Yanni Wetzell making his mark with the Phoenix, aims for future in the NBA


All those traits have the former San Diego State star listed as someone with NBA potential.

Wetzell dreams of making it to the next level and if he does it would be an enormous rise for a player who spent his teens pursing tennis before switching to basketball as a 17-year-old after a surprise growth spurt.

“It’s been a development process, I arrived in the US to play division two college, I had a lot of raw potential but wasn’t polished at all – that all developed in my five years over there,” Wetzell said.

“I have a bit to thank tennis for because my footwork is probably my best asset and it is probably like that because of tennis and a big reason why I have had success so far.”

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell sees a big future for Wetzell.

Imposing: Wetzell uses his huge frame to great effect on defence.

Imposing: Wetzell uses his huge frame to great effect on defence.Credit:Getty Images

“He’s a great kid, very coachable and will do wonderful things,” Mitchell said.

“I think he’s another young guy in the NBL who we will see at the next level [NBA] at some stage.“

Wetzell was almost lost to the NBL during the prolonged off-season. The Phoenix signed him only for a German club to make an offer good enough to trigger his European out-clause.

But that deal didn’t work out as he encountered repeated delays attempting to secure a European passport. Fortunately, the Phoenix still had a roster spot open.

It’s proven a blessing in disguise as he has fit well with his teammates who are chasing a rare away win in Perth on Sunday against reigning champions the Wildcats.

Some players would be cowed by the thoughts of a 11,000 West Australians roaring against you but Wetzell can’t wait to hit the court.

“I love big crowds, big energy,” Wetzell said.

“When it’s all against you then you need to come together as a unit. I always look forward to those sort of hostile environments.

“My dream is always to play on the biggest stage, if that [NBA] happens one day that would be awesome but my focus is to win as many games here and help this team in any way I can.”

South East Melbourne Phoenix play Perth Wildcats at RAC Arena, Perth on Sunday at 5pm AEDT.

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Is remote working making imposter syndrome worse?


Do you often find yourself faced with feelings of not being ‘good enough’, or that you’ve tricked others into thinking you’re better than you are? A new study has found that you’re not alone

Imposter syndrome is on the rise, according to a study by work management tool Asana. The global study, which sampled 13,000 people – including 2,010 from the UK – has found that the levels of those experiencing imposter syndrome have hit 69%, with 45% saying this has worsened for them since working in a remote environment.


What is imposter syndrome?

Do you ever find yourself second-guessing your qualifications? Feel as though you’ve tricked those around you into accepting you? Believe everything that has happened to you is just luck? Or experience a persisting feeling of being inadequate? This is imposter syndrome.

Rooted in self-doubt, imposter syndrome tells us that we’re not good enough, or that we shouldn’t have the things that we have. It’s rooted in anxiety, linked to perfectionism, and can lead to other mental health problems such as burnout and depression.


Assessing the findings, researchers from Asana have linked this increase to our switch to remote working during lockdown – with less support and communication between colleagues leaving space for anxious thoughts to manifest themselves unchecked.

Speaking to this, Asana’s head of EMEA, Simon O’Kane said: “Our latest research illustrates the increased levels of imposter syndrome, anxiety and burnout many British office workers are currently experiencing.

“With a third lockdown in place, and many now facing the prospect of more remote working in the weeks and months ahead, never has it been more important for companies to not only look after the wellbeing of their staff, but also fully understand the unique challenges their employees may be facing.”

Despite this advice, the study also found that just 19% of respondents felt confident enough to reach out to their employer to speak about the challenges that they are facing.



Speaking to Happiful about tackling imposter syndrome in the workplace, career coach and author Tessa Armstrong notes that imposter syndrome can lead us into vicious cycles of over-preparing and over-thinking tasks, which triggers self-doubt and anxiety. And it’s clear to see how that would be an easy trap to fall into while working remotely.

But there is a way out, and Tessa shares some great tips for addressing your own thinking, and catching yourself before you spiral into self-doubt.

Although it’s never easy, the first step to address any mental health problem is so often reaching out to others. Talking about mental health at work might feel strange, or stressful, but the payoff for your wellbeing could be huge.


To find a life coach near you, head to lifecoach-directory.org.uk



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The Riverina State group is making a further push for separation from NSW | The Border Mail


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With a new year brings goals and resolutions, with one Riverina man vowing to continue his push for the area to become its very own state. David Landini last year registered The Riverina State as a political party as he continues to build a case for electorates from the area to form their own state. According to Mr Landini, the Riverina is generally the eight electorates west of the Great Dividing Range, including water management infrastructure such as Hume, Burrinjuck and Blowering Dams, and the Murray River. Mr Landini ran for the seat of Murray as an independent at the last state election in 2019. Since then, he believes his case for a Riverina State has only strengthened. “It appears increasingly obvious that state and federal politicians intend to continue the reduction, if not complete closing, of the irrigation, timber and other natural resource based industries in NSW,” Mr Landini said. “This has a corresponding negative affect on the lives of the people in this area. IN OTHER NEWS: “Regrettably, the domination of NSW by the large population centres of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, and their lack of interest in non-metropolitan industries, and the large Green oriented portion of this population, will most likely ensure that the reduction in irrigation etc continues.” Mr Landini said a Riverina State, separate from NSW, would have authority over all the water, timber and other natural resources within its area. “Government by the people in the Riverina will ensure that use of these resources, and other governance, are most beneficial for the people in this state,” he said. “This will ensure the irrigation, timber and other natural resource based industries prosper, with corresponding prosperity for these people.” The Riverina State group intends to advocate for a new state via public promotion, and hopes to eventually hold a referendum of the people in the Riverina on whether to leave NSW. “(We would then) use the expected successful result to compel the NSW Parliament to consent to this formation,” Mr Landini said. “The consent of the Parliament of NSW is the only requirement for the formation of this state.”

