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Coronavirus variant update: and on to the BA.4/5 wave

  – by New Deal democratLast week the CDC update showed variant “Ba.1.1.526” increasing quickly to 6.6% of all cases. Although they did not note…




 - by New Deal democrat

Last week the CDC update showed variant “Ba.1.1.526” increasing quickly to 6.6% of all cases. Although they did not note it, I wrote that this was almost certainly Ba.4/5; they simply had not made the change yet.

Well, this week they did. This morning’s “nowcast” update of variants shows Ba.1.1.526 having vanished, with Ba.4/5 having taken its place, and having doubled to 13% of all cases in the past week, even as Ba.2.12.1 slowly increased from 59% to 62%:

Here’s the regional breakout:

Ba.2.12.1 now makes up a little over 80% of cases in NY, NJ, and PR, while BA.4/5 combined make up 18% of all cases in the northern Rockies and 22% of the southern Plains, including Texas.

It is unclear it this point how much, if at all, nationwide cases will increase. It depends on how much Ba.2.12.1 fades compared with how quickly Ba.4/5 take over. In South Africa, the Ba.4/5 wave rolled in and out very quickly earlier this spring:

There the Ba.4/5 wave rolled in over about a 3 week period, and rolled out almost as quickly. Cases were only 1/3rd as many as the original Omircron wave at peak, while deaths were only 1/5th as high. Hopefully the same will happen here. 

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These Tesla owners were left furious after they were handed a shocking repair bill

A night on the town proved cost more for these EV drivers.



As of recent, Tesla is attempting to boost its sales figures and move more cars out the doors by slashing the prices of its most popular models — the Model 3 and Model Y. Although Tesla ownership sounds very enticing to most buyers, issues with build quality are just some of the qualms that owners have to deal with.

In a case of buyer beware, Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report owners in Scotland recently discovered a new weakness with Elon Musk's cars: the rain.

Edinburgh couple Johnny Bacigalupo and Rob Hussey told the Scottish news outlet Edinburgh Live that they were billed £17,374, or around $21,175 after their Model Y left them stranded.

Related: Why Tesla shares are faltering heading into Q3 earnings

"I honestly can't believe that this has happened. When I first got the call, I thought we would get a bill for £500 or £1,000," Bacigalupo told Edinburgh Live. "When they said over 17 grand — it's absolutely obscene. My heart missed a beat, honestly."

Bacigalupo said that the trouble came when they brought their cherry red Model Y into Edinburgh’s city center for dinner out on the town on Saturday, Oct. 7. Despite the roads still being wet from prior rainy weather, Bacigalupo said that they did not traverse any “huge puddles,” but said that the trouble started after they shut off the car.

“After dinner the car just wouldn’t move. Eventually we had to contact the Tesla Roadside Assistance - around 10pm,” said Bacigalupo. “After a few annoyingly difficult further calls, and one failed collection attempt, our car was collected by a firm suitable for Tesla collection and delivered to Tesla Edinburgh about 1 AM.”

The couple received a call on Wednesday, Oct. 11 informing them that the battery was "damaged due to water ingress.” Tesla’s eight-year warranty didn't cover such damage, and they were asked whether they wanted to proceed with the five-figure repair.

"Did I wish to proceed? I was flabbergasted and couldn't really find my words," Bacigalupo said.

GRUENHEIDE, GERMANY - MARCH 22: Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the official opening of the new Tesla electric car manufacturing plant on March 22, 2022 near Gruenheide, Germany.

Pool/Getty Images

Additionally, he pressed the Tesla service representative on the phone, claiming that the he was told that it was a weather issue.

“They said that the battery is effectively submerged in water. How can that be our fault?,” said Bacigalupo. “After finally getting to speak to a manager, he told me it had water in it due to the fact the weather in Scotland has been so bad. That was the issue. They said it’s not necessarily my fault but it’s not Tesla’s to pay under warranty.”

The ordeal has left the couple with a bad taste in their mouth with Tesla, and given their naturally rainy environment, the situation left them second guessing their EV buying decision.

More Business of EVs:

“To date, it’s been a disaster of a service and the stress and worry of this is excruciating. I said to the manager, ‘so, my understanding is, Teslas are unfit for purpose in Scotland?,” said Bacigalupo. “I’ve been driving for 30 years and this is my most premium car to date and this is what it does when Edinburgh’s roads get puddles or a little wet!”

