<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5iXceG3VNM" target="_blank">Learn more about the need for freight rail reform</a> | Lawmakers ask GAO to report on manufacturing policies | Plastics M&A could be at peak this year
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August 21, 2014
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Chemical shippers push back on rising rail cargo rates
The average shipping cost per railcar has jumped 93% since 2001, according to the American Chemistry Council. Dow Chemical and other shippers are asking for a Surface Transportation Board mandate that would allow shippers to switch railroads mid-journey. The board is considering the request but has not set a deadline for a decision, spokesman Dennis Watson said. Bloomberg (8/21)
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Policy Watch
Lawmakers ask GAO to report on manufacturing policies
A group of senators led by Chris Coons, D-Del., has asked the Government Accountability Office to look into whether current federal manufacturing programs need improvement. The lawmakers seek a list of federal programs and incentives, and a breakdown of their cost and effectiveness. The Hill/Floor Action blog (8/20)
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Plastics M&A could be at peak this year
The current cycle of mergers and acquisitions in the plastics industry has reached its peak this year, according to plastics M&A veteran Thomas Blaige. Valuations for plastics businesses will likely trend down afterward, so businesses considering a sale or buyout should take advantage of the current up cycle, he said. PlasticsNews.com (8/20)
 
Mitsui to acquire DuPont's copper fungicide assets
Mitsui has agreed to buy DuPont's global copper fungicide business, including the Kocide and ManKocide trademarks, for an undisclosed amount. The sale is expected to close in the fourth quarter and will give Mitsui ownership of DuPont's copper fungicide manufacturing facility in Houston and a number of third-party contracts. Chemical Week (subscription required) (8/20)
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Proposed changes to Prop 65 protect businesses from "shakedown" suits
California is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to Proposition 65 that would protect businesses from "shakedown" lawsuits. The changes would put a cap on penalties for minor violations and could prevent individuals reporting violations from receiving payments if a business corrects the noncompliance within 14 days. ChemicalWatch.com (subscription required) (8/20)
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STEM crisis in U.S. workforce may not be true
The oft-cited shortage of workers science, technology, engineering and math fields may not be real, Peter Sacks writes. He cites a report from Robert Charette that says U.S. schools every year "grant more STEM degrees than there are available jobs." TheFiscalTimes.com (8/19)
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Other News
Research & Innovation
Camouflage adapts to surroundings
A temperature-sensitive dye combines with heat-controlling silicon circuits to create a surface that provides camouflage that adjusts to different environments. The development by materials scientist John Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and marine biologist Roger Hanlon at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., mimics the camouflage employed by octopuses, squid and cuttlefish. PopularMechanics.com (8/18)
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Leadership & Management
How can CEOs be refocused on the long term?
Too many executives are encouraged to squeeze value out of their companies through share buybacks and other means instead of trying to create lasting value, argue Steve Denning and William Lazonick. "What is clear [is] that the solution to fundamental institutional failure goes beyond passing a few regulations or changing the behavior of a few CEOs," Denning writes. "It involves a whole set of institutions: business firms, institutional investors, legislators, regulators and business schools will need to think and act differently." Forbes (8/18), Harvard Business Review (9/2014)
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The best leaders know how to seize the moment
Authority manifests itself in "leadership moments," instances when individuals can choose to take necessary action, says author Henry Evans. "You can step up and lead in those moments once you know how to recognize them, even when you don't have the formal title or authority to do so," Evans says. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model)/On Leadership blog (8/19)
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SmartQuote
Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."
-- Steve Jobs,
American entrepreneur
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