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NBA star Patty Mills making Indigenous hoop dreams a reality


NBA star Patty Mills has unveiled the opening rounds of a new Indigenous basketball competition, which he believes will make Australian history.

The San Antonio Spurs and Boomers guard has been in hot form in the NBA this season while also keeping an eye on one of his other passions, providing pathways for young Indigenous talent as a way to give back to the game in Australia.

Patty Mills wants to promote healthy lifestyles, cultural awareness and find new basketball stars with the IBA.Credit:Team Mills Foundation

He helped found Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA), a not-for-profit organisation that aims to deliver community and grassroots hoops programs for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander players.

Now his vision is about to come to life, with the first steps en route to a national tournament on the Gold Coast in April. From February 7, Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) tournaments for 14-year-olds will be held in Perth, Darwin, Thursday Island, Alice Springs, Adelaide, Dubbo, Logan and Cairns.

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Making life difficult. Russian lawmakers rush to tighten legislation ahead of the 2021 State Duma elections




In the lead up to the close of the State Duma’s fall 2020 session on December 24, Russian lawmakers were working in “turbo mode.” In a matter of days, they submitted and successfully adopted — although sometimes only in the first reading — an array of bills that will seriously tighten the country’s legislation concerning “foreign agents,” public demonstrations, election campaigning, and “educational activities.” Generally speaking, lawmakers from the ruling party, United Russia, introduced these initiatives, though they were sometimes joined by their colleagues from nominal opposition parties. Politicians and experts alike told Meduza that the new legislation will make it much more difficult for opposition parties to nominate candidates, run campaigns, organize public rallies, and monitor the integrity of elections in Russia. All of which will affect the State Duma elections set to take place in 2021.

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Making the Green Deal real – POLITICO


In the third chapter of The Wonk’s Survival Guide to the European Green Deal, POLITICO looks at how the revolution that’s required for companies, consumers and governments will be enforced and carried out.



Here come the lawyers

Taking countries to court for Green Deal backsliding is the Commission’s ‘last resort.’

By LOUISE GUILLOT

The Commission aims to build national support for the Green Deal with dollops of money, but to ensure countries follow along it’s also swinging a big stick: infringement procedures, or legal challenges — and ultimately financial penalties — against EU countries.

“The Green Deal is very clear that new measures on their own will not be enough to achieve its objectives,” Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius told POLITICO, explaining the European Commission’s reasoning on why it will step up enforcement of existing environmental legislation.

Infringement procedures are laid out step-by-step in EU law, starting with a letter of formal notice to a national capital and, if a country refuses to comply, ending with a case before the Court of Justice of the EU and stinging fines. At the end of 2019, there were a total of 327 open infringement cases relating to the environment, the highest number of any area, the Commission said in its annual review.

The Commission has rolled out its heavy artillery for cases ranging from air quality to improper Polish and Romanian logging in protected forests. In its latest infringement package, the Commission was particularly careful in showing how opening infringements for breaches of existing environmental rules is contributing to reaching the Green Deal’s objectives.

A crucial part of the Green Deal is setting targets for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions every decade until hitting net zero by 2050; countries could be sued for missing those goals — although the Commission is likely to initially hold its fire.

“Infringement proceedings are always the last course of action,” said Sinkevičius, adding that the Commission has already “stepped up efforts to provide financial, technical and policy support to member states to help them identify and fill implementation gaps in key areas, such as zero pollution, circular economy, biodiversity and environmental governance.”

Infringements tend to be an effective tool in ensuring member countries comply with EU law because “it’s bad publicity, it never looks good,” said Andreas Hofmann, a researcher at the Free University of Berlin who studied the EU’s top court and how the Commission uses litigation to achieve policy goals.

Another reason for Commission caution is a lack of staff, said Anaïs Berthier, senior environmental lawyer with the NGO ClientEarth. “There is very little capacity [in DG Environment], and it hasn’t been increased,” she said. That might get even worse in the future, when Commission officials will be asked to add Green Deal compliance to their normal roster of overseeing existing environmental legislation.

Helping hands

One solution is outsourcing.

NGOs are often the eyes and ears of the Commission on the ground, and can help flag breaches of EU law, said Ugo Taddei, lawyer and head of the clean air team at the legal charity ClientEarth.

“We have a huge implementation gap in Europe,” Taddei said. He added that “member states often think that environmental laws are just indicative targets that we will try to achieve only if we have enough resources or if it suits their policy statements, but it’s not something binding.”

Previous Commissions “supported sort of an outsourcing of enforcement to private actors, in particular NGOs,” Hofmann said. In some cases, NGOs can pursue backsliding countries through national courts — as happened in the Netherlands where a court ordered the government to boost emissions cuts.

Outsourcing has some advantages for the Commission: It saves money, it can be faster than bringing the case to the EU’s top court, it avoids national governments blaming Brussels and it’s difficult for governments to ignore their own courts.

But when there are questions about the independence of national courts, Brussels relies more on EU institutions.

“I think the Commission is quite aware of that and we can see how in the last years, the amount of infringement procedures against Poland and Hungary have really gone up in all types of fields,” Hofmann said.

Now there’s another reason the Commission’s lawyers are likely to have their hands full.



A tale of two Belgian cities going green

Booting cars out of city centers unleashes big political fights.

By AITOR HERNÁNDEZ-MORALES and KARL MATHIESEN

To see the limitations of the European Green Deal first hand, hop on a bike and cycle from Brussels to the historic city of Leuven, some 30 kilometers to the east.

To meet its 2050 climate neutrality goal, the EU will have to, among other things, free city streets of emissions-spewing vehicles to make way for cleaner types of transportation. Some municipalities, like Brussels, will find that a steep challenge. For others, like Leuven, the road will be smoother — but not without obstacles.

In Brussels, a city of 1.2 million, the confusion manifests on the streets. In the EU capital, cohesive planning has proved difficult. Decisions about mobility must be negotiated between the region and 19 communes with overlapping political priorities. We crossed five local government jurisdictions just trying to get out of the capital. Each had differing cycle infrastructure and few real checks on congestion.

