Activist investors seek ouster of Bed Bath & Beyond CEO; shares surge

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.’s long-time Chief Executive Officer Steven Temares came under pressure on March 26 after activist investors called for his ouster and the replacement of the entire board, sending the company’s shares up as much as 30 percent.

An investor group comprising Legion Partners Asset Management LLC, Macellum Advisors GP LLC, and Ancora Advisors LLC disclosed a combined stake of about 5 percent in the company and also said it was seeking a review of options, including a sale, for all of the home furnishing retailer’s non-core brands.

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 25 that a possible sale could include brands such as Buy Buy Baby and Cost Plus World Market.

Bed Bath & Beyond has struggled to keep pace with changing consumer tastes and shopping habits over the years, with sales growth spiraling down to just 1.1 percent last year compared to over 22 percent in 2003 when Temares took over as CEO.

The company’s shares have fallen for the last five years, losing over 85 percent of their value. In contrast, peers Lowe’s Cos Inc. and Home Depot Inc. have gained 46 percent and 52 percent, respectively, over the same period.

“Irrespective of the elevated capital investment of the past several years (mostly in digital technology and fulfillment), management has been slow to invest in its stores … This will likely add credibility to any activist style campaign,” Raymond James analyst Bobby Griffin said.

The trio of investors also said excessive pay packages and a failure to hold management accountable necessitate a change in a majority of the board.

The group nominated 16 board candidates including former Gap Inc. executive Jeffrey Kirwan and former Pier 1 Imports Inc. CEO Alexander Smith.

Bed Bath & Beyond in response said it asked on several occasions over the past few weeks for Legion’s and Macellum’s suggestions for improving its business but the investors did not provide any and instead chose to publicly attack the company.

“Unfortunately, while our directors and management were seeking to engage in good faith, it appears that the Legion and Macellum representatives were merely seeking information to support their attack,” the company said.

Bed Bath & Beyond also said it is “undertaking a comprehensive transformation to evolve the foundational structure of the business, drive shareholder value and best position the company for long-term success.”

The company’s shares were last trading up 25 percent at $17.39 after touching a high of $18.09.

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Author: Reuters

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Judicial Watch Chief Blasts DOJ’s ‘Protecting Obama and Clinton’ in Email Case

WASHINGTON—Attorney General William Barr “did the right thing on the Mueller Report, but “he’s got to look at how [the Department of Justice] is handling these transparency issues and why they are protecting Obama and Clinton,” Judicial Watch chief Tom Fitton told The Epoch Times on March 26.

“That’s what’s happening here,” said a clearly frustrated Fitton concerning a March 11 motion by DOJ lawyers representing the Department of State in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The government asked the court for “a protective order sealing any audio-visual recordings of plaintiff’s forthcoming depositions of current and former career officials at the State Department.”

“The resting state of the Deep State is secrecy,” Fitton told The Epoch Times. “This is just typical of what we are dealing with from DOJ and State on these issues.”

The government has resisted disclosure at every turn in the case since its filing, he said.

“Everything is a fight, we even have to sue to get the time of day, it’s unbelievable,” Fitton said.

Earlier this year, Judge Royce Lamberth ordered 10 current and former State Department employees with knowledge of Clinton’s email system to be deposed under oath by the non-profit’s attorneys.

Unedited versions of the videos of the depositions would be posted on Judicial Watch’s web site.

In its motion, DOJ lawyers representing the State Department claimed all career government employees “have a legitimate privacy interest in limiting permanent and public dissemination of video recordings of them being deposed about the alleged misconduct of others.”

They claimed as well that “no legitimate public interest is served” by making deposition videos public since the government does not object to written transcripts being released.

They also argued that “given the notoriety surrounding issues relating to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server, these individuals are at significant risk of being subjected to unwarranted attention and embarrassment.”

In addition, the DOJ lawyers said making the deposition videos public would harm the State Department’s “ability to recruit, hire, and retain talented individuals to work among its career ranks.”

Among those to be deposed are: Susan Rice, former National Security Director for President Barack Obama; former senior Obama White House aide Ben Rhodes; FBI counter-intelligence division assistant director E.W. Priestap; Monica Hanley, former personal aide to Clinton, former Clinton deputy chief of staff Jacob Sullivan and former Clinton senior adviser Heather Samuelson.

The March 11 motion would apply most immediately to scheduled depositions of Justin Cooper, described by Judicial Watch as “a former aide to Bill Clinton who reportedly had no security clearance and is believed to have played a key role in setting up Hillary Clinton’s non-government email system,” and Clarence Finney, described as “deputy director of the Executive Secretariat staff who was the principal advisor and records management expert in the Office of the Secretary responsible for control of all correspondence and records for Hillary Clinton and other State Department officials.”

