About David Lindsay Jr

David Lindsay is the author of "The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth- Century Vietnam," that covers a bloody civil war from 1770 to 1802. Find more about it at TheTaySonRebellion.com, also known as, DavidLindsayJr.com. David Lindsay is currently writing about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction., as well as singing and performing a "folk concert" on Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction. He can be reached at daljr37(at)gmail.com.

The Woman Who Made Jo van Gogh-Bonger – The New York Times

“In 1885, a 22-year-old Dutch woman named Johanna Bonger met Theo van Gogh, the younger brother of the artist, who was then making a name for himself as an art dealer in Paris. History knows Theo as the steadier of the van Gogh brothers, the archetypal emotional anchor, who selflessly managed Vincent’s erratic path through life, but he had his share of impetuosity. He asked her to marry him after only two meetings.

Jo, as she called herself, was raised in a sober, middle-class family. Her father, the editor of a shipping newspaper that reported on things like the trade in coffee and spices from the Far East, imposed a code of propriety and emotional aloofness on his children. There is a Dutch maxim, “The tallest nail gets hammered down,” that the Bonger family seems to have taken as gospel. Jo had set herself up in a safely unexciting career as an English teacher in Amsterdam. She wasn’t inclined to impulsiveness. Besides, she was already dating somebody. She said no.

But Theo persisted. He was attractive in a soulful kind of way — a thinner, paler version of his brother. Beyond that, she had a taste for culture, a desire to be in the company of artists and intellectuals, which he could certainly provide. Eventually he won her over. In 1888, a year and a half after his proposal, she agreed to marry him. After that, a new life opened up for her. It was Paris in the belle epoque: art, theater, intellectuals, the streets of their Pigalle neighborhood raucous with cafes and brothels. Theo was not just any art dealer. He was at the forefront, specializing in the breed of young artists who were defying the stony realism imposed by the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Most dealers wouldn’t touch the Impressionists, but they were Theo van Gogh’s clients and heroes. And here they came, Gauguin and Pissarro and Toulouse-Lautrec, the young men of the avant-garde, marching through her life with the exotic ferocity of zoo creatures.” . . .

” . . . Twenty-one months after her marriage, Jo was alone, stunned at the fecund dose of life she had just experienced, and at what was left to her from that life: approximately 400 paintings and several hundred drawings by her brother-in-law.

The brothers’ dying so young, Vincent at 37 and Theo at 33, and without the artist having achieved renown — Theo had managed to sell only a few of his paintings — would seem to have ensured that Vincent van Gogh’s work would subsist eternally in a netherworld of obscurity. Instead, his name, art and story merged to form the basis of an industry that stormed the globe, arguably surpassing the fame of any other artist in history. That happened in large part thanks to Jo van Gogh-Bonger. She was small in stature and riddled with self-doubt, had no background in art or business and faced an art world that was a thoroughly male preserve. Her full story has only recently been uncovered. It is only now that we know how van Gogh became van Gogh.” . . .

Big Oil laggard Exxon faces a new climate threat from Wall Street

SHAREShare Article via FacebookShare Article via TwitterShare Article via LinkedInShare Article via Email
KEY POINTS
  • Exxon Mobil has been a laggard in the oil and gas sector and has seen its market value decline by hundreds of billions of dollars.
  • Pension giant CalSTRS is supporting a new activist fund effort to replace Exxon board members.
  • Activists see this as a perfect time to seek short-term value creation in a better run company as well as more long-term support from investors if the company becomes clearer about its climate plan.

In this article

VIDEO05:41
CalSTRS’s Chris Ailman on calling for company overhaul at Exxon Mobil

Exxon Mobil is poised for a new role in a changing world it doesn’t want: target and test case for a new form of combined attack from activist hedge funds and long-term impact investors focused on sustainability and climate change. A newly formed activist investor group, Engine No. 1, announced plans on Monday to seek four board seats at the oil and gas giant, and underlying the effort are both short-term and long-term goals to change the way Exxon approaches the energy business at a time of rapid transition forced by fears about carbon emissions.

The activist firm — which includes founders from successful activist hedge funds including Partner Fund Management and JANA Partners — thinks the time is ripe for an overhaul of Exxon’s management. The market stats cited in its letter to Exxon’s board highlight a significant drop in operating performance and “dramatic” decline in Exxon’s stock value in recent years as many investors have lost faith in the company.

Source: Big Oil laggard Exxon faces a new climate threat from Wall Street

Exxon faces proxy fight launched by new activist firm Engine No. 1 | Reuters

“(Reuters) -A new investment firm is taking aim at one of corporate America’s most iconic brands, pressing energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp to overhaul itself by focusing more on clean energy to improve its financial performance.

