The Business Writer Blog

Month: October 2015 (Page 1 of 5)

DreamWorks CEO To Elon Musk: ‘You Saved My Life’

Jeffrey Katzenberg owes Elon Musk big time — or at least, that’s what he thinks.  

The DreamWorks Animation CEO shattered his arm and wrist Oct. 19 when he was involved in a car collision in Beverly Hills, California. Katzenberg, who reportedly drives a Tesla Model S, is now recovering from surgery after a brief stay at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He says the accident could have had much more serious consequences, were it not for the electric car he was driving at the time.

“Thank you, Elon Musk — you saved my life,” Katzenberg told The Hollywood Reporter, expressing his gratitude to the Tesla Motors CEO. He also offered a few more details about the crash, noting that the vehicle was destroyed in the accident. 

Katzenberg’s words didn’t go unnoticed. Late on Monday, Musk took to Twitter to chime in:

“Safety is a top priority at Tesla, our cars are the safest on the road,” a Tesla spokesperson told The Huffington Post. “The active safety systems in Model S help avoid accidents and its electric architecture protects occupants when accidents do happen.”

The company has been focusing on making safety a priority in its fleet of electric vehicles. Tesla’s safety standards were called into question after two of its Model S sedans caught fire in 2013. The two incidents — one in Seattle, Washington, and the other in Smyrna, Tennessee – made national headlines, leading to a highly publicized federal investigation

In a Medium post in 2014, Elon Musk addressed the controversy, noting that no “serious, permanent injuries of any kind” had ever occurred in a Tesla. He also introduced new changes to the car’s titanium shielding, which would reduce the risk of car fires and “give Model S owners complete peace of mind.”

After these changes, the Model S achieved a 5-star safety rating from both the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the European New Car Assessment Programme, setting a new record for the lowest likelihood of passenger injury

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First Watch: Le Volume Courbe, ‘Rusty’

It took Charlotte Marionneau ten years to follow up her first record. Now we have this video for “Rusty,” filled with all the warmth and friendship that it takes to create her loving music.

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‘Steve Jobs’ box office debut is lackluster with $7.3M

“Steve Jobs,” the biopic about the Apple founder, landed in 7th with $7.3 million. Some had the film bringing in as much as $20 million this weekend.

‘Modern Girl’ Carrie Brownstein Describes Finding (And Hiding) Herself In Music

The Sleater-Kinney guitarist and singer is known for her defiant performances, but it was vulnerability that initially drew her to music. Brownstein’s new memoir is Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl.

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FDA calls Theranos vial an ‘uncleared medical device’

Read full story for latest details.

Professor Claims Women ‘Don’t Understand’ Fracking


A science professor and the chairwoman of the United Kingdom’s leading shale gas lobby claims women don’t support fracking because they “don’t understand” the science behind the oil extraction procedure.

“Frequently the women haven’t had very much in the way of a science education because they may well have dropped science at 16. That is just a fact,” Averil Macdonald, a professor of science engagement at the University of Reading and chairwoman of U.K. Onshore Oil and Gas, told British newspaper The Times

“Women do not tend to have continued with science. Not only do [they] show more of a concern about fracking, they also know that they don’t know and they don’t understand. They are concerned because they don’t want to be taking [something] on trust. And that’s actually entirely reasonable,” she said.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of injecting a mixture of chemicals, sand and highly pressurized water into rock to extract oil and natural gas. The technique is highly controversial in the United States, and environmental groups have raised concerns over how the process may impact drinking water and other natural resources. 

The British government recently opened up certain areas in England for oil and gas exploration, including fracking. The idea appears to be just as controversial in the U.K. as it is in the U.S.: A YouGov poll released in April found 43 percent of British people were opposed to fracking, while 32 percent supported it.

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The Times piece cited a University of Nottingham study, which found that while 58 percent of British men are in favor of fracking only 31.5 percent of women are. That’s because women are more likely to rely on “gut reaction” rather than facts, according to Macdonald.

“Why are men persuaded? That’s because an awful lot of facts have been put forward,” she said. “[Men] will say, ‘fair enough, [I] understand.’ But women, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded by the facts.”

Macdonald faced immediate backlash on social media for her remarks:





Macdonald took to The Guardian’s opinion page to defend herself against charges of sexism.

“Women do not like being preached to by men, and the shale gas industry – like many other industries in this country – is dominated by men and engineers at that,” she wrote Friday. “I hope to be able to offer another perspective which will help achieve understanding and acceptance of energy that will help us all.”

Also on HuffPost:


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Rapping Less And Making GIFs More: The Week In ‘Hotline Bling’

NPR Music contributor Erika Ramirez charts the viral ascent of Drake’s new music video — and some of the conversations flourishing in the background.

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Latin Roots: Calma Carmona

Hear the soulful Puerto Rican singer, who’s opened for Beyoncé, as she performs live for World Cafe.

