’s really probably not until the back end of the year, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, that we start seeing further price increases in chocolate confectionary,” Wateridge said. “In the meantime, I suspect what will happen is that the industry will try to use as little cocoa in their products as possible.”

That can be done by adding ingredients like fruit and nuts to chocolate bars. Wateridge said ultimately, consumers will see the price hike.

Though farmers elsewhere in the world are benefiting from higher prices, those who produce the majority of the world’s cocoa – farmers in Ivory Coast and Ghana – cannot say the same. In these two countries, the farm price is set at the beginning of October. In April, both governments agreed to pay farmers 50% more for their crops.

“But that still only took the farmer price up to $2,500, whereas in places like Cameroon, Nigeria, where there’s a free market, the farmers receive $7,500,” Wateridge explained. “So the biggest producers who need to restructure their cocoa production are not receiving yet the benefits of the high prices.”

Swollen shoot will kill the trees in the next two or three years, so they’re not going to recover until they’re dug up and replanted, and that takes time.

Steve Wateridge, Tropical Research Services

Wateridge said better farm care needs to be incentivized, especially in West Africa. In the short term, addressing crop declines requires pruning, spraying against disease and fertilizing.

“Now that won’t change the downward trend in production, but it will shift it up to a higher level,” he said.

In the long term, he said these aging and diseased trees must be replaced.

“When you do that, it takes three years before trees start producing and five years before they reach maturity,” Wateridge said. “High prices will cure high prices eventually, but it doesn’t send it back to where it started. We need to sustain a supply-demand balance. We need to reward farmers better.”

“It’s difficult to believe that we can turn this around simply on the supply side,” he added. “In the short term, we do need, basically, people to eat less cocoa.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Steve Wateridge: The cocoa market has been very quiet for a long period of time, but underneath the surface, there have been issues developing in the two largest producing countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana, which between them, account for 65 or 70% of world production. They’re both suffering from an aging tree stock, and they also have disease issues. There’s a disease called cocoa swollen shoot virus that spreads very slowly, but if it’s not controlled, it does eventually kill trees and it spreads further. And you know, in the last 12 months, I think there’s been a realization that we’ve reached a tipping point.

I’m Steve Wateridge, I’ve been involved in cocoa for 40 years.

We’ve gone from $12,000 to $9,000 which is, you know, huge move in in two or three days. But this time last year, we were at $2,900 so we’re still three times the price level of a year ago. And even at the end of December, we were at $4,200 so we more than double that price. So although prices have come off very sharply in a couple of days. They are still very, very high. 

The current prices haven’t been passed on to consumers yet. So it’s really probably not until the back end of the year, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, that we start seeing further price increases in chocolate confectionery. In the meantime, I suspect what will happen is that the industry will try to use as little cocoa in their products as possible. They will look for other ingredients. If they can put fruit and nuts in a bar and market that rather than a solid chocolate bar, it uses less cocoa. So there are ways of trying to use less cocoa and trying to absorb some of the price increase, but this sort of price increase ultimately has to be passed on to consumers. One of the problems we have at the moment is that consumers haven’t received the full effect of the price rises, but neither are farmers in Ivory Coast and Ghana. The farm price is set at the beginning of October, at the start of the year. They sell forward now it was increased by 50% for the mid crop in April, a month ago. But that still only took the farmer price up to $2,500 whereas in places like Cameroon, Nigeria, where there’s a free market, the farmers receiving $7,500 so the biggest producers who need to restructure their cocoa production, they’re not receiving yet the benefits of the high prices.

It’s a shame they didn’t care about it a bit more five years ago, when something could have been done and should have been done to address what are long term structural issues, but that’s the way of the world.

We’ve been monitoring the spread of swollen shoot in Ivory Coast and Ghana for 15 years or more. Eventually swollen shoot will kill the trees in the next two or three years, so they’re not going to recover until they’re dug up and replanted, and that takes time. When you do that, it takes three to five years before, three years before trees start producing, and five years before they reach maturity. So it’s a long term issue. In the short term, we need to incentivize better farm care around the world, which is what we’re doing outside of Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The standards of farm care in West Africa are really quite low. It’s a peasant agriculture. So encouraging farmers to improve farmer practices by pruning, spraying against disease and fertilizing, most important, you can improve yields quite significantly. Now that won’t change the downward trend in production, but it will shift it up to a higher level.

