Flash floods inundates highways in the Bay Area and the Midwest is under winter weather watch as extreme weather hits parts of US to start 2023

Business Insider 

A car in San Francisco drives through highway amid flash floods on New Year’s Eve

A major highway was shut down in the Bay Area on New Years Eve after heavy rains led to flooding. 
Meanwhile, the Midwest and Plains region is under a winter weather watch as storm moves east. 
This is the 2nd major weather event since Christmas, when Winter Storm Elliot tore through the US. 

Extreme weather is halting plans for many Americans again this holiday season. 

A week after a blizzard tore through much of the US over Christmas weekend, a storm that paralyzed much of  Northern California starting Saturday is moving east, putting over 15 million in California, the Midwest and the Plains region under a winter weather watch. 

Since Saturday morning, about six miles of Interstate 580 in the Bay Area near Oakland has remained closed due to flooding, the San Francisco Gate reports.  Nearby, officials are pumping water to clear another Bay Area highway, Niles Canyon Road, after rain triggered a landslide on New Year’s Eve, according to ABC.

Several other highways along the coast also have been shut down since then, and over 100,000 residents have lost power since Saturday in the Sacramento region, per local station CapRadio.  In Lake Tahoe, thousands more did not have power on New Year’s Eve and cars spun out on some roads during the snowstorm, prompting more closures. Millions were asked to evacuate or shelter in place in the region.

As the storm moves east, meteorologists predict places like the Rockies will get up to two feet of snow by Monday, and that parts of the Midwest and Great Plains also will be hit, according to CNN. 

The storm is the result of an “atmospheric river,” or long clouds holding massive amounts of water vapor “equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Another one is expected in the Bay Area on January 2,  the San Francisco Gate reported

Extreme weather like this defined 2022 worldwide: There was drought in Europe and Africa; flooding in south Asia; wildfires and heatwaves in Europe. In the US in September Hurricane Ian ripped through the western coast of Florida. 

Experts predict more in 2023, as climate change worsens, and a Pacific Ocean weather pattern called La Niña makes parts of the northern US colder and wetter, and parts of the southern US hotter and dryer. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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Ten Things Elon Musk Needs to Do to Fix Tesla

TheStreet 

Electric vehicle maker Tesla has had a nightmarish year on the stock market.

Tesla had a bad year 2022. 

On the stock market, it was a real nightmare. 

Tesla stock lost more than 65% of its value to end the year at $123.18. It had started 2022 at $352.26. This fall translates into more than $720 billion of market capitalization which have evaporated in one year, a real disaster for shareholders.

Elon Musk, the whimsical and charismatic CEO of the automaker attributed this stock market disaster to macroeconomic and geopolitical factors.

“Macro conditions are difficult: energy in Europe, real estate in China & crazy Fed rates in USA,” the billionaire explained on December 8.

Macro v. Twitter

Europe is going through an energy crisis due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, which is affecting economic activity. The Federal Reserve, or Fed, has been aggressively increasing interest rates for several months to crush inflation, which is at its highest in forty years. This monetary policy raises fears of a so-called hard landing for the economy, aka recession.

If the analysis of the Techno King is valid, many individual shareholders of Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report believe, however, that the stock market rout of the stock is due to the actions of the CEO following his acquisition of the social network Twitter.

“Elon has now erased $600 bil of tesla wealth and still nothing from the Tesla BOD. It’s wholly unacceptable,” lamented individual shareholder Ross Gerber on December 16.

This criticism caused a back and forth between him and Musk.

“Tesla is executing better than ever! We don’t control the Federal Reserve. That is the real problem here,” Musk responded.

But Gerber insisted: “I agree the Fed sucks big time and the macro is deteriorating. But tesla is doing super well and should be outperforming its tech peers like Apple… should have at least 2x apples PE. On a bad day tesla should be $250 a share.”

Three days later, faced with the continued fall in Tesla stock, Gerber asked the board to find a new CEO.

“Tesla stock price now reflects the value of having no CEO. Great job tesla BOD – Time for a shake up,” Gerber wrote on December 20.

Tesla Impacted By Twitter

The billionaire’s critics believe that Tesla’s rout is due to his acquisition of Twitter. The tech mogul  decided to buy Twitter in order to, according to him, make the platform a place for free speech. Since making the takeover bid for the social network on April 22, the tech mogul has only been focused on Twitter. 