The motion is the latest move by federal officials in response to Judicial Watch’s long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit seeking documents linked to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business from 2009 to 2013 and to Clinton’s actions regarding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Rhodes has refused to comply with the court’s deposition order.

Cooper, who was represented by private counsel, separately filed a motion that video of his deposition not be made public, citing arguments like those made by DOJ.

Judicial Watch originally filed the suit in July 2014 after the State Department failed to respond by the legal deadline to the non-profit’s document request in the case. This case led to public disclosure of Clinton’s private email system in 2015.

In a response filed March 25, Judicial Watch argued that DOJ’s “concerns are nothing more than sheer speculation” and noted that Cooper, “a long-time close aide to President Clinton, hypothesizes that release of his deposition video would result in ‘unwarranted harassment or embarrassment.’

“While failing to offer any specific reason for this concern, Mr. Cooper also does not mention that he previously testified before Congress on this specific matter and that a video recording of his testimony is widely available on the Internet and has been for some years.”

Despite video of Cooper’s testimony being on the internet, he did not cite any examples of harassment that resulted.

Judicial Watch also noted that Finney, like Cooper, has testified at length before Congress and that video of his testimony has been available on the Internet for years, without harming his “privacy interest.”

A DOJ spokesman declined The Epoch Times’ request for a response to the Fitton statement.

Contact Mark Tapscott at mark.tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

 

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Author: Mark Tapscott

Uber Buys Mideast Rival Careem for $3.1 Billion in Biggest Deal

Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi has cut the largest deal of his tenure, buying Middle Eastern ride-hailing competitor Careem Networks FZ for $3.1 billion.

Uber will pay Dubai-based Careem $1.4 billion in cash and another $1.7 billion in convertible notes when the deal closes, the two companies said in a statement. They are seeking regulatory approval in the 15 countries where Careem operates. Bloomberg had previously reported some details of the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

The deal comes as San Francisco-based Uber is preparing to file in April for an initial public offering, people familiar with the matter have said. The acquisition isn’t expected to slow down Uber’s IPO process and will allow the ride-hailing firm to emphasize its global footprint relative to rival Lyft Inc., which is expected to begin trading March 29.

The acquisition will be Uber’s priciest and will mark the first time the company bought one of its regional competitors. Uber has sold many international business units, including in China, Southeast Asia, and Russia, taking stakes in Didi Chuxing Inc., Grab and Yandex NV in the process. Another recent major purchase was electric bike company Jump Bikes.

The Careem acquisition represents one of the largest technology deals in the Middle East, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. As part of the agreement, Careem will continue to operate as a standalone brand even after the deal closes.

Deal details:

Careem will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber Mudassir Sheikha will remain as Careem CEO Careem will have its own board, with three representatives from Uber and two from Careem Both companies’ apps will continue to operate under separate brands Jefferies LLC acted as exclusive financial adviser to Careem on the transaction
Because the move combines the two largest ride-hailing companies in the Middle East, it could face regulatory scrutiny. One inevitable selling point of the deal will be that it allows the two companies to raise prices, while also reducing pressure to compete with each other in how much they pay drivers.

“Uber was very good at convincing the management team that they can run independently post-acquisition,” said venture capitalist David Chao, an investor in Careem, referring to the Dubai-based firm. “I think terms were good and this was a huge victory for Uber.”

Uber Payout

Some of Careem’s early backers are set to benefit from the deal. Riyadh-based Al Tayyar Travel Group, one of the company’s largest corporate shareholders and earliest investors, said it expects to gain at least 1.78 billion riyals ($470 million), pushing shares up more than 8 percent. Saudi Telecom expects to get about $274 million in cash and stock.

“For investors of Careem, this acquisition is a good deal as they have the minimum guaranteed price of $3.1 billion,” said Meziane Lasfer, Professor of Finance at Cass Business School in Dubai. As part of the acquisition is paid for in Uber shares, Careem investors also have “a large potential upside value” if the shares go higher than the $55 price the deal is based on.

By Eric Newcomer & Matthew Martin

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Author: Bloomberg

House Fails to Overrule Trump’s Veto, Border Emergency Continues

The House of Representatives failed on March 26 to override President Donald Trump’s first veto, leaving in place the national emergency he declared last month to redirect funding toward a U.S.-Mexico border wall construction beyond what Congress approved for the purpose.

Democrats control the House, but only 14 Republicans joined them for a total of 248 votes, a far cry from the two-thirds majority of 290 votes needed to beat a veto. One Democrat, Jackie Speier of California, didn’t vote. Her office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Democrats were expected to fight the emergency declaration in courts. A coalition of 16 states sued in February to block Trump’s move.

Wall Fight

Trump declared the national emergency on Feb. 15, after Democrats in Congress blocked his request for $5.7 billion for wall construction. The wall funding dispute led to a shutdown of about a quarter of the federal government starting on Dec. 21.

