Posts tagged with "California"

Pedal to the metal: Elon Musk dares California to arrest him as Tesla plant reopens

May 13, 2020

He has challenged the laws of mobility and gravity with his companies, Tesla and SpaceX, so why should Elon Musk bend to the laws of Alameda County, California?

This week, Musk has escalated his war with Alameda officials—tweeting that he is reopening Tesla’s manufacturing plant there despite a local ban by authorities who believe it’s not safe to do so.

If county officials don’t like it, Musk said, they can arrest him, according to a report by Fast Company. Indeed, he tweeted on May 11, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Indeed, he says, county officials are illegally flaunting California law. Also on Twitter, Musk noted, “Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!”

The tweet and decision to reopen Tesla’s only U.S. plant come after a dramatic weekend, during which Musk threatened to move the company’s headquarters from California to Nevada or Texas, Bloomberg reports.

The threat came after California Governor Gavin Newsom gave the okay last week for manufacturers in the state to start operations again, but Alameda County officials overruled that decision. It should be noted, however, that Governor Newsom granted local authorities the power to remain more restrictive with their stay-at-home orders than the state’s as a whole, essentially allowing them to decide when certain types of businesses can reopen in their areas.

That did not sit well with Musk, and Tesla then sued Alameda County over the weekend.. In response, Alameda County health officials issued a statement saying they were aware Tesla’s plant was reopening and hoped the company would choose to comply with local stay-at-home rules “without further enforcement measures.”

According to Fast Company, after Musk announced the Tesla plant would reopen, employees at the plant were emailed a memo announcing their furlough ended on Sunday and that they will be contacted within 24 hours with their return-to-work start date. Tesla said those who aren’t comfortable returning to work can stay at home—but they will be on unpaid leave and lose any jobless benefits.

The news outlet says that, since lockdown orders began, Musk has been the most vocal billionaire demanding people get back to work—going so far as to channel Trump in random outbursts on Twitter ranting against stay-at-home orders.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Gap is dedicating factories to make masks, gowns, and scrubs for healthcare workers

March 26, 2020

Gap is the latest retailer to announce a commitment to use its resources to create personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, Business Insider reports.

The clothing and accessories manufacturer and marketer announced on March 25 via Twitter, “Our teams are connecting some of the largest hospital networks in Calif. w/our vendors to deliver PPE [personal protective equipment] supplies, while we pivot resources so factory partners can make masks, gowns & scrubs for healthcare workers on the front lines.”

The company—which opened its first store in 1969 in San Francisco, selling primarily jeans and LP records—said it would connect with hospitals in California to deliver the supplies.

In order to provide the crucial and urgently needed supplies to healthcare providers, Gap made the decision to temporarily close its company owned and operated stores across North America, including Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Janie and Jack, and Intermix brands. The closures were effective March 19.

Other retailers have announced similar initiatives to support healthcare workers as the coronavirus prompts a nationwide shortage of masks and other protective equipment. In California, hospitals have turned to Los Angeles seamstresses to make masks.

Nike also announced it was creating personal protective equipment such as face shields to support doctors and nurses in Oregon. Zara announced a similar initiative.

Research contact: @GapInc

Biden gets another boost from rivals-turned-endorsers Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and O’Rourke

March 4, 2020

Following his bang-up win in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, February 29, former Vice President Joe Biden would be justified in invoking the famous Mark Twain quip, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Biden, who had been struggling until that crucial victory, took home 35 delegates (for a total of 54) and 48.4% of the vote from the Palmetto State; compared to Bernie Sanders’ booty of 13 delegates (for a total of 60) and 19.9% of the vote, The Huffington Post reported.

But the stakes were much higher on Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states—among them, California and Texas, with 415 and 228 pledged candidates, respectively—were scheduled to go to the polls for their Democratic primaries, as Yahoo reports.

However, a new wave of endorsements, coming the night before the Super Tuesday polls opened, could give Biden the boost from moderate voters that he needs.He appeared on stage with former rivals Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke on Monday night and presented his emerging two-person race with Bernie Sanders as a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, NBC News reports.

Pete Buttigieg flew from South Bend, Indiana, to Dallas to endorse Biden before his rally but returned home and did not join the former vice president at the event.