He is omnipresent on the platform, attacks his perceived enemies and regularly creates controversy. The problem is that since the $44 billion bid for Twitter, Tesla’s stock has continued to fall. Musk finalized the deal on October 27, less than two months ago. Tesla’s stock lost nearly 39% of its value during this short period.

“In the past year, we have seen Tesla’s brand lose equity across every brand value, from foundational safety to refinement,” said research-based consultancy firm Strategic Vision President, Alexander Edwards. “These problems are magnified in that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are more often purchased by self-identified Democrats who have generally opposed Musk’s actions with Twitter. It will become more difficult to sell Tesla vehicles as the narrative of Twitter makes the vehicles seem less fun and alienates the primary buyer.”

In this context, Dan Ives, star analyst at Wedbush and one of the most optimists on Tesla, believes that it is possible to get out of this negative spiral. He just listed 10 things Musk, who said he is stepping down as CEO of Twitter, needs to do  in 2023 “to change negative sentiment around the Tesla story.”

The List Of Things To Do

”Name a CEO of Twitter by the end of January,” Ives recommended. “Stop selling stock and no more boy that cried wolf or Pinocchio situation,” and “formally adopt a 10b5-1 plan so investors know there is no major selling block around the corner as Musk sold roughly $40 billion of TlSA stock the past year.”

The analyst advises Musk to “lay out conservative 2023 delivery and targets given the darker macro. The 50% growth target is not happening in our opinion, with 35%* delivery growth a more hittable and realistic goal for 2023.”

The billionaire must also focus his attention back on Tesla because Musk is “the heart and lung of Tesla and vice versa,” Ives said.

”Announce Cybertruck deliveries will hit the road by the end of 2023. Timing is key here with competition from all angles and worries production woes will push this into 2024,” Ives suggested.

In addition, the analyst recommends some changes at the Board of Directors. The new additions should have experience around tech and EV leadership.

Tesla should also announce a share buyback program to regain the market’s confidence: “With the stock at these levels a no brainer strategic move in our opinion for Tesla given its massive treasure chest,” Ives defended, adding that the company should also be more transparent around its margin structure.

Finally, Ives said that Musk should be less political because “the more political on Twitter that Musk becomes is a bad thing for selling EV cars to the masses. Its that simple and this remains a key investor concern.”

”Lay out the strategic plan for Twitter,” the analyst wrote. “Right now very simply the fear is Twitter is bleeding money with advertisers fleeing (for now) which means more losses and therefore more Musk TSLA stock sales. Once a new CEO is in place lay out the 3-year strategy of Twitter and what this can become, Super App, ‘X’, WeChat 2.0, etc.”

The billionaire has yet to react to the analyst’s advice. However, it is a safe bet that he heard the message.

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3 Ways You’re (Probably) Getting the Stock Market Wrong

TheStreet 

Investing doesn’t have to be hard and it can make you rich if you have the right mindset.

Most stock market coverage focuses on what’s happening in the moment. Why did shares in this company go up (or down) by a few percentage points? What will some piece of news mean for this company or that company?

A lot of people make money trading based on technical reasons or following other short-term strategies, but a lot more people lose money by trying to find a short-term edge. Usually, when a stock moves by a few percentage points, the reason is that an analyst or someone on television said something about the company.

I can go on TV and talk about how rising beef prices may be a drag on McDonald’s (MCD) – Get Free Report profits in the coming quarter. That may be true, and it may lead to the fast-food chain’s stock dropping, but it also may not as share prices rarely move predictably.

In reality, knowing that rising beef prices will hurt profits at a fast-food chain shows no real insight. What you actually need to learn/understand is how the company handles bumps in the road as they will inevitably occur. Yes, you might be able to make some short-term money if you can predict how the market will digest the beef prices/margin news.

But, you can get rich by identifying which fast-food chains (or any other sort of business) will handle problems well. The media — and pretty much anyone talking about stocks on television — wants you to keep score daily. The reality is that the only standings that matter are the long-term ones.

People make a lot of mistakes when it comes to investing, but these are the three I see get repeated the most often.

Image source: Shutterstock

1. Thinking Opportunity Is the Same as Success

Sometimes, a company finds a market or a problem where real demand exists. That’s a major step in becoming a successful company, but opportunity alone does not equate to success.

Just because electric vehicle sales will explode over the next few years does not mean that every startup making a needed component for EVs will see growth. Yes, it’s possible but so are other ourtcomes. The car makers, for example, could back another source or decide to build whatever they need on their own.

Identifying a company’s opportunity is one piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the crucial one. Can the company execute? Can it sell? Will it hold up to competition if it establishes the category?

