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The Canadian Press

A first: US Senate confirms transgender doctor for key post

Voting mostly along party lines, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed former Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be the nation’s assistant secretary of health. She is the first openly transgender federal official to win Senate confirmation. The final vote was 52-48. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine joined all Democrats in supporting Levine. Levine had been serving as Pennsylvania’s top health official since 2017, and emerged as the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. She is expected to oversee Health and Human Services offices and programs across the U.S. President Joe Biden cited Levine’s experience when he nominated her in January. Levine “will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability,” Biden said. Transgender-rights activists have hailed Levine’s appointment as a historic breakthrough. Few trans people have ever held high-level offices at the federal or state level. Transgender-rights activists have hailed Levine’s appointment as a historic breakthrough. Few trans people have ever held high-level offices at the federal or state level. However, the confirmation vote came at a challenging moment for the transgender-rights movement as legislatures across the U.S. — primarily those under Republican control — are considering an unprecedented wave of bills targeting trans young people. One type of bill, introduced in at least 25 states, seeks to ban trans girls and young women from participating in female scholastic sports. One such measure already has been signed into law by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, and similar measures have been sent to the governors in Tennessee, Arkansas and South Dakota. Another variety of bill, introduced in at least 17 states, seeks to outlaw or restrict certain types of medical care for transgender youths. None of these measures has yet won final approval. Issues related to transgender rights also are a major factor in Republican opposition to the proposed Equality Act, which would extend federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people across the U.S. The measure has passed the Democratic-led House but likely needs some GOP votes to prevail in the Senate. Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, alluded to those developments as she welcomed the Senate’s vote on Levine. “At a time when hateful politicians are weaponizing trans lives for their own perceived political gain, Dr. Levine’s confirmation lends focus to the contributions trans people make to our nation,” said Parker, whose organization recruits and supports LGBTQ political candidates. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who voted no, had confronted Levine about medical treatments for transgender young people — include hormone treatment and puberty blockers — during her confirmation hearing Feb. 25. “Do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?” Paul asked. Levine replied that transgender medicine “is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care” and said she would welcome discussing the issues with him. In the past, Levine has asserted that hormone therapy and puberty-blocking drugs can be valuable medical tools in sparing some transgender youth from mental distress and possible suicide risk. The confirmation vote was assailed by the conservative Family Research Council, which contended that Levine, in addition to her stance on transgender medical care, had supported “a variety of pro-abortion and anti-religious freedom proposals” while serving as Pennsylvania’s health secretary. “Levine may be the most extreme radical ever confirmed by the Senate,” said Travis Weber, the council’s vice-president for policy and government affairs. A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Levine was appointed as Pennsylvania’s health secretary by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017. She won confirmation by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate. However, Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, voted against Levine’s confirmation Wednesday. “In Pennsylvania, the pandemic struck seniors in nursing homes disproportionately hard compared to other states,” Toomey said. “This was due in part to poor decisions and oversight by Dr. Levine and the Wolf administration.” He also said an extended lockdown advocated by Levine “was excessive, arbitrary in nature, and has led to a slower recovery.” A graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, Levine is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She’s written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine. Praise for her accomplishments and her handling of the pandemic have coincided with a steady stream of vitriol directed at at her on social media. As reported Tuesday by the Associated Press, Levine was among the targets of a private Facebook group called the Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom whose participants included many current and retired police officers. Dozens of group members fueled days of transphobic posts about Levine for her role in statewide social-distancing mandates to stop the spread of COVID-19. “Someone needs to shoot this thing!!” one retired officer wrote. In January, a Pennsylvania legislator shared on Facebook an image mocking Levine’s appearance, then offered a general apology. State Rep. Jeff Pyle, a Republican, said on Facebook that he “had no idea” the post mocking Levine “would be … received as poorly as it was” but that “tens of thousands of heated emails assured me it was.” David Crary, The Associated Press

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Why Canadians are still struggling to understand investment fees – The Globe and Mail

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Advisors can ensure investors understand as much as possible by avoiding ‘using all kinds of fancy terms for all the different types of fees,’ one expert says.

gustavofrazao/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Financial advisory fees remain a confusing subject to the vast majority of Canadian investors despite a decades-long effort by the investment industry and its regulators to provide greater clarity and transparency. That means financial advisors remain in the ideal position to help close that comprehension gap.

According to the results of a survey the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) released in June as part of a more expansive research report, fewer than one in five Canadian investors could identify correctly what types of costs are included in current fee summaries.

