‘Only the paranoid survive’: Musk hints at sabotage as Tesla plant rattled by fire

By ethan / June 19, 2018

A fire that has briefly disrupted operations at a Tesla plant in Fremont, California, has prompted the car-maker’s CEO Elon Musk to send a cryptic message, asking staff to be vigilant, in light of “another strange incident.”

The internal email from Musk, first reported by CNBC, revealed that a “small” fire broke out at a car body production line in the factory late Sunday, halting operations “for several hours.” Calling the blaze “a strange incident that was hard to explain,” Musk then appeared to suggest that the mishap might have been the result of malicious intent.

“Could just be a random event, but as [Intel co-founder] Andy Grove said, “Only the paranoid survive,” the electric car manufacturer’s CEO noted, before urging employees to “be on the alert for anything that’s not in the best interests of our company.”

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© Daniel Becerril

In a tone highlighting the gravity of the matter, Musk asks workers to contact him directly if they don’t get any feedback otherwise. The fire resulted in no injuries; nor did it inflict substantial damage on equipment and nobody was present on the premises, Musk wrote, as cited in the report.

The ‘unexplained’ incident follows a similar one at the plant in April, when a paint shop fire reportedly brought production to a halt for at least a full shift. Although Tesla argued that the fire was “small” and barely affected the operations, the workers cited by CNBC claimed that it was severe enough to burn down an entire section where Model 3s were being painted. However, Musk, who reportedly flew in to assess the damage, encouraged the staff to apply a quick fix and go on with production instead of putting it on hold.

The report on the latest fire comes as Tesla struggles to meet its CEO’s ambitious goal of churning out 5,000 Model 3 vehicles weekly. Earlier in June, Musk said that it was “highly likely”Tesla would reach the designated production rate by the end of this month.

In run-up to the latest fire incident, Musk had reiterated his push for a higher production rate, in an email titled “only 8 days left to reach 700 cars/day or 5k/week,” which he’d sent on Friday. In the letter calling for “radical improvements,” he stressed the need to “achieve sustained, 700+ per week on the body line,” vowing to be at the factory “almost 24/7” to oversee the process first-hand.

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FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk © Tesla

The electric car company and its CEO are facing a host of problems, including the need to cut costs to preserve capital in order to complete the orders for the Model 3, which has been touted as a mass-market product, as well as pending lawsuits over what some shareholders see as Musk’s poor management and enrichment at the company’s expense.

Tesla has yet to make its first profit, having accumulated some $ 2billion in debt last year. In a bid to “reduce costs and become profitable,” Musk last week announced a major round of layoffs that would affect some 9 percent of the company staff. The cuts will not affect those involved in the production, he stressed at the time.

Aside from its financial and performance woes, Tesla is now under increased scrutiny for a series of incidents in which several of its cars in the US and Europe burst into flames. Last week, a Tesla vehicle was again making headlines for all the wrong reasons, when US actress Mary McCormack wrote on Twitter that her husband’s electric car caught fire “out of the blue.” The video, showing the flames shooting underneath the car, went viral on social media.

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Trump raises stakes in trade war with China, targets further $200bn-worth of imports with tariff

By ethan / June 19, 2018

US President Donald Trump is looking to impose a 10 percent tariff on another $ 200 billion-worth of Chinese goods, after Beijing imposed reciprocal tariffs on US imports, as part of an expanding trade war with Washington.

In a statement released by the White House on Monday, Trump cited Beijing’s decision to respond to US tariffs on $ 50 billion-worth of Chinese imports, imposed earlier, as his reason to escalate the conflict.

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“China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology,” Trump said. “Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening US companies, workers and farmers who have done nothing wrong.”

The new US tariff will be imposed if China goes ahead and implements its new tariff on American goods, announced last week, the White House said, adding that trade between the two countries “must be much more equitable.” China is currently running a $ 376 billion surplus in trade with the US, according to the White House.