Take Teladoc (TDOC) – Get Free Report, the online healthcare provider. Its founders identified a growing market, entered it quickly, and captured market share. The problem is that once it established demand, it had very little to differentiate itself from similar platforms offered by existing healthcare providers.

Basically, Teladoc did all the hard work in establishing telehealth as a category, but it may not end up being the winner in the space, or perhaps even a major player.

2. Forgetting That Companies Are Run by People

Would you rather have Satya Nadella or Mark Zuckerberg run your company? Both have had success, but one seems a lot more likely, at least at the moment, to be a stable leader who finds long-term success.

At least with that comparison, there are reasons to believe in both CEOs. In other cases, companies have unproven leaders or bosses with questionable track records. When you evaluate a company, you need to look at management. A brilliant founder may not be an effective operator and someone with ingenious ideas may prove really bad at sales, managing people, and other operational tasks.

Good ideas fail more often when they have bad management. Strong leadership does not guarantee success but bad leadership makes it a lot less likely.

3. Trying to Beat the Market Quickly  

Microsoft (MSFT) – Get Free Report finished 2022 about 28% down. There’s no real reason for that as nothing changed about the company’s long-term prospects. People still use Windows, Offices, and Teams while the cloud remains a growing business and the company has only gotten stronger in videogames.

Over the past five years, however, Microsoft is up 171%. If you have owned shares over that time period, you took a loss this year, but your gains have dramatically outpaced the market.

The challenge in investing isn’t figuring out what companies will move up or down this week or even this month. It’s identifying long-term winners and having the conviction to hold onto them for a really long time.

Microsoft had a bad year, but I’d be willing to be that five years from now, you would regret having sold your shares if you did in 2022.   

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Bitcoin Is Down To Start The Year

TheStreet 

The king of cryptocurrencies started the new year as it ended 2022.

The transition to the new year has not been particularly upsetting for cryptocurrencies, and for Bitcoin in particular.

The king of digital currencies was down 0.2% at $16,551.22 in the past 24 hours, according to data firm CoinGecko

Cryptocurrency prices did not move much in the last week of 2022. Bitcoin (BTC) prices thus closed the last week down almost 2%. Over the past year as a whole, the first cryptocurrency in the world in terms of market value has seen its value collapse by 65%.

This fall has impacted the entire cryptocurrency market, the value of which has fallen below $1 trillion. This market is currently worth $828 billion compared to over $3 trillion in November 2021. 

For the first day of 2023, the crypto market was down 0.4%.

Cryptocurrencies are impacted by different factors. 

There are external reasons such as the fact that investors now treat crypto assets like technology stocks. This means that they liquidate them as soon as there are economic uncertainties as is currently the case. 

Many economists are predicting, for example, a recession in the United States in 2023. To prepare for this sharp slowdown in economic activity, many investors are reducing their exposure to risky assets such as cryptocurrencies.

The sector suffers above all from numerous scandals linked to the crypto sphere. There was the liquidity crisis that affected many prominent crypto lenders in the summer of 2022 following the unexpected collapse of sister tokens Luna and UST, or TerraUSD.

Uncertainties

This debacle led to the liquidation of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, or 3AC, the bankruptcy of Voyager Digital and Celsius Network. Above all, it weakened firms like BlockFi and Robinhood  (HOOD) – Get Free Report, allowing the emergence of a saviour, Sam Bankman-Fried, who would himself go bankrupt several months later.

Bankman-Fried, the former emperor of the crypto sphere, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy of his crypto empire on November 11. This empire was composed of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange and the hedge fund Alameda Research.

This bankruptcy was a real earthquake in financial circles because FTX was for example valued at $32 billion in February. Regulators are still trying to piece together what happened.

They have filed a series of criminal and civil charges against Bankman-Fried whom they accuse of defrauding FTX and Alameda customers and investors.

“Bankman-Fried was orchestrating a massive, yearslong fraud, diverting billions of dollars of the trading platform’s customer funds for his own personal benefit and to help grow his crypto empire,” the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleges in its civil complaint.

This scandal has already caused BlockFi to file for bankruptcy and could impact other firms according to industry sources. FTX’s fall has yet to reveal all of its nasty surprises.

In the meantime, it impacts cryptocurrency prices. Besides BTC, Ether (ETH), the second cryptocurrency by market value, started the year down 0.5% at $1,195.06. The drop is 2.1% over the past seven days. 

Meme coins Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu (SHIB) are down 2% and 1% respectively for the first session of the year.

