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How NY Gov. Cuomo’s ‘apologies’ fail to recognize that power imbalances are at the root of sexual harassment

andrew cuomo
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • Andrew Cuomo has issued denials, defenses, and apologies in response to misconduct accusations.
  • His "I never intended" responses miss the point - that power is at the heart of sexual harassment.
  • Ending sexual harassment will require a critical rethinking of the distribution of workplace power.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

In recent weeks, multiple women have reported demeaning and sexualized workplace behavior by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In response, Cuomo has issued a combination of denials, defenses, and apologies.

Much of the public analysis of his statements has focused on the adequacy of these apologies - whether he took sufficient responsibility or expressed sufficient remorse.

Apologies deserve attention. They can help right wrongs and heal relationships.

Yet in the focus on apologies, an opportunity is missed to learn something about power. Power, after all, is at the heart of sexual harassment.

'Unwanted imposition'

As Catharine MacKinnon, the architect of modern sexual harassment law, has argued, sexual misconduct at work can be defined as "the unwanted imposition of sexual requirements in the context of a relationship of unequal power."

If responses like Cuomo's are viewed through a power-informed lens, different patterns emerge. In my own study of over 200 such statements, I found many references to the accused's own long careers, to their many professional accomplishments, and to their excellent reputations. In short, when challenged, the men in my study (and all but three were men) did what came naturally: They reached for their power.

This pattern is connected to another theme that I discovered in the statements I studied: repetition of explanations and defenses centered on the accused person's own subjective intent and perceptions.

"It's me being funny. I'm not trying to sexually harass people," for example, or "I come from a very different culture," or "I remember trying to kiss [her] as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual."

However, the accused's intentions, thoughts, or beliefs - so central in the statements I studied - are only peripheral under sexual harassment law.

Not a joke

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the main federal law that covers workplace discrimination and harassment, an employee may sue her employer when she has experienced severe or pervasive workplace harassment.

Severity and pervasiveness are judged subjectively, from the harassed person's point of view, and objectively, in the view of a theoretical "reasonable person." The law also requires that the conduct be unwelcomed by the harassed person.

Though different courts have interpreted these requirements differently around the edges, sexual harassment cases do not turn on whether the harasser thought his conduct was a joke, or culturally acceptable, or ritualized seduction.

Instead, the law's subjectivity and "welcomeness" requirements ask a superior - like Cuomo - to evaluate his own conduct from his subordinate's point of view. Superiors who want to avoid committing harassment to begin with (before anything gets to a judge, jury, or media story) need to step outside their own perspective.

This requires empathy. And the more power that a person wields in the workplace, the more difficult it may be to step outside one's own position and consider the circumstances from another person's perspective.

'I never intended'

Here's where Cuomo's responses are revealing.

In his first official statement, released on Feb. 28, 2021, out of 18 "I" statements, over half were versions of "I never intended," "I was being playful," or "I do, on occasion, tease people."

Cuomo followed suit in his press conference on March 3, repeating over and over variations on the "I never intended" or "I never knew" or "I didn't mean it that way" theme.

These statements suggest that, over his long career, Cuomo did not pay attention to the effects of his words and actions on his subordinates, and that the power of his position may have reinforced his heedlessness.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warns about just this type of scenario in its list of harassment risk factors: "High value employees may perceive themselves as exempt from workplace rules or immune from consequences of their misconduct." Workplaces with significant power imbalances, too, make the risk factor list.

If the movement sparked by #MeToo focuses only on taking down individual bad actors, it will leave intact the workplace structures that enable and protect the powerful - and that produce statements like Cuomo's. Ending sexual harassment requires a critical rethinking of workplace power, whether it flows from ownership of a company, management of an office, supervision of a shop floor, or the office of the governor.

Charlotte Alexander, associate professor of law and analytics, Georgia State University

The Conversation
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4 ways small businesses made changes during the pandemic to help boost their bottom line

small business owner man at bar restaurant
Small business owners are "persistent, innovative, and creative" when it comes to keeping their businesses afloat during the pandemic.
  • Many small businesses were forced to make adjustments during the pandemic.
  • These changes, such as increasing online presence and working remotely, have yielded strong benefits.
  • Owners were challenged to think outside the box and adapt quickly to keep their businesses afloat.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Now that a year has passed since COVID-19 first made itself known across the US, many small business owners are taking a step back to process how the virus has impacted their business models. It's no secret that it was a challenge to transform everyday practices into ones that met government mandates and kept people safe - but now, looking back, some entrepreneurs are recognizing that the changes they've implemented have helped their bottom line. Here's how.

