Category : Corporations/Corporate Life

([London] Times) Microsoft Word introduces new ‘woke’ feature to suggest PC alternatives

The line Neil Armstrong uttered when he stepped on the Moon — “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” — is deemed problematic by the software, which suggests changing “mankind” to “humankind” or “humanity”.

The children’s cartoon Postman Pat also fails the inclusivity test, with the software preferring “mail carrier” Pat or “postal worker” Pat.

The software also offers to tweak Billy Paul’s 1970s hit Me and Mrs Jones to a more modern Me and Ms Jones, while Barry Manilow’s infamous Lola in the song Copacabana might more appropriately be referred to as a performing artist rather than a showgirl.

Other words to change include “headmaster” (Word suggests “principal”), “master” (“expert”), “manpower” (“workforce”) and “heroine” (“hero”).

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Language, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(WSJ) American Workers Are Burned Out, and Bosses Are Struggling to Respond

In the first 10 months of this year, America’s workers handed in nearly 39 million resignations, the highest number since tracking began in 2000.

Some want better jobs. Others, a better work-life balance. Still others want a complete break from the corporate grind. Almost two years into the pandemic that left millions doing their jobs from home, many Americans are rethinking their relationship with work.

Companies are struggling to stop employees from leaving and to boost morale. Some are trying mandatory companywide vacation days and blackout hours when meetings are banned. Executives are experimenting with new ways of working, including four-day workweeks and asynchronous schedules that allow people to set their own hours.

Employers say burnout, long an issue for American workers and exacerbated by the pandemic, is a prime cause. A September survey by think tank the Conference Board found that more than three-quarters of 1,800 U.S. workers cited concerns such as stress and burnout as big challenges to well-being at work, up from 55% six months earlier. Half said workload-related pressure was harming their mental health.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Stress

(Reuters) Deepfake anyone: AI synthetic media tech enters perilous phase

“Do you want to see yourself acting in a movie or on TV?” said the description for one app on online stores, offering users the chance to create AI-generated synthetic media, also known as deepfakes.

“Do you want to see your best friend, colleague, or boss dancing?” it added. “Have you ever wondered how would you look if your face swapped with your friend’s or a celebrity’s?”

The same app was advertised differently on dozens of adult sites: “Make deepfake porn in a sec,” the ads said. “Deepfake anyone.”

How increasingly sophisticated technology is applied is one of the complexities facing synthetic media software, where machine learning is used to digitally model faces from images and then swap them into films as seamlessly as possible.

The technology, barely four years old, may be at a pivotal point, according to interviews with companies, researchers, policymakers and campaigners.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Photos/Photography, Pornography, Science & Technology

(Washington Post) ‘Last on the rung’: Africa deals with fallout from a ‘Made in the USA’ supply chain crisis

With U.S. retailers willing to pay almost any price to get their goods to American shores in time for the holidays, ocean carriers have redeployed container ships from the developing world to the more lucrative Asia-to-United States trade lanes, where rates for some shipments this fall were 15 times pre-pandemic levels, according to the Freightos index.

That’s helped fill American store shelves — and carriers’ coffers — but it has battered many African shippers, according to interviews with more than 30 maritime analysts, shippers, freight forwarders and cargo carriers in the United States, Africa and elsewhere.

Already lagging in coronavirus vaccinations, Africa risks becoming collateral damage in the supply wars. The International Monetary Fund says the 45 nations of sub-Saharan Africa are mired in the slowest economic recovery of any region, with supply chain disruptions helping fuel inflation at roughly twice its pre-pandemic level.

“Africa, sadly, I can’t think of any other continent that is last on the rung. Africa will be the last to come out of this,” [Aditya] Awtani said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Africa, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Kenya

(NYT) The End of a Return-to-Office Date

The executives had a good feeling about Jan. 10, 2022 — the date when DocuSign’s 7,000 employees worldwide would finally come back to work.

This deadline wouldn’t be like that earlier one in May 2020, which was always a fantasy, or August 2020, which was a bit ambitious, or October 2021, a plan derailed by the Delta variant. Fourth time’s the charm.

“Every time we delay this we’re pushing off the inevitable,” said Joan Burke, the chief people officer, in a late November interview. “At some point in time DocuSign is going to be open.”