The crypto sector is also suffering from regulatory uncertainties as disaffection and distrust from the general public has never been higher.

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Las Vegas Strip Goes up in Smoke, Adds $3.2 Billion in New Projects

TheStreet 

You finally have legal places to smoke marijuana in Las Vegas, a huge casino project, and a one-of-a-kind venue will open.

The Las Vegas Strip somehow came through the covid pandemic stronger than it was in 2019. Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Free Report and MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get Free Report both made major moves with MGM selling Mirage and buying Cosmopolitan while Caesars rebranded Bally’s under its Horseshoe Brand.

In addition, Caesars spent the year teasing the sale of Flamingo but ultimately did not make that deal. It was a comeback year for the twin titans of Las Vegas with crowds returning, a triumphant NFL Draft, and conventions lining up for a normal 2023.

The Las Vegas story in 2023 — at least as we enter the year — won’t be what Caesars and MGM have planned. That could change, of course, but the biggest changes coming to Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip in 2023 won’t be from the Strip’s two dominant players.

In 2022, Las Vegas added 1,335 rooms and 225,000 square feet of convention space, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LCVS). That growth is about to explode in 2023.  

“The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s tourism construction bulletin — listing what’s on the development horizon — shows $3.2 billion in projects coming online by the end of 2023 with 4,758 new hotel rooms and 581,000 square feet of new convention space,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

That’s exciting, but new casinos and a huge new performance venue may be the second biggest Las Vegas story of the new year.  

Planet 13

Legal Consumption Coming to Las Vegas 

Las Vegas has legal cannabis, but while the law seems straightforward, there’s a major catch. 

“A person who is 21 years of age or older is allowed to possess and consume retail marijuana. A marijuana consumer may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 1/8 of an ounce of concentrated marijuana. Marijuana can only be purchased legally from state-licensed retail marijuana stores,” the law states.

The problem — and it’s a big one — is that it’s not legal to smoke marijuana anywhere in Las Vegas except for a private residence. No hotel allows guests to smoke marijuana and there are no legal consumption lounges.

That has pushed consumption onto the Strip, into parking lots, and really pretty much everywhere outside around the city. Police aren’t going to arrest you for lighting up, but having legal pot without a legal place to smoke it is not ideal.

That’s going to change in the coming year.

Las Vegas, and more broadly the state of Nevada, has a plan to create legal cannabis-consumption lounges. These would work a lot like bars, except they won’t be allowed to sell alcohol. The lounges will be a place where tourists (and residents) can legally smoke cannabis products.

There will be two types of consumption lounges. First, there are the ones that will be associated with existing dispensaries. Planet 13 (PLNHF) , the largest cannabis retailer in Las Vegas, has actually opted to give up its liquor license in order to open a marijuana-consumption lounge.

In addition to lounges associated with dispensaries, Nevada also plans to issue 20 licenses for stand-alone cannabis-consumption lounges, according to the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board.

These lounges will begin opening in the new year. Planet 13 sits about a mile off the Strip. Federal law makes it impossible for casino operators to add lounges, but Las Vegas Strip consumption lounges could happen in locations that are far enough away from casinos.

MSG Sphere, Huge New Casino Coming

In addition to adding consumption lounges, Las Vegas will also welcome an improbable opening in late 2023.  Fontainebleau Las Vegas will complete a nearly 20-year odyssey when it opens late this year continuing the revitalization of the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

The project, which had been left for dead many times over the past two decades, recently got a $2.2 billion loan to ensure its completion.

Once complete Fontainebleau Las Vegas will cover 25 acres and nine million square feet directly adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. It will feature approximately 3,700 luxury hotel rooms, 550,000 square feet of customizable convention and meeting space, and a “world-class” collection of gaming, dining, retail, lifestyle, and health and wellness experiences, according to its owners.

In addition to Fontainebleau, the Las Vegas Strip will also welcome the MSG (MSGE) – Get Free Report Sphere, a $2,2 billion music/performance venue that’s being built near the Venetian. The Sphere, which will open in the second half of 2023 with U2 expected to play a residency there.

When it’s complete the venue will be a 17,500-seat performance hall that will offer the world’s highest-resolution LED screen inside a 366-foot-high steel sphere that will also feature more than 160,000 speakers. It will be used for immersive, custom-made attractions, live performances, sports, gaming, and corporate events.

 

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Disney Surprisingly Brings Back a Fan Favorite

TheStreet 

Walt Disney has listened to its fans and is bringing back something people have asked for.