In a January televised address, Trump laid down a proposal for a border security compromise that would provide temporary protection from deportation to some 700,000 illegal immigrants in exchange for border wall funding.

The proposal also included a list of measures generally supported by both parties, including humanitarian funding, drug detection technology, and extending protections for people who have fled wars and disasters.

He called the border situation a crisis, pointing to drug and human trafficking, criminals sneaking in, and the economic impact of illegal immigrants. Illegal border crossings have indeed soared in recent months. Border Patrol agents apprehended nearly double the illegal border crossers in the first five months of fiscal 2019 than in the same period the prior year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected Trump’s offer before he started his speech.

The Democrats finally relented in late January and agreed to negotiate on the wall funding in exchange for ending the shutdown. The negotiations produced less than $1.4 billion for new border fencing in the 2019 budget.

Emergency Powers

Trump’s declaration had enabled the transfer of $3.6 billion from the military construction budget toward wall construction. The president also ordered the shifting of an additional $3.1 billion, which did not require emergency powers.

Together with the 2019 budget allocation, Trump should have enough to build about 324 miles of new fencing.

The Defense Department has identified $12.8 billion in funds from projects that can be reallocated to the construction of the border barrier. The department notified Congress on March 25 that it has authorized the transfer of $1 billion toward wall construction. Senate Democrats immediately protested the transfer.

Congress Dispute

The House Democrats argued the Republican president had overstepped his authority by going around Congress’s refusal to fund a border wall, because the legislature has the power to control spending under the Constitution.

“The founders (of the United States) did not want a monarchy; that’s what they rejected. What they wanted was a democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the House floor.

“We take an oath to the Constitution, not to the president of the United States,” she said.

But Republicans said Trump had acted legally under a 1976 law known as the National Emergencies Act, under which previous presidents had declared dozens of emergencies.

“The president has the authority to act. The president is using the authority Congress has given him,” said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.).

Mueller Boost

Trump’s position on March 26 was strengthened by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion, after a 22-month investigation, that the Republican president’s campaign team did not collude with Russian interference in the 2016 election. Moscow has denied meddling.

That political victory for Trump may make it easier for Republicans to back the president on a range of issues, including his border emergency.

“Even though the two issues clearly aren’t related, it increases the president’s strength and popularity and puts him in a stronger position,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said before the vote.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Author: Petr Svab

Apple Debuts Titanium Credit Card With Goldman, Mastercard

Apple Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are joining forces in the consumer credit business, launching the Apple Card for iPhones.

The card is tied to Apple Pay, a service that lets people load banking information and pay in store or use it for purchases online. It works globally where Apple Pay is accepted, lets users track spending in the Wallet app, and focuses on transaction privacy. The card also includes a cash back rewards program, including 2 percent cash back on all Apple Pay purchases made with the card and 3 percent on purchases made at the Apple Store or with services like the App Store.

“To create a credit card as innovative as Apple Card, we needed a bank that was willing to do things that had never been done in the industry before so we partnered with Goldman Sachs,” Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Apple Pay, said on March 25. “As a newcomer to consumer financial services, Goldman was up for the challenge of doing something more bold and innovative.”

The card excludes common charges like annual, foreign-transaction and late fees, Bailey said. Apple and Goldman Sachs won’t share user data with partners and advertisers. Apple will also offer titanium credit cards with laser etching for places where Apple Pay isn’t accepted. The physical Apple Card doesn’t have a card number, further encouraging users to use the card with Apple Pay.

Apple and Goldman are entering the intensely competitive field of consumer credit, where banks have been shelling out costly rewards to encourage consumers to spend through their cards. Banks, which collect a fee from merchants each time a consumer swipes their card at checkout, have been eager to grow their card businesses in recent years and have benefited from low default rates.

“This partnership is a major step in the growth of our consumer franchise, furthering our vision to create the leading digital consumer platform,” David Solomon, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, said in a memo to employees. The bank’s lack of legacy technology makes it “the best partner to bring this consumer-centric credit card to customers.”

Based on examples of the card on the Apple website, it won’t carry the brand of Goldman Sachs or its consumer unit, Marcus. The card will have an annual percentage rate of 13.24 percent to 24.24 percent. The average interest rate assessed on credit cards was 14.73 percent in the fourth quarter, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve.

The Apple Card’s cashback structure isn’t one of the richest cards to debut in recent years. Its rewards are similar to those offered by Citigroup’s Double Cash card and PayPal Holdings Inc.’s Cashback Mastercard. Apple Card users will receive their cash-back rewards on a daily basis instead of at the end of each billing cycle.

