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Patagonia founder gives company away to environmental trusts

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Patagonia founder gives company away to environmental trusts

FILE - Yvon Chouinard, the founder and chairman of Ventura-based Patagonia Inc., is photographed Sept 28, 2005, in the original Chouinard Equipment blacksmith shop located in Ventura, Calif., where he once forged pitons for mountaineers. In a letter posted on the privately-held company's website on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, Chouinard said the 50-year-old company would transfer 100% of the its voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and and 100% of its nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

FILE - Yvon Chouinard, the founder and chairman of Ventura-based Patagonia Inc., is photographed Sept 28, 2005, in the original Chouinard Equipment blacksmith shop located in Ventura, Calif., where he once forged pitons for mountaineers. In a letter posted on the privately-held company's website on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, Chouinard said the 50-year-old company would transfer 100% of the its voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and and 100% of its nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

FILE - Yvon Chouinard, the founder and chairman of Ventura-based Patagonia Inc., is photographed Sept 28, 2005, in the original Chouinard Equipment blacksmith shop located in Ventura, Calif., where he once forged pitons for mountaineers. In a letter posted on the privately-held company's website on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, Chouinard said the 50-year-old company would transfer 100% of the its voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and and 100% of its nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

FILE – Yvon Chouinard, the founder and chairman of Ventura-based Patagonia Inc., is photographed Sept 28, 2005, in the original Chouinard Equipment blacksmith shop located in Ventura, Calif., where he once forged pitons for mountaineers. In a letter posted on the privately-held company’s website on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, Chouinard said the 50-year-old company would transfer 100% of the its voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and and 100% of its nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

FILE – Yvon Chouinard, the founder and chairman of Ventura-based Patagonia Inc., is photographed Sept 28, 2005, in the original Chouinard Equipment blacksmith shop located in Ventura, Calif., where he once forged pitons for mountaineers. In a letter posted on the privately-held company’s website on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, Chouinard said the 50-year-old company would transfer 100% of the its voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and and 100% of its nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, File)

Outdoor gear company Patagonia says “the earth is now our only shareholder” after transferring the company’s ownership from founder Yvon Chouinard and his family to two nonprofits established to fight climate change.

In a letter posted on the 50-year-old company’s website Wednesday night, Chouinard said Patagonia would transfer 100% of its voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created to uphold the values of the company long known for its environmental activism. All of its nonvoting stock will go to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit “dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature.”

“While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough,” Chouinard wrote. “We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact.”

Patagonia estimates that after reinvesting some profits back into the company, about $100 million annually will be distributed to the Holdfast Collective as a dividend, depending on the health of the business.

Grace Chiang Nicolette, The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s vice president of programming and external relations, said this unusual move by the Chouinard family may become a blueprint for company founders looking to donate their businesses to causes important to them.

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“Business owners are often faced with fraught decisions on the future of their company when it’s time to sell,” said Nicolette, who also co-hosts the “Giving Done Right” podcast. “The very wealthy are also faced with the fact that their net worths are growing faster than they can conceive of giving it away. This plan makes the company’s social impact its guiding principle and I think we’re going to see more donors pursuing this approach.”

Chouinard said other options for the Ventura, California, company to dedicate itself to protecting the planet — selling the company and donating the proceeds; or taking the company public — were not viable for Patagonia’s ultimate goals.

“Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth,” Chouinard wrote.

Chuck Collins, the Institute for Policy Studies director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good, said Chouinard’s actions reflect a personal connection to the environmental crisis and a desire to back up his beliefs with his wealth.

“It shows that somebody who has substantial wealth is responding with the kind of scale needed to address the problem,” he said. “He’s working with the tools that he’s got. And it’s a pretty good response.”

Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert said in a statement that the Chouinards challenged him and others at the company to develop a new ownership structure.

“They wanted us to both protect the purpose of the business and immediately and perpetually release more funding to fight the environmental crisis,” Gellert wrote. “We believe this new structure delivers on both and we hope it will inspire a new way of doing business that puts people and planet first.”

Brian Mittendorf, a professor of accounting at Ohio State University who focuses on nonprofit organizations and their financial statements, said the new Patagonia structure is similar to the one Paul Newman created for his salad dressing company, Newman’s Own. The profits from the business go into the Newman’s Own Foundation, which donates to nonprofits supporting children facing adversity.

The difference is that the Holdfast Collective is organized as a 501(c)4 corporation, according to the New York Times, which first reported the ownership change. That allows it to lobby politicians, which a public benefit charity like Newman’s Own Foundation is not allowed to do.

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“What I don’t think is getting enough attention here is that the tax advantages of choosing a donation to a charity over a social welfare organization just aren’t that pronounced in this particular case,” said Mittendorf. He noted that the gift tax the Chouinards will pay is on their initial investment in Patagonia, not on its current worth, estimated at $3 billion.

“I kind of just view it as a desire to retain control over the company while ensuring that the resources that the company generates are used for a particular goal,” he said.

Patagonia makes outdoor clothing, gear and accessories for everything from skiing to climbing and camping. The company said it will continue its previous charitable donations, including donating 1% of its sales each year to grassroots activists and remaining a B Corp, a designation for companies that prioritize social and environmental standards as well as profits.

Chouinard said he never wanted to be a businessman and started Patagonia as a craftsman, making climbing gear for himself and his friends.

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

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Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

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Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
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Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

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A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

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“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

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Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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