Once free from Brussels, it takes about an hour to get to Leuven along a bicycle highway that winds along a railroad track, by single-family homes and past fragrant fields of horses and cows. Whizzing downhill into the city center, the silence is striking as traffic noise drops away.

In recent years, Leuven has been the scene of a two-wheeled revolution. The city is divided into six sectors; cars aren’t allowed to cross between them, and instead are pushed out to a ring road. It makes running local errands in a private car time-consuming and inconvenient.

The scheme is the brainchild of mobility expert Tim Asperges, who was hired six years ago to address a worsening congestion problem. Wearing sensible shoes, he joined us to show off his work, peddling past bike schools, pedestrianized streets and spiraling multistory bike ramps. “I am convinced it really can work everywhere,” he said.

The thing is, it almost didn’t work in Leuven. Wealthy, mid-sized cities such as Leuven — population 100,000 — are ideally suited for the green transition. But Asperges’ transformation almost collapsed before it even began.

When his proposals were introduced, they drew considerable opposition — mainly from merchants who feared kicking cars out of the center would affect their bottom line. When council members’ support started wavering, Asperges was convinced a year’s work was doomed.

In stepped Leuven’s Mayor Louis Tobback, a former Belgian interior minister who governed the Flemish city between 1995 and 2018. According to Asperges, Tobback pulled wavering council members into a room, banged the table and told them the scheme must be approved. “He was one of these really powerful figures who could use their political capital to get things done,” he said.

Change then came quickly. Within a year of implementing Asperges’ plan, cycling increased by 32 percent, and since then car traffic has dropped by nearly one-fifth in the urban center. The train station is surrounded by garages for 5,200 bicycles. Those are full. A major building site next door will create space for 4,000 more.

As the EU tries to cut transport emissions around the bloc, much will depend on whether cities like Brussels will follow Leuven’s example, or even be able to.

In 2018, local elections in Brussels put Green politicians into the majority of the 19 communes’ mobility positions. Bart Dhondt, the city’s alderman of mobility and public works, explained that while some COVID-related measures to slow down traffic and remove cars from the city center have been adopted, the Belgian capital’s car-centric citizenry and shopkeepers remain skeptical of larger-scale changes.

“Mobility is a very touchy subject right now,” said Dhondt. The alderman added that he appreciated that the EU’s Green Deal “gives voice to the dream of a greener urban future,” but said, “it would be nice if there were also funds set aside for these investments, for greening cities.”

A Commission proposal to create 100 climate neutral cities across Europe by 2030 estimates it would cost around €10,000 per citizen to rid cities of most of their emissions — around €1 billion for Leuven and €25 billion for Brussels. The “overwhelming part” of this will not come from the EU, the report said, but from the private sector and local, regional and national governments.

Asperges acknowledged Leuven’s wealth, stable industries and climate-conscious university of 65,000 students were crucial to making his plans work. The city demands public works from developers in exchange for planning permission — and they readily pay. “Money has never been a problem,” he said.

Other cities won’t be so lucky, and Asperges warned that getting funding from the EU takes “a lot of energy.”

“Europe is there, but it’s also far away,” said Asperges, wheeling his bike back to the municipal office block where he works.

This article has been updated to correct the population of Brussels. It is 1.2 million.



Quiz: What the Green Deal means for you …

… and what you mean for the Green Deal.

By JAN CIENSKI and KALINA OROSCHAKOFF

You might not be able to bend the curve on climate change on your own, but it’s still good to know just where you stand with the world at large. POLITICO put together a quiz to determine how much you’re helping or hurting the planet. If the question doesn’t exactly hit your own personal circumstances, pick the answer that gets as close as possible.



You can’t save the planet (alone)

Individual action won’t be enough to stop climate change, but it can sometimes motivate others.

By ELINE SCHAART

Recycle your trash. Turn off the lights when you leave home. Don’t eat meat. Think before flying. Don’t drive an SUV. Bike to work.

It’s a common refrain from many climate campaigners: We carry the fate of the planet in our hands.

But while it’s true that the wheels of the economy are dictated by consumer choices, some activists argue that the real decision-makers when it comes to addressing global warming are corporations and governments.

In his book “Een beter milieu begint niet bij jezelf” or “A better environment doesn’t start with yourself,” the Dutch journalist Jaap Tielbeke writes that real change starts with politics: “Not with buying a Tesla, but when investing in public transport. Not with becoming a vegan, but with the elimination of intensive livestock farming.”

There are numbers to back up the idea that it’s the big players that really matter. A 2017 study by the Climate Accountability Institute found that 71 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 could be traced to just 100 fossil fuel companies, many of them state-owned.

Richard Heede, the author of the study, said fossil fuel companies are “at the nexus of deciding how much carbon fuels are delivered to consumers worldwide.”

Joint effort

That doesn’t mean, however, that individuals are off the hook, according to Heede. The study found that roughly 90 percent of the greenhouse gases produced by those 100 companies are the result of burning fuel for energy — and that does mean that cutting back on things like driving or flying matters.

“It’s the consumers that actually burn and demand the fossil fuels that these companies provide,” said Heede. He said that where companies bear most responsibility is for actions like lobbying against emissions cuts or in favor of subsidies for polluting industries.

In order to hit the European Commission’s target of cutting emissions by 55 percent by 2030, both companies and people have to step up, said Kimberly Nicholas, associate professor of sustainability science at Sweden’s Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies.

Nicholas co-authored a study that ranked 148 individual actions on climate change according to their impact. It found that having fewer children is the best way to reduce a person’s contribution to climate change, followed by giving up cars and avoiding long-haul flights. Those do much more to cut greenhouse gas emissions than eating a plant-based diet, recycling or switching from plastic to canvas bags.

