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Elon Musk is now the richest man on the planet

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s fortune rose to $188.5 billion on Thursday, $1.5 billion more than Bezos

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is no longer the richest man in the world, after Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s fortune on Thursday rose to $188.5 billion, $1.5 billion more than Bezos. Shares in electric carmaker Tesla rose by more than 6 percent on Thursday to push South African-born Musk into the top spot, dethroning Bezos from the place he has occupied for more than three years, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 

Tesla’s market capitalization, a measurement of the company’s stock price multiplied by its number of shares, has been on a tear since the beginning of last year, rising from about $80 billion in January 2020 to just over $760 billion today. Musk’s personal fortune, which is tied to Tesla’s share price, rose by more than $150 billion last year. The new valuation is more than eight times the combined values of the traditional “Big Three” U.S. automakers, GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Incited by the President, Trump Supporters Violently Storm the Capitol

Woman dies after shooting in U.S. Capitol; D.C

Seething with anger, mostly unmasked, Donald Trump’s supporters stormed and breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, stoked by his defiant speech claiming the election had been stolen from him. Tens of thousands of supporters braved bone-chilling temperatures to hear him speak at the Ellipse below the White House, then many marched to Capitol Hill and up the steps, pushing their way past Capitol Police, as some of the lawmakers’ office buildings were evacuated. Washington, DC’s mayor issued a city-wide curfew, from nightfall through the next morning.

Democrat Rep. Elaine Luria, a Navy veteran, tweeted: “I had to evacuate my office because of a pipe bomb reported outside. Supporters of the President are trying to force their way into the Capitol and I can hear what sounds like multiple gunshots.”

Democratic Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut tweeted that lawmakers had been asked to get out gas masks “as there has been tear gas used in the rotunda,” the circular building in the center of the Capitol. By nightfall, one woman who was shot at the Capitol had died, according to a spokesperson for Washington D.C’s Metropolitan Police Department.


Jack Ma’s disappearing act fuels speculation

Billionaire’s whereabouts

Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s absence from public view in the past two months, including missing the final episode of a TV show on which he was to appear as a judge, has fueled social media speculation over his whereabouts amid a Chinese regulatory clampdown on his sprawling business empire. China’s highest-profile entrepreneur has not appeared in a public setting since a late October forum in Shanghai where he blasted China’s regulatory system in a speech that put him on a collision course with officials, resulting in the suspension of a $37 billion IPO of Alibaba’s Ant Group fintech arm.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that Ma was replaced as a judge in the final episode in November of a game show for entrepreneurs called Africa’s Business Heroes. An Alibaba spokeswoman told Reuters on Monday that the change was due to a scheduling conflict, declining further comment.

While news coverage of Ma’s absence from public view triggered speculation on Twitter, which is blocked in China, it was not a significant trending topic on social media in mainland China, where sensitive topics are subject to censorship.Chinese regulators have zeroed in on Ma’s businesses since his October speech including launching an antitrust probe into Alibaba and ordering Ant to shake up its lending and other consumer finance businesses including the creation of a separate holding company to meet capital requirements.

UK Locked Down Again

Rollout of New Vaccine

Faced with an escalating coronavirus crisis, the United Kingdom on Monday imposed a new lockdown and also became the first nation in the world to use the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, an antidote that experts hope will become a centerpiece in the global fight against the pandemic.

During an evening speech, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a new lockdown in England, telling people to not leave their homes unless they must for essential reasons. The lockdown also includes the closing of schools and universities. Similar measures are being put into effect in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, he said.

Earlier in the day, Britons were heartened by the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, a significant milestone because it is considered a likely candidate for worldwide distribution. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines already in use, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine does need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures and that makes it easier and cheaper to distribute. The vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, a U.K.-based drugmaker.

