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President Biden addresses the United Nations General Assembly

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will defend his decision to end America’s military mission in Afghanistan as he addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday for the first time as president.

Biden is also expected to discuss the Covid pandemic, climate change and the challenges posed by China.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was scheduled to be the first head of state to address this year’s gathering, at 9 a.m. ET. Biden will speak after Bolsonaro.

“America is back. We believe in the United Nations and its value,” Biden said Monday evening before a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Biden’s debut address to the 193-member body since taking office in January comes three weeks after a chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of 13 American service members and an incomplete global evacuation mission of vulnerable Afghan nationals and U.S. citizens from the country.

On a separate front, Biden infuriated France, America’s oldest ally, last week when he announced an arms deal that effectively ruins one of the largest French military contracts.

The blowback from Paris resulted in the recall of the French ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia.

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North Korea fired unidentified ballistic missile into sea: South Korea

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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un attends a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea on June 30, 2019.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

North Korea on Tuesday fired an unidentified short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s military said.

According to NBC News, South Korea’s office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — a group of chiefs from each major branch of South Korea’s armed services — said Pyongyang “fired an unidentified short-range ballistic missile.” It was suspected to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile, the group said.

North Korea launched the ballistic missile from the Sinpo area in Southern Hamkyong province at around 10:17 am local time into the East Sea, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff office. It added that officials were working to obtain more information.

“Currently, South Korean military is working closely with the U.S. in case North Korea launch additional fires and are also maintaining military preparedness while closely monitoring North Korean movements,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff office said.

South Korea’s national security council will be meeting to discuss the matter, NBC News reported.

Last month, reports said South Korea also successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile as it became the first country without nuclear weapons to develop such a system.

Separately, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Pyongyang fired two ballistic missiles, and slammed North Korea’s repeated provocations as “extremely regrettable,” according to NBC News.

Officials said Japan was analyzing the situation and so far, there have been no reports of planes or vessels in the region being affected by the launch. Asked about the discrepancy between Japan and South Korea over the number of missiles that North Korea fired, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said, “We believe there were two.”

Japan’s coast guard issued a maritime safety advisory to ships but did not immediately know where the weapon landed, the Associated Press reported.

U.S.-North Korea talks in limbo

North Korea’s latest missile launch comes after media reports said President Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, is scheduled to be in Seoul to meet American allies about potentially reviving talks with North Korea.

For its part, Pyongyang has stepped up its weapons testing in recent weeks.

Last month, North Korea’s state media reportedly said Pyongyang carried out successful tests of a new long-range cruise missile. Days later, it launched ballistic missiles off its east coast, am move condemned by neighboring Japan.

Nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the United States made some initial progress under the Trump administration.

But talks broke down almost two years ago when Washington refused to grant sanctions relief in exchange for Pyongyang’s dismantling of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

Earlier this year, a top North Korean official said Pyongyang will not respond to numerous invitations to restart nuclear discussions until the U.S. dropped its “hostile policies.”

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Greenwashing needs to be abolished, says climate entrepreneur

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A detail of the pilot carbon dioxide (CO2) capture plant is pictured at Amager Bakke waste incinerator in Copenhagen on June 24, 2021. – The goal is to be able to capture 500,000 tonnes of CO2 from Amager Bakke’s emissions by 2025.

IDA GULDBAEK ARENTSEN | AFP | Getty Images

A Swedish start-up that’s been backed by Google claims that its carbon emissions tracker can help to put an end to corporate greenwashing.

Headquartered in Stockholm, Normative says that its platform can help companies calculate their true environmental footprint and avoid misleading the public.  

“We are on a war on combating greenwashing,” Normative CEO and co-founder Kristian Ronn told CNBC, adding that the underreporting of greenhouse gas emissions is a major issue.

As the importance of the climate emergency has come to light, businesses have been taking steps to try to appear as “green” as possible. But not all their announcements are having an impact, leading to concerns that they’re little more than PR stunts.

“Businesses are the big polluters,” Ronn said. “They are responsible for two thirds of the total emissions. So they need to account for the footprint and mitigate that footprint, because essentially what gets measured gets managed.”