Small businesses have upped their digital presence

One of the toughest barriers small businesses have faced over the past year has involved brick-and-mortar operations: Specifically, businesses have had to close to the public, reduce occupancy or implement changes like frequent sanitization in order to comply with state and municipal guidelines. In response to these challenges, many businesses rapidly shifted operations to the virtual realm. Companies that were previously on the fence about refreshing their landing pages or starting social media accounts finally bit the bullet; storefronts began debating their ecommerce options; and service-based businesses found "contactless" ways to help their customers. And consumers shifted, too; now that just about anything can be done online, consumers are far more comfortable doing everything from telehealth visits to finding their next home on the web. Digital presence has always been a must-have even prior to the pandemic, but today, it's a bigger opportunity than ever.

More teams than ever are working from home

Boutique firms, small creative agencies, rapidly-growing technology companies - you name it. If they don't have to meet customers in person, they've likely found a way to let their teams work from home. Not only does this provide a slew of informal benefits for employees (like improved work-life balance, enhanced disability accommodations, and time and money saved on commuting), but it also provides major cost-cutting opportunities for the business itself. Businesses that know they'll be working remotely for an extended period of time can avoid signing leases for pricey office space, and trendy startups can pause their snack subscriptions (for now). It's a win-win.

A lull is a clean slate in disguise

Some entrepreneurs who have found themselves in a slow period during the pandemic have used deceleration as an opportunity to reassess and refresh. Though it's always disappointing to see business decline, it can also be a blessing; companies that were previously in nonstop scale mode might benefit from a period of reflection on what really works and what doesn't. While not a small business, GoDaddy notoriously took 2020 as an opportunity to reinvigorate its logo and renew its commitment to corporate responsibility. Other businesses are turning a break in brick-and-mortar operations into a chance to revamp their spaces and provide exciting updates to customers once circumstances dictate it's safe to do so.

Many small business owners are stepping outside of their comfort zones

They say diamonds are formed under pressure, and the old adage rings true for business owners who are serious about helping their ventures thrive under unusual conditions. As contactless sales and services rose in popularity throughout 2020, many businesses found themselves capable of expanding into new markets and offering more customizable shipping options. Heightened social awareness has provided a catalyst for businesses to promote racial justice and gender equity, offset carbon emissions caused by shipping and delivery services and develop transparency in their daily practices. And because people tend to shop with both their needs and values in mind, this added level of consciousness has the ability to bring in waves of new customers and clients.

The obstacles presented by COVID-19 haven't been easy to overcome - nor are they gone from our economy and from the world at large. But if time has proven anything, it's that small business owners are persistent, innovative, and creative. Pandemic or no pandemic, that hasn't changed.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The top 9 shows on Netflix this week, from ‘Who Killed Sara?’ to ‘Big Time Rush’

who killed sara netflix
"Who Killed Sara?"
  • Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Insider a list of the TV shows that have been most prominent on Netflix's daily top-10 lists.

  • Netflix's new thriller "Who Killed Sara?" topped this week's list for the second straight week.
  • Netflix counts a view if an account watches a movie or TV show for at least two minutes.
  • Visit the business section of Insider for more stories.
9. "This is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist" (Netflix original, 2021)
this is robbery netflix

Description: "In 1990, two men dressed as cops con their way into a Boston museum and steal a fortune in art. Take a deep dive into this daring and notorious crime."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 88%

What critics said: "In all, this makes for a fascinating portrait of an incident that lives on in the memory of a city that has both high culture and organized crime encoded in its DNA." — Variety

8. "Worn Stories" (Netflix original, 2021)
worn stories netflix

Description: "In this funny, heartfelt and moving docuseries, real people unpack the fascinating and quirky stories around their most meaningful pieces of clothing."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 100%

What critics said: "Worn Stories, which is adapted from Lauren Spivacek's best-selling clothing vignettes novel of the same name, is wonderfully-threaded nostalgia." — Paste Magazine

7. "Big Time Rush" (Nickelodeon, 2009-2013)
logan big time rush

Description: "After a talent agent discovers four talented pals and turns them into a boy band called Big Time Rush, they must adjust to their exciting new lives."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

6. "Family Reunion" (Netflix original, 2019-present)
family reunion

Description: "When the McKellan family moves from Seattle to small-town Georgia, life down South — and traditional grandparents — challenge their big-city ways."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

5. "Ginny and Georgia" (Netflix original, 2021-present)
ginny and georgia

Description: "Free-spirited Georgia and her two kids, Ginny and Austin, move north in search of a fresh start but find that the road to new beginnings can be bumpy."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 68%