High prices will cure high prices eventually, but it doesn’t send it back to where it started. We need to sustain a supply demand balance. We need to reward farmers better.

We need some pretty significant demand destruction to bring the market back into balance. And the longer that takes, then, you know, the higher prices will have to go to bring about that decline in in sales volumes. It’s difficult to believe that we can turn this around simply on the supply side, in the short term, we do need, basically, people to eat less cocoa.

Business

Private equity firm bets on natural grass after artificial turf issues

Apr 29

Share

On his first home game on artificial turf, Aaron Rodgers lasted just four snaps before his Achilles snapped at MetLife Stadium. His season-ending injury reignited a fierce debate about the safety of artificial turf.

Now a sports-focused private equity firm is betting big on natural grass. Bruin Capital, founded by former NASCAR COO George Pyne, is reportedly buying Dutch turf management company PlayGreen for more than $100 million, according to reports by DealBook and Sports Business Journal. PlayGreen owns Stadium Grow Lighting (SGL), a major player in turf care.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

Interest in SGL grew after Aaron Rodgers’ injury. Rodgers himself is very familiar with the turf company’s product. He played on a surface it grew for most of his career. 

The Green Bay Packers was the first North American team to experiment with the Netherlands light system starting in the 2010 season. Lambeau Field, aka the “Frozen Tundra,” was a prime place to pilot. With less sunlight and unforgiving weather, growing natural grass was a challenge. The lights changed that, Packers fields manager Allen Johnson told AthleticTurf.net in 2014. 

“Without them, honestly, I wasn’t growing anything really well beyond the middle of October,” Johnson said. “And now, with some decently mild temperatures, I could probably go til the first week of December.”

From Wisconsin to Saudi Arabia, SGL told DealBook, “We’ve proved we can grow grass under any circumstances.” 

SGL has deep roots in the market, with contracts for 90% of stadiums that use grow-light technology. Overall, the company said it works with roughly 20% of professional sports stadiums worldwide. Soccer is its main market but the technology is everywhere from Augusta National Golf Club to Fenway Park.

Bruin Capital’s bet on green came as more teams weigh ditching artificial turf for natural or hybrid options. But it is also on the grounds that PlayGreen is more than a turf company, it is also a tech company. On top of LED grow lights, SGL uses data to predict and treat fungus growth. With all of its client data, SGL has sights on artificial intelligence to automate turf management in the future. 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

[Simone Del Rosario]

On his first home game on artificial turf, Aaron Rodgers lasted just four snaps before his Achilles snapped. His season-ending injury reignited a fierce debate about the safety of artificial turf.

Now a sports-focused private equity firm is betting big on natural grass. 

[George Pyne]

Sports as an asset class is exploding.

[Simone Del Rosario]

That’s George Pyne, NASCAR’s former COO turned founder of Bruin Capital. Bruin Capital is reportedly buying Dutch turf management company PlayGreen – which owns SGL, Stadium Grow Lighting – for more than $100 million. 

Interest in SGL grew after the Aaron Rodgers injury. Rodgers himself is very familiar with the turf company’s product. He played on a surface it nurtured for most of his career. 

The Green Bay Packers was the first North American team to experiment with the Netherlands light system starting in the 2010 season. Lambeau Field, aka the “Frozen Tundra,” was a prime place to pilot. With less sunlight and unforgiving weather, growing natural grass was a challenge. The lights changed that, Packers fields manager Allen Johnson told AthleticTurf.net in 2014. 

[Allen Johnson]

Without them, I wasn’t, honestly I wasn’t growing anything really well beyond the middle of October. And now, with some decently mild temperatures, I could probably go til the first week of December. 

[Simone Del Rosario]

From Wisconsin to Saudi Arabia, SGL told DealBook, “We’ve proved we can grow grass under any circumstances.”  

