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Texas county approves tax breaks for Tesla, if it builds a $1.1 billion car plant near Austin

Texas county approves tax breaks for Tesla, if it builds a $1.1 billion car plant near Austin

Tesla lands at least $14.7 million in tax breaks to locate Cybertruck factory in Texas

Officials in Austin have approved a total of at least $60 million in property tax rebates in an effort to bring Tesla’s next electric car factory to the Texas city.

Austin is one of the two leading candidates for the factory, which is where Tesla will build the Cybertruck, along with Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Travis County Commissioner’s Court, the policy-making and administrative arm of the local government, approved an agreement on Tuesday that will save Tesla around $14 million in property taxes over the next 10 years.

Late last week, the Del Valle school district, which is near where the factory would be located, approved an agreement that would grant Tesla close to $50 million in tax rebates over the same time frame.

The vote was preceded by some drama over whether Tesla could wait any longer for an answer on the incentive package. Many citizens who called into Tuesday’s Travis County meeting stressed that they believe time is of the essence — especially after Musk visited Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 3rd and reports detailing the state’s behind-the-scenes efforts to offer its own incentive package.

“We have to vote today,” one resident said. “Time kills deals, and the longer this drags on the bigger the chance that another state puts together a package” that sways Tesla. “It is very important in my opinion that we get this done quickly, and delay tactics tend to scare me,” another said. Just before the vote, county commissioner Margaret Gomez said she had only read through half of the contract and asked for a one-week extension.

Also Read Elon Musk’s Extraordinary Decade As Tesla Shares Grow From $17 To $1,000

Travis County has estimated that a $1.1 billion investment by Tesla would generated $8.8 million in new tax revenue over a 10-year period, a figure that takes into account the property tax rebates.

If Tesla fails to hit the investment goal or if its falls 75% short of its jobs requirement in any year, the company won’t receive any property tax relief. The county will also have the ability to recoup tax rebates if Tesla breaches its contract.

Musk tweeted in March that the company was “scouting” locations to build a new U.S. gigafactory that will produce the Cybertruck and Model Y crossover.

Tesla has promised Texas officials it will employ at least 5,000 people. About 25 of those workers are categorized as “qualifying” jobs and would be paid a minimum of $74,050, while the remaining would be middle income jobs with an annual salary of $47,147.

More recently, Tesla successfully built a car plant in Shanghai in under a year, with $1.6 billion in loans and other assistance from the Chinese government.

Check Out Tesla board certifies Elon Musk’s payday worth more than $700 million

‘The Car Is Innocent’: Dukes of Hazzard Stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat Respond to  Over Car’s Confederate Flag

‘The Car Is Innocent’: Dukes of Hazzard Stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat Respond to Over Car’s Confederate Flag

The stars defended use of the flag, considered a symbol of racism in the US, by the hit action and comedy show about cousins Bo and Luke Duke

“The whole politically correct generation has gotten way out of hand,” says Schneider, while Wopat notes that “the situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years, but the car is innocent.”

Before it even premiered on CBS on Jan. 26, 1979, then-CBS programming chief B. Donald Grant squared off with a roomful of TV critics who hated it.

Among their objections was that “the two male leads appear to be on the wrong side of the law, that the subject of illegitimate parenthood was treated humorously, and that one of the female regulars is often seen in skimpy costume,” according to a Hollywood Reporter account. One North Carolina critic went further, calling the show’s stereotypes “out of line with the New South.”

Grant ignored the critics and Hazzard went on to air on CBS from 1979 to 1985, winning over millions of ardent fans in the process.

In its initial run, the series drew as many as 20 million viewers per episode and by its third season had become the second-biggest show on TV. Those fans would introduce their own children to the series when it ran for years in constant syndication.

Also Read Illinois museum says ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ car with Confederate flag to stay

Dukes of Hazzard co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat addressed the long-time controversy over the show’s iconic General Lee car, saying political correctness has gone too far as protests mount over the Confederate flag that the famed vehicle features prominently on its roof. 

Both stars defended the customized 1969 Dodge Charger used in the hit action and comedy show about cousins Bo and Luke Duke, former moonshiners who live in rural Georgia. 

The car, named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, has enjoyed its own popularity as much as the actors, becoming a crowd pleaser at fan and collectors conventions. 

‘I have never had an African American come up to me and have any problem with it whatsoever,’  Schneider, 60, who played Bo on the program told the Hollywood Reporter. ‘The whole politically correct generation has gotten way out of hand.’  

Wopat, 68, who played Luke, took a slightly opposing view of the controversy. 

‘The situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years. I feel fortunate to be living in a time when we can address some of the injustices of the past,’ he said.

But Wopat also insisted, ‘the car is innocent’. 

According to THRDukes of Hazzard doesn’t air on broadcast television but is available to stream on Amazon. Back in 2015, TV Land dropped the show from its schedule amid a Confederate flag controversy at the time, after previously airing reruns twice a day.

Related Amazon Considering Dropping Dukes of Hazzard From Streaming Platforms

Gy Waldron, who created the series, told THR that he “wholeheartedly” supports the Black Lives Matter movement, but that the inclusion of the Confederate flag image was never meant to be racist.

“I had relatives fight on both sides of the Civil War and we honored both the American and Confederate flags,” said Waldron, 87, who grew up in Lenoxburg, Kentucky. “No one even connected the Confederate flag with slavery. It was simply a part of our Southern culture.”

Mask shortage sidelining some Ottawa paramedics

Mask shortage sidelining some Ottawa paramedics

Shortage of masks preventing approximately 30 Ottawa paramedics from working with patients

Nearly three dozen Ottawa paramedics have been reassigned to duties that don’t involve patient care because the City can’t get enough properly fitting masks for them.

