Report: US SEC Subpoenas Tesla Over Musk’s Tweets

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has sent subpoenas to Tesla Inc. regarding Chief Executive Elon Musk’s plans to take the company private and his statement that funding was “secured,” Fox Business Network reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

Subpoenas typically indicate the SEC has opened a formal investigation into a matter. Tesla and the SEC declined to comment.

Musk stunned investors and sent Tesla’s shares soaring 11 percent when he tweeted early last week that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share and that he had secured funding for the potential deal.

The electric carmaker’s shares were last down 1.9 percent at $341.00 on Wednesday. They have erased all their gains following Musk’s tweet last week.

Musk provided no details of his funding until Monday, when he said in a blog on Tesla’s website that he was in discussions with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and other potential backers but that financing was not yet nailed down.

The CEO’s tweet may have violated U.S. securities law if he misled investors. On Monday, lawyers told Reuters Musk’s statement indicated he had good reason to believe he had funding but seemed to have overstated its status by saying it was secured.

The SEC has opened an inquiry into Musk’s tweets, according to one person with direct knowledge of the matter. Reuters was not immediately able to ascertain if this had escalated into a full-blown investigation on Wednesday.

This source said Tesla’s independent board members had hired law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to help handle the SEC inquiry and other fiduciary duties with respect to a potential deal.


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A Rising Concern? After Straws, Balloons Get More Scrutiny

Now that plastic straws may be headed for extinction, could Americans’ love of balloons be deflated?

The joyous celebration of releasing balloons into the air has long bothered environmentalists, who say the pieces that fall back to earth can be deadly to seabirds and turtles that eat them. So as companies vow to banish plastic straws, there are signs balloons will be among the products to get more scrutiny, even though they’re a very small part of environmental pollution.

This year, college football powerhouse Clemson University is ending its tradition of releasing 10,000 balloons into the air before games, a move that’s part of its sustainability efforts. In Virginia, a campaign that urges alternatives to balloon releases at weddings is expanding. And a town in Rhode Island outright banned the sale of all balloons earlier this year, citing the harm to marine life.

“There are all kinds of alternatives to balloons, a lot of ways to express yourself,” says Kenneth Lacoste, first warden of New Shoreham, Rhode Island, who cites posters, pinatas and decorated paper.

Following efforts to limit plastic bags, the push by environmentalists against straws has gained traction in recent months, partly because they’re seen as unnecessary for most. Companies including Starbucks and Disney are promising to phase out plastic straws, which can be difficult to recycle because of their size and often end up as trash in the ocean. A handful of U.S. cities recently passed or are considering bans. And the push may bring attention to other items people may not have considered — like festive balloons.

“The issue of straws has really broadened the marine debris issue,” says Emma Tonge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. People might not realize balloons are a danger, she says, because of their “light and whimsical” image.

Balloons are not among the top 10 kinds of debris found in coastal cleanups, but Tongue says they’re common and especially hazardous to marine animals, which can also get entangled in balloon strings.

Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor of ecology at the University of Toronto, says people should think systemically about waste and pollution, but that efforts to bring attention to specific products shouldn’t be dismissed as too minor.

“If we said that about everything, we wouldn’t get anything done,” she says.

Already, a few states restrict balloon releases to some extent, according to the Balloon Council, which represents the industry and advocates for the responsible handling of its products to “uphold the integrity of the professional balloon community.” That means never releasing them into the air, and ensuring the strings have a weight tied to them so the balloons don’t accidentally float away.

Lorna O’Hara, executive director of the Balloon Council, doesn’t dispute that marine creatures might mistake balloons for jellyfish and eat them. But she says that doesn’t mean balloons are necessarily causing their deaths.

Clean Virginia Waterways still thinks balloons can be harmful. Included in its report last year: A photo of a soaring bird with a deflated balloon trailing behind it.

The report addresses the “rising concern” of balloons, which also often use helium, a non-renewable resource. It notes the difficulty of changing a social norm and that even typing “congrats” in a Facebook post results in an animation of balloons. It even claims the media play a role and that some groups conduct balloon releases “just so reporters will cover the event.”