That some point in time is no longer in January. The Omicron variant interjected. Just as companies from Ford Motor to Lyft have done in the past week, DocuSign postponed again. In place of a new date came the company’s promise to “reassess our plans as 2022 unfolds.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

Elon Musk Named Times person of the year for 2021

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, History, Science & Technology

Gallup Chairman’s blog–Bet on It: 37% of Desks Will Be Empty

I recently asked a team of our advanced analysts to establish an over/under for how many U.S. employees will not be returning to the office full time in the future.

Here are some key facts I learned from them. There are 125 million full-time jobs in America. Of those, right at 50% — or about 60 million — report that their current job can be done remotely working from home. We interviewed a representative sample of them.

The research design included organizations ranging from accounting firms where all employees can work from home (WFH) to construction companies where 10% of employees are in corporate backrooms and can also work remotely. The sample includes everyone from any kind of organization who believes they can do their work from home.

Of those 60 million potential WFH employees, a staggering 30% said they would prefer to “never” come into the office during the week. Ten percent (10%) said they prefer working all five days in the office. The middle 60% want a blend of one to four days per week. The most common preference was two to three days in the office per week.

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Posted in Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT front page) A Slow-Motion Climate Disaster in Brazil: The Spread of Barren Land

CARNAÚBA DOS DANTAS, Brazil — The land has sustained the Dantas family for more than 150 years, bearing fields of cotton, beanstalks up to a grown man’s hip and, when it rained enough, a river that led to a waterfall.

But on a recent day, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the river had run dry, the crops would not grow and the family’s 30 remaining cattle were quickly consuming the last pool of water.

“Fifty years from now, there won’t be a soul living here,” said Inácio Batista Dantas, 80, balanced in a frayed hammock. “I tell my grandchildren that things are going to get very difficult.”

His granddaughter, Hellena, 16, listened in — and pushed back. She grew up here. “I plan to work this land,” she said.

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Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(The Economist) How to manage the Great Resignation–High staff churn is here to stay. Retention strategies require a rethink

The spike in staff departures known as the Great Resignation is centred on America: a record 3% of the workforce there quit their jobs in September. But employees in other places are also footloose. Resignations explain why job-to-job moves in Britain reached a record high in the third quarter of this year.

Some of the churn is transitory. It was hard to act on pent-up job dissatisfaction while economies were in free fall, so there is a post-pandemic backlog of job switches to clear. And more quitting now is not the same as sustained job-hopping later. As Melissa Swift of Mercer, a consultancy, notes, white-collar workers in search of higher purpose will choose a new employer carefully and stay longer.

But there is also reason to believe that higher rates of churn are here to stay. The prevalence of remote working means that more roles are plausible options for more jobseekers. And the pandemic has driven home the precariousness of life at the bottom of the income ladder. Resignation rates are highest in industries, like hospitality, that are full of low-wage workers who have lots of potentially risky face-to-face contact with colleagues and customers.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(Bloomberg) Disney+ Omits ‘The Simpsons’ Tiananmen Episode in Hong Kong

On Disney+, which launched in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, episodes 11 and 13 of season 16 are viewable in the Chinese territory, but not episode 12, which first aired in 2005. That episode was available over the weekend in Singapore, where Disney+ launched earlier this year.

“This is the first notable time an American streaming giant has censored content in Hong Kong,” said Kenny Ng, an associate professor specializing in film censorship at Hong Kong Baptist University.

“Basically, the whole story is for streaming companies to be more tailored to a Chinese audience and to not offend the Chinese government,” he added. “This is likely to continue in the future with more companies with financial interests in China.”

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Posted in China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television

(C of E) Transition Pathway Initiative energy report finds only 1 in 10 companies are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C

The first annual analysis of major energy company transition plans to be released since COP26 has found that only 1 in 10 are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C.

This energy sector report is the first to feature TPI’s 1.5°C benchmark which assesses corporate targets against the IEA’s pathway to keep to 1.5°C of warming.

TPI assessed 140 of the largest energy companies (76 electric utilities, 58 oil & gas, 6 diversified miners involved in coal mining) on ‘Carbon Performance’ finding that 10% were aligned with a pathway to keeping global warming to 1.5°C, and a further 24% were aligned with a ‘Below 2°C’ pathway.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Economist) Adventure Capitalism

Vladimir Lenin believed that a tiny vanguard could, through force of will, harness historical forces to transform how global capitalism works. He was right. However, the revolutionaries have not been bearded Bolsheviks but a few thousand investors, mostly based in Silicon Valley, running less than 2% of the world’s institutional assets. In the past five decades, the venture-capital (vc) industry has funded enterprising ideas that have gone on to transform global business and the world economy. Seven of the world’s ten largest firms were vc-backed. vc money has financed the companies behind search engines, iPhones, electric cars and mrna vaccines.

