Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

Woof, woof... Is UK prime Rishi Sunak Joe Biden’s poodle for following the US lead in isolating China?

Bloomberg reported that Sherard Cowper-Coles, who heads HSBC’s public affairs unit, criticized the British government for being “weak” on China for agreeing to reduce business ties with the Communist state.

He cited the decision of Britain to cave to the American demand to ban telecommunications giant Huawei from building its 5G mobile phone network. He wants the UK to prioritize its economic interests, rather than playing following the US’s lead.

Cowper-Coles made his remarks at a private dinner that was held in June.

He apologized on Aug. 7 for his “weak on China” statement, saying it was a personal comment and does not reflect the views of HSBC or the China British Business Council, where he serves as chairman.

HSBC, which is based in London, but makes the bulk of its profit in Hong Kong and China, can’t believe UK are in the bank’s best interest. It's simply bad business.

Cowper-Coles is not a firebrand. He is a charter member of the British establishment.

He’s been with HSBC since 2013, working as an advisor to the group chairman and group CEO before taking over the global government and PA mantle.

Earlier, he spent 30 years in the UK diplomatic service, working in Hong Kong prior to its handover to China and then serving in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

You can bet many of his peers in the British business community share his view of wanting a more independent UK economic policy.

Sunak must call the next general election by Jan. 28, 2025.

The Labour Party is hammering Sunak’s Conservative Party by a 45 percent to 28 percent margin, according to a July 31 Ipsos poll.

More bad news for Rishi, 76 percent of Brits say the UK is becoming a worse place to live, according to Epson’s political monitor.

Tony Blair, one of Sunak’s predecessors, destroyed his reputation and political career for his blind support of George W. Bush’s march to war on Iraq.

Worldly Tony provided a bit of gravitas to Dubya’s cowboy image. But Blair was raked over the coals by the UK media for being nothing more than Bush’s poodle.

If he doesn’t carve out some space from the US, the same fate may await Sunak

Going after ESGers.... The Republican-led backlash against ESG programs is real and expected to get a lot worse.

The Wall Street Journal reports that conservative groups who successfully challenged affirmative action programs in colleges are now training their sights on the DEI efforts in the private sector.

A shareholder is suing Starbucks, claiming its diversity policies violate their fiduciary duties, while Comcast settled a suit that claims it favored minority-owned business with grants and marketing recommendations.

A report by the Conference Board and Teneo found that more than six-in-ten (61 percent) of US companies expect ESG backlash to continue or increase during the next two years.

The backlash will be driven by hot button social issues and the transition to more sustainable forms of energy that raises fears of job losses.

The Conference Board uses ESG backlash as a term that encompasses a broad range of positions from healthy skepticism to philosophical opposition to issues, according to Paul Washington, executive director of its ESG Center.

“While backlash is often fueled by people’s emotions, companies should respond objectively,” he said. “The most effective response is to ensure the company’s ESG positions align with the company’s core business strategy, are supported by empirical data and serve the long-term welfare of the company, its stakeholders and society.”

The “How Companies Can Address ESG Backlash” report says backlash prompts companies to sharpen how they make the business case for ESG.

Sixty-three percent of them focus on how ESG connects with shareholder value. Nearly half of the companies adjust terminology used around ESG-related matters.

While ESG resonates with investors, “sustainability” is better understood by employees, customers and policymakers.

The 2024 election cycle is will boost political ESG backlash, while institutional investors pressure companies on ESG risk.

That why it is imperative for companies to be strategic about how they communicate ESG strategy,” said Matt Filosa, senior managing director at Teneo.

AI threatens information integrity. Reporters Without Borders has launched an international committee called “AI Charter in Media,” to develop a manifesto aimed at regulating the use of AI in media.

Journalist and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa chairs the 21-member group.

The committee will explore how to guarantee the right to reliable information when the majority of texts and images are generated by AI.

It will probe how to ensure editorial independence if proprietary language models are used by newsrooms to suggest, proofread or even write articles.

Media groups around the world are publishing their own guides to steer their use of AI. There isn’t a single standard on using AI tools ethically and judiciously.

Christophe Deloire, RWB’s secretary general, sees the need for a “collective global commitment, anchored in sound principles, to uphold the ethics of journalism and harness AI for preserving the right to information.”

The RWB committee hopes to issue its report by yearend. Good luck. Time is running out.

What were you thinking, Steve? I assumed my beloved New York Mets hit rock bottom at the trading deadline after dumping their two best pitchers, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer for prospects, but things got even worse.

Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and their kids showed up at the Aug. 9 game against the Cubs. They sat in the front row just behind home plate. That's just Amazin'

Before the game, Team Javanka took photos with Mets players Pete Alonzo, Francisco Linder and Kodak Senga. They also took family shots in the Mets dugout and visited with billionaire owner Steve Cohen’s wife, Alex.

Mets fans aren’t exactly thrilled with Steve’s decision to write-off the rest of 2023 and 2024 and hoping the new kids are major leaguers in 2025.

But cozying up to Jared and Ivanka is the last straw for many of us. How could you, Steve?

Are you trying to recruit Jared as a business partner in your now sorry team? One hears he has great connections with the Saudis.