At the rally, Biden told cheering supporters that Super Tuesday voters are “going to determine what this party stands for, what we believe,and what we’re going to get done” — and took a series of swipes at Sanders.

“If Democrats want a nominee who will build on Obamacare, not scrap it; take on the NRA and gun manufacturers, protect our children; who’ll stand up for the middle class, not raise their taxes and make promises that can’t be kept, then join us,” Biden said. “If Democrats want a nominee who’s a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, then join us. We can either win big or lose big, that’s the choice.”

According to the NBC News story, a running theme in the remarks of Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and O’Rourke was that Biden is the party’s best chance at victory and offers a decent and caring alternative to President Donald Trump.

“We need somebody who can beat Donald Trump. The man in the White House today poses an existential threat to this country, to our democracy, to free and fair elections, and we need somebody who can beat him,” O’Rourke said. “In Joe Biden, we have that man.”

Buttigieg said Biden would “bring back dignity to the White House” if elected president and “change the toxic and divisive nature of our politics right now.”

“He is somebody of such extraordinary grace and kindness and empathy,” said the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Klobuchar appeared to take a veiled dig at Sanders: “It is time for a president who represents all of America, including people at the middle of this country, at a time when we see people in extremes that are trying to drown out people,” she said.

Speaking to reporters in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday, Sanders addressed the consolidation of party elites behind Biden, calling it “a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders,” NBC said.

“The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up…We are winning working class voters, by big numbers,” Sanders said. “So it doesn’t surprise me why would I be surprised that establishment politicians are coming together?”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Bud Light promotes special edition alien-themed cans, as ‘raid’ of Area 51 approaches

September 16, 2019

Next Friday, September 20, from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. (PDT), a huge group of alien enthusiasts—close to a million—has agreed to meet up at the U.S. government’s off-limits, heavily guarded  Area 51 in the desert 80 miles north of Las Vegas “and coordinate our entry.”

And just in time for that raid—on a facility at which scientists are rumored to study actual alien bodies and spacecraft—Bud Light is introducing alien-themed cans of beer “for legal drinking age humans;” as well as special wearables, such as caps with alien artwork.

However, Bud Light and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, have made it clear that they are not necessarily encouraging the attack on Area 51.

Calling itself “the favorite light lager of American Earthlings,” the  Bud Light brand says, “”The way we see it, we’d much rather people crack open a crisp Bud Light with alien visitors rather than storm Area 51. Nothing says ‘we come in peace’ like sharing a beer with friends from another place or another galaxy. We promised to have beer waiting for any alien that wants it and we plan to deliver on that promise. Our hope is that humans stock up, too—because you never know when you might need some Bud Lights to welcome intergalactic neighbors.”

Starting on September 13, the alien cans of brew went on sale in NevadaArizona, and California . The special-edition aluminum cans feature a green alien and black background, as well as a new crest welcoming all extraterrestrials from near and far to crack a cold one.

To bring the fun to fans everywhere, Bud Light also has produced a line of limited-edition merchandise—including not only the caps, but koozies, shirts, and bomber jackets. Legal drinking age fans can purchase items online from the www.abgiftshop.com at prices of $100 or less.

Research contact: @BudLight

California passes landmark bill requiring gig workers to be treated as employees

September 12, 2019

California lawmakers passed a landmark bill (Assembly Bill 5 ) on September 10 that promises to reshape how the peer-to-peer ridesharing and food delivery industries do business.

The legislation passed in a 29 to 11 vote in the State Senate and now moves on to the State Assembly, where if it passes, it will land on the governor’s desk.

The legislation, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020, would require gig economy workers to be reclassified as employees instead of contractors, CNBC reports—affecting the operating plans on which Uber and Lyft base their current success.

But shares of Lyft popped more than 7.8% on Wednesday morning, while Uber climbed more than 4.5% after California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) told the The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he’s still engaged in talks with Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies about possible negotiations around the bill. Newsom recently voiced his support for the bill, the news outlet said.

Additionally, CNBC says, the bill has received broad support from Democratic presidential candidates—among them, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Kamala Harris (D-California), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D).