“We don’t want to say don’t use them at all. We’re saying just don’t release them,” says Laura McKay of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program.

Some states such as California ban balloon releases for other reasons. Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves northern and central California, says metallic balloons caused 203 power outages in the first five months of this year, up 22 percent from a year ago.

Lacoste thinks other towns, particularly those along the coasts, will also ban balloons as people become more aware of environmental issues. He notes that plastic bags were once seen as harmless, but many places now ban them.


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Через обвал мосту в Італії постраждали двоє українців – консульство

Двоє громадян України, які постраждали внаслідок обвалу мосту в італійській Генуї, перебувають у лікарні «Сан Мартін». Про це повідомило генеральне консульство України в Мілані. В консульстві запевняють, що підтримують зв’язок із лікарнею.

До інших лікарень постраждалих українців не привозили. За даними консульства, серед загиблих внаслідок обвалу мосту Моранді також немає громадян України.

Раніше Міністерство закордонних справ України закликало українців, які перебувають в Генуї, дати знати про себе рідним.

Напередодні міністр закордонних справ України Павло Клімкін висловив свої співчуття італійському народові у зв’язку з трагедією.

Тим часом кількість загиблих через цю подію сягнула 39 осіб, повідомляють західні медіа.

Міст Morandi був відкритий у 1967 році. Його висота становить 90 метрів, а довжина – понад кілометр. Частина мосту обвалилася під час дощу 14 серпня. На місці події продовжують працювати рятувальники.


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US Retail Sales Rise Solidly; Productivity Accelerates

U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in July as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and clothing, suggesting the economy remained strong early in the third quarter.

Other data on Wednesday showed worker productivity growing at its fastest pace in more than three years in the second quarter, but a drop in labor costs pointed to moderate wage inflation. Strong domestic demand supports expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in September for the third time this year.

The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.5 percent last month. But data for June was revised lower to show sales gaining 0.2 percent instead of the previously reported 0.5 percent rise. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales nudging up 0.1 percent in July. Retail sales in July increased 6.4 percent from a year ago.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales advanced 0.5 percent last month after a downwardly revised 0.1 percent dip in June. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Core retail sales were previously reported to have been unchanged in June. Consumer spending is being supported by a tightening labor market, which is steadily pushing up wages. Tax cuts and higher savings are also underpinning consumption.

July’s increase in core retail sales suggested the economy started the third quarter on solid footing after logging its best performance in nearly four years in the second quarter.

Gross domestic product surged at a 4.1 percent annualized rate in the April-June period, almost double the 2.2 percent pace in the first quarter. While the economy is unlikely to repeat the second quarter’s robust performance, growth in the

July-September period is expected to top a 3.0 percent rate.

The Fed increased borrowing costs in June and forecast two more interest rate hikes by December.

Prices of U.S. Treasuries fell and the U.S. dollar added slightly to gains immediately after the release of the data. U.S. stock index futures were trading lower.

Productivity rises

Last month, auto sales rose 0.2 percent after edging up 0.1 percent in June. Sales at clothing stores rebounded 1.3 percent after declining 1.6 percent in June. Receipts at service stations increased 0.8 percent.

Online and mail-order retail sales increased 0.8 percent, likely boosted by Amazon.com Inc’s “Prime Day” promotion. That followed a 0.7 percent rise in June. Americans

spent more at restaurants and bars, lifting sales 1.3 percent.

But receipts at furniture stores fell 0.5 percent and sales at building material stores were unchanged last month. Spending at hobby, musical instrument and book stores declined further in July, falling 1.7 percent.

In a separate report on Wednesday, the Labor Department said nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, rose at a 2.9 percent annualized rate in the April-June quarter.

That was the strongest rate since the first quarter of 2015.

Data for the first quarter was revised lower to show productivity increasing at a 0.3 percent pace instead of the previously reported 0.4 percent rate. Economists had forecast productivity growing at a 2.3 percent rate in the second increased at a rate of 1.3 percent.