Now capitalism’s dream machine is itself being scaled up and transformed, as an unprecedented $450bn of fresh cash floods into the vc scene. This turbocharging of the venture world brings significant risks, from egomaniacal founders torching cash to pension pots being squandered on overvalued startups. But in the long run it also promises to make the industry more global, to funnel risk capital into a wider range of industries, and to make vc more accessible to ordinary investors. A larger pool of capital chasing a bigger universe of ideas will boost competition, and is likely to boost innovation, leading to a more dynamic form of capitalism.

The vc scene has its roots in the 1960s and has been a misfit in the financial world. In contrast to Wall Street’s suits, sophistication and Hamptons mansions, it prefers fleeces, nerdiness and Californian villas. Its distinctiveness is also a matter of intellectual emphasis. As mainstream finance has grown bigger, more quantitative and more preoccupied with slicing and dicing the cashflows of mature firms and assets, vc has remained a cottage industry that cuts against the grain, seeking to find and finance entrepreneurs who are too callow or strange to sit in a room with staid bankers, and ideas that are too novel for mbas to capture in financial models.

The results have been striking. Despite investing relatively modest amounts over the decades, America’s vc funds have seeded firms that are today worth at least $18trn of the total public market.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(NYT) Contending With the Pandemic, Wealthy Nations Wage Global Battle for Migrants

As the global economy heats up and tries to put the pandemic aside, a battle for the young and able has begun. With fast-track visas and promises of permanent residency, many of the wealthy nations driving the recovery are sending a message to skilled immigrants all over the world: Help wanted. Now.

In Germany, where officials recently warned that the country needs 400,000 new immigrants a year to fill jobs in fields ranging from academia to air-conditioning, a new Immigration Act offers accelerated work visas and six months to visit and find a job.

Canada plans to give residency to 1.2 million new immigrants by 2023. Israel recently finalized a deal to bring health care workers from Nepal. And in Australia, where mines, hospitals and pubs are all short-handed after nearly two years with a closed border, the government intends to roughly double the number of immigrants it allows into the country over the next year.

The global drive to attract foreigners with skills, especially those that fall somewhere between physical labor and a physics Ph.D., aims to smooth out a bumpy emergence from the pandemic.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(NYT front page) When Some Are Back in the Office, and the Rest Are Still in PJs

For months, the putt-putt course sat unused. The beanbag chairs lay empty. The kitchen whiteboard, above where the keg used to live, displayed in fading marker “Beers on Tap” from a happy hour in March 2020.

But on a recent weekday, over in the common area was a sign of life — fresh bagels.

As employees at the financial technology start-up CommonBond got Covid vaccines, and grew stir-crazy in their apartments, they started trickling back into the office.

“We call it Work From Work Wednesday,” said Keryn Koch, who runs human resources at the company, which has 15,000 square feet of sunlit SoHo real estate.

At one point, autumn had been billed across corporate America as the Great Office Reopening. The Delta variant intervened, and mandatory return-to-office plans turned optional. Still, many people chose to report back to their desks: The share of employed people who worked remotely at some point during the month because of Covid, which had peaked in May 2020 at 35 percent, dropped in October to 11 percent, the lowest point since the pandemic began, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Science & Technology

(FT) Stay or sell? The $110tn investment industry gets tougher on climate

The Church of England too is ditching stocks over climate concerns, even if Joffe says she believes that “having a seat at the table” is generally more effective. Last year, the church’s two investment bodies restricted investments in companies including Berkshire Hathaway and Korea Electric Power Corp over climate change concerns.

Joffe says a tougher approach, involving activism and divestment, “will have to become more mainstream”, especially if asset managers and asset owners are to meet their net zero commitments.

For companies, this means a tougher time from shareholders, says Tom Matthews, a partner who specialises in corporate activism at White and Case. He adds the “narrative around climate change has shifted significantly versus where it was in 2015”, when the Paris agreement was signed. “We’re seeing companies getting targeted because they haven’t woken up quickly enough.”