Engine No. 1 is being supported by pension fund California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) as it pushes the battered energy company, valued at $176 billion, to spend its cash better, preserve its dividend, and refresh its board.

“The industry and the world it operates in are changing and … Exxon Mobil must change as well,” Engine No. 1 wrote to Exxon’s board, adding “given the company’s long-running underperformance and the challenges it faces, it is time for shareholders to weigh in.”

Exxon is reviewing the hedge fund’s letter, an Exxon spokesman said.

The U.S. oil company this year reversed course on a massive oil and gas expansion program, cutting 30% from its spending plan and proposing a budget next year that is $4 billion to $7 billion below its outlays this year. It also plans to reduce its workforce by 14,000 people over the next two years as losses this year reached $2.37 billion.

Engine No. 1 faces a tough road. Exxon has beaten back past activist efforts to change its climate stance and to split the roles of chairman and chief executive.

But industry analysts also said the time may be right for traditional activists’ interest to overlap with climate activists’ interest and force Exxon to act. “There is a need for a fairly active reset right now,” said Andrew Logan, senior director of oil and gas at Ceres, a non profit organization that works with institutional investors and companies. “Everyone starts at the bottom of the hill with Exxon but Engine No. 1’s director nominees is not a list of flaky people.”

The activist investment firm, launched last week by two hedge fund industry veterans, said it plans to nominate four directors to Exxon’s 10-person board who have expertise in clean technology and running energy companies: Gregory Goff, Kaisa Hietala, Alexander Karsner, and Anders Runevad.

“Exxon’s refusal to adequately address climate risk is of serious concern to many shareholders and is a sign of significant governance issues. The company’s board needs overhauling. We’re looking forward to reviewing the slate of new directors,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, whose fund owns a roughly $300 million stake, according to Refinitiv data.” . . .

Source: Exxon faces proxy fight launched by new activist firm Engine No. 1 | Reuters

Thomas L. Friedman | We Need a High Wall With a Big Gate on the Southern Border – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Rafal Milach/Magnum Photos

“After reading as much as I can about the latest surge in illegal immigration along our southern border, I’m still not clear how much is seasonal, how much is triggered by President Biden’s announcement that he was halting construction of Donald Trump’s border wall and reviewing Trump’s asylum policies, and how much is just the lure of jobs in a rapidly vaccinating United States.

But this latest flood of illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers — more than 170,000 apprehended in March alone, including thousands of children, mostly fleeing chaos in Central America — only reinforces my view that the right border policy is a high wall with a big gate.

I wish we could take in everyone suffering in the world and give each a shot at the American dream, but we can’t while maintaining our own social cohesion, which is already fraying badly enough. So, making immigration policy today requires a tough-minded balance between hardheartedness and compassion.

If we just emphasize the high wall, and wear cruelty as a badge of honor, as Trump did, we lose out on the huge benefits of immigration. But if all we do is focus, as many on the left do, on the evils of a wall and ignore the principles of a big gate — that would-be immigrants and asylum-seekers need to get in line, ring our doorbell and enter legally, and those who don’t should be quickly evicted — we will also lose out on the huge benefits of immigration.

Why? Because so many Americans will think that the border is open and out of control that they will elect leaders who will choke off all immigration, which is the lifeblood of our country. Have no doubt, a seemingly out-of-control border would be a godsend for the Trump G.O.P. — an emotional club even more evocative than the mantra “Defund the police” with which to beat Democratic candidates in the midterms.

Already, a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that 57 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the border.”   . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Bravo and thank you Thomas Friedman. I strongly second this opinion piece. Joe Biden is doing a great job on many fronts. Since I think climate change is an existential threat, Joe Biden gets my support for taking this giant threat seriously. But I, like most Americans, want to end illegal immigration, and see a regulated immigration system that serves the needs and desires of the country. Biden will be handing the government back to the Republican party of Trump, and the anti-science modern versions of the know nothings and white supremacists set back by Abraham Lincoln. I expect Friedman understands that his high wall, is really a hardened wall, which isn’t always a physical wall at all. There are plenty of technologies and policy choices to harden the border, without the environmental degredation of a physical wall. I would add to his list of ideas, that we amend the 14th amendment to do away with automatic citizenship for even illegals and tourists born here. We need to expand our guest worker program, so that guest workers are not exploited by rapacious employers. We need to clean up this poitical hot potato of illegal immigration, so we can focus on the host of other problems that threaten the United States and the world.

Paul Krugman | America Needs to Empower Workers Again – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…William C. Shrout/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

“Labor activists hoped that the unionization vote at Amazon’s Bessemer, Ala., warehouse would be a turning point, a reversal in the decades-long trend of union decline. What the vote showed, instead, was the continuing effectiveness of the tactics employers have repeatedly used to defeat organizing efforts.