Apple won’t know what consumers bought, where they made purchases or how much a consumer spent with Apple Card, which will run on the Mastercard network, Bailey said on March 25.

With Apple Card, the technology giant is also hoping to tackle some of the issues consumers have long had with credit card statements and how information like interest rates and due dates are presented to cardholders. Apple will try to clearly label its transactions with merchant names and locations and offer color-coded categories to allow consumers to see an easier breakdown of spending on categories such as food, shopping, and entertainment.

Apple isn’t new to digital payments. Apple Pay Cash is a virtual debit card of sorts that lets users transfer money over iMessage and can also be used as a tap-to-pay tool in stores. Apple partnered with Green Dot Bank for that service and has long offered a credit card with Barclays for Apple hardware purchases.

Still, the push into consumer credit cards is a major advancement for Apple’s payment-related initiatives. Apple made a big splash with Apple Pay in 2014 when it struck partnerships with payment networks like American Express and Visa.

 

By Mark Gurman & Jenny Surane

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Author: Bloomberg

Gas Thieves Siphon Wrong Tank on Bus in Gross Mix-Up

Thieves once attempted to siphon gas from a bus got a nasty surprise and tapped the bus sewage tank instead

The unidentified thieves spotted a parked bus in Laverton, Australia, at night, reported the Daily Mail.

When they attempted to siphon the gasoline, they instead got a mouthful of raw sewage.

Police hope word of mouth will lead them to these criminals(via Daily Mail Australia)

Daily Mail 发布于 2016年1月22日周五

Police discovered the mixup when they saw a cap next to the bus, but none of its gas was stolen, according to the report.

“We can infer they beat a very hasty retreat, with a somewhat bitter taste in their mouth,” police spokesman Heath Soutar was quoted as saying.

He added that police have “absolutely zero interest” in recovering what the thieves took from the bus, but he said officials are looking for the offenders.

HA! Turd Burglar- Griffin on Krock

KROCK 发布于 2016年1月21日周四

Soutar told the West Australian that they’re hoping “word of mouth” will help crack the case.

Police in Laverton also tweeted about the incident.

“Hey all. Only in LA. We are looking into this one and following our nose for some leads. Hoping to crack the case,” they wrote.

It’s not clear if the thieves have been caught.

‘Destructive’ Method?

A report from Reno, Nevada, said that some thieves have begun using a “destructive new method” to steal gasoline.

“Take a look at the undercarriage of the car, and you can see the hole thieves put into the gas tank to siphon gas. You can see where the gas ran onto the asphalt where the car was previously parked,” KOLO-TV reported in December 2017.

KOLO Terri Russell looks into what gas thieves are using to siphon gas. Would you believe a drill?

KOLO 8 News Now 发布于 2017年12月20日周三

“A neighbor came home late at night and saw a container underneath. Of course, she assumed that the car was being repaired somewhat and went inside. Never saw anybody,” gas siphoning victim Sharman Lorimer told the news outlet.

When they filled the tank, “gas started pouring out of the vehicle,” Lorimer said.

Thieves Siphon $70 Million

A court in Beijing once sentenced three men to life in prison after discovering an audacious plot that resulted in the siphoning of about $71 million worth of refined oil from a pipeline, according to a prior Epoch Times report in 2016.

The men, all industry veterans and close relatives.

Station attendants serve customers at a PetroChina gas station in Beijing, 05 November 2007. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

The caper began in 2007, when Sun Lei discovered that land he had been renting in Beijing’s Fangshan District was near underground oil pipelines. He added a warehouse to his property in order to facilitate the theft.

Sun Lei began working with his son, Sun Zhigang, both of whom worked at the major Chinese oil company Sinopec, to steal the oil.

After discovering a joint in the pipe about 165 feet south of their lot, in October 2009 they installed their own piping with seamless elbows and valves to transport the oil back to their property. The oil ended up in underground tanks in 13-feet-deep pits beneath two garages.

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Author: Jack Phillips

Border Patrol: 25,000 Illegal Aliens Evaded Capture in Southeast Texas

ROMA, Texas—The Rio Grande Valley in southeast Texas has led the nation in illegal border crossings since 2013, and that shows no sign of abating. So far this fiscal year, Border Patrol has apprehended more than 120,000 illegal border-crossers in the sector.

But it’s the ones they don’t catch that no one is talking about, said Raul Ortiz, deputy chief Border Patrol agent for the Rio Grande Valley sector.

Ortiz said at least 25,000 illegal aliens have evaded Border Patrol so far this fiscal year in the sector, which shares 320 miles of the 2,000-mile international border with Mexico.

“Those are folks that we know made it past the infrastructure, the agents, the technology that we do have in place—because our resources are stretched so thin,” Ortiz told The Epoch Times on March 22.