Walt Disney World has been in full celebration mode for its 50th anniversary all year. The park originally opened in 1971 and since Disney  (DIS) – Get Free Report does everything bigger and better than anyone else, that includes anniversary celebrations, the resort celebrated its 50 years across three years. The celebration started in Oct. 2021 and it will continue into 2023. 

Disney pulled out all the stops on this party. Characters got special-themed celebration outfits. Attractions were changed up to celebrate and bring about new and exciting shows for the anniversary. Disney launched special 50th Anniversary merchandise like clothing and other collectibles. 

It’s a non-stop Disney party that also helped the company make a grand comeback from the pandemic. Disney World dropped all its covid-related rules in 2022 and heads into the new year with packed crowds and few reminders of its dark days.

All things from this magical celebration will come to an end in 2023. Disney will officially close down its anniversary celebrations at the end of March 2023. The closure will leave some fans saddened and others ecstatic to see what will return and or replace the celebratory attractions. 

Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Disney Dreamers Academy

Show Happily Returning to Disney

“Happily Ever After” fireworks display will make its return in 2023. The return was announced by Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro during the D23 Expo Parks Panel. The crowd was elated to say the least about this announcement. D’Amaro stated it would be an updated version of the spectacular. 

The “Happily Ever After” show made its debut in the summer of 2017. The light show is a mix of pyrotechnics, lasers, searchlights, projections, beloved Disney characters, and of course music. The show takes place over the iconic Cinderella Castle and lasts approximately 20 minutes. 

Disney stopped the “Happily Ever After” show when it began its 50th Anniversary celebration in 2021. The Disney show “Enchantment” took its place instead. That change made sense, but it left many fans hoping for a return after the anniversary celebration.

The “Happily Ever After” show is a huge fan favorite. Many parkgoers watch the spectacular show from the front of the Castle and Disney regulars may avoid the crowds by watching only the Frontierland’s Riverwalk. 

The best spot to watch the Happily Ever After show depends on your group size and what is most important according to WDWPrepschool.com. If your group is only 2-4 people, it should be easy to get a decent spot together, if the group is large like 10-12 it may prove to be more difficult, and more planning is needed. If your group wants to watch the show and exit right away, watching the show at the front near the flagpole will help get your group out of the park quickly. 

Groups who want the best view for the overall experience should watch from Main Street. The second best view of the show besides Main Street is Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, but your view will not include the projections that are seen on the Cinderella Castle. The main point is to be able to see the castle as clearly as possible.

Even the Best Laid Plans, Don’t Go as Planned 

Happily Ever After was pulled in 2021 to launch Disney’s 50th Anniversary light spectacular, “Disney Enchantment.” The show takes place over the Cinderella Caste, it was meant to replace the “Happily Ever After” night display, but its debut came with much criticism quickly. The new light show launched on Oct 1, 2021, and criticism came immediately. 

Disney fans requested that Disney bring back the “Happily Ever After” display. A petition was even started to bring back the fan favorite. Fans claimed the new nighttime show didn’t even compare to the beloved Happily Ever After production. People who signed the petition had a lot to say about it. 

“There was no magic in the new show, no tribute to Walt, no message to the audience that inspired you to go follow your dreams, and lack of fireworks. It is now a projection show with some fireworks. Please bring it back, I was planning on going but now we’re not getting our money’s worth. Please reconsider.” – Alexis Wainer

“The show did not evoke emotion. It did not tell a story of the last 50 years- no Walt, no Mickey? The covers of the songs were so disappointing- we want our favorite characters Singing our favorite songs! Not enough variety. I mainly was just so sad there was no emotional connection, no build up, no variety. Disney had an opportunity to blow us out of the water and this completely missed the mark.” – Kristi Odell

Clearly, Disney heard the cries of its fans and is bringing back the Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular in 2023. Here’s hoping the ‘updates’ meet the demands of Disney fans everywhere. 

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Carnival and Royal Caribbean Dining Changes, What You Need to Know

TheStreet 

Here’s everything we know about the main dining room (MDR) changes the two major family-friendly cruise lines are making (you’re not going to like them).

Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report and Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report have made food a central part of the cruising experience. In many ways, dinner in the main dining room (MDR) serves as the anchor of your cruise experience.

No matter what you did during the day, whether you spent it as a family, with friends, or by yourself, dinner brings everyone together. For passengers on both cruise lines, the meal isn’t quite as formal as it once was. Some people dress for dinner, others opt for more casual clothes, but the dining experience remains pretty traditional.