“We need a drastic system change,” said Nicholas, and most of that has to happen among the world’s wealthiest people. “The top 1 percent of households emit 22 times the per capita climate targets, while only 5 percent of households live within the targets at the moment,” she said.

Personal influence

Another way that individual actions can have an effect is that in many cases, they turn out to be contagious. The behavior of a single person may not bend the curve on climate change, but setting an example of cleaner living can have a bigger impact if others follow.

Google’s Project Sunroof website allows people to see who has solar panels in a given neighborhood (it only works in the U.S. for now). It shows that panels are not randomly distributed but appear in clusters.

“There’s enough evidence that shows that good behavior spreads,” said Nicholas.

Even more effective is using voting and direct pressure to get governments and companies to change policies, Heede and Nicholas said.

“Relying on individual capacity to reduce will not suffice, you need to vote appropriately and help run the companies we work for,” said Heede.



All photographs by Getty Images and iStock; illustration via iStock

This Wonk’s Survival Guide is produced with full editorial independence by POLITICO reporters and editors. Learn more about editorial content presented by outside advertisers.



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PGA of America’s Sandy Cross: Making Golf More Inclusive


SANDY CROSS: The PGA of America does not have a great historical track record. Back in 1934 to 1961 in our constitution, in our bylaws of our association, we had a “Caucasian-only” clause. The fact to think that that existed in our history is awful, it’s not something we’re proud of. But I’ll be honest, it’s something that we are open about now and we talk about now and we’re transparent about and we own that past. We have to have these conversations in order to advance racial inclusion in the workplace. It is not going to happen on its own. You’ve got to lead with inclusion, you’ve got to talk about it, own it, be transparent, and that is what’s going to affect and propel a positive change.

PORTER BRASWELL: From HBR Presents, this is Race at Work — the show where we explore how race affects our careers and our lives. I’m Porter Braswell. I left a Wall Street career to start a company called Jopwell because I wanted to help corporate America build a more diverse workforce. Each week, we talk to a different leader about their journey with race, equity, and inclusion. These are the conversations we don’t usually have at work. But this show is a safe place to share and learn from each other.

PORTER BRASWELL: Up until 1961, women and people of color were barred from joining the Professional Golfers’ Association of America by its “Caucasian-only” clause. That limited who could work in the golf industry. Our guest this week is Sandy Cross, Chief People Officer of the PGA of America. In addition to driving a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture at the corporate level, she’s also working to increase racial representation in the golf industry.

PORTER BRASWELL: Before we get started, a quick disclosure. PGA of America is a client of my company Jopwell. And just to clarify, the PGA of America is a trade association for the people who own, manage, or work at golf courses and clubs, which is a separate organization from the PGA Tour. OK, let’s get into it.

PORTER BRASWELL: You played a pivotal role in lobbying the PGA of America to make diversity and inclusion a priority. So how did you make that business case?

SANDY CROSS: In 2014, the PGA of America leadership positioned diversity and inclusion for the first time ever in nearly our 100-year history. It positioned diversity and inclusion as a founding principle in our long-term strategic plan. At the time, we did not have a dedicated team or an outlined strategic plan of how we were going to bring that foundational commitment to life. And I was very fortunate, very blessed to be granted that opportunity to develop the team, develop the plan, form a diversity and inclusion department, and lead that charge. And I’ve been overseeing that area of our business since 2014.

PORTER BRASWELL: What was the reason for stepping up and saying, “I’ll take charge of this”?

SANDY CROSS: I was inspired, Porter, because prior to that moment I had an opportunity for three years to lead our women’s initiatives for the PGA of America. We were leading an industry effort called “Connecting with Her,” where we were trying to bring more women into the sport and retain them in the sport. We had done a study with the Boston Consulting Group and at the time there were 32 million women identified in America that were interested in taking up the sport [of golf], but one of two things: they were either too intimidated or they had never been invited. So it was leading the “Connecting with Her” strategic initiative, that opened my eyes to the world of diversity and inclusion and the dozens of dimensions of difference. And that was the work that gave me the inspiration to want to take on the broader inclusion and diversity effort for the PGA of America and really the golf industry at large.

PORTER BRASWELL: As you think about your work focusing on gender and then expanding that work to focus on race, what were some of the differences or similarities of your approach to increase representation within those two groups?

SANDY CROSS: So, the similarity between the gender work and the broader inclusion work including racial and ethnic diversity is education and skill development of our PGA professionals at the local level because that’s where the rubber meets the road. The PGA of America membership is not very racially diverse — 91 percent of our membership is Caucasian. It’s critically important that we elevate those PGA professionals’ understanding of diversity, as well as inclusion, the difference between those two, and the business case for them, and most importantly how do you operationalize inclusion at your golf facility. That’s the point of play in America, that is where consumers from diverse backgrounds are going to have a great experience or maybe not a great experience. So, one of the biggest differences, Porter, between the gender inclusion work and the broader inclusion work, particularly with racial and ethnic diversity that has really emerged for me as front burner, is realizing that the experience for our talent who is racially diverse and or customers at the golf course level who are racially diverse can be a very different one. We have to recognize that. And for many years there was such an emphasis on recruiting diverse talent, recruiting diverse customers, and there was such a laser focus on that. But what we needed to do more of was put equal emphasis on making sure that the environment we were recruiting that talent and those new customers, those new golfers, into was inclusive. When that talent comes in and those customers come in they’re going to have a great experience.

PORTER BRASWELL: Well, on the back of that, I grew up in a family that played a lot of golf. My sister was the captain of the women’s golf team at Rutgers University and she’s a phenomenal golfer to this day. And I’m somewhat of a hack, I’m okay, I’m a 10 handicap. But I’ve been in many settings within country clubs where I have found myself to be “the only.” And I’ve also been in many settings within country clubs where the only other Black person that I saw was a server. So, what level of responsibility does the PGA have to increase the representation, especially at the private club level where to the point of what you were saying earlier so much of getting into the sport is being invited into the sport. And when the country clubs don’t reflect what this country looks like, odds are as a person of color you’re not going to know a member who belongs to that club that looks like you. So, how does the PGA influence that, at a private club level?

