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Who knew that Teslas now come with Elon Musk’s famous “not a flamethrower” flamethrower included?
The Tesla Model S belonging to the husband of actress Mary McCormack spontaneously combusted in Los Angeles. In a late Friday tweet, the West Wing actress said that flames burst out of the undercarriage – most likely the car’s battery compartment – while her husband was driving the car on Santa Monica boulevard in Los Angeles.
“No accident,out of the blue, in traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. Thank you to the kind couple who flagged him down and told him to pull over. And thank god my three little girls weren’t in the car with him”
@Tesla This is what happened to my husband and his car today. No accident,out of the blue, in traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. Thank you to the kind couple who flagged him down and told him to pull over. And thank god my three little girls weren’t in the car with him pic.twitter.com/O4tPs5ftVo
— Mary McCormack (@marycmccormack) June 16, 2018
In the 45-second clip, a police officer can be heard warning onlookers to “stand clear” of the car in case it blows. It was not immediately clear if McCormack recorded the footage, although police dispatch radio can be heard in the background.
The latest Tesla fiasco comes amid growing criticism of Musk’s production methods and scrutiny for Tesla over the safety of its vehicles following multiple crashes in recent months, several of which deadly.
A recent NTSB report found a Model X car running on autopilot was accelerating as it hit a barrier on a California highway, killing the driver. Regulators said that the lithium-ion battery in the electric car was breached following the crash, causing a fire to break out as the wreckage sat by the roadside, then proceeded to reignite several days later.
It increasingly appears that the Tesla car battery is the car’s – and company’s – weakest link, prompting questions into the logic behind Musk’s investment of billions of dollars into battery production facilities.
In a recent controversial outburst, Musk lashed out at reports scrutinising Tesla car safety, saying the media focuses on its accidents while ignoring more frequent crashes of conventional vehicles.
Alas, incidents such as McCormack’s will not help the car’s track record, especially if the Hollywood elite, led by anti-Trump resistance leader, Chelsea Handler, make it “uncool” for celebs to be seen in the spontaneous combusting sarcophagus. This is what an outraged Handler said in response to the burning Model S:
This happened to my bff today. Who drives 3 girls daily in this car. @elonmusk @Tesla I have the same model and make. So, how many of these are on the road?
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) June 16, 2018
With constant media bombardment of fears of a nuclear war, many have begun to prepare for a disaster. But government uncertainty isn’t the only thing on the minds of the masses. Volcanic activity appears to be increasing and earthquakes seem to be getting more severe.
That begs the question: do you live in a disaster zone?
In just the past 16 years, parts of Louisiana have been struck by six hurricanes. Areas near San Diego were devastated by three particularly vicious wildfire seasons. And a town in eastern Kentucky has been pummeled by at least nine storms severe enough to warrant federal assistance. These are obvious red flag areas, but what about the rest of the country?
The New York Times has put together a map showing which areas in the United States were subjected to the most disasters which caused monetary losses by ZIP code between 2002 – 2017.
The statistics for living in the “red zones” in the above map are not comforting either. About 90 percent of the total losses across the United States occurred in ZIP codes that contain less than 20 percent of the national population, according to an analysis of data from the Small Business Administration.
In the first three months of 2018, billion-dollar storms hit the United States three times. By contrast, in the first three months of an average year, just one disaster that causes more than a billion dollars in damages occurs,according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records dating back to 1980.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) attempts to calculate the full cost of major disasters, namely those that cause more than a billion dollars in damages. It estimates that 2017 was the costliest year on record, with 16 billion-dollar disasters that together cost the United States more than $300 billion. While natural disasters are often unpredictable, the annual losses from billion-dollar disasters, which were adjusted for inflation, have increased over the last 40 years.
Because the federal government continues to use taxpayer funds to subsidize the disaster zones, critics feel that the money is being wasted by continuing to help people live in places that they know will be hit by a hurricane or deadly storm. Christina DeConcini, the director of government affairs at the World Resources Institute, said that instead of just being responsive, the government should stress building for resilience against the disasters that continue to cost people money.