The government also revised data going back to 1947, which did not materially change the picture of lackluster productivity growth, though unit labor costs were stronger than previously estimated in 2017 because of upward revisions to hourly compensation.

The annual rate of productivity growth from 2007 to 2017 was revised up 0.1 percentage point to a rate of 1.3 percent.

Unit labor costs, the price of labor per single unit of output, fell at a 0.9 percent pace in the second quarter. That was the weakest pace since the third quarter of 2014.

First-quarter growth in unit labor costs was revised up to a 3.4 percent rate from the previously reported 2.9 percent pace.

Labor costs increased at a 1.9 percent rate compared to the second quarter of 2017, pointing to moderate wage inflation.

 


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Experimenting With the Magic Ingredient in Beer

Only four ingredients are needed to make one of the oldest staples of mankind. Mix water, hops, malt and yeast and you’re well on your way to making beer. But as Sadie Witkowski reports, it’s the smallest ingredient in beer that’s making the biggest splash.


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Turkey Boosts Tariffs Amid US Feud

Turkey on Wednesday announced tariff hikes on a range of U.S. goods in the latest back-and-forth move amid a deteriorating relationship between the two countries.

The extra tariffs apply to imports of vehicles, alcohol, coal, rice and cosmetics.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter the increases were being done “within the framework of the principle of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious economic attacks by the United States.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing the United States of waging a targeted economic war on his country, and on Tuesday he proposed a boycott of U.S. electronic goods.

“If they have the iPhone, there is Samsung elsewhere. In our own country we have Vestel,” said Erdogan.

Asked how U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration would react to any such Turkish boycott, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied during Tuesday afternoon’s briefing, “I certainly don’t have a policy announcement on that at this point.” 

Trump administration sources say further sanctions against Turkey are under active consideration. But Sanders declined to say how the U.S. government plans to apply more pressure on Ankara, which repeatedly has ignored calls from Trump and others to free Christian pastor Andrew Brunson. 

Turkey accuses Brunson of espionage and is holding him under house arrest pending his trial. 

The chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Turkey, Jeffrey Hovenier, visited Brunson on Tuesday and called for his case — and those of others detained in Turkey — to be resolved “without delay” and in a “fair and transparent manner.”

National Security Adviser John Bolton met at the White House on Monday with Turkish ambassador Serdar Kilic, but the discussion reportedly did not result in any substantive progress.

Trump, who has called Brunson’s detention a “total disgrace,” last Friday doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum exports in order to increase pressure on Erdogan. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Turkey’s ministers of Justice and Interior in response to the continued detention of the pastor, who has lived in the country for 20 years and heads an evangelical congregation of about two dozen people in the port city of Izmir. 

The escalating dispute between the two countries has exacerbated Turkey’s economic crisis, pushing the lira to record lows. The Turkish currency has lost about 40 percent of its value this year against the U.S. dollar.

Erdogan has called on Turks to exchange their dollars for lira in order to shore up the domestic currency.

In a joint statement Tuesday, Turkish business groups called on the government to institute tighter monetary policy in order to combat the currency crisis. They also said Turkey should work to resolve the situation with the United States diplomatically while also improving relations with another major trading partner, the European Union.

The Turkish central bank has pledged to take “all necessary measures” to stabilize the country’s economy to make sure the banks have all the money they need. But world stock traders were dismayed the bank did not raise interest rates, which is what many economists believe is necessary to ease the crisis.

The United States and Turkey also have diverging interests over Syria, which is enmeshed in a protracted civil war. 

The differences are drawing Turkey closer to Russia, they key adversary of NATO but a country supplying more than half of Turkey’s gas.

Turkey has agreed to buy S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia, an unprecedented move by a NATO member, which has raised objections from members of both parties of the U.S. Congress and the Trump administration. 

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, voiced support for Turkey during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on Tuesday, stating both countries plan to switch from dollars to national currencies for their mutual trade.

