In conjunction with France and the United Kingdom, Trump declared that the military operation was vital to U.S. national security.
Despite Syria’s emphatic denials of having gassed its own citizens amid a prolonged civil war, Trump’s actions left little doubt that the U.S. believe a chemical attack took place. In a briefing, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the U.S. was “very confident” chemical weapons were used.
With relations between the U.S. and Russia at a nadir, Trump explicitly called out Moscow for its support of the Assad government. He also put a spotlight on Iran, which has also backed Damascus.
Trump’s entire remarks, which he delivered from the White House, can be read below:
My fellow Americans, a short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now underway. We thank them both.
Tonight, I want to speak with you about why we have taken this action.
One year ago, Assad launched a savage chemical weapons attack against his own innocent people. The United States responded with 58 missile strikes that destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian Air Force.
Last Saturday, the Assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians — this time, in the town of Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus. This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime.
The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead.
Following the horrors of World War I a century ago, civilized nations joined together to ban chemical warfare. Chemical weapons are uniquely dangerous not only because they inflict gruesome suffering, but because even small amounts can unleash widespread devastation.
The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, British, and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power — military, economic, and diplomatic. We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.
I also have a message tonight for the two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping, and financing the criminal Assad regime.
To Iran, and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?
The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators.
In 2013, President Putin and his government promised the world that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. Assad’s recent attack — and today’s response — are the direct result of Russia’s failure to keep that promise.
Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path, or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace. Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran — but maybe not.
I will say this: The United States has a lot to offer, with the greatest and most powerful economy in the history of the world.
In Syria, the United States — with but a small force being used to eliminate what is left of ISIS — is doing what is necessary to protect the American people. Over the last year, nearly 100 percent of the territory once controlled by the so-called ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq has been liberated and eliminated.
The United States has also rebuilt our friendships across the Middle East. We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing large amounts of money for the resources, equipment, and all of the anti-ISIS effort. Increased engagement from our friends, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, and others can ensure that Iran does not profit from the eradication of ISIS.
America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria under no circumstances. As other nations step up their contributions, we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home. And great warriors they are.
Looking around our very troubled world, Americans have no illusions. We cannot purge the world of evil, or act everywhere there is tyranny.
No amount of American blood or treasure can produce lasting peace and security in the Middle East. It’s a troubled place. We will try to make it better, but it is a troubled place. The United States will be a partner and a friend, but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.
In the last century, we looked straight into the darkest places of the human soul. We saw the anguish that can be unleashed and the evil that can take hold. By the end of the World War I, more than one million people had been killed or injured by chemical weapons. We never want to see that ghastly specter return.
So today, the nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality.
Tonight, I ask all Americans to say a prayer for our noble warriors and our allies as they carry out their missions.
We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria. We pray that God will guide the whole region toward a future of dignity and of peace.
And we pray that God will continue to watch over and bless the United States of America.
Thank you, and goodnight. Thank you.
Stock futures rise in overnight trading after market ends wild week in the green
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Stock futures climbed in overnight trading on Sunday as investors braced for the last week of a volatile September.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 100 points. S&P 500 futures rose 0.2% and Nasdaq 100 futures were little changed.
Wall Street is coming off a roller-coaster week amid a slew of concerns from the debt crisis of China’s real estate giant Evergrande to the Federal Reserve’s signal on rollback in monetary stimulus, and to Beijing’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies. Still, major averages managed to wipe out steep losses earlier in the week and eke out small gains.
The blue-chip Dow finished the week 0.6% higher, breaking a three-week losing streak. The S&P 500 rose 0.5% on the week, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.02% last week.
“Equity markets continue to reflect a tug-of-war between bulls and bears,” Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide, said in a note. “The market recovery indicated that the buy-the-dip mentality remains.”