SANDY CROSS: I believe the PGA of America has a tremendous responsibility to evolve representation at the local golf course facility level. Now, we don’t own and operate the golf facilities around America, but our PGA professionals, who we have recruited and trained and help get employment opportunities to run those golf facilities, we have a relationship with them. And again, we can educate and train, create awareness, and inspire them to lead the workforce diversification effort at their facilities, including private facilities.

SANDY CROSS: We previously were laser-focused on what we call player development bringing in new customers to the game. And while that is still critically important and growth of the game is part of our mission, we had a real “aha” moment when we looked at the data on the demographic composition, from a race and ethnicity standpoint, of the workforce across the golf industry. And there are approximately two million jobs in golf, there are small businesses all over the country. And we looked at that workforce out there particularly the full-time employees, senior management, leaders, and board representation, and the numbers were really, really poor. And we realized that we will never have a diverse playing populace within the sport if we do not evolve the workforce that is delivering the product. So, the workforce that is delivering the product has to reflect the demographics of America in order to attract in players. And thirdly, we have added a focus to diversify the supply chain of the golf industry. It’s an $84 billion a year industry, but if you think about our diverse-owned businesses, women owned, minority owned, LGBT, veteran, disabled-owned businesses getting a piece of that economic opportunity, if they participate in the economics of golf, their interest in playing the sport is likely going to blossom. This fundamental shift from just participation, who’s picking up a golf club, to who’s working in the game, who’s delivering the product and who is participating in the supply chain, and we’re really starting to see some traction with that expanded focus.

PORTER BRASWELL: So shifting the conversation a bit. How do you personally approach being an ally to colleagues from underrepresented backgrounds or in your personal life and why is allyship so important?

SANDY CROSS: Porter, I believe allyship is so important and personally, and this is something that I learned from my father. It wasn’t something that he told me to do, but I observed him doing it at all times — and that is having an others first mindset. It’s a little along the lines of empathy and empathic leadership but truly listening deeply and trying to put yourself in the other individual’s shoes. I think that’s a critical part of allyship. And also, so we’ve done this in our workplace particularly during the pandemic when we’re working in a distributed environment, is an always-on listening approach. So we have to listen more than ever and more authentically than ever. Some of that listening is through the virtual airwaves but a lot of it is also through weekly pulse surveys that we do, engagement surveys that we do, where our employees can tell us in a very candid manner, how they’re feeling, what is their experience and we monitor that on a weekly basis. And the reason that it was important for us to do that, Porter, is the PGA of America does not have a great historical track record. Back in 1934 to 1961 in our constitution, in our bylaws of our association, we had a “Caucasian-only” clause. The fact to think that that existed in our history is awful. It’s not something we’re proud of. But I’ll be honest, it’s something that we are open about now and we talk about now, and we’re transparent about, and we own that past. Because of that past we did not have authenticity in communities of color that we aspire to attract to the game, and the workforce, and the supply chain. In order to enhance our authenticity it’s been important for us to partner with strategic inclusion organizations who are willing to carry our message into communities of color, in particular, and validate that we are committed, and that we are doing the deep work, and that we are moving the agenda forward.

PORTER BRASWELL: Can you talk a little bit more about that clause and what that meant specifically for Black individuals wanting to join either the PGA Tour or the PGA of America?

SANDY CROSS: Back in the period from 1934 to 1961, at that time, the PGA of America and the PGA Tour were a singular organization. It was the PGA of America. And within our constitution and bylaws, we had a “Caucasian-only” clause that basically stated you had to be a Caucasian male in order to join the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. Racially diverse individuals and women were not allowed to join at that time. So in 1961, that was changed — repealed, if you will if that’s the right word. And then a milestone moment as well, it was many years later, Porter, but I’d love to share it, in 2011 our leadership under Jim Remy who was our president at the time, he posthumously elected into PGA of America membership three individuals, Ted Rhodes, Bill Spiller, and John Shippen, who previously due to the “Caucasian” clause were denied membership in the PGA of America. And at our PGA Annual Meeting in 2011, we did our very best with the families of those deceased individuals to try and right the wrong. It will never be right, but we wanted to do the very best we could to help, at least a little bit, heal some of those wounds. And I remember that annual meeting vividly because at the time I was our director of business development and I wasn’t working in the inclusion and diversity space. And I was sitting in the audience as a staff member watching this presentation unfold and I was so moved but also so surprised and so shocked. Because at the time I had been on the PGA of America team for 15 years and I had no idea that this was part of our history.

PORTER BRASWELL: Yeah, I appreciate that and I agree that acknowledging it and talking about it allows for people to understand what happened in the past, the context in which it occurred, and ensure it never happens again. So I appreciate you sharing that story. I do want to ask you about Wendell Haskins. He’s the former senior diversity director of multicultural initiatives at the PGA of America. He left in 2017. This past summer he wrote an open letter about his experiences as a Black executive at the PGA of America. He shared several examples of the explicit and silent microaggressions that he experienced while working at the PGA, the lack of representation throughout the organization, and the need for more diverse representation at the board level. How is the PGA of America acknowledging his experiences and how are you addressing it?

SANDY CROSS: Porter, Wendell had a challenging experience at the PGA of America and, as you mentioned, he did write an open letter this past June, I believe, to share some of those experiences. And while the letter doesn’t disclose the full context — and unfortunately I’m not at liberty to share the details — we do take that letter very seriously. And our CEO Seth Waugh spoke to Wendell after the letter was published. Seth really took the letter and what Wendell shared to heart. Seth spent time after that with some of our team members, trying to gain more insight and perspective on what might’ve happened those number of years ago. And what I can say is that we are a much more mature organization, from a workplace inclusion perspective, than we were five years ago. We now lead with inclusion versus let’s focus on hiring diverse talent and stop there — really making sure that we have an inclusive environment. So we learned a lot from the experience. We learned a lot from Wendell sharing his perspective in the letter and some subsequent articles and interviews, and we continue to learn.