Once you sit down, multiple waiters take care of you through a meal that includes soup, salad, appetizers, main courses, and dessert. It’s all served at a leisurely pace with the option to add items to your order as you go.

Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival offer menus that change each night while also having a section of items that are always available. In addition, the two cruise lines have generally been all-you-can-eat, allowing customers to have as many entrees as they want.

In the new year, both cruise lines plan different changes to some of those longstanding MDR policies.

Getty Images/TheStreet

Carnival Adds New Dining Limits

In November, Carnival sent an email to booked passengers telling them about changes to its dining options, attempting to explain the changes.

“We have all experienced the impact of inflation, higher fuel prices, and supply chain challenges; At Carnival, we have worked very hard to minimize the impact on our guests. We have reached a point with our food costs, however, where we must take some modest but specific actions, which we know most of you have done yourselves, whether with your dining out patterns or shopping to stock the refrigerator or pantry,” the cruise line shared.

That’s relatable to a point, but the cruise line is using the economy to change a long-standing policy.

Starting with sailings last November, the cruise line began charging $5 per entree after the first two. That means that passengers can still order multiple main courses, but for every entree after the second one, they will pay $5.

Royal Caribbean Makes an Even Bigger Change

While Carnival took a fairly modest step to control food costs, Royal Caribbean is making a pretty major change. After testing new menus toward the end of 2022 on Symphony of the Seas, the cruise line has decided to implement those changes fleetwide.

The cruise line will be slimming down its menus, giving each night a theme, and getting rid of the “classics,” which include chicken, New York strip steak, spaghetti bolognese, and appetizers like shrimp cocktail, escargot, and French onion soup.

This menu section served two purposes. It offered some very basic choices for cruise passengers not looking to try something new. That’s a major positive for passengers of teenagers too old for the kid’s menu, but who have not fully adopted adult tastes. 

In addition, the “classics” menu offered appetizers including shrimp cocktail, French onion soup, and escargot that many passengers enjoyed ordering every night of their cruise. The changes will make the MDR menus less expansive and while all the “classics” will be available on some nights, they will no longer be available every night,.

The cruise line has said that it’s making these changes, not for financial reasons, but to improve the speed of service. Royal Caribbean has not shared the new menus — they were still being worked on in December — but the changes are expected to begin being rolled out in January across the fleet. 

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Elon Musk Confirms Era Of The Everything CEO

TheStreet 

The billionaire has completely changed and shaped the role of CEO.

In 2021, Time Magazine voted Elon Musk Person of the Year. 

The choice was certainly daring but in view of the year that has just ended, it appears that the magazine may have been in the wrong year. 2022 belonged to Musk, the CEO or founder of at least five major companies: Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report, SpaceX, Twitter, Neuralink and The Boring Company. 

No other person in the world has had as much influence as the billionaire last year. He has been at the center of everything: from politics to geopolitics to business. He has simply shaped the year, managing to find himself at the center of almost every conversation.

His influence kept growing. He has over 124 million followers on Twitter. Only former President Barack Obama, with 133.3 million followers, has more.

Some will say that Musk was everything that should not be done when you are a CEO  or when you have as much power as he does. Others will say that he heralded a new era for business leaders. The latter have become everything and can deploy their many facets without having to fear being fired. 

It’s the era of the Everything CEO. 

Controversies

The billionaire arouses strong passions. Fans and admirers are die-hard. They do not hesitate to attack the authors of articles that do not praise their hero. Critics turn into haters and send mean emails to journalists who write any article showing Musk in a positive light. Since former President Donald Trump no other public figure has sparked so much heated debate, controversy and media coverage.

Musk became the owner of Twitter, defined as the Town Square of our time, on October 27. The platform is the place where opinion makers and trendsetters meet. He spent a colossal sum of $44 billion to get his hands on this important tool in the communication of the powerful and the work of journalists. 

He embarked on a smashing revamp of Twitter 2.0. He fired nearly every top executive in a matter of hours in what appeared to be a purge. He eliminated half of the employees in one day, or 3,750 people, and managed to make more than a thousand more leave a few days later by giving them a tough choice: work long hours or quit.

Besides this exodus of talents, Musk has also done what few bosses will do: scare away advertisers, who accounted for 91% of social media revenue in the 2022 second quarter, by adopting a laissez-faire approach to content. He reactivated accounts banned by Twitter 1.0 for xenophobic or anti-transgender comments and got rid of the safeguards against misinformation linked to the pandemic.