So far, September is living up to its reputation for volatility and weakness as major averages have all registered modest losses. The S&P 500 is off by 1.5%, on track to post its first negative month since January. The broad equity benchmark is about 2% off its record high from Sept. 2. The Dow is down 1.6% for the month, while the Nasdaq is down 1.4%.
“We continue to exercise caution in the near term, especially as we enter the seasonally weakest part of the year (late September — mid-October),” Larry Adam, CIO at Raymond James, said in a note. “However, given continued robust economic growth, our bias is to hold existing equity exposure or add opportunistically on weakness.”
Investors are monitoring the progress in Washington as lawmakers try to prevent a government shutdown, a default on U.S. debt and the possible collapse of President Joe Biden’s sweeping economic agenda.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that she expects the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to pass this week, but voting on the legislation may be pushed back from its original Monday timeline.
Congress must pass a new budget by the end of September to avoid a shutdown, and lawmakers must also figure out a way to increase or suspend the debt ceiling in October before the U.S. would default on its debt for the first time.
Elsewhere, bitcoin rebounded about 2% to $43,454 after dropping 5% on Friday. The sell-off came after China’s central bank declared all cryptocurrency-related activities illegal.
Callaway, Dick’s Sporting Goods score with growth of golf
Buckets of golf balls at the driving range at the 2021 TOUR Championship on September 03, 2021 at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia.
Icon Sportswire | Getty Images
Golf surged in popularity in 2020 by nearly every metric, as people sought out the socially distanced outdoor activity amid the pandemic.
More than 24.8 million people played golf in the U.S. in 2020, up more than 2% year-over-year and the largest net increase in 17 years, according to the National Golf Foundation. The sport also saw the largest percentage increase in beginner golfers and youth golfers since 1997 — the year a then-21-year-old Tiger Woods won his first major championship at the Masters.
Now almost two years since the pandemic first hit the U.S., and even as other activities have opened back up, golf has continued to grow in 2021, providing long-standing golf brands like Callaway and Titleist a boost. It has also elevated companies looking to capitalize on the changing demographics and trends within the sport.
For many in the golf industry, it was unclear if the growth seen in 2020 was a function of the pandemic or a new inflection point for the sport.
Through the end of July — the peak of golf season in the U.S. — the number of rounds played in 2021 was up 16.1% compared to 2020, according to data from the NGF. While the July-specific figures were down 3.1% compared to 2020, a month in which nearly all golf courses had been reopened following pandemic closures in certain states, the 2021 numbers are significantly higher than previous year averages.
While those increases are being mainly driven by older, already passionate golfers — the average number of rounds played by golfers grew to 20.2 in 2020, an all-time high since NGF started tracking that statistic in 1998 — younger golfers, and especially female players, saw significant upticks.
“New participants are increasingly younger; they’re hooked on the game and they want to get better,” David Maher, CEO of golf conglomerate Acushnet Holdings, said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call with analysts in August. “A lot of the energy is coming from avid dedicated players who are simply playing more and consistently; more juniors, more women, more younger [players], and more families.”
The number of female golfers grew 8% in 2020, the largest uptick in five years, according to NGF data. Forty-four percent of people who played a round of golf on a course in 2020 were under the age of 40, and nearly the same amount of people in their 30s played golf as those in their 60s, according to NGF data.
That increase in new golfers has been a boon for Acushnet, which owns golf brands like Titleist and FootJoy.
Acushnet’s second-quarter net sales in the U.S. grew 117.1%, fueled by a 98.1% increase in Titleist golf ball sales and a 111% increase in Titleist golf club sales. Over the first half of its fiscal 2021, sales in the U.S. have been up 75.2%.
Callaway, which owns several golf equipment and apparel brands including its eponymous line of balls, clubs, and other equipment, has also seen growth.
Earlier this month, the company raised its financial outlook for its third quarter as well as for the entirety of 2021, citing overperformance of its brands as well as mitigation of some supply chain disruptions.