General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services Anthony Di Monte told reporters on Friday all paramedics are equipped with N95 masks–even before the COVID-19 pandemic–but each mask must be fit-tested and there are some members who can’t use the standard model.

“It has to fit your particular face and seal appropriately,” Di Monte said. “We always have, because the physiology of each of us is different, a certain number of people that can’t get a complete fit and there’s approximately 30 of our 700 paramedics who have to use a different one.”

Di Monte said the vast majority of paramedics use the 3M 1805 model. The ones who can’t use the 1805 have to use the 3M 1870+ model mask; however, the 1870+ is produced in smaller quantities and has become harder to obtain because of the pandemic.

Di Monte said, as soon as they realized they were running out of the masks, the service began looking at other options such as encapsulated respirators, but that requires different training to ensure each paramedic uses the new masks properly.

“In the interim, those 30 paramedics are assigned to other functions because they can’t do patient care functions or we’d be putting them at risk,” he said.

“We’re continuing to work to try to get the ones that they would require, but we’re not waiting for that to happen in the market. They’ll get training for full-face respirators and then they’ll be able to return to patient-care activities.

The paramedic service has been working with both Ontario’s Ministry of Health and the Champlain Local Health Integration Network to obtain N95 masks that fit properly, according to a statement from acting chief Peter Kelly.

“These specific masks continue to be on backorder and are not available from [their] stockpile inventory,” Kelly wrote.

The situation doesn’t sit well with the paramedics’ union. 

“If we can’t protect ourselves, we can’t do our job, and we can’t protect the public,” said Jason Fraser, chair of the ambulance committee of Ontario for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

While the City of Ottawa should be ensuring its paramedics have access to the proper masks, the responsibility ultimately falls on the province, Fraser said.

“The provincial government needs to step up and ensure that the PPE for paramedics and every front-line worker is readily available, and we shouldn’t have to worry about where that next piece of equipment is coming from.”

In a statement, Ministry of Health spokesperson David Jensen told CBC that the supply of N95 masks is “stabilizing,” but they remain difficult to get.

Elon Musk is now officially richer than Warren Buffett

Elon Musk is now officially richer than Warren Buffett

Elon Musk Soars Past Warren Buffett on Billionaires Ranking

Tesla CEO Elon Musk just zoomed past Warren Buffett on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to become the world’s seventh wealthiest person.

Musk’s fortune rose more than $6 billion Friday, according to Bloomberg, after Tesla’s stock surged 10.8% to a record $1,544 per share. Its market value stood at $286.5 billion.

Musk owns 20.8% of Tesla’s stock, making his stake worth just under $60 billion. Musk is also the primary shareholder of privately held SpaceX, as well as a privately held tunneling company.

Also Read Elon Musk earns first performance-based payout from Tesla, worth more than $700 million

Buffett’s fortune dropped earlier this week when he donated $2.9 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock to charity. The 89-year-old has given away more than $37 billion of Berkshire shares since 2006.

Shares of the electric-car maker have risen 269% this year. The company’s booming valuation helped Musk land a $595 million payday earlier this year, making him the highest-paid CEO in the U.S.

Musk is the latest tech entrepreneur to rise above Buffett in the ranks of the world’s richest. Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft Corp. CEO, and Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Brin also have leapfrogged the Oracle of Omaha. And Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani surpassed Buffett this week.

Mike Novogratz, the longtime money manager who now runs digital currency investor Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd., warned that valuations of technology companies are getting way too high and that small investors should get out of the market before it crashes.

“We are in irrational exuberance — this is a bubble,” he said Friday in a Bloomberg Television interview. “The economy is grinding, slowing down, we’re lurching in and out of Covid, yet the tech market makes new highs every day. That’s a classic speculative bubble.”

Checkout Elon Musk’s Extraordinary Decade As Tesla Shares Grow From $17 To $1,000

Victoria records 216 new COVID-19 cases and one new death

Victoria records 216 new COVID-19 cases and one new death

Mask-wearing is ‘almost certain’ to be part of Victoria’s coronavirus response, as the state notches another day of more than 200 new cases.

‘This is not an ordinary weekend’

Victoria has reported one new coronavirus death and 216 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, as the health authorities battle over 100 outbreaks across the state.

Australia’s coronavirus death toll now stands at 107, after a man in his nineties succumbed to the virus overnight while in hospital.

More than 180 of the new cases are still under investigation, with 30 linked to known outbreaks.

It takes the total number of cases in the state to 3,560, with 49 patients in hospital and 15 people in intensive care. 

Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said single cases had been recorded among staff in aged care facilities.

“Essentially, we have got over a 100 cumulative outbreaks [in Victoria]…We are getting more and more cases in aged care facilities and we need to make sure we keep up with that.”

There are now 1249 active cases in the state.

Premier Daniel Andrews offered his condolences to the family of the man who passed away.

Mr Andrews and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos thanked everyone who had come forward for testing.

“Without this data and sense of how the virus is moving, you can’t get to their close contacts or put in place a strategy to get them isolated at home,” Mr Andrews said.

The news comes after Victoria recorded 288 new cases on Friday prompting the state government to recommend people where masks in areas where social distancing was not possible.

Thirty of the new cases are connected to known outbreaks. There are 49 Victorians in hospital and 15 of those are in intensive care.

About five million Victorians in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire are under strict stay-at-home orders after weeks of worrying transmission of the deadly virus.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it could happen to any city in any state and they’re all in it together.

“We’re all Melbournians now, when it comes to the challenges we face, we’re all Victorians now, because we’re all Australians.”