SocialRank Realtime helps marketers get more proactive on social media

SocialRank Realtime SocialRank co-founder Alex Taub classifies most brand interactions on social media into two broad categories. They’re either broadcasting to all of their followers or, if they’re communicating individually, it’s usually in a reactive way, like responding to a complaint. With the just-launched SocialRank Realtime, Taub and his team are trying to enable something different.… Read More

Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler is leaving, former CFO Deepak Ahuja returns

204296294_1280x720 Tesla announced on its earnings call that CFO Jason Wheeler has decided to leave the company in April to pursue opportunities in public policy. He’ll be replaced by Deepak Ahuja, who was Tesla’s first CFO when he joined the company in 2010, doing from 15 years of experience at Ford Motor Company. Elon Musk sounded upbeat and jocular about the news on the call, and he also noted, as… Read More

Tesla Inc posts narrower quarterly loss but says Model 3 sedan still on track, shares stay flat

Tesla Inc. posted a narrower quarterly loss than estimated and said the much-anticipated Model 3 electric sedan remains on schedule, as Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk closes in on his pursuit of more mainstream car buyers.

The electric-car maker expects to deliver as many as 50,000 vehicles in the first half of the year and still sees Model 3 production starting in July, according to a letter to shareholders Wednesday. The Palo Alto, California-based company lost 69 cents a share during the final three months of last year, a slimmer deficit than analysts projected.

The confirmation for the car Tesla plans to sell for close to US$35,000 before incentives adds credence to Musk’s ability to deliver for investors who have bid up the 14-year-old company’s market value to rival those of automakers which have been around more than a century and sell millions of cars a year. Tesla’s shares were more overvalued than ever before as it approached its first quarterly earnings report since the acquisition of money-losing SolarCity Corp.

“The recent run-up in Tesla stock has less to do, in our view, with anything around the near-term financials, and more to do with the nearly superhero status of Elon Musk,” Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays Plc, wrote in a note to clients Wednesday before results. “Since Tesla is already valued as if it’s the next Nissan, Ford, or Honda, it implies that much of the future growth is more than already reflected in the stock price.”

The fourth-quarter loss, excluding some items, was narrower than the US$1.14 a share average estimate among analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The shares climbed 0.3 per cent to US$278.19 as of 4:45 p.m. in New York after the close of regular trading.

Weekly output

Model 3 output should exceed 5,000 vehicles a week at some point in the fourth quarter and 10,000 vehicles a week by sometime in 2018, according to the letter. The car will rely on the so-called gigafactory east of Reno, Nevada, that began producing battery cells earlier this year in partnership with Japan’s Panasonic Corp. The two also have said they’ll start jointly making solar cells and panels this summer at a factory in Buffalo, New York.

“It is all about the Model 3, and Tesla says the suppliers are on time, which historically has been a thorn in Tesla’s side,” said Ben Kallo, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. “SolarCity is not the drag that people thought it would be, and it’s actually adding cash to the balance sheet.”

Tesla expects to finalize locations for at least two more plants later this year, and possibly as many as five gigafactories, according to the letter, which doesn’t specify what the sites will build.

The maker of higher-priced Model S sedans and Model X sport utility vehicles has had trouble meeting previous production forecasts and blamed a series of issues throughout 2016 for missing quarterly and annual projections. Tesla said earlier this year it delivered about 22,200 cars worldwide in the fourth quarter, bringing its total to 76,233 in 2016, less than an initial forecast for 80,000 to 90,000.

Musk has vowed to make 500,000 cars annually in 2018. Meeting that ambitious target will depend a great deal on the Model 3, which is expected to boast about 215 miles of battery range per charge. Tesla reported 373,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 as of May, when it last updated its reservation tally.

Bloomberg News

Revised Chicago school budget approved, $111 million gap remains

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday approved a revised budget that incorporates unpaid furlough days and other cost-cutting measures to save $104 million to help address a $215 million pension funding shortfall.

Donald Trump’s Assault On Clean Water Laws Has Already Begun

It hasn’t taken long for President Donald Trump to follow through on his campaign promise to dismantle regulations ― even when they protect the safety of America’s drinking water supply.

Last week, Trump signed a resolution that voided the Stream Protection Rule, a Department of the Interior regulation finalized during the Obama administration.

The rule would have required coal mining companies to avoid practices that pollute streams and threaten drinking water supplies, monitor and report any pollution, and return waterways to their previous condition after mining operations are completed. Both the Senate and House voted in favor of it.

On the heels of the confirmation of new Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, Trump is now expected to take executive action this week to undo the EPA’s Clean Water Rule.