If Beijing choses to continue its tit-for-tat tariff policy with the US, Washington will impose further tariffs on imports from China in addition to the $ 200 billion announced, the statement warned.

As late as May 20, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was saying the trade war with China was “on hold” and that negotiations with Beijing were ongoing. Last week, however, the Trump administration announced tariffs on 1,102 separate categories of Chinese products, to go into effect on July 6.

China responded by setting a 25 percent tariff on 545 American products, worth $ 50 billion, in agriculture products, cars, and seafood. Another 114 product categories, including chemicals, medical equipment and energy industry products, will be “announced later,” the Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

China is not the only country facing the prospect of a trade war with the US. The Trump administration, in its pursuit of the “America first” policy, has recently levied tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from the EU, Canada and Mexico, angering their leaders and making for a very chilly G7 summit in Canada earlier this month.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the tariffs “not only criminal, but a mistake,” adding, “Economic nationalism leads to war.” He also hinted that the remaining countries of the G7 combined are a bigger market than the US and “we don’t mind being six, if needs be.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the tariffs “totally unacceptable” and an “affront” to Canada, describing the announcement from Washington as “a turning point in the Canada-US relationship.”

“We have to believe that, at some point, common sense will prevail. But we see no sign of that in the US action today,” he said on May 31, announcing retaliatory duties on US imports.

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'They make me look chubby!': England hero Harry Kane on Russian dolls in his image

By ethan / June 18, 2018

England captain Harry Kane has admitted that the Russian dolls that have popped up in his image in Russia ‘make me look chubby.’

Kane was speaking in the press conference after his two goals gave England a 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener in Volgograd on Monday. 

His 91st-minute winner saved England’s blushes against one of the tournament’s less fancied sides by giving the Three Lions the victory in Volgograd Arena.

READ MORE: Two-goal Kane gives England 2-1 World Cup opening victory over Tunisia in Volgograd

The dolls – called “matryoshka” in Russian – have appeared in the very heart of Moscow by the city’s iconic Red Square and depict striker Kane in full England kit. 

“I will have to get myself one of those Russian dolls. I’ve seen couple and yeah they do make me look a bit chubby!” Kane laughed when asked by RT Sport. 

READ MORE: ‘Cane you kick it?’ England captain depicted on Matryoshka doll, but spelling hits the bar

When asked whether he was aware that Russians thought his name was a play on words, as it sounds like the word ‘hurricane’, the Tottenham striker laughed: “I had no idea about that!”  

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© Lee Smith REUTERS / RT

On the pitch, and despite sporadic swarms of tiny flying insects forcing the players to be sprayed with insect repellant before taking to the field, England snatched a win against the Maghreb nation

“I think the most is we’re proud of each other,” Kane said. “In a World Cup you’re never sure how it’s going to go. In recent years the first game’s always been difficult. 

“It looked like it could have been one of those nights again, but like I said, we’ve got great togetherness. I said it before the game but it’s always nice to see it come up in the game.

“We were talking to each other non stop, getting each other through it. We never panicked, we never looked like conceding another one which was important.”

Next up for England is a match in Nizhny Novgorod against World Cup first-timers Panama on June 24.

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‘Make it so’? Trump orders creation of US Space Force as military branch

By ethan / June 18, 2018

US President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to begin establishing a Space Force as the sixth branch of the US military. Creators of Star Wars, Star Trek and Starship Troopers memes rejoiced.

“There’s no place like space,” Trump said on Monday, addressing the National Space Council in Washington. He announced a number of initiatives, including a push to establish a “permanent presence” on the Moon, with an eye to a manned Mars mission. But the biggest one was the creation of a new military branch, to operate in what the president termed “forbidden skies.”

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FILE PHOTO: People dressed as Star Wars characters take part in an event held for the release of the film 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 13, 2017. © Athit Perawongmetha

Trump declared that America was “first in flight, first to the Moon,” and “will always be first in space.”