SGL has deep roots in the market, with contracts for 90% of stadiums that use grow-light technology. Overall, they say they work with roughly 20% of pro stadiums worldwide. Soccer is their main market, but you can find the tech everywhere from the Masters to Fenway.

Bruin Capital’s bet on green comes as more teams weigh ditching artificial turf for natural or hybrid options. But it’s also on the grounds that PlayGreen is more than a turf company, it’s a tech company. On top of LED grow lights, SGL uses data to predict and treat fungus growth. And with all of its client data, SGL has sights on AI to automate turf management in the future. 

Business

Trump vs. Fed: Allies plan for Trump to have more control over interest rates

Apr 26

Share

An exclusive report from The Wall Street Journal claims that Donald Trump’s allies are drawing up plans to dull the Federal Reserve’s independence if the former president wins another term. Trump repeatedly clashed with the central bank during his four years in the White House.

According to the Journal, these allies think the president should be consulted on interest-rate decisions and have the power to oust Jerome Powell before his term as Fed chair expires in May 2026.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

The central bank is designed to be politically independent, removed from the influence of presidents so the monetary decisions of the country are not based on what will win votes. Republican lawmakers are speaking out against these supposed plans.

“Given their charge, their independence is critical to doing it in an unbiased, nonpolitical way,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told the Journal.

“I have to think about the Fed for the next 50 years, not the next four, and independence is important,” Sen. Thom Tillis added.

On the record, Trump senior advisers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita did not deny the Journal’s report. In a statement, they told the Journal that unless a message is coming directly from Trump or an authorized member of his campaign, it should not be deemed official. 

It’s widely understood in the legal community that the president does not have the authority to remove the head of this federal agency without cause, and “cause” does not mean disagreements on policy. Trump had many of those policy disagreements back when he was president and Powell served as Fed chair. 

“I think the Fed is out of control. I think what they’re doing is wrong,” former President Trump said in 2018.

Between 2018 and 2020, Trump repeatedly, publicly bashed the Fed’s moves and the chairman he appointed.

Before this latest Journal report came out, Straight Arrow News had asked a former Federal Reserve adviser about the possibility of presidents pressuring Powell to make certain interest rate decisions, especially given the election year. QI Research CEO Danielle DiMartino Booth said Powell is one of the least political Fed chairs to serve and is not likely to be influenced by either party. 

“Remember, he’s Jerome Hayden Powell, Esq. He’s a lawyer by training and he knows his Supreme Court precedent,” DiMartino Booth said. “He knows that prior presidents who have attempted without cause to oust the head of a federal agency, which of course he is, have failed in the Supreme Court, and he will lean back on that. And that’s exactly what he did when Trump was in office.”

Trump first appointed Powell, a Republican, to chair the Fed in 2017, succeeding Janet Yellen, who is now President Joe Biden’s Treasury secretary. But Trump and Powell’s relationship quickly soured as Trump’s term went on and the Fed raised interest rates, causing the stock market to stumble

“I think the Fed has gone crazy,” Trump said a year after the appointment.

By 2019, he was repeatedly advocating for the Fed to cut interest rates as the stock market stalled.

“I personally think the Fed should drop rates, I really think they slowed us down,” Trumpeter said. “I think they should drop rates and they should get rid of quantitative tightening. You would see a rocket ship.”

Despite reports in 2019 that Trump considered demoting Powell, his administration largely brushed them off, refusing to confirm or deny those discussions occurred.

While Trump asserted political pressure on Powell to lower interest rates during his term, he was critical of the Fed before winning the 2016 election for not raising rates more when Obama was in office.

“I think the Fed is being totally controlled politically. They’re not raising rates and they’re being controlled politically,” Trump said in 2016.

Despite bipartisan insistence that the Fed should remain independent from politics, now Trump’s advisers are reportedly seeking carve-outs to give Trump more political control over monetary policy.

While Trump was first to appoint Powell to the head of the Fed, Biden reappointed him to a second term in 2022.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Simone Del Rosario: You know how much former President Trump rails on China…Do you know what he thinks is a bigger problem than China? The U.S. Federal Reserve. His words.