The rule is aimed at protecting the nation’s rivers, streams and wetlands from pollution by placing them under the purview of the federal Clean Water Act. Both Pruitt and Trump have negatively characterized the rule as an example of federal overreach that will hurt farmers and other businesses, and many state attorneys general agree ― 31 states have joined together to sue over the rule, which has been tied up in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It’s a travesty. We should be able to depend on making progress toward cleaner air and cleaner water.
Deborah Murray, Southern Environmental Law Center

Yet Trump’s dismantling of environmental protections like these could have a devastating impact on the drinking water sources of millions of Americans, advocates say.

“It’s a travesty,” Deborah Murray, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, told The Huffington Post. “We should be able to depend on making progress toward cleaner air and cleaner water.”

Murray noted that the stream protection rule covered 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forest. Its repeal means that more streams in the coal-heavy Appalachian region will almost certainly be threatened.

“It’s so disturbing,” Murray said. “None of the provisions in the regulation were particularly onerous. They’re common-sense measures trying to have the coal-mining companies be accountable for devastation and pollution, rather than just business as usual.”

Trump dismantled the Stream Protection Rule last week through a 1996 law known as the Congressional Review Act. The language of the act essentially prevents future administrations from resurrecting rules that Trump has undone if they are deemed “substantially similar” — which means the damage could be permanent.

Republicans who pushed for the rule’s demise presented a “false choice” between protecting the environment and protecting the economy, said Amy Kober, a spokeswoman for the river conservation nonprofit American Rivers.

The coal industry, which has been struggling with declining production for more than a decade, has claimed the rule would cause the loss of up to 280,000 jobs because the regulations would be so expensive to implement. The industry has also claimed the rule would produce “no discernible environmental benefits.”

Federal estimates dramatically contradict those claims. A Congressional Research Service analysis estimated that the rule would have created almost as many jobs as it would have cost. Another analysis, from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, found the rule would have resulted in the annual loss of about 260 mining jobs, a negligible number compared to the 30,000 jobs the industry has lost since 2009.

The OSMRE analysis also found that the rule would improve water quality in 292 miles of impacted streams each year and reduce the public’s exposure to drinking water contaminants.

On the campaign trail, Trump said he would make “crystal clear, clean water” a priority as president. But the Trump administration’s moves to undo the Stream Protection Rule and the seemingly imminent rollback of the Clean Water Rule bring that promise into question, said Michael Kelly, spokesman for the national environmental group Clean Water Action.

The administration is going to err on the side of the polluters and the regulated community, not the public or clean water and public health,” Kelly said by email. “That’s all you need to know about protections for clean water under President Trump and Scott Pruitt.”

For her part, Kober is hopeful that the administration’s actions on water protections could rally voters — regardless of their political ideology — to push back against further erosions of environmental laws.

“I don’t think this is what people voted for,” Kober said. “This is the water that flows through our communities and through our taps. This water flows through the veins of our children. We have to believe that, at some point, rivers and clean water will be what brings people together.”

Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food, water, agriculture and our climate. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email

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The List Of Cities That Still Want The 2024 Olympics Is Down To Two

Budapest will cancel its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, making the Hungarian capital the seventh city to pull out of the final stages of the Olympic bidding process in just the last four years.

A pending city council vote that will assuredly pass will make Budapest the fourth city to nix a final bid for the 2024 Games alone, after Boston and Hamburg, Germany, backed out in 2015 and Rome canceled its bid in September. Budapest’s decision will leave just two cities ― Los Angeles and Paris ― competing to host the games.

Both LA and Paris are strong candidates that have hosted twice before, and the IOC is reportedly considering awarding the 2028 Olympics to whichever city falls short in September’s final round of voting on the 2024 host site.

But Budapest’s failure followed a path that has become increasingly familiar to the IOC and prospective Olympic organizers, as local residents have rallied against Olympic bids. In Budapest, an opposition group earlier this month gathered more than 260,000 signatures against the bid, forcing a referendum on the games that polling showed would likely defeat the city’s effort to host the games.

It is also the latest in a string of embarrassments for the IOC. Only two cities made it to the final round of voting for the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015, too, after voters in Stockholm; Oslo, Norway; and Krakow, Poland, all rejected proposed bids. 

It’s no secret why cities have been running away from the games: The Olympics’ exorbitant costs, destructive effects on poor communities and empty legacies have all been on display at the two most recent games, in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro last summer. 

The cost of the Sochi games ― estimated as the most expensive in Olympic history ― and the debacle of the 2022 bidding process led the IOC to adopt a slate of reforms, known as Agenda 2020, aimed at making the Olympics more cost-conscious and sustainable.

But Olympic skeptics have dismissed many of those reforms as public relations ploys, and IOC officials themselves have said they don’t expect major changes to the bidding process. So it’s no surprise that cities ― especially those in democratic countries ― keep looking at the idea of hosting the Olympics and saying no.

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Trudeau defends move to give U.S. agents more powers in Canada

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday defended plans to give more powers to U.S. border agents stationed in Canada, saying travelers would at all times be protected by domestic laws.