What critics said: "Ginny & Georgia is perfect background TV: familiar enough to be comforting, but with enough of its own weird energy to let Netflix's autoplay jump into the next episode." — Thrillist (season one)

4. "The Irregulars" (Netflix original, 2021-present)
the irregulars netflix
"The Irregulars"

Description: "A crew of misfits investigates a series of supernatural crimes in Victorian London for Dr. Watson and his shadowy associate, Sherlock Holmes."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 77%

What critics said: "There are a sprinkling of more casual sequences that cut through the darkness. An encroaching threat does a lot to crowd those out by season's end." — Indiewire (season one)

3. "Cocomelon" (YouTube, 2019-present)
"Cocomelon" is the most subscribed-to YouTube channel in the United States, and the third most subscribed-to in the world.
"Cocomelon" is the most subscribed-to YouTube channel in the United States, and the third most subscribed-to in the world.

Description: "Learn letters, numbers, animal sounds and more with J.J. in this musical series that brings fun times with nursery rhymes for the whole family!"

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A

2. "The Serpent" (Netflix original, 2021)
the serpent netflix

Description: "In the 1970s, merciless killer Charles Sobhraj preys on travelers exploring the "hippie trail" of South Asia. Based on shocking true events."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 69%

What critics said: "The people behind this eight-episode miniseries about a serial killer never really figured out how to tell this story, and that sense is amplified by an incessant crosscutting chronologically that only muddles the piece's tone and momentum." — RogerEbert.com

1. "Who Killed Sara?" (Netflix original, 2021-present)
who killed sara netflix

Description: "Hell-bent on exacting revenge and proving he was framed for his sister's murder, Álex sets out to unearth much more than the crime's real culprit."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: "Has a few logic problems, but its overall vibe is energetic enough, with good performances, to keep viewers' attention." — Decider (season one)

Read the original article on Business Insider

America’s companies are struggling to hire workers back. It risks derailing the economic recovery.

San Francisco reopening
Manager Cynthia Martinez converses with guests at El Rio, located at 3158 Mission St., on Saturday, April 3, 2021, in San Francisco.
  • The labor market is on the path to recovery, but it's not a sure thing as the economy reopens.
  • Worker shortages are hitting some businesses, and experts warn of millions of jobs permanently lost.
  • Stimulus hasn't led to a spending surge yet, and Americans may sit on their huge savings pile.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The positive March jobs report showed a country on the brink of full reopening, with good news for the economy around the corner. But just reopening isn't enough for a full recovery.

"There's no guarantee that the people whose jobs have been permanently eliminated will be able to find work elsewhere," Nancy Vanden Houten, lead economist at Oxford Economics, told Insider. "At the same time, there's a risk that labor force participation won't return to what it was prior to the pandemic. We might still experience shortages of workers."

Filling the hole in the labor market will take more than reaching a 3.5% unemployment rate and recouping every lost payroll, she said. The country was adding roughly 200,000 jobs a month before the pandemic, meaning the labor market will have to get back to the February 2020 level - and then some - to reach maximum employment.

The US began that climb in earnest last month, adding 916,000 nonfarm payrolls, blowing the median estimate of a 660,000 gain out of the water. The unemployment rate fell to 6% from 6.2%, matching economist forecasts, still far above the 3.5% pre-pandemic rate.

Experts are bracing for several months of outsize job gains as consumers thaw the frozen economy. But to Vanden Houten's point, pressures are now emerging on the supply side. While consumer demand shows signs of coming back, other signs point to an imbalance between job openings and Americans actively seeking work.

Jobless claims, however, have been volatile in recent months and give a clearer hint at deep scarring. Filings fell to a pandemic-era low of 658,000 in March but rose to 744,000 last week, signaling persistent challenges in hiring.

Supply strains and lagging cities present new challenges

Some of the world's top economic policymakers are warning of long-term scarring of the labor force that reopening can't address. Countries will need to "think well in advance" of what a post-pandemic economy will look like so as to add jobs where they're going to be, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said in a Thursday video conference.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell echoed her remarks, noting that millions of Americans will struggle to find work as they acclimate to a permanently changed labor market.

"The real concern is that longer-term unemployment can allow people's skills to atrophy, their connections to the labor market to dwindle, and they have a hard time getting back to work," he said in the conference. "It's important to remember we are not going back to the same economy, this will be a different economy."

Even the businesses set to benefit most from reopening are running into snags. Staffing at full-service restaurants remains down 20%, or 1.1 million openings, from the year-ago level, according to data from the National Restaurant Association. Owners and managers interviewed by The New York Times attributed the persistent shortfall to a lack of available workers. Others said their former employees chose to stay out of the workforce and subsist on expanded unemployment benefits.