But union advocates shouldn’t give up. The political environment that gave anti-union employers a free hand may be changing — the decline of unionization was, above all, political, not a necessary consequence of a changing economy. And America needs a union revival if we’re to have any hope of reversing spiraling inequality.

Let’s start by talking about why union membership declined in the first place, and why it’s still possible to hope for a revival.

America used to have a powerful labor movement. Union membership soared between 1934 and the end of World War II. During the 1950s roughly a third of nonagricultural workers were union members. As late as 1980 unions still represented around a quarter of the work force. And strong unions had a big impact even on nonunion workers, setting pay norms and putting nonunion employers on notice that they had to treat their workers relatively well lest they face an organizing drive.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
My teacher Paul Krugman leaves me unimpressed today. Some unions are desparately needed, but others, especially police unions, and some fire unions, are too strong, and almost criminal in their overreach and protection of bad cops, etc. I remember when Reagan broke up the air traffic controllers strike, and I agreed with Reagan on that call. They had the power to blackmail the public for as much as they could image, and it didn’t seem right. What was to stop them from asking for more every year? The bad unions have given the movement a bad reputation. Ignoring that history, and the ongoing crisis with over powerful police unions, doesn’t help fix the public’s distast for unions. I am with FDR, who apparently said the police and civil service should not be allowed to join unions, because they would grow to strong, and were already on the public’s tab.

 

Eric J. Topol | Coronavirus Variants Don’t Need to Be Scary – The New York Times

Dr. Topol is a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research and served on the advisory board of the Covid Tracking Project.

Credit…Ashley Gilbertson/VII, for The New York Times

“News about emerging coronavirus variants can sound scary to a public not accustomed to genomic jargon. But viruses undergo mutations frequently, both within infected people and as they travel from one person to another. That’s why it’s important to remember this (modified) adage: All variants are innocent until proven guilty.

The coronavirus responsible for the pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, has nearly 30,000 bases, or nucleotides. As the virus evolves and spreads from host to host, some of these bases change. If just 20 bases changed, that would yield more than a trillion possible variants different from the strain responsible for the first outbreak. Of the 136 million confirmed Covid-19 cases in the world to date, one million individuals have had their virus sequenced. And of those one million sequences, scientists have been concerned about only a handful of variants, because they are more infectious, cause more severe illness or partly evade our immune response or all of the above.

In other words: Hundreds of thousands of sequences have not been associated with substantive changes in the virus’s behavior. These changes can help scientists track how and where the virus is spreading, but they have no medical significance.” . . .

Opinion | Trump Abandoned the Climate. This Is Biden’s Moment. – The New York Times

“On April 22, Earth Day, the leaders of more than three dozen countries, among them 17 nations responsible for four-fifths of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases, will convene at a virtual summit. The purpose is to discuss where the world goes from here on climate change and what each country must do to limit Earth’s warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels — a threshold beyond which scientists predict irreversible environmental damage.

All eyes will be on the person who organized the summit, President Biden. It is a bit melodramatic to call this a moment of truth for Mr. Biden, but it is a critically important moment for a new president who has promised to reclaim a leadership role for America on a pressing global issue that his predecessor foolishly abandoned. Likewise for a president who has pledged to make America’s economy carbon-neutral by midcentury and who has said he will work tirelessly to persuade other major economies to do the same. The ideas he presents must therefore be not only ambitious but also credible.

Anyone with the energy to slog through acres of verbiage will find the elements of a plausible strategy embedded in his $2 trillion recovery plan. The plan is not exactly what his energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, enthusiastically described as a “once in a century” chance to reinvent America’s energy delivery system. (One would hope for more such moments in this century.) But it offers a great deal more than one would deduce from the reactions of left-of-center groups. The Center for Biological Diversity, for instance, complained about the plan’s “gimmicky subsidies,” its fealty to free markets and its failure to end oil and gas drilling much more quickly.

The plan has many moving parts, two of which are transformative. One is aimed at reducing emissions from cars and trucks, America’s biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Mr. Biden is betting heavily on electric vehicles, which today make up only 2 percent of the vehicles on the road. To “win the E.V. market,” as he put it (China being the main competitor), he proposes $174 billion to build half a million charging stations along the highways — a small fraction of what will be needed, but a good start — plus an array of tax credits aimed at persuading manufacturers to make E.V.s and equip them with batteries that can be recharged as quickly as one can fill up a tank of gas. Also, point-of-sale credits to get people to buy the finished products.”

Biden’s American Jobs Plan Prioritizes Renewable Infrastructure Investment Opportunities | Locke Lord LLP – JDSupra

“The American Jobs Plan and Made in America Tax Plan (the “Plan”), announced by the Biden Administration on March 31, 2021, place heavy emphasis on renewable energy, electrical grid improvements, and climate change-related carbon reductions. In addition to transportation infrastructure repairs, the Plan prioritizes investment in renewable and clean energy technologies.