Now an exclusive report from the Wall Street Journal says Trump allies are drawing up plans to blunt the Federal Reserve’s independence if Trump wins another term. 

What would that look like? These allies reportedly think the president should be consulted on interest-rate decisions and have the power to oust Jerome Powell before his term as Fed chair expires in May 2026. 

The central bank is designed to be politically independent, removed from the influence of presidents so the monetary decisions of the country are not based on what’ll win votes. 

Republican lawmakers are speaking out against these supposed plans.

North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer said the Fed’s independence is critical to making decisions in an unbiased, nonpolitical way. 

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis also said independence is important, saying, “I have to think about the Fed for the next 50 years, not the next four.” 

On the record, Trump senior advisers did not deny this report from the Journal. They just said that unless a message is coming directly from Trump or an authorized member of his campaign, it should not be deemed official. 

It’s widely understood in the legal community that the president does not have the authority to remove the head of this federal agency without cause, and “cause” does not mean disagreements on policy. 

Trump had many of those policy disagreements back when he was president and Powell served as Fed Chair. 

Former President Donald Trump: I think the Fed is out of control. I think what they’re doing is wrong.

Simone Del Rosario: Just before this latest Journal report came out, I had asked a former Federal Reserve adviser about the possibility of presidents pressuring Powell to make certain interest rate decisions, especially given the election year. Danielle DiMartino Booth tells me Powell is one of the least political Fed chairs to serve and is not likely to be influenced by either party. 

Danielle DiMartino Booth: Remember. He’s Jerome Hayden Powell, Esquire. He’s a lawyer by training and he knows his Supreme Court precedent. He knows that prior presidents who have attempted without cause to oust the head of a federal agency, which of course he is, have failed in the Supreme Court, and he will lean back on that. And that’s exactly what he did when Trump was in office.

Former President Donald Trump: I put a very good man in the Fed, I don’t necessarily agree with it, because he’s raising interest rates.

Simone Del Rosario: Trump was first to appoint Powell, a Republican, to Fed Chair. But their relationship quickly soured as Trump’s term went on and the Fed raised interest rates, causing the stock market to stumble

Former President Donald Trump: I think the Fed has gone crazy. 

Former President Donald Trump: Well I personally think the Fed should drop rates, I really think they slowed us down…I think they should drop rates and they should get rid of quantitative tightening, you would see a rocket ship.

Simone Del Rosario: Trump loves low interest rates…when he’s president. Before he won the election, he was critical of the Fed for not raising rates more when Obama was in office. 

Former President Donald Trump: I think the Fed is being totally controlled politically. They’re not raising rates and they’re being controlled politically. 

Simone Del Rosario: But now, it’s Trump’s advisers reportedly seeking carve-outs to give Trump more political control.

International

Growing pains: Will India replace China as global growth leader?

Apr 24

Share

India already knocked off China as the most populous country in the world. Now, it’s going after China’s title of global growth engine, a crown that economists believe India could claim by 2028. To get there, though, the developing nation will need to address some growing pains.

“I think everyone would be making a mistake if they didn’t bet on India over the next 10 years,” said Samir Kapadia, the founder and CEO of India Index, a marketplace connecting Indian suppliers with American buyers.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

The world’s fifth-largest economy is expected to soon climb over Japan and Germany to the No. 3 spot. However, that’s where it’ll settle for quite some time.

“India overtaking China in terms of size of its economy is a long way out,” said Alexandra Hermann, a lead economist at Oxford Economics.

While China’s gross domestic product is more than four times that of its neighbor, India is in a prime position to pull away business from Asia’s powerhouse. 

“America is in a state of panic right now as it relates to how they can get outside of China or conduct what they call China+1,” Kapadia said. “So India is not just getting a second look; in many cases, they are getting a first look.”

So what can India do to make sure companies like what they see? 

China is not going away quietly

China, the worldwide leader in economic growth over multiple decades, just beat all estimates for the first quarter of 2024, growing at a 5.3% annual pace. But the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts China’s growth for all of 2024 will still come in at 4.6%, dropping to 4.1% in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the IMF raised India’s growth forecast to 6.8% for 2024 and another 6.5% in 2025. India grew 7.8% in 2023.