“We view the policy of sanctions as unlawful and illegitimate, driven mostly by a desire to dominate everywhere and in everything, dictate policies and call shots in international affairs,” said Lavrov, predicting “such a policy can’t be a basis for normal dialogue and can’t last long.

Lavrov, alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, also declared, “We are at a turning point, without exaggeration, in world history” from dominance by a single power toward a multipolar environment. 


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Congo Deploys Experimental Ebola Treatment as Cases Rise

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has started using the experimental mAb114 Ebola treatment to counter the latest flare-up of the virus, health officials said Tuesday, the first time it has been deployed against an active outbreak.

Forty-two people are believed to have died from the hemorrhagic fever in Congo’s 10th Ebola outbreak since the disease was discovered in the 1970s.

In all, there have been 66 cases to date, including 39 confirmed and 27 probable, the health ministry said  Tuesday evening, an increase of nine confirmed cases since Monday.

The outbreak has spread from its epicenter in North Kivu province to neighboring Ituri province after an infected person returned home, Congo’s health ministry said, complicating containment in a region beset by militia violence.

Testing ground

Ebola, which causes fever, vomiting and diarrhea, finds a natural home in Congo’s vast equatorial forests. Continuing flare-ups have made the central African country a testing ground for new treatments against a virus that between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people in a West African epidemic.

In an outbreak in western Congo that began in April and was declared over in July, an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck & Co. Inc. was given to 3,300 people and was considered central in containing the virus when it reached a city.

The mAb114 treatment was developed in the United States by the National Institutes of Health using the antibodies of the survivor of an Ebola outbreak in the western Congolese city of Kikwit in 1995.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva that medics were already treating five patients with mAb114 and that he had been informed they were doing well.

“We will use it as much as needed,” Tedros said. “But use of the molecules is decided by doctor and patient consent.”

Several other experimental treatments have arrived in the regional hub of Beni and are awaiting approval from an ethics committee, including Remdesivir, Favipiravir and REGN3450, REGN3471 and REGN3479, the health ministry said.

Low risk of global spread

Separately, authorities have vaccinated more than 200 health workers and contacts of Ebola patients. He said the risk of international spread was currently considered low even though it poses a high regional risk because of its proximity to the Ugandan border, which is only about 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.

The response is taking place against the backdrop of insecurity caused by dozens of militia groups who regularly kill and kidnap civilians in the region.

“Before I went there I was really worried because of the different nature of the Ebola outbreak in DRC,” Tedros said. “But after the visit I am actually more worried because of what we have observed there firsthand.”

Authorities are reaching out to militia to persuade them to allow access to zones they occupy, he said.


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Royal Bank of Scotland Pays $4.9B for Crisis-era Misconduct

Royal Bank of Scotland will pay $4.9 billion to settle U.S. claims that it misled investors on residential mortgage-backed securities between 2005 and 2008, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.

The Justice Department said the penalty was the largest ever imposed on a bank for misconduct leading up to the financial crisis. The bank announced in May that it had reached the settlement in principle.

The government alleges RBS misled investors in underwriting and issuing residential mortgage-backed securities, understating the risks behind many of the loans and providing inaccurate data.

“Despite assurances by RBS to its investors, RBS’s deals were backed by mortgage loans with a high risk of default,” Andrew E. Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said in a statement.

The Justice Department said that RBS disputes the allegations and does not admit wrongdoing, although the bank said in a statement it was happy to move on.

“There is no place for the sort of unacceptable behavior alleged by the DoJ at the bank we are building today,” RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan said.

Dividend

In conjunction with the settlement, the bank also said it would be paying out an interim ordinary dividend of 2 pence per share on October 12 to shareholders.

The dividend is the bank’s first since its near-collapse and 45.5 billion-pound ($58 billion) state bailout in 2008.

The DOJ settlement and the resumption of dividends were two of the last big milestones in RBS’s decade-long journey back to normality. The looming Justice Department fine had weighed on the bank’s share price and prevented it from paying out to its shareholders.

Together with hefty cuts made to its investment bank and international business, a return to dividends could help shift the bank’s profile with investors from a risky bet into a safe, predictable value stock.