As for Aviva Investors, Baig says he believes the UK asset manager will end up selling out of at least some of the companies it is targeting because they are not making progress quick enough. “We have to be bold enough to walk way,” he says.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Stock Market

(Guardian) Cop26: world on track for disastrous heating of more than 2.4C, says key report

The world is on track for disastrous levels of global heating far in excess of the limits in the Paris climate agreement, despite a flurry of carbon-cutting pledges from governments at the UN Cop26 summit.

Temperature rises will top 2.4C by the end of this century, based on the short-term goals countries have set out, according to research published in Glasgow on Tuesday.

That would far exceed the 2C upper limit the Paris accord said the world needed to stay “well below”, and the much safer 1.5C limit aimed for at the Cop26 talks.

At that level, widespread extreme weather – sea-level rises, drought, floods, heatwaves and fiercer storms – would cause devastation across the globe.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(NYT front page) Climate Talks Bring Promises Slim on Detail

The international climate summit here has been billed by its chief organizer as the “last, best hope” to save the planet. But as the United Nations conference enters its second week and negotiators from 197 countries knuckle down to finalize a new agreement to tackle global warming, attendees were sharply divided over how much progress is being made.

There’s the optimistic view: Heads of state and titans of industry showed up in force last week with splashy new climate promises, a sign that momentum was building in the right direction.

“I believe what is happening here is far from business as usual,” said John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy on climate change, who has been attending U.N. climate summits since 1992. “I have never counted as many initiatives and as much real money — real money — being put on the table….”

Then there’s the pessimistic view: All these gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. And that’s still lacking. Or, as the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg put it, the conference has mostly consisted of “blah, blah, blah.”

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Posted in --Scotland, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology

([London] Times) A Chance for Christians to put their faith in wealth creation

Some Christians may think that the words “faith” and “wealth creation” are incompatible, but Matt Bird isn’t one of them. Last year the social entrepreneur called on Britain’s churches to start businesses and to encourage their parishioners to do the same. Now Bird, founder and chief executive of Nayba, the Christian charity, wants them to go a step further.

“A food parcel can sustain a person and their family for a few days, but a small business can sustain it indefinitely,” he said. “The Church often over-spiritualises and underplays practical answers to community needs. I believe that the ability to start a business is a God-given gift and that we should encourage the Church to do this as a way of serving the community.”

He wrote his column in The Times in January 2021 — headlined “It’s time for faith-driven entrepreneurs to emerge” — expecting to be “shot down in flames” for suggesting that the Church should get involved in profit-making. Instead, he has been inundated with inquiries from churches nationwide eager to help people to become entrepreneurs. He rapidly formulated his ideas into a book and a month later published The Spirit of Enterprise: Helping entrepreneurs transform neighbourhoods on Amazon.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture

(FT) Alphabet launches AI company to discover new drugs

Google owner Alphabet has launched an artificial intelligence company to discover new drugs.

UK-registered Isomorphic Labs will use technology from its sister company DeepMind “to accelerate drug discovery, and ultimately, find cures for some of humanity’s most devastating diseases,” said Demis Hassabis, the head of DeepMind, in a blog post. He added that he would also become the chief executive of Isomorphic Labs.

Scientists around the world were awed in July when DeepMind unveiled how its AlphaFold2 technology could be used to predict the shape of every protein in the human body with almost perfect accuracy.

DeepMind’s model can solve one of the trickiest problems in biology by taking a sequence of amino acids and mapping the twists and turns of its shape. The algorithm could help replace or enhance painstaking laboratory work to identify the structures of proteins, which dictate how they behave.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(C of E) Church Commissioners among leading financial institutions to commit to actively tackle deforestation

More than 30 leading financial institutions, representing over US$ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, including the Church Commissioners for England, have committed to tackle agricultural commodity-driven deforestation as part of broader efforts to drive the global shift towards sustainable production and nature-based solutions.

Ending deforestation and implementing natural climate solutions could provide a third of the solution to achieving the Paris climate target, help halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and support human rights and food security.

With most deforestation driven by unsustainable production practices for palm oil, soy, cattle products and pulp and paper, resulting in more carbon emissions annually than the EU, action on these commodities is particularly urgent, which is the focus of the commitment made today.

Today’s commitment – to use best efforts to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven tropical deforestation from portfolios by 2025 – is clear evidence of the increasing awareness of the systemic risks and associated actions needed to address deforestation related to production of these commodities and accelerate the transition to sustainable commodity production.