The bill has the potential to change the employment status of more than 1 million low-wage workers in California, including those at DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart. It will make it harder for gig economy companies to prove that their workers aren’t staff, while ensuring key benefits and protections, like minimum wage, insurance and sick days.

But predictably, AB5 has attracted staunch opposition from gig economy companies. In an effort to push back against the bill, Uber and Lyft proposed establishing $21-an-hour minimum wage for drivers in California. The ride-hailing companies, as well as Doordash, have also pledged $90 million on a ballot initiative for the 2020 election that would exempt them from AB5.

Lyft spokesperson Adrian Durbin told CNBC that the bill has the potential to hurt drivers who prefer a flexible work schedule.

 “Today, our state’s political leadership missed an opportunity to support the overwhelming majority of rideshare drivers who want a thoughtful solution that balances flexibility with an earnings standard and benefits,” Durbin said in a statement. ”…We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers want and need.”

A DoorDash spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the decision, but said it was “committed” to establishing a guaranteed minimum wage, benefits, and other protections for its gig workers.

Representatives from Uber, Postmates and Instacart were not immediately available for comment.

Research contact: @CNBC

Aston Martin ballyhoos bespoke automotive ‘galleries and lairs’ at Pebble Beach

August 26, 2019

Aston Martin revealed a new design service for car enthusiasts this month at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in Monterey, California—the top-ranking collector car competition in the world.

The over-the-top amenity from the British independent manufacturer of luxury sports cars will enable collectors to create the perfect space for their beautiful car(s)—whether they envision that to be a bespoke garage or a complete, luxury retreat.

Q by Aston Martin is the marque’s bespoke personalization service, working with customers to create their perfect Aston Martin. The company describes Aston Martin Automotive Galleries and Lairs as “an opportunity for clients to work with [not only] the Aston Martin Design Team, but also with renowned architects, focusing on those with local knowledge and an excellent understanding of the specifics of the brief.”

Aston Martin Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman says his team already has produced “exquisite interior design work” for the 66-storey Aston Martin Residences in Miami and also has collaborated on the design of Aston Martin’s first global brand center, the House of Aston Martin Aoyama, in Tokyo.

 “Imagine a home or luxury retreat built around your car,” said Reichman. “Picture creating the ultimate space to showcase your own automotive works of art. This is now achievable with this new offering. For the car enthusiast, the garage is as important as the rest of the house and a bespoke auto gallery designed by Aston Martin that either focuses on showing off the car or is part of a larger, integrated entertainment space with simulators and such like, takes Aston Martin ownership to the next level.”

Research contact: ampartnerships@astonmartin.com

Sticking to their guns: Walmart asks employees to pull violent video game signage from stores

August 12, 2019

Even a mass shooting at its El Paso, Texas, store is not enough to make Walmart gun-shy, it became apparent last week, when the major retail chain asked employees its employees nationwide on August 10 to take down signs and playable demos of violent video games—but made no changes to its policy on selling firearms.

According to a report by Reuters, in doing so, the retailer said it has taken the action following the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio in the past week, which left 31 people dead.

In an internal memo, the retailer asked employees to check their stores for signage or displays that contain violent or aggressive behavior and remove such items immediately. It also instructed employees to turn off hunting season videos.

The company has come under increasing pressure to act in the past few days. A petition started by Thomas Marshall, a category manager in Walmart’s San Bruno, California-based e-commerce business, to protest the retailer’s sale of firearms, has gathered more than 50,000 signatures by Friday, Bloomberg reported.

Walmart told Reuters there has been no change in its policy on gun sales after the mass shootings, one of which took place in a Walmart store. This has not always been the case: Years of public pressure led Walmart, the largest U.S arms retailer, to end assault-rifle sales in 2015 and to raise the minimum age for gun purchases to 21 in 2018.

Some gun control activists and Walmart customers now want the retailer to drop sales of guns and ammunition altogether.

Research source: @Reuters

Pundits shift nine House races toward Democrats

November 6, 2018

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted nine House races toward Democrats in a new forecast published on November 5—the day before the midterm elections—The Hill reported.

The changes predicted by Cook are as follows:

Three races — in Texas’s 6th and 10th Congressional Districts and in West Virginia’s 2nd — moved from solid Republican to likely Republican. Two other races—Florida’s 25th and 6th districts, went from likely Republican to leaning Republican.