“We actually don’t know who they are. So far, here in south Texas, we’ve apprehended folks from 44 different countries. These are from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, you name it.”

An illegal alien attempts to evade capture from Border Patrol is seen from a Customs and Border Protection helicopter near Hidalgo, Texas, on May 30, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Although most illegal aliens hail from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, Ortiz estimates that by the end of the year, Border Patrol will have apprehended people from 60 different countries.

“Those are the folks that are trying to get away from our officers each and every day,” he said.

Most of the people from Central America cross illegally, then hand themselves over to Border Patrol and claim asylum. The vast majority are family units, consisting of a parent and a child under 18, or unaccompanied minors—which means they can’t be detained long and will be released into the interior, with an immigration court date often years away.

A Border Patrol agent apprehends illegal aliens who have just crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico into Penitas, Texas, on March 21, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

New Challenges

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said that although Border Patrol apprehended more than 1 million people in the early- to mid-2000s, it was often the same people, from Mexico, and it was easy to return them.

“We would arrest them, send them back across the border, and then they would just come back. I mean, I arrested the same group three times in one shift,” he said.

“But now, that’s not what we’re dealing with. We’re on pace to have about 900,000 arrests, but that’s 900,000 people that we’re dealing with. Whereas back in the early-2000s, we were dealing with somewhere around 500,000, 600,000 people. We were just arresting the same person over and over and over again. So we’re dealing with something that’s just never been dealt with before. And if we don’t get the support from Congress, we’re going to fail. Period.”

A Border Patrol agent apprehends illegal aliens who have just crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico into Penitas, Texas, on March 21, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Judd said Congress needs to close the legal loopholes that are allowing for thousands of people to be released into the country with meritless asylum claims.

“People are just going to continue to come, break our laws, knowing that there’s not going to be a consequence to violating those laws, which is then just going to invite more and more and more people to come,” Judd said.

“I’ve been in the Border Patrol for 21 years. This debate has raged all 21 years. We thought that it was going to end in 2016, and for a time, it did. I mean, we dropped to record lows in illegal immigration, but that was on the promise that people were going to be held in custody, pending their deportation proceedings or their asylum proceedings, which is the legal way to do it.”

‘It’s a Policy Crisis’

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said the outdated laws that need updating are the Flores Settlement Agreement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

“The fact that we cannot detain is creating a pull factor,” Provost said on March 20. She said the large numbers of family units crossing illegally are driving the humanitarian crisis.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis and then, therefore, that humanitarian crisis is impacting border security, too. So it’s creating a border security crisis because all my men and women are spending their time caring for the individuals that are in our custody,” she said. “It pulls them away from the border security mission. We don’t have enough resources to deal with both.”

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost at the newly-renamed Javier Vega, Jr., Border Patrol Checkpoint in Sarita, Texas, on March 20, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Ortiz said about 30 percent of the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol agents’ time is spent on the humanitarian issue.

“What we would like to get back to is our border security mission set. We’ve certainly got to close the policy gaps that exist, so we can focus on the narcotics and the alien smuggling that is actually happening here on the border,” Ortiz said.

He said the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol has already intercepted 73,000 pounds of drugs between ports of entry so far this fiscal year.

“When you look at our corridor from Del Rio all the way to Rio Grande Valley, we account for about 53 percent of all the narcotics that are seized,” Ortiz said.

Judd said America’s opioid crisis has been fueled by the border crisis, with the majority of drugs coming in through the southwest border.

“We’re dealing with a humanitarian crisis, make no mistake. But, we’re also dealing with a drug crisis that we’ve never dealt with before. We have more deaths in the United States now from illicit, illegal drugs, and those drugs are coming across the border,” Judd said.

“And if we don’t put our heads around the whole thing, we’re going to be in trouble.”

Raul Ortiz, deputy chief Border Patrol agent for Rio Grande Valley, near Rio Grande City, Texas, on March 22, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Ortiz said he has been on the Texas border for almost six years and the current crisis is real.

“In 2014, when we had the unaccompanied children, people called it a humanitarian crisis. We are going to either reach or exceed the numbers that we experienced in 2014. And the only difference is that a father, or perhaps a made-up father, bringing a child across that border,” he said. “It is certainly a humanitarian crisis, it’s a border security crisis, but more importantly, it’s a policy crisis that needs to be addressed at the highest levels.”

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Author: Charlotte Cuthbertson

The Best Way to Deal With Failure

Failure is a part of life, and we make mistakes pretty much every day. How do we cope? Or better yet, how should we cope?

Academics and the mainstream media tend to offer a simple solution: Don’t let it get to you and think about how things could have been worse.

These self-protective thoughts usually make you feel better. You move on.

But is it possible that popular wisdom is missing a bit of the puzzle? Does setting aside the negative emotions make you any less likely to repeat the mistake? Noelle Nelson, Baba Shiv, and I decided to explore possible upsides of feeling bad about failure.