The country's most densely populated areas are also experiencing slow recoveries, government data shows. Los Angeles and New York City held the highest February unemployment rates of the 51 major metropolitan areas: 9.9% and 9.8%, respectively. This kind of high unemployment in densely populated cities is bad news for the economic recovery, as the longer that the engines of the pre-2020 economy lie dormant, the further away lies a return to a kind of "normal," unless a new normal rapidly takes its place.

The stimulus spending boost could be smaller than expected

The government acknowledged risks associated with weak spending and acted on them. The $1.9 trillion stimulus measure approved by President Joe Biden in March was the largest relief package to hit the US economy since the CARES Act was passed in the first months of the pandemic. Americans received support in the form of stimulus checks and bolstered unemployment benefits, two boosts set to supercharge spending and overall demand as the economy reopened.

Recent studies suggest that boost may not be be as potent as anticipated. Stimulus check recipients spent just under one-quarter of their latest relief payments, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That's less than the share spent from the CARES Act checks or the $600 payments issued in January.

About 42% of the payments were saved, the highest percentage of all three stimulus checks. Though those savings can be unwound over time, they do little to aid the recovery in the near term. The remainder of the checks is expected to go toward paying down debts.

"As the economy reopens and fear and uncertainty recede, the high levels of saving should facilitate more spending in the future. However, a great deal of uncertainty and discussion exists about the pace of this spending increase and the extent of pent-up demand," the team led by Oliver Armantier said.

Stimulus passed throughout 2020 already buttressed Americans' savings, and there's been little sign of that cash being put to use. Peoples' savings grew by $1.6 trillion since last March, according to the New York Fed, but that sum is largely staying in bank accounts instead of moving throughout the economy.

Americans who held onto their jobs haven't increased their spending activity even though their savings increased, the Fed researchers said in a Monday blog post. Limitations to how much people can dine out or go on vacation will also curb a surge in consumer spending.

"It is certainly possible that some of these savings will pay for extra travel and entertainment once the COVID-19 nightmare is behind us, but our conclusion is that the resulting boost to expenditures will be limited," the team said.

Outlooks remain strong. Banks are forecasting the strongest economic growth in decades, and the March payrolls report bodes well for near-term job gains. The president's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan promises to create millions of new jobs if it can win ample bipartisan support.

But the path to a fully healed labor market remains riddled with downside risks. Trends in worker availability, consumer spending, and permanent scarring will determine whether the country can stage one of the fastest economic recoveries in history.

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 reasons why volatility could come roaring back to a stock market that’s drifting along near record highs, according to UBS

NYSE Trader
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange.


  • A key tracker of stock-market volatility at its lowest since early 2020 at the same time that US stocks are at record highs.
  • Investors should anticipate Wall Street's so-called "fear gauge", or VIX, to come off those lows in the coming months, said UBS.
  • Volatility may pick up pace as investors wrestle with inflation worries and COVID-19 variants.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Wall Street's key measure of stock-market volatility is at its lowest since the COVID-19 crisis took off in the US last year, but that calmness will likely break over the next few months, according to UBS.

The US stock market has soared to record highs in 2021 on the back of accelerating coronavirus vaccinations worldwide and roughly $5 trillion in financial aid deployed by the US government to mitigate the pandemic's economic damage. The vaccinations and stimulus packages have been laying the groundwork for a further reopening of the world's largest economy as people begin to rebuild work and school routines and spend the money sent to them by Uncle Sam.

The S&P 500 index has shot above the 4,100 level and the Dow Jones Industrial Average tracking blue-chips is at its strongest levels, driven by cyclical sectors such as energy and industrials that stand to benefit from increased economic activity.

Wall Street's so-called "fear gauge," at the same time, has dropped below the 17 level, the lowest since early February 2020, before the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. But don't expect the Cboe volatility index to continue to stay that low, said the world's largest wealth manager in a note published Friday.

UBS noted a news report that at least one investor bought about $40 million in VIX call options that indicate the buyer expects market volatility to pick up pace over the next three months. One or more investors anticipated the VIX to reach above the 25 level and rise towards 40 by mid-July, Reuters reported, citing trading data.

"We see reasons to expect periodic bouts of higher volatility in the near term," said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, in the note.

Growth vs inflation

Firstly, investors may be torn between optimism over accelerating economic growth and worries over higher inflation. Among the signs that recovery is taking further hold was the recent and strongest reading in services-sector activity since 1997 from the Institute for Supply Management. European growth should also strengthen as vaccinations increase.