According to Tesla’s own documents detailing terms of its new vehicle limited warranty, the “Battery and Drive Unit Limited Warranty” does not cover what they call “Flooding the Battery.” In the document, Tesla does not dive into any details what constitutes a “flooded battery,” nor any explicit types of scenarios or situations that their vehicles may face that they do not cover.

Tesla did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Oil Slides On Biden-Maduro Deal For “Freer” Venezuela Elections, Easing Export Sanctions

Oil Slides On Biden-Maduro Deal For "Freer" Venezuela Elections, Easing Export Sanctions

The Biden White House is set to significantly ease…



Oil Slides On Biden-Maduro Deal For "Freer" Venezuela Elections, Easing Export Sanctions

The Biden White House is set to significantly ease US sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry as part of a deal for "freer" elections

Oil prices reacted immediately, diving sharply, on The Washington Post report, stating, "The Biden administration and the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro have agreed to a deal in which the U.S. would ease sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and the authoritarian state would allow a competitive, internationally monitored presidential election next year, according to two people familiar with the breakthrough talks."

WTI crude futures fell to $86 and Brent below $90 a barrel. 

For some context on the potential for Venezuela's increase in production - given infrastructure incapable of a major increase - here is where the nation currently stands...

Going back to the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022, the Biden administration has scrambled to tap more oil and energy sources. Having had the Saudi door slammed shut after failed pressure to get Riyadh and OPEC to produce more, the White House has sought to bring Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro "in from the cold" - despite it being that only a few short years ago Washington was pursuing regime change in Caracas. 

The prior Trump administration had even mulled a full US naval blockade of Venezuelan ports in the Caribbean. It was only within the past year that the US gave up on the whole 'Interim President' Juan Guaidó and his government in exile charade.

A series of secretive meetings between Biden and Maduro top officials have been taking place in Caracas, a negotiation process which began shortly after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

But Maduro's slow "rehabilitation" by the Biden administration is sure to get a fierce reaction among Republican congressional leaders, especially the hawks represented with senators like Marco Rubio. 


One question that remains when it comes to "free" and "monitored" elections in Venezuela... is Maduro really going to allow himself to be canceled by US-monitored elections? 

The Wall Street Journal on Monday has issued a detailed profile of a main opposition hopeful

Venezuelan opposition politician Maria Corina Machado wants to challenge the country’s authoritarian president, Nicolás Maduro, at the ballot box. The effort may be hopeless.

His regime has barred the conservative, pro-business politician from holding office. Pro-government motorcycle gangs mount roadblocks against her caravan when she campaigns, social-media videos show. State TV plays surreptitious recordings of her private phone calls in an apparent effort to embarrass her. Fearing arrest, close aides have fled Venezuela. 

Adding to her challenges, the U.S. and other governments said Maduro rigged the last vote, in 2018.

But Machado, a 56-year-old engineer from a prominent industrial family, said she is undeterred. Polls show she comfortably leads other politicians ahead of the Oct. 22 primary the opposition will hold. The winner would be expected to square off against Maduro in elections that could be held next year—but only if the leftist leader permits a vote

María Corina Machado

According to the impending Biden deal with Caracas, Maduro is expected to "permit" the vote, presumably to include Machado on the ballot. 

Machado said, "This is a government in its worst moment, they’ve lost their social base" in a recent interview. "All of us Venezuelans and the international community must force them to go ahead with clean, fair and free elections."

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/16/2023 - 11:09

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It’s Jim Jordan Vs. Holdouts As Speaker Battle Heads For Tuesday Vote

It’s Jim Jordan Vs. Holdouts As Speaker Battle Heads For Tuesday Vote

As the dysfunctional House eyeballs a Tuesday vote for Speaker, Rep….



It's Jim Jordan Vs. Holdouts As Speaker Battle Heads For Tuesday Vote

As the dysfunctional House eyeballs a Tuesday vote for Speaker, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) faces at least 10-20 Republican holdouts who oppose his nomination, one of said holdouts told CBS News (so it could be like 5). CNN has also spoken with one senior Republican, who told the network that he's spoken with 20 members willing to block Jordan's path.

Representative Jim Jordan (Credit...Kenny Holston/The New York Times)

Jordan, who needs 217 votes to become Speaker, can only afford to lose four Republicans if every member votes, because a speaker requires a full House vote to be elected.

Last week, 55 Republicans voted against committing to supporting Jordan in a floor vote.

That said, on Monday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) announced that he had held "thoughtful, and productive conversations over the past two days" with Jordan, and has decided to throw his support towards the Ohio lawmaker.