“That makes India easily the fastest-growing economy in the world,” IMF Executive Director Krishnamurthy Subramanian said.

“We have to keep in mind that India is also coming from a relatively lower base, right?” Hermann said. “The Chinese economy is still considerably larger, manifold larger than the Indian one. So it’s not really surprising that India can pull off much, much stronger growth rates than China as sort of a more emerging-market peer, let alone any advanced economies.”

According to Bloomberg Economics, China accounted for nearly a third of global growth in 2023, while India drove 17.5%. But if India keeps growing while China keeps slowing, they see that balance shift in 2028. 

How India is pulling interest from China

Kapadia told Straight Arrow News that interest in India is reaching new heights.

“It’s mainly predicated on the notion that American companies can’t afford to work with China anymore,” Kapadia said.

Kapadia said tariffs on Chinese goods are giving companies pause, especially after reports that former President Donald Trump is weighing a 60% tariff on imports if elected in November. Trump confirmed his consideration on Fox Business, saying, “Maybe it’s going to be more than that.”

A ramped-up trade war with China will only expedite moves corporations are already making to diversify away from China. 

“It’s not just the national security implications, the intellectual property issues, the ongoing concerns around forced labor, environmental standards, the list continues to grow,” Kapadia said.

And India, the world’s largest democracy, is making a good case to pull in business. 

Take Apple as an example. CEO Tim Cook called India a “huge opportunity” after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2023. The same year, Apple opened its first physical store in the country and made one in every seven iPhones in India, double the amount produced there a year before. 

This comes as U.S.-China relations continue to sour. Apple is getting bruised in China as officials there promote competitors instead. The company has taken such a hit in sales that Apple is no longer the world’s largest cellphone seller. Apple lost the spot to Samsung the first quarter of 2024. 

Which brings up another point to India’s appeal: 1.4 billion people. When it comes to having money to spend, India’s middle class as a share of the total population is relatively small, but it’s expected to double to 61% by 2047. 

“It’s a wonderful base for customers,” Kapadia said. “So doesn’t matter if you’re Tesla or you’re Lego, you’re going to look at India not as just a place to do business and get supply, you’re going to look at it as a place to sell products. And I think that’s what’s really driving a lot of attention.”

Investors polled by Bloomberg resoundingly chose India as the most compelling investment case over the next 12 months when compared with Japan and China. 

India’s labor force lags

India may have more people than China, but its labor force has yet to catch up. On the one hand, more than half of India’s population is under 30 years old while China is dealing with an aging labor force. On the other hand, labor force participation is dramatically uneven. China’s is around 76% compared with India’s 51%. That’s driven largely by the lack of female labor participation in India. 

“They are lower than in some of India’s Muslim neighbors and much less developed neighboring countries,” Hermann said.

According to Hermann’s research, the labor force participation rate for working-age females in India is under 25%, lower than in Pakistan and Bangladesh. China is at 71%. But Hermann said participation is just one part of the challenge.

“Because of this lack of a bigger manufacturing sector that could provide jobs for lower-skilled jobs and India having pursued a very different development story than the neighboring countries, there is just a lack of opportunity also for people to move out of agriculture and into potentially high productivity manufacturing, let alone services sector,” Hermann explained.

About half of India’s labor force works in agriculture. To grow into a meaningful alternative to China, Indian workers will need to move from farm to factory. 

“I don’t think India will be able to upskill on their own,” Kapadia said. “It’s going to take foreign direct investment. It’s going to take the commitment of large multinational corporations to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to come in and we’re going to teach you how we do these things.'”

Labor reforms, other policies stall India’s progress

As a six-week election process sweeps through India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is widely expected to secure a third five-year term when results are announced on June 4. During Modi’s decade in charge, bilateral trade between the U.S. and India has doubled to around $200 billion a year. The U.S. is now India’s largest trading partner. 

For India to step into an even bigger global role, experts say it will need to ditch its protectionist attitude, where high tariffs meant to restrict imports are blocking foreign interest. 