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Company That Imported Illegally Logged Timber Pleads Guilty To Environmental Crimes

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty Thursday to environmental crimes related to importing flooring manufactured in China from timber illegally logged in eastern Russia, the habitat for the world’s last remaining Siberian tigers and Amur leopards.

The Toano, Virginia-based company entered a plea agreement to one felony and four misdemeanors in U.S. District Court. As part of the agreement, the company agreed to pay $13.2 million to end a federal investigation. The Justice Department said the financial penalty is the largest ever imposed for illegal timber trafficking.

Sentencing was set for Feb. 1.

According to a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Lumber Liquidators should have known the flooring manufactured in China was made from illegally sourced Mongolian oak. However, the company failed to heed “red flags” as required by the company’s own internal procedures, the court papers say.

“Lumber Liquidators’ race to profit resulted in the plundering of forests and wildlife habitat that, if continued, could spell the end of the Siberian tiger,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden said in a written statement.

The government says the illegally harvested oak came from forests that are home to the last 450 wild Siberian tigers and some of the fewer than 50 remaining Amur leopards.

The plea agreement is unrelated to the controversy over some of Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring from China, which CBS’ “60 Minutes” has reported contains high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde.

More than half of the financial penalty is a criminal fine. The company also will pay $1.23 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the foundation’s Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, along with a $3.2 million civil fine.


Related on HuffPost:


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What Women Can Learn From Paul Ryan. Really.

Paul Ryan may not support any policies that help working women, but this week he did something that all working women can actually learn from. 

He clearly asked for what he needed at work in order to successfully balance his needs as a father of three young children.

“I cannot and will not give up my family time,” said the Republican representative from Wisconsin, explaining that he would only take the position of House speaker if he could continue to have time to spend with his wife and three young kids. He had some other demands, as well, about Republican unity.

Ryan’s demand for family time is emblematic of how younger generations are beginning to think about the workplace. Millennials and even Gen Xers like the 45-year-old Ryan don’t necessarily want to sacrifice their family to the altar of their career — even if they’re holding big-shot fancy-pants political or corporate jobs.

“Younger generations want more balance, and unless people demand changes, companies are just going to react they way they always have,” Linda Babcock, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon who does a lot of work on gender in the workplace, told HuffPost Wednesday morning. In other words: Unless you speak up, most companies will continue to work you — until you break.

At this point, most younger adults — particularly millennials — seem to agree that you shouldn’t have to work all the time at the expense of having a life. Still, there’s a big-time reticence, particularly among women, to speak up about this issue in the office. 

Instead, many women and men just quietly suffer through their work lives until they burn out and quit or ask for a scaled-down role. Some men just pretend to work all the time, as one recent study showed.

Ryan, on the other hand, is being upfront about what he wants. More of us should be — even though there’s potential for backlash. Particularly for women.

Men face less hostility when they ask for family time, as study after study has noted. Most people applaud a man who wants to be with his family.

“Women get a different reaction,” Babcock said. “People think ‘Oh, she’s not serious.’ There is still a double-standard.”

Women should understand that in standing up for what they need, there could be consequences, Babcock added.

But if more of us try, it’s going to be harder to isolate us. And it helps that high-profile men like Ryan are out there making noise about this. 

Some workplaces are trying to make it easier for workers to speak up. “We want to create an environment for people to say what they need,” Ellyn Shook, the chief human resource officer at Accenture told HuffPost this summer.

Even the most senior women at the consulting firm don’t necessarily ask for what they want, she said. And sometimes it’s nothing that major: like someone who wants to always show up at her daughter’s dance class on Wednesday afternoons. Part of Shook’s mission is making sure people know it’s cool to bring these things up. 

And any good boss should operate that way, of course. The idea is not to put the onus entirely on an employee’s shoulders.

Of course, it’s worth noting that not all workers have the luxury of making demands on their bosses — especially those who work at lower-paying jobs.

Ryan, it seems safe to say, doesn’t really work in the most supportive of environments. Some conservatives were openly hostile to the idea of a man who was concerned with spending time with family, as HuffPost’s Sam Stein noted.

Even in 2015, there’s an expectation that men should seek power and “family takes a back seat,” Stein writes.

That’s the expectation that actually underlies a lot of the thinking behind Republican policy — which makes Ryan’s demands more than a little ironic, as many have noted.

In 2009, Ryan voted against a bill that would’ve given paternity leave to federal employees, Jezebel pointed out. He and his party also oppose federally mandated paid family leave. Part of the general rationale there is: If women stay home and don’t hold full-time jobs, why would you need paid maternity leave? (The rest has to do with “corporate freedom.”)

“Perhaps if Paul Ryan hadn’t spent much of his political career fighting laws that promote realistic work-life balance for parents of all socioeconomic levels,” Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan writes, “Asking for family time would make him look more like a hero and less like a hypocrite.”

Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pluck some wisdom from the wreckage of the hypocrisy.

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