"Still, as pent-up demand meets supply constraints, a pickup in inflation could well unsettle investors," said the investment bank. This week, Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan said inflation could rise "well in excess of 2.5%," over the summer, which would be well above the Fed's 2% target.

COVID-19 strains

Investors have so far looked through news about variant strains of COVID-19. "This optimism could be put to the test by the spread of new variants of the virus, especially in areas where the vaccination effort has been progressing well, such as in the US."

UBS noted "pockets" of rising infections in Ohio and Wisconsin.

Trading activity

Volatility has been "sporadically heightened" by a rise in institutional and retail activity in the options market, along with the increased share of growth stocks in major equity indexes, said UBS.

"In the first quarter we saw retail activity driving volatility in individual stocks, such as GameStop, which spilled over into broader market swings," said Haefele.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Marriott is testing contactless check-in via kiosk as travel begins to return – see how to works

Moxy Times Square Exterior
  • Marriott is testing contactless check-in and check-out kiosks and a "grab-and-go marketplace."
  • The hotel giant is looking to "blend" contactless amenities with face-to-face interactions.
  • The demand for contactless solutions has been on the rise throughout COVID-19.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.
COVID-19 spurred a demand for contactless services, and Marriott is now leaning into this by testing its new contactless arrival kiosks and markets, eliminating the need for face-to-face check-ins or snack purchases, respectively.
Large F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

Stephanie Linnartz, the president of Marriott International, has reaffirmed in a press release that COVID-19 has pushed the need for contactless amenities. This echoes the sentiments shared across several industries, from credit card companies to airlines

The kiosks, which help speed up the check-in process, can already be seen at several Marriott locations.
Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_01   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel's contactless kiosk.

These locations include:

  • Moxy NYC Times Square
  • Courtyard New York Manhattan/Midtown East
  • TownePlace Suites Monroe 

The kiosks will also soon be available at Marriott's Moxy Miami South Beach location.

 

Guests can also grab their room keys from the kiosks, which are equipped with touchscreens that have "antimicrobial technology."
Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_02   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel's contactless kiosk.

Upon leaving, guests can also opt to check-out from the same kiosks, eliminating the need for any in-person interactions.

Similarly, the hotel giant is also testing its "grab-and-go marketplace" at two Maryland locations: the Fairfield Inn and Suites Frederick, and the Fairfield Inn and Suites Arundel Mills BWI Airport.
Small F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

Craving a hot breakfast sandwich or a little cup of yogurt? Just head to the marketplace kiosks. These stands will offer a variety of both hot and cold snacks and drinks, including the daily complimentary breakfast.

Payments can then be made directly at the kiosks.

Marriott's push for contactless services isn't new.
Moxy NYC Times Sq_Contactless_Kiosk_01   credit Marriott International
Moxy NYC Times Square hotel's contactless kiosk.

The hotel giant already has contactless features that can be accessed through the Marriott Bonvoy app, including check-ins and outs, the room key, food orders, and service requests. 

The new kiosk offerings "help streamline operations," according to Marriott.
Large F&B Kiosk Rendering   credit No Brick LLC for Marriott International
The grab-and-go marketplace.

However, the hotel giant won't be going fully digital, and is instead looking to "blend" contactless options with face-to-face interactions, according to Linnartz.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The UAE has announced Nora al-Matroushi as its first female astronaut

AP21100433899562
Mohammed al-Mulla, left, and Noura al-Matroushi, right.
  • The UAE revealed its first female astronaut, who will join the country's space program.
  • Sheikh Mohammed posted on Twitter on Saturday to announce Nora al-Matroushi's appointment.
  • At the same time, Mohammed al-Mulla was named as her male counterpart.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced its first female astronaut.

Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, revealed the news on Twitter.

Nora al-Matroushi, 27, was selected alongside Mohammed al-Mulla. The two were chosen from more than 4,000 applicants in the UAE who applied for the program, Sheikh Mohammed said in a tweet.

"We congratulate the country. We count on them to raise the name of the UAE in the sky," Sheikh Mohammed added.

The pair will work alongside Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut to fly into space, and Sultan Al Neyadi, UAE's reserve astronaut.

Al-Matroushi also took to Twitter. She wrote: "The nation gave me unforgettable moments today. I aim to work hard to script historical moments and achievements that will be etched forever in the memory of our people."

The astronaut holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the United Arab Emirates University, Mohammed bin Rashin Space Centre shared in a video on Twitter.

She works as an engineer at the National Petroleum Construction Company.

Her love for space began at a young age, "as she enjoyed going to stargazing event," the video added. The motto she upholds to live life by is: "Do what makes you happy."