The movement is the latest indication that Democrats still have the upper-hand in the House prior to Tuesday’s midterms, when Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to regain control of the lower chamber. 

Research contact: @thehill

Trump administration to dismantle Affordable Care Act after midterms

June 11, 2018

One of the great advantages of Obamacare was that it enabled Americans with “pre-existing medical conditions”—from diabetes, to heart failure to cancer—to get coverage from insurance providers. Now, Politico reports, the Trump administration “is urging a federal court to dismantle” this provision—but to wait until after the midterm elections this year.

What’s more, the administration would like to see the very basis of the Affordable Care Act—the mandate for every U.S. citizen to get coverage—taken out of the bill as soon as December.

Both moves come in response to a lawsuit from conservative states seeking to entirely invalidate the act. Indeed, On June 7, the Justice Department told a judge in Texas who will rule on the case that Congress’ decision to repeal the penalty for failing to buy health insurance renders unconstitutional other Obamacare language banning insurers from charging people more or denying them coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

According to the Politico story, the Texas-led lawsuit— filed last February—claims that the recent elimination of Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty means that the whole healthcare law should now be ruled invalid. The mandate penalty was wiped out, effective as of 2019, as part of the GOP tax law passed late last year.

The administration’s evening filing says it agrees with states bringing the suit that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, as are two of the law’s major insurance provisions meant to protect people with expensive medical conditions. With the filing, the Trump administration is asking the courts to wipe out protections that many congressional Republicans were wary of eliminating in their failed efforts to repeal Obamacare.

And they are right to worry: Findings of a Monmouth University poll, released in March, show that 51% of Americans  would prefer to keep the Affordable Care Act and work to improve it, with another 7% saying that they want to keep the ACA entirely intact. Just four out of ten U.S. voters wants to see the act repealed, either with a replacement put in place (31%) or without one (8%).

The poll established that a majority support Obamacare, regardless of whether they get their coverage through an employer (57%), through a privately purchased plan (55%) or through publicly funded coverage (63%).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, acknowledged that the executive branch typically defends existing federal law, but he said this was a “rare case where the proper course” is to forgo defense of the individual mandate.

The administration’s decision means that a group of 15 Democratic states led by California will be largely responsible for defending  Obamacare against its latest legal threat, Politico said.

Research contact: pdmurray@monmouth.edu

Stockton, California, experiments with Universal Basic Income

May 8, 2018

On May 4, Mayor Michael Tubbs (D) of Stockton, California, appeared on the HBO political talk show Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss a pilot program he is sponsoring that would give some low-income residents of the city $500 a month—no questions asked.

The program, called Universal Basic Income—which would require the participants to take courses, check in with advisors, and turn their lives around before receiving the money—is one of the first of its kind nationwide; but already has been tried in Finland, with mixed results.

According to CNBC, pilot programs also are underway in Canada and rural Kenya.

And today, fully 48% of Americans support the idea (and 52% oppose it), according to a recent Northeastern University/Gallup survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults.

Indeed, Americans are almost equally split over a hypothetical universal basic income (UBI) program that would guarantee a minimum income for workers who lose their jobs because of advances in artificial intelligence (AI).

However, they are united in their fear of what AI will do to the U.S. job market. The report found 73% of Americans predicting that AI will lead to a loss of more jobs than it creates.

Some U.S. demographic groups are more supportive of the concept than others. More than six in 10 self-described Democrats (65%), as one example, say they would support a UBI program, compared with slightly more than one in four (28%) Republicans.

Additionally, roughly half of most U.S. adult age groups express support. However, support is substantially lower—38%—among Americans aged 66 and older.

While the exact cost of a UBI program in the U.S. depends on the specific details, it is estimated the program could run into the trillions of dollars. U.S. adults who favor a UBI program show mixed support for the idea of financing this type of program through taxes: About 46% say they would be willing to pay higher personal taxes to fund the program and 54% say they would not be.

But for now, Mayor Tubbs is “all in.”  He says, ““I feel that as mayor it’s my responsibility to do all I could to begin figuring out what’s the best way to make sure that folks in our community have a real economic floor.”

Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com