His vision of free speech has also varied a lot, especially when it comes to criticism against him. Besides Twitter, all these events also affected Tesla because Musk now sees himself as the righter of the wrongs caused to conservatives by the progressives. This politicization of the billionaire, who called for voting Republican in the last midterm elections, had a significant impact on the Tesla brand.

Difficult to Sell Teslas to Democrats

“In the past year, we have seen Tesla’s brand lose equity across every brand value, from foundational safety to refinement,” said research-based consultancy firm Strategic Vision President, Alexander Edwards. “These problems are magnified in that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are more often purchased by self-identified Democrats who have generally opposed Musk’s actions with Twitter. It will become more difficult to sell Tesla vehicles as the narrative of Twitter makes the vehicles seem less fun and alienates the primary buyer.”

Since Musk finalized the Twitter deal on Oct. 27, Tesla stock has lost 45.3 percent of its value, sparking outrage in the Tesla community. Individual investors have demanded that he be replaced as CEO, something never heard before.

To skeptics, the billionaire asks for time. He made the bet to transform Twitter into an everything app, that is to say a platform where it will be possible to carry out all the activities of daily life.

Musk has also had a significant influence on geopolitical affairs. He was one of the first major CEOs to break with neutrality after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The tech tycoon presented this war as one of autocracies against democracies. 

If he then made missteps, like his controversial plan to end the ongoing conflict that has already caused thousands of deaths, there is no doubt that by providing Starlink to Ukraine the billionaire was a game changer. 

Starlink is a secure and independent satellite internet access service developed by SpaceX, a rocket company founded by Musk. The service has become the unique communication system for the Ukrainian forces at the front lines. It also allows Ukrainians to bypass Russian propaganda and tell their daily life in war. 

Beyond Ukraine, Starlink has become a window of freedom for populations living under a dictatorship such as in Iran where protesters against the Ayatollahs’ regime demand the service.

Musk promised to change the world. He wants to extend it to Mars where he claims humans will be living soon. In 2022, he gave the world an idea of ​​the revolution he aspires to. 

The question is whether it will be well received.

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Elon Musk Revives Debate on the Legalization of Cocaine

TheStreet 

The billionaire believes there is a simple way to decide whether to legalize a drug.

The new year is often conducive to personal resolutions. 

It is often a question of health but also of savings. In this period of economic uncertainty due to a possible recession on the horizon, it is not excluded that most of the resolutions for 2023 relate to the best way to preserve purchasing power.

Of course, you can expect the traditional resolutions such as playing the lotto, going back to the gym, working less, eating more balanced and healthy, stopping smoking, or reducing the use of your car.

On the side of the government, the question is often to know what will be the priority in the political agenda. Lobbies, associations and civil society take the opportunity to push for the adoption of laws on issues that are important to them. 

The debates on the legalization and decriminalization of drugs often come up. For a long time, these debates often focused on the decriminalization of cannabis at both the local and federal levels. But since marijuana is no longer illegal in many states, some are beginning to push the idea of ​​legalizing hard drugs like cocaine.

‘That Was Dumb’

We find this debate in particular on social networks. Elon Musk, who in 2022 became the most influential CEO in the world, did not hesitate to get involved. 

For the Techno King, as he’s known at Tesla, banning drugs is not completely a good thing for society. He takes the example of alcohol. He believes that banning alcohol was a “dumb” decision and that it contributed to the rise in crime in America.

It all started with a message from a Twitter user, a fan of Tesla, with whom Musk regularly exchanges on the platform. The account in question indicates in their message that 2023 is going to be “Wild”, with a link to an article from The Economist advocating for the decriminalization of cocaine. 

The article caused a sensation when it was published last October. The headline was very provocative: “Joe Biden is too timid: It is time to legalize cocaine. The costs of prohibition outweigh the benefits.”

“Banning alcohol caused the biggest rise in organized crime in American history,” Musk commented. “That was dumb. Same logic applies to other drugs. Alcohol is just a legacy drug.”

This comment pleased the Twitter user who saw it as a way for Musk to support the legalization of cocaine.

“We all doing lines at twitter hq if it happens?” the user said.

It was then that the CEO of Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report and the founder of SpaceX made an important clarification.

“I am not endorsing drugs, but I am saying that the evidence suggests that banning them is a net societal negative,” Musk said.

‘Acid Test’

The billionaire insists that it is important to determine whether a drug is good or bad for society. To do this, he says, all you have to do is ask yourself if the drug in question makes you a better person once you’ve used it. He calls the tests, the “acid test.”