Roughly $800 billion of the $2 trillion plan directly or indirectly increases investment in renewable energy, electric grid improvement, and climate change mitigation through investments in:

  • Electric vehicles and associated Infrastructure ($174 billion)
  • Public infrastructure resilience to withstand climate disasters  ($50 billion)
  • Clean energy research and development ($180 billion)
  • Electricity grid improvements ($100 billion)
  • Advancement of clean energy manufacturing and technology ($300 billion)

The Plan also proposes a ten-year extension and phase down of an expanded direct-pay production tax credits (“PTCs”) and investment tax credits (“ITCs”) for clean energy generation and storage, continuing the federal incentive to continue solar and wind development through 2031.” . . .

Source: Biden’s American Jobs Plan Prioritizes Renewable Infrastructure Investment Opportunities | Locke Lord LLP – JDSupra

How did 246 ‘fully vaccinated’ people still get COVID-19? – Poynter

“Researchers are trying to figure out how 246 fully vaccinated Michiganders contracted the coronavirus — including three who died — from January to March.

“These are individuals who have had a positive test 14 or more days after the last dose in the vaccine series,” said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the state health department.

It may turn out that some of the people were infected before they were vaccinated, and the infection still showed up.

“These cases are undergoing further review to determine if they meet other (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) criteria for determination of potential breakthrough, including the absence of a positive antigen or PCR test less than 45 days prior to the post-vaccination positive test,” Sutfin said.

The Washington Post reports that these so-called breakthrough cases are drawing the CDC’s attention:

The precise number of these breakthrough cases is unknown, but figures released by states suggest it is at least several thousand. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has had a team monitoring breakthrough infections since February, has partial data but has not made it public.

What about the people who died? Again, health officials say, don’t jump to conclusions that there is a link to the vaccines. The Detroit Free Press reports that the three fully vaccinated people who died were all age 65 and older. Two of them were within three weeks of full vaccination.

The Washington Post quotes Dr. Anthony Fauci, who says he is not overly concerned by these reports of breakthrough cases, but that they deserve investigation:

There is no singular explanation for why the virus in rare cases is not neutralized by the vaccine-induced immune response. Infectious-disease experts say the human immune system is complicated, and some people may simply have a weak immune response to the vaccine. In this scenario, it’s not the vaccine that’s the wild card, it’s the patient.” . . .

” . . . The Michigan health department spokesperson says while most people get “full immunity” two weeks after their second shots, some people may take longer. The Free Press reports:

Although so-called vaccine breakthrough cases are extremely rare, and all three COVID-19 vaccines on the market are considered highly effective with efficacy rates ranging from 72% for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to 94% and 95% for Moderna’s and Pfizer’s, respectively, it can happen.

However, news of breakthrough cases should be taken into context, said Dr. Paul Thomas, a family medicine physician in Detroit who started Plum Health, a low-cost medical practice in Corktown.

People should keep in mind that the 246 breakthrough cases occurred among the more than 1.8 million Michiganders who are fully vaccinated, he said.

“That breaks down to 0.0144% of those who have gotten the vaccine have come down with a breakthrough infection,” Thomas said. “So that means that the vaccine is 99.99% effective in preventing infection.” ” . . .

Source: How did 246 ‘fully vaccinated’ people still get COVID-19? – Poynter

Wall Street Is Donating to Tali Farhadian Weinstein. Is That a Problem? – The New York Times

Even had she not raised more money than her rivals, Tali Farhadian Weinstein would be a formidable candidate in the nine-way race to become the Manhattan district attorney, perhaps the most high-profile local prosecutor’s office in the country.

She was a Rhodes scholar, has an elite legal résumé and is the only candidate who has worked for both the Justice Department and a city prosecutor’s office. And while most of the candidates are campaigning as reformers intent on reducing incarceration, Ms. Farhadian Weinstein, 45, has staked out a slightly more conservative position, expressing concerns about guns and gangs.

But what most sets Ms. Farhadian Weinstein apart from the field is her fund-raising. As of January, she had raised $2.2 million, far more than her competitors, hundreds of thousands of it from Wall Street, where her husband is a major hedge fund manager.

Her opponents, legal ethicists and good government advocates have raised questions about that support, pointing out that the Manhattan district attorney, by virtue of geography, has jurisdiction over a large number of financial crimes.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:l

Is there an established mechanism where this talented female lawyer could recuse herself, if a case involves one of her major donors? I just watched the Oliver Stone movie, Wall Street, with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, and it was an eye opener. Gordon Gecko teaches Bud Fox, that only good trade is more or less guaranteed by insider information. But I digress slightly. Ms. Weinstein has much more on her long resume, than just finacial support from a few rich friends who are hedge-fund investors.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net