“More people are joining golf courses, [there are] more entrants into the game, more consumers and we think the long-term trends are going to be quite attractive,” Callaway CEO Chip Brewer said on CNBC in June. “The market is going to be larger coming out the pandemic than coming in.”
Dick’s Sporting Goods, which sells golf products in its stores as well as golf-specialty retailer Golf Galaxy, has pointed to the sport as one of its growth drivers in recent quarters.
“We’ve continued to see consistent growth in the golf business,” Dick’s Sporting Goods CFO Lee Belitsky said on the company’s 2022 second-quarter earnings call with analysts on August 25. “The golf business has remained very strong for us.”
While the company does not break out the performance of Golf Galaxy stores in its earnings report, CEO Lauren Hobart said that the “golf business has been tremendous at both Dick’s and Golf Galaxy.”
The company has “invested in talent and elevated the in-store service model to become trusted advisers for golf enthusiasts of all levels,” Hobart said, and it recently opened its first next-generation Golf Galaxy prototype store outside of Boston. At that location, the Golf Galaxy Performance Center, golfers can not only buy golf products, but take lessons, practice in hitting bays, and have custom club fittings.
In May, South Korean private equity firm Centroid Investment Partners acquired TaylorMade Golf for $1.7 billion, the largest acquisition in the golf goods industry to date. TaylorMade, which produces clubs, balls, and apparel, was sold to KPS Capital Partners by Adidas in 2017 for $425 million.
“The industry is currently experiencing high demand, increased participation with strong long-term opportunities around the world,” Jinhyeok Jeong, founder and CEO of Centroid Investment Partners, said in a press release at the time of the transaction. South Korea is the third-largest market for golf in the world behind the U.S. and Japan.
Overall, golf equipment sales have slowed in recent months, according to NPD data — sales across June, July and August 2021 are down 2% compared to 2020 after the first half of 2021 doubled what was seen in 2020. However, the June, July and August 2021 sales numbers are up 50% compared to those months in 2019.
NPD Group senior industry advisor Matt Powell said more consumers are expected to embrace healthier living post-pandemic, and that will include an increase in outdoor and sporting activities, which should benefit golf.
However, it is still unclear how the supply chain issues plaguing other industries will impact golf equipment, which could limit growth.
Executives from both Acushnet and Callaway cited the ongoing supply chain issues in Vietnam as potential road bumps ahead. Acushnet and Callaway both declined to comment for this article.
“There are inventory issues but when we look at most of the categories that we track we’ve seen business start to plateau,” Powell said. “But, [golf sales] are resetting at a new higher level and while we’re not getting massive growth, it’s a much bigger business than it was two years ago.”
The rise of interactive golf experiences that go beyond the typical 18-hole course has also helped golf grow, especially to new audiences.
The growing popularity of TopGolf, which now has 70 locations across six countries after launching in China earlier this month, has been one of the main drivers. While the actual golf experience mirrors what can be found at a driving round, TopGolf aims for a more social and gamified experience along with drinks and food.
Callaway, which previously owned 14% of TopGolf, merged with the company in March, paying $2.66 billion to acquire the remaining portion.
TopGolf reported that it had $1.1 billion in revenue in 2019 and that it had a 30% growth rate since 2017. Callaway said that TopGolf generated $325 million in revenue in the second quarter, while same venue sales were in the 90th percentiles compared to 2019 levels.
Virtual trainers, both used for entertainment purposes as well as high-level golf training, have grown as well.
Full Swing, which produces golf simulators for commercial, residential, and entertainment venues, was acquired by investment company Bruin Capital for a reported $160 million in July. While the simulators can be used for other sports as well, the golf functionality is used by PGA Tour pros like Woods and Jon Rahm, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world and is starring for the European team in the Ryder Cup.
“In the early advent of the off-course gamification of golf, I think there was a misinterpretation of what the impact would be on the actual game of golf and participation,” said David Abrutyn, a partner at Bruin Capital. “It’s been proven that it’s an entry point for golf and the more people you get swinging a golf club or experiencing the sport at an entertainment venue, the greater ability it has to drive participation in the sport.”