About 4 percent of all hurricanes that make landfall globally hit the United States, said Robert Mendelsohn, an economist at Yale University who studies the damage caused by hurricanes. However, 60 percent of worldwide damage from hurricanes happens in the United States. Dr. Mendelsohn attributed this partly to federal government programs that discourage citizens and local governments from building walls to protect housing near the coast. Only in the United States do relief programs and subsidized insurance make it attractive for people to move toward disaster-prone areas, he told The New York Times.
People continue to live in disaster areas mostly because of their financial situation, whether it be a lot or too little money. Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, said that the rise in population and wealth near the coasts was contributing to most of the increase in the destruction caused by hurricanes. Bigger and more expensive homes require more money to repair in the event of a natural disaster, and many even in the middle class are being squeezed out of coastal areas due to the cost of living. In 2016, there were more than 3.6 times as many homes in states that border the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean as in 1940, according to the Census Bureau.
Others say that their family ties and lack of funds to support a move are keeping them in areas prone to natural disasters. Linda Lowe, the president of a historical society in flood-prone Olive Hill, Kentucky said that rather than move the town, “it’s easier to throw your hands up and say, ‘Forget it.’” Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University said rationality often goes out the window when discussing things like disasters and their destructive potential on a person’s life.
“Abandoning a location and moving a city makes sense from a scientific, risk point of view, but the fact is that to get to a place culturally and psychologically where that conversation can be tolerated is a difficult thing to imagine,” said Redlener.
“It’s not all that rational — but I guess a lot of these things are not really rational,” he added according to The New York Times.
But some residents have decided to stay in disaster zones and use their time between hurricanes to prepare themselves for the next storm. It’s often the best way to protect against monetary and life losses, said one Louisiana resident. Susan McClamroch, who works at a museum in Slidell, Louisiana, said that locals joke that they “start eating everything in the freezer” this time of year because of the likelihood of a power failure after a hurricane.
If you cannot relocate, or do not wish to relocate, consider storing some food and water in a safe place just in case disaster strikes.
In the aftermath of Trump’s tax reform, which many mostly coastal states complained would cripple state income tax receipts and hurt property prices, S&P offered some good news: in a May 30 report, the rating agency said that “[s]tate policymakers have a lot to cheer,” noting the current slowdown in Medicaid signups and dramatically higher revenue collections, to the tune of 9.4%, are significantly boosting state fiscal positions.
Still, the agency’s view is that current conditions are “most likely only a temporary respite” (very much the same as what is going on at the federal level) means that the agency is likely to focus on “a state’s financial management and budgetary performance during these ‘good’ times” to determine its “resilience to stress when the economy eventually softens” according to BofA.
To that end, S&P warns that:
“[f]or those [states] that either stumble into political dysfunction or – out of expedience – assume recent trends will persist, this moment of fiscal quiescence could prove to be a mirage.”
For now, however, let the good times roll, and with real GDP growth tracking at 3.8% for 2Q18, state tax receipts should grow at a rate of over 10% based on historical correlation patterns, with the growth continuing at 9% and 8% in Q3 and Q4.
This is gpod news for states that had expected a sharp decline in receipts, and is especially important for states heavily skewed to the personal income tax since revenue from that source should rise by over 14%, according to BofA calculations.
Finally, the BofA chart below is useful for two reasons, first, it shows the states most reliant on individual income taxes from the Census Bureau’s most recent annual survey of tax statistics. Oregon – at 69.4% of total tax collections – is most reliant on individual income taxes, followed by Virginia (57.7%), New York (57.2%), Massachusetts (52.9%) and California (52.0%). More notably, it shows the full relative breakdown of how states collect revenues, from the Individual income tax-free states such as Florida, Texas, Washington, Tennessee, and Nevada, to the sales tax-free Alaska, Vermont and Oregon, to the severance-tax heavy Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska, and everyone inbetween: this is how America’s states fund themselves.
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