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Faced with coronavirus, Republican and Democratic leaders overhaul convention plans

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WASHINGTON – Now that the Republican National Committee has chosen Jacksonville, Florida, as the new backdrop for President Donald Trump’s speech accepting his party’s 2020 nomination, the stage is set for the big party that the president so badly wanted.

With balloons, confetti and an auditorium packed with MAGA hat-wearing Trump fans, the setting is meant to advance the president’s new campaign theme, “The Great American Comeback,” as he pushes for the full reopening of the nation’s economy even as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Republican National Convention, set for Aug. 24-27, will build off the campaign rallies that Trump is holding again starting with Tulsa, Oklahoma, next week. The goal: choreograph a sharp contrast with the Democratic National Convention that’s set to take place one week earlier, Aug. 17-20, in Milwaukee.

More:Trump stirs anger with plans for Juneteenth rally in Tulsa, site of huge massacre of African Americans

Confetti and balloons fall during the celebration after Donald Trump's acceptance speech on the final day of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Although still clouded by uncertainty in the era of COVID-19, radically different conventions are coming into focus.

Democrats said they are working with Milwaukee and Wisconsin officials and intend to follow safety guidelines, as opposed to RNC officials who bolted Charlotte, North Carolina, for Trump’s speech after state and city leaders sought a scaled-back convention. The DNC’s approach matches the message of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who has chastised Trump for not listening to public health experts during the pandemic.

That gives Democrats an opportunity as well – to show they are taking the coronavirus crisis seriously and feel the pain of those struggling, while Trump carries on with business as usual. 

The Democratic National Committee intends to maintain a presence in Milwaukee, with the city’s arena, Fiserv Forum, still locked in as the convention campus. But party officials haven’t said whether that will include Biden’s acceptance speech, or how many other top Democrats and delegates will attend.

More:Democrats ponder the political pros and cons of an unprecedented shift toward a more virtual convention

Regardless, don’t expect an auditorium packed to the rafters as Democrats adhere to social distancing.

Some have speculated about a “virtual convention” – a combination of Zoom meetings and live-streamed speeches – although what that would look like isn’t clear. DNC officials are remaining tight-lipped but expect to announce some plans soon, perhaps by the end of the month.

Members of the Delaware delegation cheer wave signs for Joe Biden as he takes the stage during the third day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016.

Republicans to straddle between Charlotte, Jacksonville

The RNC’s party business will remain in Charlotte, the original host of the full convention, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said, while the “celebration” will take place in Jacksonville. Republicans are limiting the presence in Charlotte to 336 delegates, six from each state and territories. All 2,511 delegates will be able to attend the Jacksonville festivities. 

The schedule of the two-city arrangement isn’t set, but Trump would deliver his speech on the final night, a Thursday, if the convention follows tradition. 

The move shifts Trump from one battleground state where the president has a slight lead over Biden, North Carolina, to another in Florida, where polls have shown him trailing. Trump carried Florida in 2016 and desperately needs to win it again for his reelection.  

More:Jacksonville chosen to host Trump’s Republican National Convention acceptance speech

"Jacksonville is absolutely in the front-running position" for the convention at which President Donald Trump will accept his party's nomination, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel says.

In an interview on Fox News, McDaniel on Friday noted that Jacksonville is also near Georgia, another state where polling shows a tightening race.

“But what we really get to highlight is that companies are opening up, that America’s opening up and these states where businesses are allowed to thrive economically are growing and adding jobs and helping with the transition to greatness as the president is showcasing time and time again,” she said.

McDaniel couldn’t say when asked whether attendees would have to sign releases that they won’t sue the RNC, like they do for his upcoming rallies, if they contract COVID-19. “We haven’t even gotten there yet.”

More:Tickets for Trump campaign rally include liability disclaimer about possible exposure to coronavirus

Several Republican governors, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, lobbied for the convention, but Democratic mayors of cities in the hunt – including Nashville, Orlando and Phoenix – raised cost concerns, safety objections or both. An exception was Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican and former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, who aggressively pushed for the event.

“Here in the River City, we do things big and bold, and we will be ready,” Curry said in a video after the RNC announced the move.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference last week in Orlando. Friday, DeSantis signed a bill that will allow college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.

Under Florida’s “Phase 2” reopening rules that began June 4, auditoriums, as well as bars and pubs, were allowed to open to 50% capacity. 

But Curry said he expects Trump to speak before a full arena and for the guidelines to be different by August. A spokeswoman for Curry said the mayor anticipates DeSantis to implement the guidelines for the White House’s Phase 3 of reopening, which allows full attendance at indoor arenas.

Democrats say safety is top priority

Democrats said they are striving for a “middle ground” – something in between the full-fledged celebration that Trump covets and an online virtual format. Party officials don’t foresee having satellite conventions across the country, one idea recently floated.

DNC officials hope to maintain flexibility to either scale-up if social distancing measures are relaxed or scale the convention back if needed for health concerns. The DNC’s production team is exploring a range of options, including remote broadcasts of certain speakers – think Hillary Clinton’s surprise appearance in the 2016 DNC convention the night before her acceptance speech.

DNC chairman Tom Perez confirmed this week that Democrats are still coming to Milwaukee, saying he looks forward “when we descend on Milwaukee to celebrate our party, to have a safe and effective convention where we will highlight Joe Biden and his historic choice as a running mate.”

More:DNC chair Tom Perez reaffirms Democrats are coming to Milwaukee for 2020 national convention

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez speaks to the audience ahead of the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on Dec. 19, 2019 in Los Angeles.

