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Marriott Hotels and Sustainability
Written by Walker Lunn   
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System has named the Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort, in Stone Mountain, Georgia, as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

Marriott (MAR - $33.26) is making small steps in the right direction. Energy star, Audobon, and LEED certified Marriott hotels are emerging throughout the country. We have yet to see a unified approach to this frontier, which indicates that the company is still feeling out the options. It inevitably needs to weigh guest awareness, certification and greening program cost and effect, as well as fitting a greening program into the franchise and brand standards. Most likely, high visibility brands like this resort or higher-end Marriott products will be the first to move. It will surely be a long time before Marriott is able to implement programs across its many product lines.

Still, we are seeing good movement. Marriott is beginning to recognize that sustainability programs will contribute to property performance. Will Marriott be the brand of choice for the environmentally conscious? Time will tell.

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Electronic Wasteland
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Written by Elaine Chan   

eWaste
Photo:Curtis Palmer, Creative Commons, Flickr

Finally getting that new phone or laptop you’ve wanted all year? Where is the old one going? Probably to China, India or Thailand where environmental laws are lax.
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China's San Francisco Values
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
Image
Photo:Arbele Egger, Creative Commons, Flickr
If you're interested in China and the environment, like me, you have been reading The New York Times' Chocking on Growth series.  It is an excellent set of articles on all of the major environmental problems the Chinese people and government are facing in the coming years and decades.  It is staggering, to say the least.  And for as long as I can recall, the government has been pretty unsuccessful in their efforts to combat environmental degradation.  Their environmental body, SEPA, has always had too few employees and too many problems to deal with, not to mention other power issues related both to central and provincial government.  Essentially, it was, and generally still is, toothless.

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Mission-Aligned Investing
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
The LA Times has spent significant energy (at least, in comparison to other journalistic outfits) on discussing foundations and the way in which they invest their endowments.  In January, they ran a report on the Gates Foundation, discussing how the foundation's grant programs and investing often act in contradictory manners that set off a firestorm of discussion.  Should foundations align their investing as well as their programs with their missions? 

The Gates Foundation has yet to agree, but other foundations have moved forward to re-examine their policies.  The LA Times' most recent addition to their series reviews all of the forward momentum on this subject that has taken place in the last year.  While a foundation's investing choices may not assist with its investment choices, the concepts behind decisions to shift funds towards mission-aligned investing are certainly relevant for everyone. Gates
Photo:Dhjiz, Creative Commons, Flickr
 
Corporate Blogging: 21st Century Transparency?
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
Blogs have become old hat.  They have gone beyond mainstream.  And yet, I am still amazed at the number of corporations that have them, often with higher-ups writing posts.  Is this what transparency and corporate governance has come to?  
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Seasons Greetings from The Panelist
Written by David Neubert   

Snowy Evergreens
Photo:Debs_uk, Creative Commons, Flickr

Happy Holidays!
 
Bush Adds Subprime Mortgages to Axis of Evil
Written by Noah Berkowitz   
Following a turbulent week with regard to foreign policy, President Bush has temporarily removed Iran from the Axis of Evil. For the time being, Bush announced that subprime mortgages would be joining the Axis of Evil on a trial basis.
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The China Syndrome: Lessons from Confucius and Some Others
Written by Thomas Chenoweth   
China's stock market pattern is beginning to remind me of Japan's "irrational exuberance," as witnessed in the early nineties where a decade of fantastic growth was followed by a decade of flat to lower stock prices. I struggle many times with why investment dollars flow to a country with serious human rights issues and a government that borders on oppressive. But the fact remains that China's GDP growth north of 10 percent in the last few years is big enough to wake Chinese philosopher Confucius out of the grave to take notice and teach us a few things. Confucious once said:
In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
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This Month in Citizen Joe - December 2007
Written by Citizen Joe   
Lawmakers will be doing their x-mas shopping last minute this year as they scramble to tie up all the year's legislative loose ends in three weeks.

Top of the list are '08s spending bills, which Dems look like they'll bundle into a massive omnibus bill (leaving out the already passed Defense bill). Given the president's promise to veto any domestic bill that tops his spending recommendation, leaders will likely slice out $11 billion in spending (half of the $22 billion they originally went over) to win over more conservative votes.

Congress will also aim to wrap up a package of energy reforms including higher gas mileage standards, a catch-all farm bill, a bill to cover more health insurance for low to middle income children, a free trade agreement with Peru and a one year extension of middle class exemptions from the Alternative Minimum Tax.

Efforts to pass a $50 billion bridge fund for the Iraq war as well as a re-write of the domestic spying bill probably will be put off to the new year.
Citizen Joe
Photo:DOD/USN via pingnews, Creative Commons, Flickr

 
What is in Santa Claus' Stock Portfolio this Year? Nintendo and Apple
Written by Thomas Chenoweth   
The Holiday season looks like it might be rough for retailers, given that the average American family will probably be spending a week's paycheck just on gas to get to Wal-Mart. So what will Santa Claus be busy lugging on his carbon emission-free sled? One of the CNET editor's top holiday gift picks, the Nintendo Wii.
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Is it Time to Make Money at the Expense of the "War Profiteers"?
Written by Thomas Chenoweth   
As the calls for ending the war become louder, I can't help but think what the consequences could be for some of America's largest defense contractors. As much as I don't want to see any potential cutbacks in defense spending put our troops at a disadvantage, it seems abundantly clear that some big cutbacks are on the horizon and that the indexes that track this sector are sure to go lower.
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Money Warrior Prepares for the Slowdown
Written by Tom Hart   
The Money Warrior, by Tom Hart
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This Week in Citizen Joe (11/13/2007)
Written by Citizen Joe   

Farm Bill
Photo:dbaron, Creative Commons, Flickr

The House gets to one of the many mortgage bills sifting through Congress - all part of an effort to respond to the nation's still jittery credit market. HR 3915 would set new lending standards for mortgage brokers and backers, requiring - for one - that brokers make sure families can cover future payments on "adjustable rate" mortgages (the kind where payments tend to spike up).
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Water War Redux
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
In July, I wrote about the sudden emergence of media stories discussing the environmental impact of the bottled water industry.  The New York Times recently published two stories related to the issue: an interview on Nestle Waters and an article of Fiji Water.

