Updated and revised.
Dateline Sheraton Ballroom. Afternoon Plenary Session, Clinton Global Initiative. Waiting for Al Gore. Film introducing session on cataract surgery for the world’s poor sponsored by CGI. Blogging pal can’t be here this year. She’s having cataract surgery. Pop Mannion busy today. He’s having cataract surgery. Coincidence? You make the call.
Have lost Tom Watson. Heard Demi Moore and Barbra Streisand are here. Suspect one or the other has got him. Perhaps both fighting over him. Sending out hotel security.
Down in press room things are cramped and feelings are running high. Trying to maintain a cheerful relationship with neighbors. Some of whom are actual journalists. In other words people with no scruples or conscience. Sending for hotel security.
Keep tripping over a young blonde journalist to my left and an older brunette to the right. They keep tripping over me. We remain civil. Mutual apologies. No weapons have appeared. I blame President Clinton for the inadequate spacing of chairs. He should have stayed last night to help set up. He’s the host. But, no. He had to go on Letterman. Look, Bill, just because Barack does it…
No water from one faucet in bathroom. I blame Matt Damon. He’s the water guy. (www.water.org).
Still no sign of Watson. No sign of Al Gore either. Gore saving Watson from Streisand?
Took train into city this morning. Sat in seats facing rear of train. Pretended I was going backwards in time, arriving at Grand Central an hour and a half younger.
Pretended I was Steven Wright when I wrote that.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Bill Clinton!
How bout some more chairs downstairs, Mr President?
Bill announcing new commitments. First from Visa and FIFA to increase financial literacy around the world. There will be a video game, Financial Football---soccer to us Americans.
New commitment. Rebuilding university system in Africa. Can’t keep sending their best and brightest overseas, says Bill.
Bill wants Americans to pay attention. In 10 years we went from first to tenth in number of citizens between 25 and 30 with four year college degrees.
Ten year commitment to GI Bill at end of Bill’s Presidency. Benefits gone in five.
Now Bill is talking about saving 5 billion diapers a year.
250,000 trees used to produce one year’s worth of disposable diapers in America.
3 billion gallons of oil.
Proctor and Gamble working on saving trees and oil by some research involving disposable diapers.
American and Chinese energy companies, Duke Energy and ENN, talking to each other, negotiating “as if they were governments,” Bill says with a chuckle. Arent’ they, though?
America ranked 100th in energy efficiency.
“We have never mobilized to seize the job opportunities in the lowest hanging fruit, energy efficiency.”
Somebody google Jim Rogers (Rodgers?) for me? Thanks.
“Save 30 percent of energy use by this hotel we give ConEd a little power plant.”
Glass towers the size of football fields needed to provide useful outlet. That needs work.
Bill done. Panel onstage.
Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief and American Business Editor, The Economist
Al Gore, Chairman, The Alliance for Climate Protection
Jack Ma, Chairman and CEO, Alibaba Group
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, The World Bank Group
Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation
Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank
Btw, Ken Houghton of Angry Bear is here with me. He’s probably understanding the numbers being tossed around better than I am and taking serious notes. Make sure you visit Angry Bear then.
Al Gore onstage. Looking slimmed down. Guess he wasn’t out rescuing Tom.
Al has a new book coming out. Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. The choice in the title is an allusion to a line from Scripture.
“We have what it takes to solve three or four climate crises. We only need to solve one. What’s been missing has been political will.” Gore says business leaders have been ahead of politicians on this.
Of course, he admits, there have been business interests opposing dealing with the problem too.
“It’s not free to put all that junk up in the air and we have to put some value on saving human civilization.”
Muhammad Yunus, banker to the poor, economist, Nobel Peace Prize: Social business, a business in which you are not in it to make money for yourself.
Making fortified yogurt in Bangladesh. Water supplies. Creating nursing colleges as a social business.
Can’t bring doctors to every village. Why not do it by mobile phone and internet?
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala :Innovation does not have to be technological. Bringing informal business structures into more formal business community.
Jack Ma, Ali Baba Group: Events bring 20,000 “netrepreneurs” together in stadiums.
70 percent of innovations, 70 percent of jobs come from small and medium sized companies. Nobody helping them. “Small is beautiful.”
“We want to create more crazy companies like Ali Baba.”
Plan is to grow another hundred million jobs in China.
Judith Rodin, President of Rockefeller Foundation: J.D. Rockefeller got a request from young Einstein asking for 500 dollars. Rockefeller told an aide, Give him a thousand. I think he may be onto something.
Group sourcing produces innovate mosquito repellant based on wax and human sweat.
Gore asks people in audience “who have connections to anyone in the U.S. Senate” to use those connections to get right votes. This is the kind of audience where those connections might be by marriage, blood, old school ties, big donarship.
Gore: Projections that crop yield in Africa will decline by 50 percent due to climate change.
Carbon content of soil depleted. Down around levels of American midwest during the Dust Bowl years.
Yunus on obstacles to social business innovations: Recognition. Education not geared to teach it. Financing. Redirecting money that usually goes to charities and into pockets of governments.
Ma: Shareholders? Better to call them share traders. Financial crisis came, all shareholders gone. Customers stayed with us, employees stayed with us. Businesses need to focus on the people who will stay with you.
Gets back to his favorite line. “Small is beautiful.” Big banks, big car companies, they failed. Not isolated disasters.
Gore follows up talking about “sustainable capitalism.” Over last 35 years the average holding time for a stock has gone from 8 years to 6 months. Not investing. People will do what you pay them to do. If you pay them to maximize their own earnings on a quarterly basis then that’s what they’re going to do.
Tom Watson has twittered in his whereabouts. Reports he’s safe. Demi Moore has left him alone. Too old for her, Tom says. Tom and Demi are the same age.
Speaking of Ashton, who is here somewhere too…
Anybody know if he’s still leading CNN in Twitter followers? Anybody care?
We’re being shooed out of the ballroom. Back downstairs to the press room. More from there including a report on the buffet.