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Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(NYT) At Cop26 A pledge to end deforestation aims to protect ‘the lungs of our planet.’

In a sweeping accord aimed at protecting the world’s forests, which are crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global warming, leaders of more than 100 countries gathered in Glasgow vowed on Tuesday to end deforestation by 2030.

President Biden said the United States would contribute billions to the global effort to protect the ecosystems that are vital for cleaning the air we breathe and the water we drink, and keeping the Earth’s climate in balance.

The pact — which includes countries like Brazil, Russia, China and the United States — encompasses about 85 percent of the world’s forests, officials said.

“These great teeming ecosystems — these cathedrals of nature,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said in announcing the agreement, “are the lungs of our planet.”

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Stewardship

The Church of England launches consultation on plans to get to net zero carbon in just nine years as new Synod prepares to meet

The Church of England is to consult dioceses, cathedrals, national institutions, parishes, schools, and other interested parties on a proposed routemap to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, as papers are published for November’s inaugural meeting of a new General Synod.

The draft routemap, published among today’s General Synod papers, suggests how all parts of the Church of England can make changes together to achieve the ambitious target set by General Synod in 2020 to be net zero carbon 20 years ahead of the Government’s targets.

It includes recommendations for building maintenance, heating and the availability of specialist advice for each setting alongside how the central Church and dioceses can offer support.

The newly elected Synod will be formally inaugurated on Tuesday November 16 at the start of a two-day meeting.

Items on the agenda include a debate on the wealth gap in the UK and discussions about Church matters including the recent review of governance and the development of a new vision and strategy for the Church of England in the 2020s and beyond.

That includes an ambitious goal to double the number of children and young people in churches.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

Church Commissioners for England voice the need for a Just Transition ahead of COP26

Since becoming founding members of the Financing a Just Transition Alliance in 2020, the Church Commissioners for England and Church of England Pensions Board have been active in identifying concrete steps that the financial sector can take to ensure that no-one is left behind as part of the transition to a low carbon economy.

This engagement with high carbon emitting investee companies has focussed on the issue of a Just Transition, ensuring that workers and communities are not left behind and are appropriately supported in the low-carbon transition.

Each company was actively considering how to address and achieve a Just Transition. However, their approaches varied greatly depending on factors such as location, developed versus emerging market, relationship with unions, governance, company size, status as local or international company, and ability to transfer and reskill employees within their own operations. For example, one company that the Commissioners is engaging with is training the operators of coal-fired facilities in a developing country to work in the fishing industry.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(NYT) Rising Prices, Once Seen as Temporary, Threaten Biden’s Agenda

At least once a week, a team of President Biden’s top advisers meet on Zoom to address the nation’s supply chain crisis. They discuss ways to relieve backlogs at America’s ports, ramp up semiconductor production for struggling automakers and swell the ranks of truck drivers.

The conversations are aimed at one goal: taming accelerating price increases that are hurting the economic recovery, unsettling American consumers and denting Mr. Biden’s popularity.

An inflation surge is presenting a fresh challenge for Mr. Biden, who for months insisted that rising prices were a temporary hangover from the pandemic recession and would quickly recede. Instead, the president and his aides are now bracing for high inflation to persist into next year, with Americans continuing to see faster — and sustained — increases in prices for food, gasoline and other consumer goods than at any point this century.

That reality has complicated Mr. Biden’s push for sweeping legislation to boost workers, expand access to education and fight poverty and climate change. And it is dragging on the president’s approval ratings, which could threaten Democrats’ already tenuous hold on Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Politics in General, President Joe Biden

(Philadelphia Inquirer front page) Record number of people quit jobs as priorities shift

The number of people quitting their jobs has surged to record highs, pushed by a combination of factors that include Americans sensing ample opportunity and better pay elsewhere.

Some 4.3 million people quit jobs in August — about 2.9 percent of the workforce, according to new data released Tuesday from the Labor Department. Those numbers are up from the previous record, set in April, of about 4 million people quitting, reflecting how the pandemic has continued to jolt workers’ mind-set about their jobs and their lives.

The phenomenon is being driven in part by workers who are less willing to endure inconvenient hours and poor compensation, who are quitting instead to find better opportunities. According to the report, there were 10.4 million job openings in the country at the end of August — down slightly from July’s record high, which was adjusted up to 11.1 million, but still a tremendously high number. This gives workers enormous leverage as they look for a better fit.