He was unclear on whether that would make the first artificial satellite (Sputnik), the first animal to orbit the Earth (Laika), the first man in orbit (Yuri Gagarin), the first man to walk in space (Alexey Leonov) and the first woman in orbit (Valentina Tereshkova), somehow, retroactively American.

“It is not enough to have American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Trump declared, calling it a matter of national security. To that end, he has directed General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to begin preparations for making the Space Force a “separate but equal” branch of the US military, alongside the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.

Some critics couldn’t resist jumping on that phrase, which has unfortunate connotations in the US, having been associated with decades of justifying racial segregation.

Others objected to the Space Force as too expensive and argued that space should be left to scientists.

For most, however, the idea of establishing a Space Force served as the perfect opportunity to post memes associated with science fiction films and TV shows, from Star Wars and Star Trek to Avatar and Starship Troopers.

Even if the Pentagon proceeds to implement Trump’s directive at hyperspeed, there are two obstacles to “make it so” – and overcoming them will be tougher than making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.

One is legal. The Outer Space Treaty, to which the US has been party since 1967, bans states from testing any weapons in outer space, or establishing military bases on the Moon and other celestial bodies. It also prohibits deployment of any weapons of mass destruction in Earth’s orbit. The US has unilaterally withdrawn from treaties before, however, and Trump could just channel Emperor Palpatine and declare, “I will make it legal.”

The more immediate problem, however, is that the Space Force has no ships. The US Space Shuttle program was shut down in 2011. Since then, the only way American astronauts can get into space has been aboard the Russian Soyuz-MS spacecraft. Even if Russia were somehow inclined to offer transportation services to a branch of the US military, US laws prohibit any military cooperation with Moscow.

That leaves Trump with another Sidious solution, to have the Space Force initially composed of droids and drones. As the US president so often says, “let’s see what happens.”

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'This is one of the best World Cups I have been to' – Tunisia manager Nabil Maaloul

By ethan / June 18, 2018

Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul, speaking after his side lost 2-1 to England at Volgograd Arena thanks to two Harry Kane goals, has said that Russia 2018 is one of the best tournaments he has attended.

READ MORE: Two-goal Kane gives England 2-1 World Cup opening victory over Tunisia in Volgograd

Referencing previous World Cups in 2002 and 2006, Maaloul said that the facilities and infrastructure of the 2018 edition made it “one of the best” he had visited.

Speaking about captain Kane’s heroics on the pitch, which included a 91st minute winner, Maaloul praised the England skipper as one of the world’s best attackers.

“I have previously said in the press conference yesterday we expected it to be a very different match because we would be playing against one of the most important teams,” Maaloul said.

READ MORE: ‘Harry Kane truly delivered for his country’: The reaction as England snatch late win in Volgograd

“As far as the performance of Harry Kane is concerned – he is one of the best attackers in the Premier League and that is why he is highly sought after by the highest clubs,” he added.

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‘Germany crime up due to immigration,’ Trump tweets, and media go into frenzy

By ethan / June 18, 2018

Donald Trump’s opponents and the media have lambasted the president and accused him of lying, after he made a series of tweets savaging German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy and calling for tougher laws at home.

“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!” Trump tweeted on Monday, criticizing Merkel’s ‘open-door’ policy that saw almost two million predominantly Muslim migrants flood Germany since 2014.

The mainstream media pounced on Trump immediately, accusing the President of lying. Crime, they argued, is in fact way down in Germany. According to government statistics, crime in Germany fell almost 10 percent last year, reaching its lowest level since 1992.

“We’re actually doing fine, thanks” quipped the English-language version of the German government news network Deutsche Welle.

The New York Times rushed in to point out Trump’s claim was false – as did Vox, The Hill, and CNN’s Brian Stelter, who bashed the president for “misleading the public.”