Jordan and his allies, meanwhile, have engaged in a "right-wing pressure campaign against Republicans opposed to electing him speaker," according to the NY Times, which would of course frame it as such.

In efforts to close the gap, lawmakers and activists close to him have taken to social media and the airwaves to blast the Republicans they believe are blocking his path to victory and encourage voters to browbeat them into supporting Mr. Jordan.

It is an extraordinary instance of Republican-on-Republican fighting that underscores the divisions that have wrought chaos inside the party, paralyzing the House of Representatives in the process. Several of Mr. Jordan’s supporters have posted the phone numbers of mainstream G.O.P. lawmakers they count as holdouts, encouraging followers to flood the Capitol switchboard with calls demanding they back Mr. Jordan — or face the wrath of conservative voters as they gear up for primary season.

"You want to explain to your voters why you blocked Jordan?" Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) wrote on "X".

Political activist Amy Kremer on Friday posted a list of 12 holdout Republicans blocking Jordan's path - which Mike Rogers was on before supporting Jordan on Monday.

While Jordan has been branded a "legislative terrorist" with close ties to former President Donald Trump, the Ohio lawmaker has actually been aligning himself with moderate conservatives on several recent issues.

He backed the debt limit that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy struck with President Biden, and did not join the Freedom Caucus in opposition. He's also said he intends to have the House vote on a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating past mid-November.

That said, some mainstream Republicans are opposing him on principle, differing with Jordan on things such as continuing to fund the war in Ukraine, and rewarding what they see as 'bad behavior,' which led to McCarthy's ouster.

"I’m a no on allowing Matt Gaetz and the other seven to win by putting their individual in as speaker," said Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), one of the holdouts on the above list.

Should Jordan fizzle out, Punchbowl News notes that there are several names bouncing around right now.

Mike Johnson (R-La.), the vice chair of the conference. The 51-year-old Johnson is a serious lawmaker who is well-liked in the conference.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer is also mentioned repeatedly. Emmer, 62, has been in leadership for nearly five years, mostly as NRCC chair. Emmer has some allies on the right, but many in former President Donald Trump’s orbit who do not trust the Minnesota Republican.

Could McCarthy come back? We’re pretty bearish on this, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he starts thinking about this in the next few days. Some of the eight hardliners who voted against McCarthy may flip after another few days of chaos. But the question is whether other GOP lawmakers have taken up the anti-McCarthy mantle in the meantime.

Market impact?

The Speaker's race isn't just a game of musical chairs. It threatens to send global financial markets into a tailspin, warns Nigel Green, CEO of the financial juggernaut deVere Group.

The impending drama doesn't just end with a potential government hiatus. Green forecasts a domino effect of economic tremors, rattling the already fragile skeletons in Uncle Sam's closet. The new Speaker, less a deal-maker and more a political gladiator, might just thrust the government into a prolonged shutdown, seeking political gains while global markets gasp for air. The uncertainty looming over fiscal policies, budget allocations, and federal operations is a perfect recipe for market volatility, with investors scrambling for cover. And as if that's not enough, Green anticipates a vicious cycle of eroding investor confidence, dwindling asset prices, and the specter of capital flight, as the world loses its appetite for American economic stewardship.

According to Green, a government shutdown could be the final nail in the coffin for America's AAA credit rating. Moody's might just follow in Fitch's footsteps, which, citing America's fiscal circus and debt-ceiling highwire acts, had already demoted its credit score.

"We expect that should a shutdown happen, it will prompt Moody’s to cut the US credit rating below AAA," he said, adding "Over the summer, global rating agency Fitch downgraded the US government’s top credit rating to AA+ from AAA. Fitch cited fiscal deterioration over the next three years and repeated down-the-wire debt ceiling negotiations that puts at risk the government’s ability to pay its bills."

"This was the second major rating agency (after Standard & Poor’s) to strip the US of its triple-A rating."

A double whammy, considering it was the second humiliating downgrade by a major rating agency. And the dollar? Expect a bruising, warns Green. The currency's tumble would resonate through exchange rates, international trade, and investment, not to mention throwing commodity markets for a loop, stirring up storms for oil and agricultural prices. The message is clear: the Speaker's gavel might just set off a financial earthquake, and investors worldwide would feel the tremors. It's time, Green advises, to keep a weather eye on the horizon, as the U.S. political saga continues to play Russian roulette with global financial stability.

"Investors need to closely monitor developments in the US government, as its stability and decisions have a profound influence on the global financial markets."

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/16/2023 - 11:05

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