The implications of this shift could be long-lasting.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NYT) ‘It’s Not Sustainable’: What America’s Port Crisis Looks Like Up Close

Like toy blocks hurled from the heavens, nearly 80,000 shipping containers are stacked in various configurations at the Port of Savannah — 50 percent more than usual.

The steel boxes are waiting for ships to carry them to their final destination, or for trucks to haul them to warehouses that are themselves stuffed to the rafters. Some 700 containers have been left at the port, on the banks of the Savannah River, by their owners for a month or more.

“They’re not coming to get their freight,” complained Griff Lynch, the executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority. “We’ve never had the yard as full as this.”

As he speaks, another vessel glides silently toward an open berth — the 1,207-foot-long Yang Ming Witness, its decks jammed with containers full of clothing, shoes, electronics and other stuff made in factories in Asia. Towering cranes soon pluck the thousands of boxes off the ship — more cargo that must be stashed somewhere.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Globalization

(BBC) Historic go-ahead for malaria vaccine to protect African children

Children across much of Africa are to be vaccinated against malaria in a historic moment in the fight against the deadly disease.

Malaria has been one of the biggest scourges on humanity for millennia and mostly kills babies and infants.

Having a vaccine – after more than a century of trying – is among medicine’s greatest achievements.

The vaccine – called RTS,S – was proven effective six years ago.

Now, after the success of pilot immunisation programmes in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, the World Health Organization says the vaccine should be rolled out across sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission.

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Posted in Africa, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(NYT) The End of a ‘Gilded Age’: China Is Bringing Business to Heel

Chinese tech companies are reeling from regulation. Nervous creditors are hoping for a bailout for China’s largest developer. Growing numbers of executives are going to jail. An entire industry is shutting down.

For China’s leader, Xi Jinping, it’s all part of the plan.

Under Mr. Xi, China is reshaping how business works and limiting executives’ power. Long in coming, but rapid in execution, the policies are driven by a desire for state control and self-reliance as well as concerns about debt, inequality and influence by foreign countries, including the United States.

Emboldened by swelling nationalism and his success with Covid-19, Mr. Xi is remaking China’s business world in his own image. Above all else, that means control. Where once executives had a green light to grow at any cost, officials now want to dictate which industries boom, which ones bust and how it happens. And the changes offer a glimpse of Mr. Xi’s vision for managing the economy, ahead of a political meeting expected to solidify his plans for an unprecedented third term in charge.

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Posted in China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(NYT front page) Inflation Warning Signs Flash Red, Posing Challenge for Washington

The Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation climbed in August at the quickest pace in 30 years, data released on Friday showed, keeping policymakers on edge as evidence mounts that rapidly rising prices are poised to last longer than practically any of them had expected earlier this year.

The numbers come at a pivotal moment, as inflationary warning signals abound. Used car prices show signs of picking up again, costs for raw goods like cotton and crude oil are increasing and companies continue to experience pain from persistent supply chain disruptions.

That is stoking fears in Washington and on Wall Street that although rapid price gains will eventually fade, the adjustment could drag on for months. A longer burst of inflation raises the chances that consumers will change their expectations and behavior, paving the way for more permanent price increases.

It is a high-stakes juncture for policymakers. The Fed is preparing to withdraw some of its support for the economy soon, but it would prefer to do so only gradually, given the millions of Americans who remain out of work. The White House is trying to pass two big policy packages at the core of President Biden’s economic agenda, and Republicans have begun wielding every new inflation data point as an argument against more federal spending.

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, House of Representatives, Politics in General, President Joe Biden, Senate, The U.S. Government

(NYT) ‘Everything Going the Wrong Way’: Dollar Stores Hit a Pandemic Downturn

But dollar stores are not as well equipped for the surreal economy of today, when workers like Ms. Beadling are quitting in protest and a single coronavirus case on a container ship can cause a two-month delay in getting Chinese-made merchandise to the United States.

“This is another case of the pandemic laying bare the underlying vulnerabilities in how we’ve set up our economy,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an advocacy group that is critical of many large corporate retailers.

While just about every retailer is dealing with shipping and distribution problems, the dollar stores may have difficulty passing on the increased costs to price-sensitive customers.

Dollar Tree said it expected as much as $200 million in additional freight costs this year.

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Health & Medicine