Feeling the Pain

Even though they’re unpleasant, we feel negative emotions for a reason. Negative emotions tell us to pay attention, signaling that something’s wrong—with our body, with our environment, with our relationships.

So if you avoid negative emotions, you also might be avoiding the thing that needs your attention. Could deciding to focus on the negative emotions associated with failure lead to thoughts about self-improvement—and, with time, actual improvement?

We designed a series of experiments to test this question.

In the studies, we used something called a two-stage paradigm: First participants attempted a task in which they failed; then—after a series of unrelated tasks—they would have the opportunity to redeem themselves.

In one, we asked our participants to search the internet for the lowest price for a particular blender brand and model (with the possibility of winning a cash price if they were successful). In reality, the task was rigged. In the end, the participants were simply told that the lowest price was $3.27 less than what they had found. We then asked half the participants to focus on their emotional response to having failed, while the other half were instructed to focus on their thoughts about how they did. Then we asked them to reflect, in writing, on how they felt.

After a few unrelated tasks, we gave the participants a chance to redeem themselves. In this seemingly unrelated task, we told participants to imagine that they were going to the birthday of a friend who wanted a book as a gift. We also told them that the book they find should be a bargain.

We found that participants who were previously instructed to focus on the negative emotions following their failure in the blender task spent nearly 25 percent more time searching for a low-priced book than those who had been instructed to focus on their thoughts.

When we examined the written responses, we also found some important differences.

Those who had focused their thoughts on how they did, on their failure—rather than dwelling on how they felt—tended to have defensive responses: “I didn’t care much about this anyway”; “It would have been impossible to find that price.”

In contrast, the participants who had spent time parsing their emotions produced thoughts oriented toward self-improvement: “If I’d only searched longer, I would have found that price”; “I gave up too quickly.”

Not All Mistakes Are The Same

It appears that focusing on the emotions of failure can trigger different thoughts and behaviors. Perhaps when you reflect on how bad you feel after failing, it motivates you to avoid experiencing that feeling again.

But could this improvement migrate into other endeavors—for tasks unrelated to the original?

Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood walks off the field after missing what would have been the game-winning field goal against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. (Chris O’Meara/AP Photo)

To test this question, we added a variation of the second scenario. Instead of telling the participants to find an affordable book (which involved a price search like the original task), we asked them to find a book that they thought their friend would like. In this case, it didn’t matter whether participants had focused on their emotions or thoughts after the first task; they spent similar times searching for the best gift. It seems as though the improvement only happens if the second task is somewhat similar to the original, failed one.

While “feeling your failure” can be a good thing, it doesn’t change the fact that this can hurt. There’s a reason people tend to instinctively rationalize or have self-protective thoughts after they’ve made a mistake.

It would be debilitating if you were to focus on how bad you felt after each failure, big and small. So it’s up to you to decide which failures to try to improve upon, and which failures to shield yourself from. Clearly, one-off events or inconsequential mistakes—taking the wrong turn in a foreign city or being late to a party with friends—don’t make the best candidates (hence the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff”).

But if you’ve failed at something that you know you’re going to have to confront in the future—say, a task for a new role at work—pause and feel the pain. Use it to fuel improvement. If you focus on how bad you feel, you’ll probably work harder to ensure you don’t make the same mistake again.

Selin Malkoc is an associate professor of marketing at Ohio State University. This article was first published on The Conversation

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Author: Selin Malkoc

Understanding Loneliness in Older Adults—and Tailoring a Solution

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Loneliness can have a profound impact on health and longevity. It is also widespread. This helps explain why a committee of the National Academies of Sciences is investigating loneliness and social isolation among older adults.

The committee’s deliberations come amid growing interest in the topic. Four surveys (by Cigna, AARP, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Michigan) have examined the extent of loneliness and social isolation in older adults in the past year. And health insurers, health care systems, senior housing operators and social service agencies are launching or expanding initiatives.

Notably, Anthem is planning a national rollout to Medicare Advantage plans of a program addressing loneliness developed by its subsidiary CareMore Health, according to Robin Caruso, CareMore’s chief togetherness officer. United Healthcare is making health navigators available to Medicare Advantage members at risk for social isolation. And Kaiser Permanente is starting a pilot program that will refer lonely or isolated older adults in its Northwest region to community services, with plans to eventually bring it to other regions, according to Lucy Savitz, vice president of health research at Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

The effectiveness of these programs and others remains to be seen. Few have been rigorously evaluated, and many assume increased social interaction will go a long way toward alleviating older adults’ distress at not having meaningful relationships. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

“Assuaging loneliness is not just about having random human contact; it’s about the quality of that contact and who you’re having contact with,” said Dr. Vyjeyanthi Periyakoil, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for older adults, she and other experts agreed. Instead, varied approaches that recognize the different degrees, types and root causes of loneliness are needed.