PORTER BRASWELL: Yeah. As a senior leader within the organization and somebody tasked with building the culture — you were one of the individuals that were named in the Sports Illustrated article. Are there things that you have personally learned from his experiences that have helped you evolve in this dialogue, as well?

SANDY CROSS: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and to follow on your point, Porter, I was one of four supervisors that Wendell had during his time at the PGA of America. I was the second of the four. And I know I keep emphasizing it, but the most important thing was the leading with inclusion and the authentic listening. The workplace experience for racially and ethnically diverse talent can be a very different one, unless we are deliberately and actively making sure that it’s not.

PORTER BRASWELL: So, I know the PGA of America did a language audit. Can you tell me about how you found that language affects your ability to engage with people across differences?

SANDY CROSS: Yes we did do a language audit and baked within the fabric of golf, or the culture of golf, are words and phrases and sometimes etiquette and mores, if you will, that can inadvertently be off putting or be exclusionary. And one of the examples that I like to use — I imagine many of our listeners are golfers, but some non-golfers as well — is on the golf course on each hole there are tees, typically five sets of tees. And when you step up to the tee box to place your tee in the ground and set up for your shot, you have to select one of the tees, tee yardages. And oftentimes at golf facilities you will find that the forward most set of tees, which are the shortest length, are referred to as the “ladies’ tees.” And if you think about that, that inadvertently suggests to everyone that women’s skill and ability is less than a male’s skill and ability, when it comes to golf. So that’s one example of something that came out in the inclusion audit. There’s a lot phrases embedded in the game that we’ve tried to again minimize and move out of the language.

PORTER BRASWELL: Do you ever get direct pushback on your efforts to increase representation? Are there people that are so bold to tell you, “Let’s keep golf the way it is.”

SANDY CROSS: I don’t often get direct pushback. If there’s pushback it’s more subtle or simply someone disengaging or under engaging but not blatant instances of pushback don’t come to mind for me. It’s just more maybe a low energy, lackluster, little disengaging. You know, you can tell when someone wants to partner with you and help you advance the agenda. You can tell very quickly whose heart’s in it, whose mind is in it, and who is walking the walk.

PORTER BRASWELL: So, for corporate leaders listening to this, when they come across individuals within the organization that aren’t as motivated or passionate about increasing representation within their organization — what advice can you provide for leaders to try to bring those people along the journey? Or should the attention be focused elsewhere, on those that want to be a part of that journey?

SANDY CROSS: I do think it’s absolutely worth the effort to try to collaborate with them. And one thing that we have found to be very successful and impactful, and I would recommend this for others, is to not prop up this standalone diversity and inclusion function and tuck it into HR where it is not embedded across the business. Now, you do need some people who are dedicated with a focus on diversity and inclusion but they should be tasked with partnering shoulder-to-shoulder with their colleagues across all of the lines of business to help those colleagues look at their line of the business through a lens of inclusion. And help them understand the power of diversity and inclusion and how that can more easily help them attain their goals and objectives within their area of the business. It’s a little bit of the what’s in it for me approach. I think that is particularly impactful when you take that partnership approach and show them what’s in it for them.

PORTER BRASWELL: So one final question, and I like to ask all of our guests the same question, should race be discussed at work?

SANDY CROSS: Race should absolutely be discussed at work, in my opinion. And it goes back to some of the sentiments I shared earlier, Porter, about ownership and transparency. We have to have these conversations in order to advance racial inclusion in the workplace. It is not going to happen on its own. You’ve got to lead with inclusion, you’ve got to talk about it, own it, be transparent, and that is what’s going to affect and propel a positive change.

PORTER BRASWELL: Well Sandy, I appreciate you joining us on this podcast. You all have such a unique opportunity, as the changing demographics in this country keep evolving towards being a majority-minority country — what the PGA can then represent and become. There’s still a lot of progress to be made and a lot of opportunity to create impact at such a large scale. So thank you for joining us, and I appreciate the conversation, and looking forward to many more conversations in the future.

SANDY CROSS: Thank you as well, Porter, it’s a real pleasure.

PORTER BRASWELL: That’s Sandy Cross, Chief People Officer at the PGA of America. This episode was produced by Amy Chyan and edited by Anne Saini. I’m Porter Braswell. Thanks for listening to Race at Work — part of the HBR Presents network.



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The United Arab Emirates is trying to rebrand its image by making changes to its ‘antiquated’ legal system


Like many expatriates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australian Frances McGregor thinks Dubai is a modern and glamorous place to call home.

This is a city that boasts the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest shopping mall, a water park just for dogs, and traffic jams comprised entirely of luxury European cars.

It has long sold itself to Westerners as a liberal outpost in the Middle East, where you could wear bikinis on the beach and drink in bars and restaurants.

But for Ms McGregor, the case of a young Filipina waitress who was raped on her way home from work punctured that glittering facade.

Australian Frances McGregor says she still remembers a case in the UAE where a victim was treated like the criminal.(ABC News: Shaikh Saleh)

The woman reported what happened to police but ended up being jailed the next day. Ms McGregor, whose company employed the woman, tried to intervene.

“So the victim there was treated like the criminal.”

The woman had been jailed for breaking a ban on sex outside of marriage, one of many women in the Gulf state who were charged after reporting sexual assault, according to human rights groups.

The laws made headlines in 2016, when a British woman was charged in Dubai after reporting her own rape. The case was later dropped after an international outcry.

The UAE also forbid couples from living together or even sharing a hotel room if they were not married.

But now, sex outside marriage is no longer a criminal offence in the UAE — unless it is adultery, which remains a serious crime.