In addition to the 24.8 million people who played a round of golf on a course in 2020, another 12.1 million participated in an “off-course golf activity,” which includes driving ranges, venues like TopGolf, or indoor simulators like the ones Full Swing produces.
The increasing blend of the traditional sport of golf with technology and other forms of entertainment is a good harbinger for the sport moving forward, Abrutyn said.
Golf’s biggest events have had more viewers tune in this year. In April, the final round of The Masters averaged 9.45 million viewers on CBS, up 69% from 2020. In May, the last day of the PGA Championship averaged 6.58 million viewers, a 29% year-over-year increase. And in June, the final round of the U.S. Open averaged 5.7 million viewers on NBC, up 76% from 2020.
The sport is also seeing coverage expand in new ways. The PGA Tour is working with Netflix to create an episodic documentary series, which will likely be modeled on “Drive to Survive,” the popular Formula 1-focused series that has driven new fans to the motorsport. NBA star and passionate golfer Stephen Curry recently signed a deal with Comcast NBCUniversal to work on a host of projects, one element of which will include creating content around the Ryder Cup for NBC Sports’ Golf Channel.
“A lot of people have tried golf and realize it’s perhaps not as hard as they maybe thought, and that’s creating an entirely new generation of golf fans, especially in the younger demographics, that will now be fans and engaged in the sport,” he said. “That’s particularly exciting for anyone involved in the business of golf.”
Disclaimer: CNBC parent company NBCUniversal is the broadcast partner of the Ryder Cup.
How to discuss climate change productively
Renée Lertzman, climate psychologist
Communicating about climate change effectively is critical to get people to engage with it productively, according to climate psychologist Renée Lertzman. And right now, communications about climate change are not helping.
People are scared.
Almost three in four people (72%) worldwide are worried that global climate change will harm them personally at some point in their lifetime, according to survey data from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
Almost half of young people (45%) say their feelings about climate change negatively impact their daily lives, while 77% say the future is frightening with regard to climate change, according to a survey of 10,000 young people across 10 countries released this month by academics.
That fear needs to be acknowledged and worked through individually in the companies we work for, in local communities, in government and in organizations, says Lertzman. Only after that can we productively discuss how to prepare, adapt and fight.
The following are excerpts of Lertzman’s comments in a video interview with CNBC. They have been edited for brevity and clarity.
There’s some truth in there. In actuality, no one — and I don’t care if you’re the biggest multinational company on the planet — no one actor right now is able to do it all. No one on its own is going to be enough.
What I think this crisis is actually inviting us to step into is a fundamentally different lens, which is really moving from that “me” to “we.” And it’s really stretching our cognitive capacity to think and experience and see ourselves as part of a system and as embedded in the system.
That’s a really significant shift for a lot of us to make. And it’s not something that just happens intellectually. And it’s not something that just happens if you snap your fingers say, “Okay, you know, what, I’m going to now start thinking and feeling and behaving like I’m in a system.” It doesn’t really work that way. It’s a process of continually reminding ourselves and each other that we are in fact joined up and part of a much bigger picture and a much bigger story.
Each one of us is actually — I don’t care who you are — a vital character in that story. We are all protagonists in this story of meeting climate crisis and engaging with climate crisis.
And that reframe is one that we need to just keep coming back to, over and over and over again. This is not just about me. It’s about me in this bigger story.
It’s absolutely essential that we start from a place of really having deep compassion for that feeling of, “nothing I can do will matter.”
So it’s not like we shouldn’t be feeling that or there’s something wrong with us for feeling that our individual actions are not sufficient. Actually, I’m just going to really connect with myself here and say, “You know what, yeah, it’s really painful. It’s really hard.”
Having that feeling is an expression of how deeply I am connected and how deeply I really care about what is happening on the planet.