“What we do hear is that it is very difficult to set up shop in India if you can’t procure everything from within the country, which you just can’t given the relatively small manufacturing sector,” Hermann said.

Land acquisition is another challenge businesses cite, along with labor reforms. Parliament passed labor reforms in 2020 that would make hiring and firing easier. But labor union pushback has so far prevented the government from implementing those changes. Modi’s party has indicated cementing those will be a priority in a third term. 

“We have seen strong reforms already over the past 10 years and it’s taken a while to start to pick up so the question is, how quickly will the more recent reforms and potentially the future reforms actually bear fruit?” Hermann said. “But overall, the signs are positive.”

There’s little doubt which direction India is trending. Wells Fargo flagged the country as having the potential to outperform its already high growth expectations this year. But the landscape still needs a lot of fertilizer to make conditions ripe for the highest output, and it’s not the only country vying for status as a China alternative. 

“Vietnam has demonstrated its ability to get into electronic machinery, footwear, apparel, all plastics, all kinds of industries that India wants to be a part of but that India hasn’t really proved itself in,” Kapadia said. “If you think about the United States with the China+1 strategy, that plus one could just be Vietnam, why would it be India?”

Vietnam may have a running head start, but India’s ambitious growth target and huge consumer base are turning heads. 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Simone Del Rosario: India already knocked off China as the most populous country in the world. Now, it’s going after China’s title of global growth engine. It’s a crown economists believe India could claim by 2028.

Samir Kapadia: I think everyone would be making a mistake if they didn’t bet on India over the next 10 years.

Simone Del Rosario: The world’s fifth largest economy is expected to soon climb over Japan and Germany to the No. 3 spot. But, 

Alexandra Hermann: India overtaking China in terms of size of its economy is a long way out.

Simone Del Rosario: While China’s gross domestic product dwarfs its neighbor, India is in a prime position to pull away business from Asia’s powerhouse. 

Samir Kapadia: America is in a state of panic right now as it relates to how they can get outside of China or conduct what they call China+1. So India is not just getting a second look, in many cases they are getting a first look.

Simone Del Rosario: So what can India do to make sure companies like what they see? 

China is not going away quietly. The worldwide leader in economic growth over multiple decades just beat all estimates for the first quarter of 2024, growing at a 5.3% annual pace. 

But the IMF predicts China’s growth for all of 2024 will still come in at 4.6%, dropping even more in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the IMF raised India’s growth forecast to 6.8% for 2024, and another 6.5% in 2025. 

Krishnamurthy Subramanian, IMF Executive Director: That makes India easily the fastest-growing economy in the world.

Alexandra Hermann: We have to keep in mind that India is also coming from a relatively lower base, right?

Simone Del Rosario: Alexandra Hermann covers India as a lead economist at Oxford Economics. 

Alexandra Hermann: The Chinese economy is still considerably larger, manifold larger than the Indian one. So it’s not really surprising that India can pull off much, much stronger growth rates than China as sort of a more emerging-market peer, let alone any advanced economies. 

Simone Del Rosario: According to Bloomberg Economics, China accounted for nearly a third of global growth in 2023, while India drove 17.5%. But if India keeps growing while China keeps slowing, they see that balance shift in 2028. 

Samir Kapadia is founder and CEO of India Index, a marketplace connecting Indian suppliers with American buyers.

What have you seen as far as interest in the Indian market? 

Samir Kapadia: It couldn’t be higher right now, Simone, and it’s mainly predicated on the notion that American companies can’t afford to work with China anymore.

Fox Business Host Maria Bartiromo: Now The Washington Post is saying you’re talking about 60% tariffs on Chinese goods. Is that in the cards?

Donald Trump: No, I would say maybe it’s going to be more than that. 

Simone Del Rosario: A ramped-up trade war with China will only expedite moves corporations are already making to diversify away from China. 

Samir Kapadia: It’s not just the national security implications, the intellectual property issues, the ongoing concerns around forced labor, environmental standards, the list continues to grow.