He adds that cocaine for him fails this test, meaning it is not in society’s interest to legalize it contrary to the Twitter user’s original post.

“To assess if a drug is good, whether legal or illegal, the acid test is being able to say: [blank] made me a better person,” Musk said. “Cocaine does not meet that test.”

Advocates of cocaine legalization want to ride the marijuana wave, especially after President Biden kept a campaign promise by announcing last October that he was pardoning all federal marijuana simple possession convictions.

They argue that former President Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, especially cocaine, has not really eliminated this problem. Global production hit a record of 1,982 tons in 2020, according to the latest data, cited by The Economist

These poor figures were reached in spite of the fact that the United States disbursed large financial means to reduce the supply. Between 2000 and 2020 the federal injected billions of dollars into Colombia to suppress production.

Cocaine was made illegal after studies concluded that it was a drug that caused seizures, heart failure, respiratory failure, cerebral hemorrhage, and strokes. It is also addictive. 

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U.S. Senator Slams Treasury Over Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Move

TheStreet 

A new interpretation of the definition of free trade agreement is praised by the European Union and criticized by a prominent U.S. politician.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Aug. 16, 2022. The previous year it had already passed the House of Representatives.

After getting through the House, the bill would need to pass the Senate to get to Biden’s desk for the signature that would make it a law. But negotiations in the Senate faced some political challenges, most conspicuously finding a way the Democrats could agree unanimously on the specifics.

The Senate was divided 50-50 among Democrats and Republicans. No Republicans were going to vote for the bill. So the only way it would pass was for all 50 Democrats to vote for it and then for Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote as required by the U.S. Constitution.

First introduced as a $3.5 trillion bill, the Build Back Better Act, after spirited legislative maneuvering, was ultimately renamed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Its price tag was reduced to $737 billion, not nearly as costly but still an enormous spending bill. On Aug. 7, it passed the Senate 51 to 50, with Vice President Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.

Provisions of the law include Affordable Care Act subsidies, lowering prescription drug prices, investing in domestic energy, tax reform and promoting clean energy.

One aspect of the clean energy requirements has received an elevated level of scrutiny and is already having an effect on individuals and auto manufacturers. A purchaser of an electric vehicle (EV) is eligible to claim a tax credit of up to $7,500, but with this law it only applies if the vehicle’s final assembly occurs in North America.

Foreign automakers such as Hyundai were surprised by the immediate application of the condition and are rushing to find ways to comply.

Specifics on other ways for consumers to save when buying zero emission cars, though, are still being negotiated. For example, the Treasury Department has said that more guidance on electric vehicle tax credits regarding battery requirements will be coming in March 2023.

A new Free Trade Agreement Interpretation is Announced

The Treasury Department said in a white paper Dec. 29 that it was using a broad definition of which countries have a free trade agreement with the U.S. The effect would be that cars produced by international automobile manufacturers could qualify for some tax credits.

Also announced was guidance for a separate tax credit for commercial clean vehicles that would give non-U.S. car companies a chance at eligibility.

The European Union officially praised the policy decision.

“New guidance issued today by the U.S. reaffirms that E.U. companies can benefit from the Commercial Clean Vehicle Credit scheme under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act,” the European Commission said in a statement. “The E.U. welcomes this guidance, which reflects the constructive engagement as part of the EU-US Inflation Reduction Act Task Force at senior official level.”

The statement did, however, include an opinion on policy around the main tax credits.

“The EU continues to seek similar, non-discriminatory treatment of EU clean vehicle producers under the Clean Vehicle Credits of the Inflation Reduction Act,” it clarified. “This scheme remains of concern to the EU, as it contains discriminatory provisions which de facto exclude EU companies from benefiting. Discriminating against EU produced clean vehicles and inputs violates international trade law and unfairly disadvantages EU companies on the US market, reduces the choices available to US consumers and ultimately reduces the climate effectiveness of this green subsidy.”

One Senator Voices His Disapproval

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a vocal advocate of the North America final assembly provision and supporter of U.S.-based manufacturing of EVs, was not pleased with the new free trade agreement leniency.

The Treasury Department’s explanation “bends to the desires of the companies looking for loopholes and is clearly inconsistent with the intent of the law,” he said, according to Politico

On Twitter, Stock Talk Weekly (@stocktalkweekly) quotes Manchin being very blunt about the action he would like to see.

“U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says ‘I urge the U.S. Treasury to halt the implementation of electric vehicle tax credits,'” it said in a tweet.

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