But he did not say how many Democrats that would include: “We don’t know the answer today because we don’t know what the public health situation on the ground will be.”

Many party insiders expect a hybrid event, where some but not all delegates will travel to Milwaukee and some but not all speakers will appear before a live audience in the city.  

Perez said: “Unlike Donald Trump, we are actually going to listen to the public health experts as we come to Milwaukee because we believe it’s really important to have a safe, exciting, inspiring convention in Milwaukee and I’m confident we can do that.”

Biden last month said he doesn’t know whether he will be coming to Milwaukee to accept the nomination.

More:Democrats ponder the political pros and cons of an unprecedented shift toward a more virtual convention

The DNC already delayed the convention, originally set for July, to provide more time to prepare during the pandemic.

Delegates of each state were recently polled by the DNC whether they would be willing to travel to Milwaukee for the convention. The DNC rules and bylaws committee approved a resolution in May to allow virtual voting among delegates, enabling them to still participate in party business if they choose to stay at home. The DNC is expected to soon formally adopt the changes.

Milwaukee recently entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan, which allows public events of no more than 250 people and 25% capacity. Indoor areas of restaurant and bars are also limited to 25% capacity.

On July 27, 2016, former Vice President Joe Biden laughs after calling Donald Trump "clueless" as he speaks during the third day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

To help steer the convention planning, the Biden campaign this month made two new hires: Addisu Demissie, a longtime Democratic strategist who managed New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s presidential campaign, and Lindsay Holst, who worked as Biden’s digital director when he was vice president.

Katie Peters, a spokeswoman for the DNCC, said Democrats are “committed to protecting public health and we’re determined to find new ways to make our event as inclusive and engaging as possible.”

Although still finalizing plans, she said Democrats “will be be ready to unite the nation around our shared values and launch our nominee on a path to victory.”

The evolution of the political convention

Both the Trump and Biden campaigns will look to the conventions to boost their polling as they enter the final months of the race, although any bump is historically offset by the other party’s convention.

Biden, especially, could face a major challenge for television viewership if the convention is scaled back.

Modern conventions have been glitzy, no-drama affairs tantamount to coronations. The four-day orchestrated events are usually held in giant sports arenas and feature up-and-coming political stars in a build-up culminating with the nominee’s prime-time acceptance speech on the final night.

Future presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton gave convention speeches that helped catapult them to the White House. 

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the 2004 DNC Convention in Boston.

That was different from decades ago when the conventions were more akin to smoke-filled rooms. Party brokers decided who would be on the ticket, guided by influential special interests such as labor and industry.

At the time, the gatherings could be unpredictable and raucous, as the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago proved to be. Sometimes it took multiple rounds of voting among delegates to choose the nominee. The last convention that provided any real mystery was 1976 in Kansas City where incumbent President Gerald Ford defeated Ronald Reagan for the GOP nomination.

That began to change with the 1980 conventions. By then, most of the drama played out in state primaries and caucuses in the winter and spring. The conventions were foregone conclusions, promotional events made for television.

Trump calls for new GOP platform after adopting 2016 version

These days, thousands of large donors, long-time activists and prominent politicians descend on the chosen city to celebrate and showcase the party’s strengths.

But they’re not all pomp and party. Delegates officially vote one state at a time in roll-call fashion on the presidential and vice presidential nominees. They also gather to vote on the party platform.

Donald Trump officially accepts the Republican presidential nomination on the final night of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, Thursday, July 21, 2016.

On that end, Trump’s decision to move his nomination speech to Jacksonville created a dilemma for Republicans.

Under party rules, the executive committee of the RNC carried over the party’s 2016 party platform that takes aim at the “current president” – Obama at the time, but Trump now – when it chose Wednesday not to formally adopt a platform for 2000.

Party leaders decided it didn’t make sense to ask all delegates to pay to fly to Charlotte to vote on the platform, the New York Times reported, when they would also be going to Jacksonville for speeches of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump on Friday called for a new platform.

“The Republican Party has not yet voted on a Platform. No rush. I prefer a new and updated Platform, short form, if possible,” the president tweeted.

The president didn’t say whether that vote will take place in Charlotte or Jacksonville.

Contributing: Craig Gilbert and Bill Glauber, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Christopher Hong, the Florida Times-Union

Follow Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

Source: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/627261248/0/usatoday-newstopstories~Faced-with-coronavirus-Republican-and-Democratic-leaders-overhaul-convention-plans/

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Security and Sustainability Forum-With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider. 10/22/2020

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Steering Societies Beyond GDP to the SDGs

With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider

October 22, 2020

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm EDT

The next webinar in the SSF series, with ecological economist and futurist Hazel Henderson, will address how the UN SDGs can and should replace GDP as the basis for valuing society leading to an economy based on planet protection and human wellbeing. Claudine Schneider is Hazel’s guest.

GDP accounts for all the public expenditures as “debt” while ignoring the value of the assets they created. If GDP were to be corrected by including the missing asset account, these debt-to-GDP ratios would be cut by up to 50% — with a few keystrokes! Learn why money isn’t what you think it is and why that matters to life on Earth in the next two webinars with Hazel and guests.

Register

Claudine Schneider is a former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island. She was the first, and to date only, woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. She is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which describes itself as a network of “Republican former Members of Congress who feel compelled to remind Republican voters about the fundamentals of our party and to provide the facts about incumbents’ voting records.”

October 22nd webinar with Claudine Schneider and Hazel

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

[email protected]

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/63564-2/

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The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

Subscribe to the Crunchbase Daily

RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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