“The challenge we have today is that most investors don’t get a full picture of all the fees,” says Jean-Paul Bureaud, executive director of the Canadian Foundation for the Advancement of Investor Rights (FAIR Canada), “they only get a partial picture and they might not appreciate that it’s a partial picture.”

Advisors can clarify that to clients relatively easily by making clear that current fee summaries only include the fees for advice and trailing commissions on mutual funds, he says, and that other costs – such as fund management fees and operational costs – also apply.

Advisors can also ensure investors understand as much as possible by avoiding “using all kinds of fancy terms for all the different types of fees,” Mr. Bureaud says.

In fact, the MFDA’s report states, “Even experienced investors struggle to understand key terms and how their choices influence the type and amount of fees they pay.”

That means even when dealing with sophisticated clients, advisors should not assume “MER” is universally understood to stand for management expense ratio, or what it means. Breaking down jargon such as “trailing commissions” in simple terms – perhaps as an annual fee the advisor receives each year a client holds a particular investment – will also help avoid misunderstandings.

Instead of simply noting what fees are or are not included in existing disclosures, the MFDA report urges advisors to get as close to total cost reporting as possible.

London-based global firm The Behavioural Insights Team ran an experiment on behalf of the MFDA testing four formats of expanded cost reporting. Three of them specified investment fund charges while the fourth, known as the “control” option, included only a disclosure that other charges, such as fund management and operation costs, applied.

Only 23 per cent of investors exposed to the control option were able to identify their total cost of investing correctly, while between 54 per cent and 70 per cent of investors exposed to the other three options were able to do so.

Karen McGuinness, the MFDA’s senior vice president of member regulation and compliance, says part of the reason the experiment succeeded was a focus on using plain language.

“When we did the format, initially, we were using industry terminology because it was just second nature to us, but we brought in the behavioural research firm and they were the ones who said we need to set up this information in a way that’s more easily digestible for the average retail investor,” Ms. McGuinness says.

Nevertheless, the MFDA report warns that dealers and advisors shouldn’t assume sharing more cost information will always lead to better comprehension among clients as they will eventually hit a point of diminishing returns.

Rather, the report recommends they should “eliminate any information presented in the fee summary that is unlikely to be useful to investors. People have limited attention [and] this is especially significant when information is complex.”

To establish a baseline for how much any given client already understands – and therefore how much education advisors should attempt to provide – regulators have developed a number of quick and straightforward tools for that purpose.

For example, the B.C. Securities Commission runs the InvestRight website that includes fee calculators and a short quiz designed to gauge investors’ overall comprehension of investment fees.

“It only takes about five minutes to answer the questions, and a lot of people would be surprised at what they learn,” says FAIR Canada’s Mr. Bureaud.

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) operates a similar website – GetSmarterAboutMoney – that offers even more comprehensive tools and resources.

Meanwhile, regulators are working on a new set of disclosure rules to replace the second phase of the customer relationship model (CRM2) that has been in place since 2016. The goal of what’s being called CRM3 is to provide what the MFDA’s Ms. McGuinness calls “total cost reporting,” as it should get disclosures as close as possible to breaking down all the fees investors pay and not just those their advisor receives.

Although there’s no timeline for when CRM3 will be complete, Greg Pollock, president and chief executive of Advocis, says advisors will need to be more transparent with their clients on fees before the current bull market goes bust.

“Investors tend to look at the bottom line, and if they see that year-over-year returns are looking pretty good, they don’t get too focused on the fees simply because they’re satisfied with the overall performance,” he says. “But it does raise the question of what happens in a bear market when performance suffers. That really gets people’s attention.”

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As RedBird Capital Eyes SpringHill Investment, LeBron James Continues March Toward Billionaire Status – Forbes

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The private equity firm is expected to take a significant minority stake that will likely value the company at between $650 million and $750 million.


LeBron James is one step closer to cashing in on his entertainment business in a deal that would still leave the NBA superstar short of becoming basketball’s second billionaire.

People familiar with the matter say that private equity firm RedBird Capital is in advanced discussions to make a strategic investment in James’ SpringHill Co., an entertainment company that has been the subject of deal rumors since July. The amount of the possible deal, which was first reported by Sportico, could not be determined, although the investment is likely to be done at a valuation of $650 million to $750 million.