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We Googled It: Yahoo CEO Denies Questionable Relations With China
Written by Noah Berkowitz   
As Congress investigates whether or not Yahoo has inappropriately turned over user information to the Chinese government, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang articulated a convincing argument to deny Yahoo's culpability in the case.

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Election Year Investing: What the Next 365 Days Could Mean to Your Portfolio
Written by Thomas Chenoweth   
One year from now I will be sipping on morning coffee while reading about who won the 2008 presidential election. History has shown that the Stock Market does very well during election years, but many variables come into play in this election and an in depth study may help clear the fog.
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The Money Warrior on the Housing Bubble
Written by Tom Hart   
The Money Warrior, by Tom Hart
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Buying Into the World Bank
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
While the field of socially responsible investing is growing, there is still a much more limited selection of assets that classify themselves in the category: mutual funds, community development financial institutions, individual stocks, and ETFs are possibilities.  Here is another: a World Bank bond.

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This Week in Citizen Joe (10/29/2007)
Written by Citizen Joe   

It's children's health deja vu all over again, with Congress looking like it'll pass a bill expanding health coverage to up to 4m low income kids (or 2m according to conservative estimates). This version looks a lot like the bill Congress couldn't get past a Bush veto last month; but with minor changes Dems hope they'll win over some Republican votes, although probably not enough to override a second expected veto.

 

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Remember the Future?
Written by Michael Tobis   
Do you remember progress? Probably, if you do you, then you are an older sort like me, or an oddball collector of paleo-futurism.

Michael Chabon has a wistful eulogy for the future at Long Now.

The odd thing about contemporary market triumphalism is that it celebrates an incapacity to redesign the world. This so-called "realism", which is in fact a deep pessimism, is not really new, but it is a spectacular retreat from the the optimism that prevailed when I was an adolescent with a season pass to Expo '67.

We don't even have World's Fairs anymore.

This may be the explanation of the lack of activism in today's youth. It's not that they like what's going on. They simply don't believe that the course of history can actually be changed by human will. They retreat to sarcasm, at which they excel.

I think it may fall to us boomers again, to make change happen. We mostly believe in the likes of Gandhi or Martin Luther King to actually change the world, but our own courage appears to have vanished along with our naivete.
 
Why Following an NFL Team's Success May be Good for your Portfolio
Written by Thomas Chenoweth   
Suggestions of "Best NFL team ever" have been buzz words in recent weeks and the past few years while describing the New England Patriots' NFL franchise. Currently undefeated at 7-0 with a track record of three Superbowl wins suggest that team owner Robert Kraft knows how to be a leader.
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Help Choosing an SRI Mutual Fund
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
For those of you who are trying to find a SRI mutual fund to invest in, Amy L. Fontinelle on her blog Two Pennies Earned, has done some of the heavy-lifting for you. She narrows down a long list provided by Social Investment Forum and Morningstar and reviewed 16 funds in depth. This is how she describes her process:

I started compiling the list from funds that had 9% or higher returns over a 10 year period. I aim for this return myself whenever choosing a fund since the S&P 500 historically returns this amount and my retirement calculations are therefore based on it. Then I expanded my list to funds that returned 7% - 9% since there were so few in the first category. I also added other funds that sounded like they might have potential.


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Valueless Americans Push Crude Oil to New Heights
Written by Noah Berkowitz   
Following years of reality television, Paris Hilton, and Limp Bizkit, the lack of family values permeating American culture has left an impact on the price of oil. As a story broke regarding the latest news on the most recent O.J. Simpson arrest, it was announced that crude oil is now the most expensive and popular form of oil in the United States.
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The Money Warrior Says: Don't Cry for the Animals
Written by Tom Hart   
The Money Warrior, by Tom Hart
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This Week in Citizen Joe (10/1/2007)
Written by Citizen Joe   

After a few fumbles in the Senate, Iraq gets passed back to the House this week where members will vote on three smallish war-related bills - one requiring the administration regularly update Congress on its withdrawal plans, another beefing up the role of the Inspector General in Iraq and Afghanistan and one pointing out that contractors in Iraq do fall under US criminal law.

The Senate will try to polish off its defense authorization bill, before notching off two more '08 budget bills - a defense appropriation bill (the one that actually signs the checks) and a Commerce-Justice-Science bill. The $459b military bill doesn't include $200b the Pentagon has asked to cover the wars; that'll come up later this year.

Both chambers are bracing for an expected presidential veto on the children's health bill they passed last week. Although it's a safe bet senators will override a veto, House members may not be able to squeeze out enough votes to keep the bill alive.

The House may also cut homeowners a break this week, nixing taxes on forgiven mortgage debt.

 
The Money Warrior Looks at The Sciences
Written by Tom Hart   
The Money Warrior, by Tom Hart
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