Bitcoin surges past $33,000

Fears of a global recession

The price of Bitcoin (BTC-USD) has surged to a new record pushing to above $33,000 (£24,135) for the first time in history on Sunday, after it crossed the $30,000 mark on Saturday. It soared by 18% on Sunday morning, reaching a new all-time high above $34,000, before trickling back down. Other digital coins, such as Ethereum and Litecoin, also recorded sharp price increases.

Bitcoin’s record-breaking rally has seen the cryptocurrency increase by more than 300% in 2020.In comparison, Wall Street’s blue-chip S&P 500 stock index (^GSPC) saw a 16% lift and gold (GC=F) had a 25% rally.

It comes as lockdowns and fears of a global recession, due to the coronavirus pandemic, sent investors flocking to alternative financial assets.


Elon Musk wants to move humanity away from fossil fuels

How society could transition all its energy usage toward sustainable sources

The plan, outlined at the company’s Battery Day on September 22, involves massively increasing battery production. More batteries mean more places to store electricity. That also means more ways to use electricity from intermittent sources like solar and wind. When a solar panel generates electricity during sunshine, or a wind turbine on a gusty day, a battery can help provide that clean energy 24 hours a day. It can then be used in homes and businesses – or even transferred to other batteries, like in electric cars.

“To accelerate the transition to sustainable energy, we need to produce more [electric vehicles], they need to be affordable,” Musk said during the on-stage presentation at the Tesla Design Studio. “And a lot more energy storage, while building factories faster and with far less investment.”

Declaring that “tera is the new giga,” Musk explained how society needs to produce batteries on the order of Terawatt-hours per year. Battery production in 2019, according to Musk, measured 0.1 Terawatt-hours for electric cars and 0.006 Terawatt-hours for other uses. The sources for these figures were electric vehicle database EV-Volumes and analysis firm IHS Markit.

Facebook to close Irish holding companies

At the  centre of tax dispute

Facebook is winding up Irish holding companies it has used to channel billions of profits to avoid paying taxes in the US, the UK and hundreds of other countries. The company’s main Irish subsidiary paid $101m (£75m) in tax while recording profits of more than $15bn in 2018, the last year for which records are available. Facebook companies around the world paid the Irish holding company for use of its intellectual property. Facebook International Holdings I Unlimited Company recorded revenue of $30bn in 2018, more than half of Facebook’s total global turnover of $56bn.

The company’s decision to close the Irish divisions and return its intellectual property to the US came shortly after the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) took the company to court claiming it owed more than $9bn linked to its 2010 decision to shift its profits to Ireland. Before its stock market flotation in 2012, Facebook valued its intangible assets at $6.5bn in 2010, but the IRS claimed the true value was $21bn.

New fiscal support will set up an economic boom in the second half of 2021

 300,000 jobs per month created

Fiscal support will bolster US consumers and lead to an economic boom in the second half of 2021, according to a team of Evercore analysts led by Dennis DeBusschere.

“Despite what angry twitter folks and some news outlets are suggesting, the current fiscal package is large enough to make a significant difference for individuals,” the analysts said in a note to clients on Thursday.

The current proposed fiscal package will be roughly 3.5% of GDP in the first quarter, and could potentially add up to 300,000 jobs per month, Evercore said. This could occur even if direct payments to individuals are only $600, but Evercore predicts that amount will increase before a bill is passed.

Brexit Deal

From tariffs to visas: here’s what’s in the Brexit deal

The Brexit trade and security deal, finalised on Christmas Eve, runs to 2,000 pages, including annexes. It will enter into force once approved by both sides. The devil of what has been agreed will be in the detail – and will be pored over in the days to come. Here are the main agreements, at a glance.

Tariff-free and quota-free access to one of the world’s biggest markets is the backbone of the Brexit deal and goes beyond the EU’s deals with Canada or Japan.

There will be mutual recognition of trusted trader programmes. This means UK producers will have to comply with both UK and EU standards.

There will be no more automatic recognition for doctors, nurses, architects, dentists, pharmacists, vets, engineers. They will now have to seek recognition in the member state they wish to practise in.