The infusion of capital would represent a massive win for James, who continues to expand his off-the-court interests. The 36-year-old Los Angeles Lakers superstar came in as the fifth-highest-paid athlete on the planet on this year’s Forbes list, with earnings of $96.5 million over 12 months. Only Conor McGregor and Roger Federer posted off-the-field totals higher than James’ $65 million. Prior to the SpringHill deal, Forbes estimated James’ net worth to be roughly $850 million. James is the largest single shareholder in SpringHill. Forbes recently valued his stake—believed not to exceed 50%—at approximately $300 million.

James and his childhood friend, Maverick Carter, together built the SpringHill Co., the diversified media company behind the new Space Jam movie, the HBO documentary What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali and unscripted series including the NBC competition show The Wall. The company, named for the apartment complex where James grew up, was founded in 2020 and also includes media platform Uninterrupted, which produces the HBO talk show The Shop, and a marketing agency, the Robot Company, which counts JPMorgan Chase, Beats by Dre and Sprite as clients.

James is chasing Michael Jordan, the only billionaire to have emerged from the sport, although he reached that status after his playing days were over.

RedBird was founded by Gerry Cardinale, a former Goldman Sachs partner with deep ties to Hollywood and the world of professional sports. He has been assembling an expansive portfolio of assets, taking a minority stake earlier this year in Wasserman, a sports marketing and talent agency, and investing $275 million into David Ellison’s Skydance Media, the studio behind the Oscar-winning movie Parasite. It also bought, sold and re-acquired a stake in the YES Network.

The potential SpringHill deal isn’t the first time Cardinale and James have crossed paths. Months ago, RedBird purchased a 10% stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns a bevy of sports assets including Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox. James bought 2% of Liverpool in 2011 and exchanged his stake to grab a reported 1% investment in FSG earlier this year.

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Chevron triples low-carbon investment, but avoids 2050 net-zero goals – Reuters

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A Chevron gas station sign is seen in Del Mar, California, April 25, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Sept 14 (Reuters) – Chevron Corp (CVX.N) on Tuesday pledged to triple to $10 billion its investments to reduce its carbon emissions footprint through 2028, while saying it was not yet ready to commit to a 2050 net-zero emissions target.

Oil producers globally are under mounting pressure from investors and governments to join the fight against climate change and sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century, with U.S. majors lagging efforts by European companies.

Chevron said half of its spending will go to curb emissions from fossil fuel projects. A total of $3 billion will be applied for carbon capture and offsets, $2 billion for greenhouse gas reductions, $3 billion for renewable fuels and $2 billion for hydrogen energy.

Chevron is not ready to commit to net-zero targets. Chief Executive Michael Wirth told investors on Tuesday that the company does not want to “be in a position in which we lay out ambitions that we don’t believe are realistic and deliverable.”

Just a minority of its shareholders currently support a strategy used by European oil companies to invest in less-profitable solar and wind power, he added.

“The board is looking to see, how do you deliver a strategy that meets the needs of shareholders today and the expectations of shareholders for the future?” the CEO said. Directors may re-address a net-zero goal later this year with the company’s climate report, Wirth said.

European oil producers have set plans to shift away from fossil fuels with larger investments in renewables and 2050 emission targets. U.S. oil producers Chevron, Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY.N) sought to reduce carbon emissions per unit of output while backing carbon capture and storage, and doubling down on oil.

BP Plc (BP.L) has said it will invest $3 billion-4 billion a year in low-carbon projects by 2025 and shrink oil and gas production by 40% in the next decade. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) in February set annual investments of $2 billion-3 billion in clean energy.

Chevron maintained its goal of paring greenhouse gas intensity by 35% through 2028 compared to 2016 levels from its oil and gas output.

It said it would expand renewable natural gas production to 40 billion British thermal units (BTUs) per day and increase renewable fuels production capacity to 100,000 barrels a day to meet customer demand for renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel.

“We expect to grow our dividend, buy back shares and invest in lower-carbon businesses,” Wirth said.

Chevron aims to increase hydrogen production to 150,000 tonnes a year to supply industrial, power and heavy duty transport customers and raise carbon capture and offsets to 25 million tonnes a year by co-developing regional hubs.

Environmentalists said Chevron’s focus is on offsetting emissions from oil and gas output, not reducing oil output.

“Chevron’s new announcement does not represent a particularly large strategic shift,” said Axel Dalman, an associate analyst with climate change researcher Carbon Tracker. “The main item is that they plan to spend more on ‘lower-carbon’ business lines.”

Reporting by Sabrina Valle in Houston, Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Laura Sanicola in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Will Dunham, David Gregorio and Mark Porter

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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