It is really, really important that we meet our experience — no matter what that experience is, overwhelmed, feeling insignificant, feeling frustrated, feeling angry, feeling numb, feeling checked out — that we meet that experience with, with total compassion.
It’s only from that point that we’re able to move into any kind of meaningful, impactful, creative response, where we’re able to take stock of questions like, “Who am I, where am I? What do I, how do I want to channel this energy, this concern, this care that I have, that’s coming up inside of me, that’s expressing itself?” We have to start from that place.
It’s really important that we don’t try to be “hope police” on ourselves, forcing ourselves to feel more hopeful or more upbeat or positive.
And that’s a trend that I find really concerning and troubling because, if you look at just the psychological lens, it’s not how it works. We don’t force ourselves to suddenly feel and behave in certain ways.
A solution-ier focuses exclusively on solutions and has no tolerance and no space for any kind of expression of feelings or uncertainty or ambivalence. It’s almost a zealous focus on the solutions. And it can really shut people down. And it can really alienate a lot of people who are not there yet. They still are processing and asking questions like, “What does this mean for us? Why are we in this situation in the first plate?”
The solution-ier mode is that you have to just solve, solve, solve. And, frankly, that problem-solution binary isn’t totally appropriate for the situation we’re in. This is a state of being that is going to be continuing for the unforeseeable future.
The doom-and-gloom-versus-hope dichotomy or binary is false. And it’s one that we really need as communicators, journalists, the media needs to be actively dismantling.
In actuality, the path forward is a middle path. And that middle path is one of authenticity.
It’s really about authentic experience and authentic engagement with this crisis. There is enormous hopefulness and enormous positivity and deep inspiration and power with recognizing and facing directly the scale and the impact and the loss.
We’re living in a time of severe wildfire and drought and flooding. And we’ve got to be able to look at that directly in the eye without being accused of being negative or focusing on doom. We’ve got to because that is what is reality. That is reality right now.
Humans need, first and foremost, to have their experience be validated.
The way forward is through the lens of emotional intelligence.
It means refuting an either-or way of approaching climate crisis (doom and gloom or solutions only).
It means getting out of the whiplash between the positivity and the negativity. As I say in the TED Talk, that’s an artificial construct. Our minds don’t work that way. It’s not only negative for us or only positive. It’s more complicated than that.
There needs to be a level of endorsement at the leadership level. So that’s one.
But what’s equally as important is that people within the organization are actively empowered to take initiative, to propose pilots, to run experiments, to try things out.
The old model is a company deciding to be advocates of climate change and appointing a green team. That’s kind of an older model. That’s kind of what I see as a 1.0 model.
The new model is one that is really exciting to me and is more human centered. It’s more authentic. It is about coming together. And looking at these issues together. And talking about what to do about this. It’s more inclusive. People feel that they’re really part of this conversation.
There have to be more people at different levels in the organization, in different parts of the organization, who are given the platform and the ability to initiate, to mobilize, to move things forward. It doesn’t only live at the C-Suite.
And ideally, if it’s done well, each person, no matter what part of the company you’re in, feels that they have a stake in this climate change response. Nobody is exempting themselves because they don’t know enough about climate. An effective response is one where everyone has something to add here and is a part of the response. It means creating an atmosphere where everyone all has a vital role.
Because, what really drives change is when people feel invited, they feel heard, understood, included.
One example of how to start this is hosting circles. I train people to facilitate climate circles or conversations, which are small groups where people meet over a duration of time, and they just simply come together and talk about what they’re feeling and thinking about the issues.
And before long, it becomes about action. It really does.
People don’t stay that long in the feeling, but you need to at least have the space to go there before getting into action planning. And if we jump right into actions and bypass discussing how people feel, then we shortchange and we short circuit the the potential to really do some amazing work.
A resource for those interested in further reading: Lertzman recommends Project Inside Out, an online resource she was commissioned to put together by the climate organization, the KR Foundation, based in Denmark. The online tool which provides guiding psychological principles for effectively working in climate change.
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