Al-Mulla is a commercial pilot. He works as an aeronaut for Dubai police where he is also the commander of their training division.

The announcement marks the progress being made by several space agencies to advance gender equality in the space industry, which has dominated by men since the 1960s, The National reported.

The pair will commence training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Assuming she takes part in a mission, she could become the first Arab woman in space, according to the UAE government.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Corporate America is still dangerously delusional about what the GOP has become

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks to reporters with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (L) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) following the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 16, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks to reporters with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (L) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) following the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 16, 2021 in Washington, DC.
  • The GOP corporate America used to know and love is gone.
  • What we have now is an angrier GOP willing to punish companies that disagree with it.
  • It's un-American, and it has nothing to do with the free market, but apparently the base likes it.
  • That means sorry, the old GOP went out to get a pack of smokes and it ain't coming back.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Corporations need to hear this, and probably a few half-hearted Republicans do too - former House Speaker John Boehner's GOP isn't coming back.

Boehner was perhaps the last leader of a now-dead Republican party we used to know. The one that was born during the Reagan years. The GOP that kept its hands out of the affairs of private enterprise, that championed free speech, that knew how to cut a deal, that you might want to have a glass of Merlot and a cigar with - that GOP's gone.

Instead we have a GOP that has no problem interfering with private business decisions. Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, for example, just signed legislation prohibiting private companies from requiring vaccination passports from customers.

Instead we have a GOP that punishes companies that do not share its political beliefs. In Georgia, the state House voted to strip Atlanta-based Delta Airlines of a $35 million fuel tax credit because it spoke out against a law that would make it harder for people to get to the polls. After decades of advocating for corporations to have more political power, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned companies to "stay out of politics," only to somewhat walk it back after remembering who his donors are.

Some corporations - like Jet Blue, which just restarted donations to Republicans who voted against certification of election on January 6 - are trying to get back to business as usual. Instead they should be getting ready to play defense. With this GOP corporations are likely to become collateral damage as every issue devolves into total culture war.

Yes, the Democrats want to raise corporate taxes, but the Republicans have no problem punishing companies when they stand up for basic functions of our democracy - like easy access to voting - that the party now happens to oppose. That's the choice for corporations now.

A GOP in need of anger management

All of this stands in contrast to recently published experts of Boehner's soon-to-be-released memoir - an account of a man watching his party go insane. According to him, in 2010 as the party was radicalizing "a total moron and get elected just by having an R next" to their name." He described birtherism - the wind beneath the wings of Donald Trump's political aspirations - as "truly nutty." All of it, he said, made it nearly impossible to cut deals with the Obama administration.

This isn't to say that Boehner isn't partly responsible for what the GOP has become, but it's telling that he has written a memoir that marks a line in the sand between the GOP he presided over and the one that coalesced under Trump. He knows that the GOP post-Boehner era is an assemblage of everything that pushed him out of Washington on steroids.

Part of what Trump added to the "truly nutty" was pure rage. In an excerpt published by Punchbowl News, Boehner said after he shared a round of golf with Trump, it was the future president's anger that stood out to him the most. A staffer accidentally told Trump and Boehner the wrong names of two men playing golf with them. Boehner shrugged it off, but Trump eviscerated the staffer publicly in a way that took Boehner aback.

"We had no idea then what that anger would do to our country," Boehner wrote.

Even with Trump gone, the politics of anger he brought to the fore has remained with the GOP. We are just getting a sense of how it is settling in our politics now, and corporations will not be left unscathed. Politically motivated consumer boycotts have been an American pastime for both parties for generations, but today's GOP has shown a willingness to dole out legislative punishment to corporations for what should be relatively uncontroversial political statements in ways we have not seen before in this nation, embracing the totality of "you're either with us, or you're against us."

This is not just a phase

Right now the GOP and corporate America have a similar problem with Biden's proposed infrastructure and tax legislation - the ideas are popular. A Reuters poll found that 79% of Americans support a government overhaul of American roadways, railroads, bridges, and ports. 71% support a plan to get high speed internet to everyone. Over 65% support replacing lead pipes and creating tax credits for green energy.

Americans are also supportive of raising corporate taxes. A Pew Research poll found that 62% of Americans are bothered "a lot" by how little tax corporations pay. That is to say, headlines about Biden raising corporate taxes in order to improve America's airports are unlikely to upset many Americans.

Now, corporations will try to deal with this problem the the traditional way - by sending their lobbyists to Capitol Hill.