Degrees of Loneliness

The headlines are alarming: Between 33 and 43 percent of older Americans are lonely, they proclaim. But those figures combine two groups: people who are sometimes lonely and those who are always lonely.

The distinction matters because people who are sometimes lonely don’t necessarily stay that way; they can move in and out of this state. And the potential health impact of loneliness—a higher risk of heart disease, dementia, immune dysfunction, functional impairment, and early death—depends on its severity.

People who are severely lonely are at “high risk,” while those who are moderately lonely are at lower risk, said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University.

The number of people in the highest risk category is relatively small, as it turns out. When AARP asked adults who participated in its survey last year “How often do you feel lonely or isolated from those around you?” 4 percent said “always,” while 27 percent said “sometimes.” In the University of Michigan’s just-published survey on loneliness and social isolation, 8 percent of older adults (ages 50-80) said they often lacked companionship (a proxy for loneliness), while 26 percent said this was sometimes the case.

“If you compare loneliness to a toxin and ask ‘How much exposure is dangerous, at what dose and over what period of time?’ the truth is we don’t really know yet,” Periyakoil said.

Loneliness isn’t always negative, and seniors shouldn’t panic if they sometimes feel this way. Often, loneliness motivates people to find a way to connect with others, strengthening social bonds. More often than not, it’s inspired by circumstances that people adjust to over time, such as the death of a spouse, close family member or friend; serious illness or injury; or a change in living situation.

Types of Loneliness

Loneliness comes in different forms that call for different responses. According to a well-established framework, “emotional loneliness” occurs when someone feels the lack of intimate relationships. “Social loneliness” is the lack of satisfying contact with family members, friends, neighbors or other community members. “Collective loneliness” is the feeling of not being valued by the broader community.

Some experts add another category: “existential loneliness,” or the sense that life lacks meaning or purpose.

Dr. Carla Perissinotto, associate chief for geriatrics clinical programs at the University of California–San Francisco, has been thinking about the different types of loneliness recently because of her 75-year-old mother, Gloria. Widowed in September, then forced to stay home for three months after hip surgery, Gloria became profoundly lonely.

“If I were a clinician and said to my mother, ‘Go to a senior center,’ that wouldn’t get at the core underlying issues: my mother’s grief and her feeling, since she’s not a native to this country, that she’s not welcome here, given the political situation,” Perissinotto said.

What’s helped Gloria is “talking about and giving voice to what she’s experiencing,” Perissinotto continued. Also, friends, former co-workers, family members and some of Perissinotto’s high school buddies have rallied around Gloria. “She feels that she’s a valuable part of her community, and that’s what’s missing for so many people,” Perissinotto said.

“Look at the older people around you who’ve had a major life transition: a death, the diagnosis of a serious illness, a financial setback, a surgery putting them at risk,” she recommended. “Think about what you can offer as a friend or a colleague to help them feel valued.”

Listening to older adults and learning about the type of loneliness they’re experiencing is important before trying to intervene. “We need to understand what’s driving someone’s loneliness situation before suggesting options,” Perissinotto said.

Root Causes of Loneliness

One of the root causes of loneliness can be the perception that other people have rejected you or don’t care about you. Frequently, people who are lonely convey negativity or push others away because of perceived rejection, which only reinforces their isolation.

In a review of interventions to reduce loneliness, researchers from the University of Chicago note that interventions that address what they call “maladaptive social cognition”—distrust of other people, negativity, and the expectation of rejection—are generally more effective than those that teach social skills or promote social interactions. Cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches people to recognize and question their assumptions, is often recommended.

Relationships that have become disappointing are another common cause of loneliness. This could be a spouse who’s become inattentive over time or adult children or friends who live at a distance and are rarely in touch.

“Figuring out how to promote quality relationships for older adults who are lonely is tricky,” Holt-Lunstad said. “While we have decades of research in relationship science that helps characterize quality relationships, there’s not a lot of evidence around effective ways to create those relationships or intervene” when problems surface.

Other contributors to loneliness are easier to address. A few examples: Someone who’s lost a sense of being meaningfully connected to other people because of hearing loss—the most common type of disability among older adults—can be encouraged to use a hearing aid. Someone who can’t drive anymore and has stopped getting out of the house can get assistance with transportation. Or someone who’s lost a sibling or a spouse can be directed to a bereavement program.

“We have to be very strategic about efforts to help people, what it is they need and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Holt-Lunstad said. “We can’t just throw programs at people and hope that something is better than nothing.”