Trump’s critics also blasted him for playing on divisions in Merkel’s government. The German chancellor’s grand coalition was shaken after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer unveiled a new strategy that would allow German authorities to turn back refugees at its borders if they have already applied for asylum in other EU countries. Chancellor Merkel opposed the proposal, saying Berlin can’t unilaterally shut its borders without consulting with its European neighbors.

Some German journalists also dissected Trump’s assumption that Merkel’s standing may be in peril over her immigration policies. Everything is fine in Germany, they say, and the chancellor is sitting pretty at a 50 percent approval rating, a hair above Trump’s 48 percent rating at home.

Some in the conspiratorial #resistance corner of Twitter saw Trump’s tweet was nothing less than an insidious ploy to bolster the German right and topple Merkel.

Trump’s critics may have been technically correct to point out the inaccuracies in his tweet about crime figures, but they are not telling the full truth either. While overall crime figures may have reached an almost three-decade low in Germany, violent crime seems to be on the rise. A university study published earlier this year found that violent crime rose by about 10 percent in 2015 and 2016, with 90 percent of that crime attributed to young male refugees.

Deutsche Welle’s article fails to mention this trend, but quotes the same study as saying Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Germany are less likely to commit crimes. This is true, but only when those groups are compared to migrants from North Africa, who committed 17 percent of violent crimes recorded in the German state of Lower Saxony in those two years, despite making up less than one percent of the migrant population.

None of this has stopped people from comparing Trump to Hitler.

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I am here just for our first ever World Cup match – Panama president Juan Carlos Varela (VIDEO)

By ethan / June 18, 2018

Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela has traveled half the world to lead an army of 5,000 fans from the Central American country for their inaugural World Cup match-up with Belgium.

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“I am very happy to be with my team here today – the first time Panama is here at the World Cup,” Varela told RT outside the Fisht Stadium in Sochi. “I’ll be watching the game and then heading back to Panama.”

Despite being unable to stay for all three of Panama’s Group G matches, Varela, who last week met with Vladimir Putin, said he has already formed an impression of the host country.

“Sochi is a beautiful city, and Russia is a beautiful country. We are really enjoying the visit. More than 5,000 Panamanians are in Sochi today,” he said.

Every World Cup in history has featured debuting teams, and Panama is one of two at Russia 2018, along with Iceland, which set an example to follow by holding Argentina to a draw in their opener.

Unfortunately, Panama were unable to hold onto their draw, letting in three second-half goals from the relieved Red Devils.

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Two-goal Kane gives England 2-1 World Cup opening victory over Tunisia in Volgograd

By ethan / June 18, 2018

England claimed an opening game World Cup victory after a double from captain Harry Kane gave them a 2-1 win against Tunisia in Volgograd.

Kane turned in a header in second-half injury time after Tunisia had earlier canceled out his 11th-minute goal with the Group G rivals appearing destined for draw.  

England started with vigor in Volgograd, and Kane gave England the lead their early dominance deserved when he turned in a header after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen could only palm away a John Stones shot into his path.

That came after England spurned two golden chances in a bright opening five minutes, when Jesse Lingard saw his shot saved and Raheem Sterling somehow turned wide with the goal at his mercy just moments later.  

Much had been made of the midge insects invading Volgograd during the day, and England continued their flying start with Henderson testing new keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha, who had replaced the injured Mouez Hassen shortly after the England goal.

Tunisia grew into the game, however, and had a shot through Sassi just before half an hour when Harry Maguire was caught on the ball.

Their breakthrough came in controversial circumstances on 35 minutes, when Kyle Walker was adjudged to have elbowed Fakhreddine Ben Youssef in the box. The Tunisian appeared to make the most of it, but it wasn’t overturned by the VAR and Ferjani Sassi stuck the spot-kick past a diving Jordan Pickford.

England pressed to restore their lead just before half-time, with Lingard hitting the post after he poked the ball past onrushing Tunisia goalkeeper Ben Mustapha.