But the GOP has found another way to deal with the disconnect between its policies and their popularity - by staying laser focused on anger and never-ending culture war. Fox News has launched two new shows centered around cancel culture because that's what excites its viewers. And the loudest GOP politicians with the most obvious aspirations for the presidency have decided that punishing corporations for being on the "wrong side" of any hot button issue is a political win with their base.

That is why corporations should get used to the reality that this is not just a phase. The Republican party requires a major adjustment to go back to what it was. Instead it is becoming more populist and more radical.

If you want to know in what direction the GOP is headed, look no futher than a man who will go anywhere the wind is blowing - Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Once a protege of the Bush family, now his social media is chockablock with culture war video rants that sound like an audition for a primetime slot on Fox News. Recently he blasted Major League Baseball for the league's decision - triggered by the aforementioned voting law - to move their All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Rubio decided to hit back at MLB by ranting about its business dealings in China and Cuba, obviously lacking the self awareness to realize that at this very moment, the Chinese Communist Party is harassing companies for their political and human rights stances as well.

The GOP may not raise corporate taxes, but it now behooves it to attack corporate interests in other ways. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley - a young man who has had quite a lot of success fundraising after helping to incite the January 6 Capitol riot - tweeted about punishing "woke" companies using antitrust legislation to break them up. I needn't tell you that punishing companies for taking a political stance is not what anti-trust legislation is for.

This is the direction the Republican party is moving in. Remember that it did not present a platform during the 2020 presidential election. It did not reiterate a belief in the free market or free speech or small government or democracy. All it had was Donald Trump, and the anger that blew John Boehner and his GOP away. It's time to come to terms with that.

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A looming shortage of bacon and hot dogs could leave big cookout plans up in smoke for July Fourth when most Americans are vaccinated

grill dogs
  • Hogs are in short supply ahead of this summer's pent-up demand for products like bacon and hot dogs.
  • That means hog-meat prices might be higher, and consumers will see fewer discounts.
  • "The whole supply chain has really been squeezed," said ArrowStream's Isaac Olvera.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Summer barbecues may taste a little different this year.

Hogs have been in short supply since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago. Now analysts are predicting higher prices and a short supply of pork for foods like hot dogs and bacon as restaurants re-open and summer barbecues resume as vaccinations in the US pick up pace.

The problems are "after-effects of last-year's disruption," said Christine McCracken, Rabobank executive director for animal protein.

"This goes all the way back to the start of COVID," said Isaac Olvera, food and agriculture economist at ArrowStream.

Most Americans will have been able to get the COVID-19 vaccine by July Fourth. But "many consumers still feel more comfortable with outside dining and gatherings, so I suspect grilling out is going to be a very popular activity this summer," said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210analytics.

With that, McCracken said there's likely pent-up demand for meat. "BBQs and family gatherings are going to be a nice way of reconnecting and will be a big driver of meat demand in the coming months," she said.

But because of lower production last year and higher disease losses this past winter, the hog supply has taken a hit, she said, and that's going to drive prices higher amid the increased demand.

"The whole supply chain has really been squeezed, and unfortunately it does not look like this is going to be something that improves between here and early summer," Olvera said.

Read more: Experts say brick-and-mortar retailers could rebound post-pandemic - but only if they channel the e-commerce boom back to their physical outposts

The numer of market hogs, piglets, and future piglets, dropped 1.8%, 1.4% and 2.5%, respectively, from March 1 2020 to March 1, 2021, according to Olvera.

The decline means retailers are likely to "price-ration supply" of hog meat, he said, so consumers will see higher prices and fewer discounts to keep stores from running out of stock.

"Bargains on meat might be tough for consumers to find this summer," McCracken said. "So my advice to consumers would be to stock up when you find a good deal."

But consumers generally shift their preferences, and retailers change up their promotional strategies, accordingly, said Roerink.

"While prices may be a bit higher, consumers are typically very creative in making adjustments in other areas to host family and friends," Roerink said.

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It can be easy to make a connection between anti-Asian and anti-Black violence – but comparing them only creates more division

Activists march after atlanta shootings against Asian hate
Activists at a demonstration in Atlanta, Georgia in March, after shootings left eight people dead.
  • As anti-Asian violence surges amid the pandemic, some have compared it to the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Katie Li, a second-generation Chinese American, writes that this 'rivalry' only reinforces the divide among people of color.
  • Activists should stand in solidarity without comparing Asian hate crimes to anti-Black oppression, Li says.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

This article contains racial slurs.

As a second-generation Chinese American, I've always felt disconnected from Chinese culture - I struggle with the language, am unfamiliar with its customs and traditions, and feel like an impostor in a Chinese body when interacting with first-generation immigrants.