Burning fossil fuels is the chief driver of the climate crisis, yet the world’s dependency on energy sources such as oil and gas is set to get even worse in the coming decades.

Companies aren’t currently obligated to measure their carbon footprint and those that do often fail to do it properly, according to Ronn. “There are no mechanisms in place to ensure the completeness of the information,” he said.

Read more about clean energy from CNBC Pro

Normative’s platform aims to analyze all the transactions in a company’s accounting systems, including energy bills, business travel, raw material purchases and many other small items that businesses would often ignore.

“Our obsession about saying ‘let’s upload every single invoice you have’ means that you actually have apples to apples comparisons of the greenhouse gas accounts,” Ronn said, adding that this means the carbon data can be trusted.

Normative, which announced it had raised an additional 10 million euros ($11.5 million) from investors earlier this month, claims that it can help businesses on their path to net-zero emissions.

The start-up, founded seven years ago and backed by billionaire investor Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital among others, charges hundreds of firms including French bank BNP Paribas for access to its software, with rates depending on the size of the customer.

Around a dozen Google engineers are helping Normative to build a free version of the software.

The search giant’s engineering support comes after Google backed the company with 1 million euros earlier this year through its philanthropic arm, Google.org.

Last week, Google announced that it will tell its cloud customers the carbon emissions of their cloud usage. Microsoft did the same for Azure customers with the launch of its “Emissions Impact Dashboard.”

Elsewhere, the United Nations has built a carbon footprint calculator but it’s targeted at individual households.

 

 

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First bitcoin futures ETF starts trading Tuesday. What to know

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The first U.S. bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund will launch on Tuesday, a milestone for the cryptocurrency industry, and others may soon follow.

The long-awaited ProShares ETF will offer exposure to bitcoin futures contracts — agreements to buy or sell the asset later for an agreed-upon price — rather than bitcoin itself.

“The ETF presents a disruption to what is available in the marketplace today,” said Karan Sood, CEO and managing director of Cboe Vest, a financial advisory platform in McLean, Virginia. “That’s what investors are excited about.”

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Currently, investors may buy bitcoin through digital currency exchanges, but there are safety concerns as some worry about hackers or losing so-called private keys, which provide access to their assets.    

Another option, bitcoin trusts, offer an easier way to add bitcoin to portfolios through brokerage or retirement accounts. But these assets may come with higher fees and values may not mirror the digital currency price changes.

While bitcoin futures ETFs don’t offer what the industry eventually wants — funds that invest directly in digital currency — it provides another choice as companies vie for the green light from the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch regular bitcoin ETFs.

The price of bitcoin jumped more than 2% on Monday to $61,958.24, according to Coin Metrics.

There are a few things prospective investors need to consider before piling money into bitcoin futures ETFs, financial experts say.

Although the funds may have a “very high correlation” with bitcoin, the asset won’t mirror values of the digital currency because it tracks the price of future contracts, Sood said. 

It’s just the ultimate risk that you would ever take.

Jordan Benold

Partner at Benold Financial Planning

Moreover, it costs more to own funds over individual assets. But some investors are willing to pay more for an ETF’s “institutional level liquidity, custody and execution” versus managing the currency themselves, he said.

Still, some advisors see digital currencies as a speculative asset and say betting on prices of futures contracts can be unpredictable.  

“It’s just the ultimate risk that you would ever take,” said certified financial planner Jordan Benold, partner at Benold Financial Planning in Prosper, Texas, explaining how the volatility of bitcoin paired with futures contracts may be a gamble. “You’re really into high-stakes poker at this point.”

Bitcoin’s value comes from supply and demand factors of an “unstable and unpredictable group of market participants,” making it inappropriate for an investment portfolio, said CFP Anthony Watson, founder and president of Dearborn, Michigan-based Thrive Retirement Specialists.

However, if someone’s retirement savings and other goals are on track, and they have “fun money” they want to invest in bitcoin futures, some advisors wouldn’t discourage a minimal amount of experimenting.

“I would just say do it on a very, very small scale,” Benold said. “Dip your toe into the water.”

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