Simone Del Rosario: And India, the world’s largest democracy, is making a good case to pull in business. 

Take Apple. CEO Tim Cook called India a “huge opportunity” after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2023. The same year, Apple opened its first physical store in the country and made one in every seven iPhones in India, double the amount produced there a year before. 

This comes as U.S.-China relations continue to sour. Apple is getting bruised in China as officials there promote competitors instead. They’ve taken such a hit in sales that Apple is no longer the world’s largest cell phone seller. They lost the spot to Samsung the first quarter of 2024. 

Which brings up another point to India’s appeal: 1.4 billion people. When it comes to having money to spend, India’s middle class as a share of total population is relatively small, but it’s expected to double by 2047. 

Samir Kapadia: It’s a wonderful base for customers. So doesn’t matter if you’re Tesla or you’re Lego, you’re going to look at India not as just a place to do business and get supply, you’re going to look at it as a place to sell products. And I think that’s what’s really driving a lot of attention.

Simone Del Rosario: Investors polled by Bloomberg resoundingly chose India as the most compelling investment case over the next 12 months when compared with Japan and China. 

India may have more people than China, but its labor force has yet to catch up. On the one hand, more than half of India’s population is under 30 years old, while China is dealing with an aging labor force. On the other hand, labor force participation is dramatically uneven. China’s is around 76% compared with India’s 51%. That’s driven largely by the lack of female labor participation in India. 

Alexandra Hermann: They are lower than in some of India’s Muslim neighbors and much less developed neighboring countries.

Simone Del Rosario: According to Hermann’s research, the labor force participation rate for working age females in India is under 25%, lower than Pakistan and Bangladesh. China is at 71%. But Hermann says participation is just one part of the challenge.

Alexandra Hermann: Because of sort of this lack of a bigger manufacturing sector that could provide jobs for lower skilled jobs, India having pursued a very different development story than the neighboring countries, there is just a lack of opportunity also for people to move out of agriculture and into potentially high productivity manufacturing, let alone services sector.

Simone Del Rosario: About half of India’s labor force works in agriculture. To grow into a meaningful alternative to China, Indian workers will need to move from farm to factory. 

Samir Kapadia: I don’t think India will be able to upskill on their own. It’s going to take foreign direct investment. It’s going to take the commitment of large multinational corporations to say, hey, we’re going to come in and we’re going to teach you how we do these things.

Simone Del Rosario: As a six-week election process sweeps through India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is widely expected to secure a third five-year term when results are announced June 4. 

During Modi’s decade in charge, bilateral trade between the U.S. and India has doubled to around $200 billion a year. The U.S. is now India’s largest trading partner. 

For India to step into an even bigger global role, experts say it will need to ditch its protectionist attitude, where high tariffs meant to restrict imports are blocking foreign interest. 

Alexandra Hermann: What we do hear is that it is very difficult to set up shop in India if you can’t procure everything from within the country, which you just can’t given the relatively small manufacturing sector.

Simone Del Rosario: Land acquisition is another challenge businesses cite, along with labor reforms. 

Parliament passed labor reforms in 2020 that would make hiring and firing easier. But labor union pushback has so far prevented government from implementing those changes. Modi’s party has indicated cementing those will be a priority in a third term. 

Alexandra Hermann: We have seen strong reforms already over the past 10 years and it’s taken a while to start to pick up so the question is, how quickly will you know, the more recent reforms and potentially the future reforms actually bear fruit, but overall, the signs are positive.

Simone Del Rosario: There’s little doubt which direction India is trending. Wells Fargo flagged the country as having potential to outperform its already high growth expectations this year. But the landscape still needs a lot of fertilizer to make conditions ripe for the highest output. And its not the only country vying for status as a China alternative. 

Samir Kapadia: Vietnam has demonstrated its ability to get into electronic machinery, footwear, apparel, all plastics, all kinds of industries that India wants to be a part of, but that India hasn’t really proved itself in. So, you know, if you think about United States with the China plus one strategy, that plus one could just be Vietnam, why would it be India?

Simone Del Rosario: Vietnam may have a running head start, but India’s ambitious growth target is turning heads.