But I also constantly feel alienated in America. Despite having lived in the US my entire life, I can't help but feel like a foreigner in my own hometown, where people look at my face and immediately see me as something otherly. My whole life, I've identified with the label of "American" as much as I've identified with "chink," "gook," and "virus."

The rapid rise in anti-Asian violence and the fear it's instilled in recent months has been a brutal reminder to millions of us of what it means to exist as an Asian in America, and it's left us in a state of overwhelming grief and anger.

In light of these hate crimes, Asians ranging from celebrities to politicians to ordinary people have spoken out against the increasingly rampant discrimination we face. This is exactly what we should be doing. Given the widespread reluctance to acknowledge anti-Asian racism, even among Asians ourselves, we need to make our voices heard.

But at the same time, however, Asian American advocacy is far too often predicated on rhetoric that's implicitly anti-Black.

Instead of uplifting us, this harms all people of color and pits us against one another, thereby upholding the white supremacy that oppresses and dehumanizes us.

Growing up in the US, I've been constantly surrounded by the stereotypes associated with being Asian.

We're purportedly all smart, hardworking, quiet, and obedient. I took pride in hearing friends, teachers, and family members, Asian and non-Asian alike, apply these characteristics to my own race. It felt like a compliment; Asians were all high-achieving, so I automatically was too.

When I was told that stereotypes were harmful at a young age, I wondered how this could be possible. After all, what harm could come out of someone believing I was intelligent and hardworking?

The narrative that hard work and intelligence - and, by extension, success and prosperity - is an inherent part of the Asian identity not only veils the discrimination we face, but also perpetuates racism against other groups. The assumption is that Asians - the "model minority" - can achieve high levels of success in academia and the workforce despite being people of color, so if Black people fail to do the same, it's because of their own inherent shortcomings rather than systemic barriers.

Because being perceived as hardworking doesn't seem offensive or harmful at face value, many Asians buy straight into this narrative, resulting in a subtle sense of anti-Blackness that often manifests itself in Asian American advocacy.

We shouldn't treat racism like a competition

When I first heard about the targeted shootings of Asian women in Atlanta several weeks ago, I instantly thought of the tragic murder of Vincent Chin in 1982. Beyond that, however, I was also reminded of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans who were unjustly murdered.

Considering the racial unrest in the US this past year, it can be easy to make this connection between anti-Asian and anti-Black violence; it's a reminder that the oppression of one race is tied to that of other races and reaffirms the need to stand in solidarity with other people of color.

However, we need to be careful that these connections don't turn into comparisons.

In response to skyrocketing anti-Asian violence, some people have adopted "Asian Lives Matter" as a catch-all phrase to condemn racism against Asians. Of course, our lives do matter, but using this phrase is fallacious in a way similar to "All Lives Matter" - it's not untrue, but it's a direct response to "Black Lives Matter" that attempts to derail our focus on anti-Black oppression and shift it to a different group. The history of racism in the US is far too nuanced for one marginalized group to simply replace another, even if it's just in a saying or hashtag.

Our goal should not be to replace or diminish the Black Lives Matter movement but to simultaneously advocate for Black and Asian Americans. Alternative hashtags like #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate accomplish this by condemning anti-Asian racism without co-opting a movement that isn't ours.

That being said, this underlying sense of competition - or, as activist Elizabeth Martínez once called it, "Oppression Olympics" - spans far greater than the use of a hashtag. Some Asians have been quick to criticize Black Lives Matter activists for not explicitly acknowledging anti-Asian violence. If activists can advocate for Black people, they reason, then why can't they advocate for Asians?

Instead of uplifting ourselves and shedding light on our struggles, this reasoning insinuates that we are only owed support because Black people also received it. It forces us to spend our energy competing with one another rather than truly addressing white supremacy. It unravels the solidarity between Asian and Black activists and downplays the significant work Black civil rights activists have done to benefit people of color throughout history.

Activism is not a zero-sum game; fighting anti-Black racism benefits Asians and vice versa.

To truly contribute to Asian activism, here's what we do.

Let's focus on uplifting the voices of Asian Americans. Rather than place blame on the Black Lives Matter movement for occupying so much attention, let's take inspiration from the decades of hard work activists have done to bring such attention to racial issues.

Let's put our energy into supporting groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice, who are bringing visibility to our struggles. Let's donate to Asian activist groups and support Asian-owned businesses.

Let's learn more about the history of anti-Asian racism and speak out against politicians' xenophobic rhetoric. Let's report hate incidents and have difficult discussions about how racism impacts us.

Let's work with fellow people of color, not against them.

Katie Li is a journalist from Seattle. Connect with her on Twitter.

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