It also expands the market for future government share sales by enabling a broader array of investors to look at buying the bank’s shares.

Tuesday’s announcement marked the latest in a long-running series of massive settlements struck between the U.S. government and large global banks over conduct leading up to the financial crisis.

On August 1, the Justice Department struck a settlement with Wells Fargo, which agreed to pay $2.09 billion to settle similar claims.


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В камерах «торнадівців» знайшли нацистську символіку та холодну зброю – Генпрокуратура

Під час обшуків 9 серпня у камерах екс-бійців колишньої спецроти МВС «Торнадо» в Лук’янівському СІЗО в них вилучили заборонені предмети, зокрема кийки, саморобні вибухові пакети та холодну зброю.

Про це 14 серпня повідомив речник Генеральної прокуратури Андрій Лисенко. Він опублікував фотографії знайдених предметів, зазначивши, що на це дали дозвіл слідчі та прокурори.

Раніше аналогічну інформацію щодо подій 9 серпня оприлюднював речник заступника Міністра юстиції Юрій Маслак. За його словами, «торнадівці» почали чинити опір та використали один із вибухових пакетів, внаслідок чого один співробітник Мін’юсту постраждав.

Крім того, речниця генерального прокурора Лариса Сарган оприлюднила фото нацистського прапора, двох десятків пляшок алкоголю та холодної зброї. Все це, за її словами, було в камерах бійців «Торнадо».

Згодом, спілкуючись у твітері, Лариса Сарган додала і фото харчових запасів «торнадівців».

Кілька колишніх співробітників роти патрульної служби міліції особливого призначення «Торнадо», розформованої в 2015 році, перебувають в Лук’янівському слідчому ізоляторі за обвинуваченням у тяжких злочинах, скоєних під час служби.

Читайте також: «Двох співробітників Лук’янівського СІЗО відсторонили через допомогу екс-«торнадівцям» – Мін’юст»

Також нещодавно стало відомо, що прокуратура підозрює «торнадівців» у масових заворушеннях, погрозах вбивством і вимаганні.

У квітні 2017 року Оболонський районний суд Києва засудив до різних термінів позбавлення волі 12 колишніх бійців колишньої спецроти МВС «Торнадо» за звинуваченням у скоєнні тяжких злочинів у зоні бойових дій на Донбасі. Рішення було оскаржене обома сторонами.


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З початку року на кір захворіло майже 29 тисяч людей – МОЗ

З початку 2018 року в Міністерстві охорони здоров’я зафіксували 28 889 випадків захворювання на кір. Серед них – понад 17 тисяч дітей.

За даними МОЗ, найбільше хворих було у Львівській області – 5,6 тисяч осіб. Крім того, з початку року від ускладнень кору померло 13 людей, з них дев’ятеро – діти.

МОЗ нагадує, що дітей треба вакцинувати від кору згідно у віці одного або шести років. Щеплення для дітей до 18 років безкоштовне.

Також раніше в міністерстві повідомляли про запровадження обов’язкової безкоштовної вакцинації від кору для дорослих, що належать до груп ризику. Серед них – студентство, працівники медичних закладів (медики та немедичний персонал), освітніх закладів та силових структур.

Кір – небезпечне і дуже заразне захворювання, ліків від якого не існує, а ускладнення цієї хвороби можуть мати смертельні наслідки. Діти, які не отримали профілактичне щеплення, перебувають у зоні ризику.

Читайте також: «В Україні знижується рівень захворюваності на кір – МОЗ» 

Кір легко передається від людини до людини, поширюється при кашлі, тісних особистих контактах. Вірус залишається активним і живе в повітрі або на інфікованих поверхнях протягом двох годин. Спочатку хворий відчуває ознаки звичайної застуди: нежить, температуру, кашель, приблизно через тиждень з’являється висип (спочатку на голові, далі – на верхній та нижній частинах тулуба). Серед ускладнень, які викликає кір – ураження нервової системи (енцефаліт), пневмонія, отит, втрата зору.


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