The change was part of a major shakeup of personal and family law announced suddenly by the UAE’s Government in November.

Construction workers on a roof in a desert locale
About 90 per cent of people in Dubai are foreigners, many of them low paid workers from Bangladesh and Pakistan.(Reuters: Christopher Pike)

What triggered this progressive overhaul is unclear, but it may be an attempt to lure back the foreign workers who fled the Gulf state in droves due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Low paid foreign workers from Bangladesh and Pakistan may be willing to go back to toil on construction sites and as maids in private homes.

But UAE authorities — who are preparing to host a deferred World Expo in 2021 — appear worried rich Westerners may not return.

‘To have such antiquated laws, it just doesn’t match’

Despite Dubai and Abu Dhabi being flashy, modern cities, the UAE had a conservative legal system based on Islamic law.

But Dubai residents say proposed changes to the country’s laws are a significant shift.

“Dubai is a really fast-moving, forward-thinking, progressive city and to have such antiquated laws, it just doesn’t match,” Ms McGregor said.

“So they have to do something to operate in a global market, get foreign investors.”

A fake mountain-like rock is seen behind a string of women in black hijabs watching on as their children climb the rock.
The UAE has largely maintained its status as a desirable destination for expats and investors.(Reuters: Satish Kumar)

Among the reforms are changes to personal and family laws which will allow foreigners to settle divorce and inheritance using the laws of their home country.

It was welcomed by expatriates, who make up nearly 90 per cent of the UAE’s population, and comes after years of high-profile cases of expatriates falling foul of the arcane system.

These include the jailing of Australian property executives Matt Joyce and Marcus Lee for fraud charges, of which they were later acquitted.

The pandemic saw a mass exodus of expats

The UAE has largely maintained its status as a desirable destination for expats and investors despite these incidents.

A man in a dishdashi sitting in an ice bar with a drink in his gloved hand
Alcohol will be decriminalised as part of reforms designed to make UAE more attractive to foreigners.(Reuters: Ahmed Jadallah)

But many have lost their jobs in the coronavirus downturn, with economic forecasts predicting things will get worse.

The UAE recently introduced a retiree visa in a bid to attract new foreign residents.

Lawyer Radha Stirling, who founded the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, said the fear of losing expats and investors has triggered the legal reforms.

“It’s a marketing facade,” she said.

Other changes — such as removing a prohibition on having alcohol in your bloodstream in public and decriminalising suicide — will also benefit the UAE’s residents.

“I think it really shows an open-mindedness for this country and it shows that it’s really looking at the people who are living here,” said Majella Skansebakken, an Australian who has lived with her family in Dubai for four years.

“It’s accepting them and it’s respecting them.”

A woman wearing a black and white top smiles with her arms around two kids outside a house.
Majella Skansebakken, an Australian who has lived with her family in Dubai for four years, says the changes to the laws show “open-mindedness”.(ABC News: Shaikh Saleh)

The UAE has also increased penalties for sexual harassment and domestic violence in a bid to improve the treatment of women and also removed ‘defending family honour’ as a legal defence for the assault of women.

But it may have to do more to reverse years of negative attention on this issue.

Just this year, a 32-year-old British woman working for a literary festival alleged the UAE’s Minister for Tolerance had sexually assaulted her at a business meeting on a private island.

He denied the allegations and was not charged.

How Princesses helped expose the UAE’s dark side

Women within the Royal family have also been coming forward with their own complaints about abuse.

While the UAE Government said these incidents related to “private family issues”, they have highlighted problems for Emirati women in particular.

Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum and his wife Princess Haya walk towards the paddock dressed for the races.
A legal battle between the powerful ruler of Dubai and his estranged wife led to a showdown in a London courtroom.(AP: Alastair Grant, File)

In 2018, the Emirate of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum allegedly used Emirati and Indian commandos to kidnap his daughter, Princess Latifa, when she tried to escape the country on a yacht.

Sheikh Mohammed said Latifa was now “safe in the loving care of her family and had never been arrested or detained”.

But her case is being investigated by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

Then came the shock departure of Princess Haya, Sheikh Mohammed’s sixth wife, who fled to London with their two children.

She went on to win a high-profile lawsuit where London’s High Court heard evidence about his treatment of his female children.

Princess Haya laughs during interview
Princess Haya bint al-Hussein is the daughter of Jordan’s late King Hussein.(Reuters)

The judge eventually ruled Sheikh Mohammed had kidnapped Latifa and another daughter, Shamsa, and continues to detain them.

Another Royal, Princess Zeynab, recently livestreamed a police raid on her house after a marital dispute.

Lawyer Radha Stirling said the high-profile cases showed that even if laws protected women, the prevailing culture ensured they were not followed.

“They’re not setting a good example.”



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BMW aims at making 20 percent of its vehicles electric by 2023


FRANKFURT: German luxury carmaker BMW is planning to step up its production of electric vehicles, Chief Executive Oliver Zipse told German daily Augsburger Allgemeine.

“We are significantly increasing the number of electric vehicles. Between 2021 and 2023, we will build a quarter of a million more electric cars than originally planned”, Zipse told the newspaper’s Monday edition according to a pre-released version.

BMW wants roughly every fifth car it sells to be powered by an electric engine by 2023, Zipse said, compared to about 8% this year.

The manager also reiterated his call to speed up the expansion of charging infrastructure.

“15,000 private and about 1,300 public charging points would have to be put into operation every week as of today. Unfortunately, we are a long way from that”, he told the paper.





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My husband and I are planning to give our daughter a home for Christmas. Are we making a mistake?


‘The Big Move’ is a new MarketWatch column seeking to answer questions about navigating the world of real estate.

Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Do you know where your next move should be? Email Jacob Passy at jpassy@marketwatch.com.

My husband and I are mulling over a very big gift for our
daughter and son-in-law, but I’m having second thoughts. We recently retired
and purchased beachfront property, where we plan to spend most of our time
moving forward.