UK nationals no longer have the freedom to work, study, start a business or live in the EU. Visas will be required for stays over 90 days. Coordination of some social security benefits such as old-age pensions and healthcare will make it easier to work abroad and not lose any pre-existing build up of contributions to national insurance.

The UK will leave the common fisheries policy.

The U.S. has vaccinated just 1 million people out of a goal of 20 million for December

It leaves public officials about 8 days to try to close that gap

Just over 1 million people in the U.S. have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday morning, a far cry from the federal government’s goal of inoculating 20 million Americans by the end of the year.

Now that two Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for emergency use, the biggest hurdle to ending the pandemic in the U.S. is getting the doses to the roughly 331 million Americans across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 1,008,025 shots had been administered as of Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET.

Apple wants to build its first car in 2024

Central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery

Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc, returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.

Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public. Apple’s goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service. Central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range, according to a third person who has seen Apple’s battery design.

$900 billion stimulus package in US

Jobless benefits, aid to small businesses, stimulus checks and money for vaccine distribution

Congressional leaders brokered a deal on an approximately $900 billion relief bill Sunday night, with lawmakers rushing for a vote as soon as possible.

The bill extends aid to millions of struggling households through stimulus checks, enhanced federal unemployment benefits and money for small businesses, schools and child care, as well as for vaccine distribution. It also repurposes $429 billion in unused funds provided by the Cares Act for emergency lending programs run by the Federal Reserve.

The bill comes at a critical time for the recovery as the coronavirus pandemic is overwhelming the nation’s health-care system and scores of Americans were set to lose federal aid by the end of the year. Bill text released Monday afternoon, as well as earlier reporting by The Washington Post, breaks down what’s in and what’s out of the bill.

Tilray stock soars after reverse merger deal with Aphria

Aphria shareholders will own 62% of combined company, which is expected to be the largest global cannabis company

Shares of Tilray Inc. soared Wednesday, after the company announced an agreement to merge with Aphria Inc., in a deal that is expected to create the world’s largest cannabis company by revenue, and with a combined equity value of about $3.9 billion. Under terms of the deal, Aphria shareholders will receive 0.8381 Tilray shares for each Aphria share they own, while Tilray shareholders will have no adjustments made to their holdings.

Once the deal is completed, which is expected to occur in the second quarter of 2021, Aphria shareholders will own 62% of Tilray’s outstanding shares. Based on Tuesday’s stock closing prices, the deal, which is structured as a reverse acquisition of Tilray, represents a 23% premium for Tilray shareholders. Aphria will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tilray.

FDA staff endorses emergency use of Moderna’s Covid vaccine

The FDA endorsement comes two days before the agency’s Vaccines  Advisory Committee  is scheduled to review it

The staff of the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday endorsed the emergency use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, a critical step forward in winning formal clearance to be administered to the public as early as next week. The staff report is meant to brief the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which meets Thursday to review Moderna’s request for emergency use authorization.

The group of outside medical advisors recommended Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use last Thursday, and the FDA approved it the next day. The committee is expected to recommend Moderna’s vaccine. The FDA doesn’t have to follow the committee’s recommendation, but it often does.

Reddit buys TikTok rival Dubsmash in video push

The deal involved a combination of cash and stock

Reddit said it has acquired video-sharing platform Dubsmash, making it the latest social-media giant to mount a challenge to TikTok.

Seven-year-old Dubsmash lets users create and share videos of themselves lip-syncing to songs or clips from movies. Reddit said it will integrate Dubsmash’s video creation tools into its own platform in a move to expand its video content capabilities. “Dubsmash elevates under-represented creators, while Reddit fosters a sense of community and belonging across thousands of different topics and passions,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in a statement.

Reddit did not disclose specific financial terms of the deal announced Sunday, but a company spokeswoman told Reuters that it involved a combination of cash and stock. All of Dubsmash’s staff will join Reddit but the app will maintain its own platform and brand, Reddit said.