She recommends that older adults take mental stock of the extent to which they feel lonely or socially isolated. Am I feeling left out? To what extent are my relationships supportive? Then, they should consider what underlies any problems. Why don’t I get together with friends? Why have I lost touch with people I once spoke with?

“When you identify these factors, then you can think about the most appropriate strategies to relieve your discomfort and handle any obstacles that are getting in the way,” Holt-Lunstad said.

Judith Graham is a journalist for Kaiser Health News where this article was first published.

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Author: Judith Graham

Hundreds Mourn Girl Whose Body Was Dumped on Hiking Trail

HACIENDA HEIGHTS, Calif.—Most had never met her, didn’t even know her name until they saw it on the news.

But moved by the tragic death of a 9-year-old girl whose body was found stuffed into a duffel bag and discarded on a hillside trail—like so much trash, as one mourner put it—people turned out by the hundreds on March 25 for an at-times joyous, at other times angry and frustrated interfaith service celebrating the life of Trinity Love Jones.

They all but filled the pews of spacious St. John Vianney Catholic Church in the Los Angeles suburb of Hacienda Heights, just a couple of miles from where a park worker had found Trinity’s body on March 5. She was dressed in pants with a panda pattern and a pink shirt—her favorite color—that proclaimed, “Future Princess Hero.”

Her mother and her mother’s boyfriend have been charged with murder.

“I don’t even know them but I just had to come. I have grandchildren her age,” Camille Boswell of the nearby city of Placentia said of Trinity and her family. “Any time a … child dies, it hurts.”

Following the wishes of Trinity’s father, Antonio, she had arrived in a bright blue and white suit and bright blue hat because Trinity liked bright colors. Other mourners wore buttons with her name and photo on them.

Many acknowledged they had no idea who she was when her body was found on March 5, but they followed the news daily, stunned that such a thing could happen to an innocent 9-year-old.

Hacienda Heights, 20 miles east of Los Angeles, is in many ways an insular community of 54,000 people, made up of large numbers of white, Latino and Asian residents. It’s walled off on two sides by hillsides dotted with large homes that offer stunning views. In the center are rows and rows of neatly kept 1960s-era tract homes.

Mourners attend the funeral service of Trinity Love Jones, the 9-year-old whose body was found this month stuffed in a duffel bag along an equestrian trail, at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights, Calif., on March 25, 2019. (John Rogers/AP Photo)

As word of Trinity’s death spread across the city through social media, local resident Kara Clark said people felt they had to do something to show their respects to her family and to also make it clear they are fed up with a society gripped by such wanton violence.

“When we first heard what happened to this child my first thought was that it could have been my granddaughter,” she said. “Enough is enough with all of this stuff that happens in our world—it’s awful.”

Soon after the service began at noon on a warm, sun-splashed day on the church’s outdoor plaza, six pallbearers, including Trinity’s father, emerged dressed in matching white suits with pink vests to usher her tiny coffin inside. At the altar was a pink teddy bear and balloon. Behind it was a 9-foot-tall photo of Trinity smiling shyly and dressed in a leopard-print outfit.

A woman looks a display of mementos at the funeral service for Trinity Love Jones, the 9-year-old whose body was found this month stuffed in a duffel bag along an equestrian trail, at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights, Calif., on March 25, 2019. (John Rogers/AP Photo)

“It is so fitting that we are underneath this bright sun because what we celebrate today is the light that Trinity has within, the eternal light that has not been extinguished,” Father Egren Gomez told mourners before leading them into the sanctuary.

Before going inside, mourners saw 90 candles lighted in honor of Trinity’s life—10 for each of her nine years—and heard the church’s bells toll for 90 seconds.

Inside, her life was celebrated with songs and eulogies from a cross-section of religious leaders, including Catholic priest Gomez, Pastor Darnell Hammock of the New Life Community Church of Oakland and Venerable Miao Hsi, a nun from the nearby Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple, near where Trinity’s body was found.

The fieriest eulogy came from Hammock, who acknowledged that although Trinity’s murder had brought people of all faiths together, he realized many would leave wondering why it had happened.

“Why God? Why so soon? Why our baby? Why our niece. Why my student …

“I got to be honest, church, I too wrestled with these questions as I prepared today,” he said, adding her death reminded him of those of numerous other young people snuffed out before their time.

“I’m here to ask myself, ‘When do we change the channel of this alarming episode of young black girls dying?’” he shouted an exhortation that brought the largely white audience to its feet.

But he went on to tell mourners not to pass the chance to work together going forward.

“I want the community here today to embrace this outlook that we are in this together,” he said.

Miao Hsi added that Buddhist faith accepts that although Trinity is gone, her spirit lives on in every person she leaves behind.

“We are here to celebrate Miss Trinity’s rebirth,” she said. “May she feel love, joy, and peace.”

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Author: The Associated Press