Our daughter and son-in-law are early in their careers, but
do want to have kids someday. We all live in the same town, which is in an
expensive part of the country. Home prices are only going up where we live, and
we’re worried that our daughter won’t be able to save enough to buy her own
home one day.

My husband mentioned that if our house is just going sit
empty most of the time, we might as well give it to our daughter now as a gift
rather than her inheriting it down the road. I loved the idea and suggested we
present the opportunity to our daughter at Christmas.

We’re working through the various tax ramifications, and I’m
starting to worry this could be a mistake. It will take time for us to move out
our belongings and fully settle in our beach home anyway, so I’m wondering
whether there’s a better way to guarantee our daughter will have an affordable
home for years to come. What advice do you have?

Sincerely,

Santa’s Got a Brand New Pad

Dear Santa,

How lucky your daughter is to have such generous parent. You’re not alone in worrying about your child’s ability to afford the cost of housing. I’ve spoken with parents in a very similar situation in recent years. Indeed, as the cost of buying a home has risen, so too has the number of parents who are helping their kids out in one way or another.

You’re right to be second-guessing such a big gift. There
are a range of tax considerations at play here.

For starters, you need to consider how this will work from a gift tax perspective. The Internal Revenue Service allows individuals to gift up to $15,000 per year per person tax-free. Obviously, your home is worth more than that, but that doesn’t mean anyone would pay taxes on the gift itself — at least at the federal level. Each taxpayer currently has a lifetime gift tax exemption to the tune of $11.58 million.

“Irrevocably gifting the house can take a large asset out of
the taxable estate,” said Ian Weinberg, a financial planner and CEO of Family
Wealth & Pension Management in Woodbury, N.Y. “2020 is a good year to gift
just to time stamp use of a very generous unified gift and estate tax credit
available now, which could diminish under the new administration.”

Under President-elect Biden, the tax code could become less generous to wealthier Americans, which could increase the taxes under those rules.

Read more: How to give your home to your adult child tax-free

But the tax considerations don’t end with the gift tax.
There are also capital gains taxes to consider — and that’s where a gift of
this nature gets tricky. If you gift the home to your daughter, she will be the
one who will pay capital gains taxes one day if she sells it.

“Assuming the home has appreciated over time the parents would avoid paying any capital gains taxes they might pay if they were to sell the home by gifting it instead,” said Daniel Flanagan, a partner at Canby Financial Advisors in Framingham, Mass. “These capital gains taxes would still be paid eventually by the daughter and son-in-law when they sell.”

That may seem like a good deal for you, but it could cost
your daughter a lot. That’s because of how the cost basis transfers. When
calculating the capital gains earned through the sale of a home, you take the
sale price and subtract the original price paid for the home (plus or minus the
cost of improvements or depreciation.)

When you gift a home to someone, the cost basis remains the
same as it was for the original owners. That’s different from what happens when
you inherit a home — upon inheriting a home, the basis is stepped up. That
means rather than the original basis, the heir instead will calculate any
capital gains using the market value of the home at the time of the inheritance.

Let me illustrate that with a simple example. Let’s say you bought a home 20 years ago for $100,000 that’s now worth $600,000, and you put in around $50,000 in repairs since then. If you sold it today, the capital gain from the sale would be $450,000. At the federal level, you can exempt up to $500,000 in capital gains from the sale of home, providing you meet certain requirements.


You need to know whether the child would use the home as a residence or rental/investment property.


— Brooke Salvini, a member of the American Institute of CPAs’ personal financial planning executive committee

Now, let’s see what happens for your daughter if she
receives the home as a gift and sells it down the road. Because of how the
basis works, her cost basis for capital gains would be the same as yours is
now, at $100,000. But perhaps the home will be worth more in 10 or so years,
pretend it’s $750,000. Assuming she made no other improvements on the home, her
gain from selling would be $600,000. Because it’s above the $500,000, she would
owe taxes on a portion of the proceeds from the sale.

This is really only scratching the surface of the various tax considerations, since these rules vary at the state and local level. “You need to know whether the child would use the home as a residence or rental/investment property,” said Brooke Salvini, a member of the American Institute of CPAs’ personal financial planning executive committee. “This could impact how best to gift the property.” In California, Salvini notes, a new law on the books that goes into effect in February will eliminate the ability to preserve the property tax base in a transfer of real estate to a child that doesn’t intend to use it as a principle residence.

There are ways of reducing the tax liability the home represents, such as simply allowing your daughter to inherit it down the road or putting it into a trust. These options require careful planning, though, and should be worked through with a financial expert.

There are other financial considerations beyond the tax
implications of such a gift. Yes, your daughter and son-in-law would avoid the
cost of building a down payment and a mortgage if you gift the home to them —
but can they afford the cost of property taxes, insurance, upkeep and
utilities?

Some of the experts who gave me feedback on your situation
argued there’s a financial lesson that could be lost by not having to pay off a
mortgage, too. “I prefer the recipient of the parent’s generosity to have some
skin in the game, as it makes them have a better appreciation for what they’re
getting as they have some financial liabilities to show for the ‘investment,’
whether it be for a house or an education,” said George Gagliare, a financial
adviser with Coromandel Wealth Management in Lexington, Mass.

Along those lines, I might suggest an alternative: Pitch in
for the down payment, or maybe even assist with the monthly cost of the
mortgage. If you choose to sell your old home now, the proceeds from the sale
could go toward that. This way, your daughter and son-in-law have support but
also avoid messy tax situations down the road, while learning vital financial
lessons in the meantime.

Whatever you do, I encourage you to talk at length — not
just with your husband, but with your daughter, too. I’m sure she will be
beyond grateful at the generosity of whatever offer you make, even if she doesn’t
receive a set of keys with a bow on top under the Christmas tree this year. And
with that, I wish all of you a happy holidays.



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