Kane and Harry Maguire both appeared to be wrestled to the ground during corners in the second half, prompting questions as to why VAR was not being called into more use.

Tunisia started the second-half brightly and seemed set for a memorable draw, but ran out of steam as England pressed in the closing stages. 

The pressure paid off when goal king Kane was left unmarked at the back post in injury time and nodded home to give England an opening game win on the banks of the Volga.  

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England fans attacked in Volgograd! …by swarms of tiny flying midges

By ethan / June 18, 2018

England fans arriving in Volgograd for their World Cup game versus Tunisia on Monday were met by swarms of tiny flying midges, in the absence of the dreaded gangs of bloodthirsty Russian hooligans promised by the UK press.

Three Lions fans were in the city by the banks of the River Volga to watch Harry Kane and co. open their Group G account, but were taken aback by two things: the lack of Russian hooligans, and the sheer volume of midges.

READ MORE: ‘Aware of its significance’ – England fans pay respects at WWII memorial, win friends in Volgograd

The little flying bugs are extremely common in provincial riverside towns in the height of summer, and England fans were left clamoring to find the nearest shops selling bug-repellant spray.  

Much to their chagrin, many shops had sold out, such was the prevalence of the midges – singularly known as a “moshkara” or “moshka” in Russian. 

England players were even doused with anti-bug spray on the pitch before they kicked off against the Maghreb nation at Volgograd Arena.

One local fan was also snapped wearing a beekeeping mask to fend off the flying creatures while on his way to the ground. 

But not to let that dampen their spirits, the traveling fans seemed upbeat. One fan, named Les, was spotted in a local Volgograd pub giving out T-shirts “With Russia From Love” embroidered on the chest, a reference to the famous James Bond film. 

Speaking to RT Sport, Les sarcastically said: “Look at all these hooligans here beating us up and attacking us, it’s just terrible isn’t it.”

Les, sipping on his beer in the sunshine outside the pub, then added: “Doesn’t it p*** you off some of the rubbish the UK press write!”

Les was joined by England fans Jamie Marriott and Mitchell Jones, who cycled 2,400 miles to Volgograd from the UK to make the match. 

The lads were quick to praise their Russian host, Vitaly, who had bought them beers throughout their stay in Volgograd, to where they arrived the day before the England game. 

The lads even enjoyed celebrity status in the city, being treated to more free beer by the establishment’s beer master, and taken on an underground tour of how the local ales are brewed. 

READ MORE: ‘This is our year – 2,400 miles is easy!’: England fans cycle to Russia 2018

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China can substitute US oil with Iranian crude to ‘infuriate Trump’ – analyst

By ethan / June 18, 2018

Beijing’s retaliatory measures against US tariffs can include penalties on oil coming to China from America. A cut in Chinese purchases of US oil may benefit Iran’s sales.

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© Getty Images / sanjeri

“The Chinese may just replace some of the American oil with Iranian crude,” said John Driscoll, director of consultancy JTD Energy Services, as quoted by Reuters. “China isn’t intimidated by the threat of US sanctions. They haven’t been in the past. So in this diplomatic spat they might just replace US crude with Iranian oil. That would obviously infuriate [President Donald] Trump,” he said.

China buys about $ 1 billion of oil a month from the United States. Chinese oil imports from the US have been growing recently thanks to a record production surge in America.

Beijing said Friday it would retaliate by slapping duties on several American commodities, including oil. If Beijing responds to Trump’s $ 50 billion trade restrictions with oil tariffs, this would make imports from Russia and OPEC more attractive for China, the analyst notes.

“With Trump’s politics, we’re in a world of re-aligning alliances. China will not just swallow US tariffs. This is tit-for-tat petroleum diplomacy. The OPEC/non-OPEC cartel is the big beneficiary of all this oil diplomacy, as it will squeeze global spare oil capacity and likely push up crude prices,” Driscoll said.

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