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April 22, 2019

Tesla says it's investigating after a video emerged seeming to show one of its Model S cars exploding.

Footage began to spread in China on April 21 showing smoke emerging from a Tesla vehicle, which subsequently bursts into flames in a Shanghai parking lot, CNN reports.

Since 2013, at least 14 incidents have occurred involving Tesla vehicles catching fire, although typically after a crash, Reuters reports. In January 2019, the company was sued by the parents of a teenager who was killed in a Tesla crash, alleging the Model S has "inadequate measures to prevent a post-collision fire" and its battery pack is defective, per MarketWatch.

Tesla confirmed that it's looking into the Shanghai incident, saying that "we immediately sent a team on-site and we're supporting local authorities to establish the facts." Other details about the apparent explosion aren't yet available, but Tesla said that "from what we know now, no one was harmed." Brendan Morrow

February 13, 2019

Is Congress' shutdown-averting deal in trouble?

Politico reported Wednesday that the bipartisan agreement has started "unraveling a bit." According to the report, "it seems as if the deal was announced a bit too early," because while the two parties had agreed on the broad strokes, when it actually started to be written, "there were both critical issues and ancillary issues that were not yet solved."

The agreement initially included $1.3 billion for border security, but Politico writes that there are some disagreements about the bill's language, with Republicans fearing Democrats will "try to tie the president's hands on who needs to give approval" for the border wall. There's also some disagreement about including language to give federal contractors who were affected by the shutdown back pay, as well as about extending the Violence Against Women Act.

While Politico notes that "these deals oftentimes fall apart a few times before they come back together," and it's not clear exactly how dire the situation is right now, the news is certainly a concern: A vote was expected to take place in the House of Representatives later today. If no bill is passed by Friday, Feb. 15, the government will shut down again. Brendan Morrow

October 18, 2018

Up next for Netflix? Some really bad PR, apparently.

Netflix executives are "nervous" about an upcoming Wall Street Journal investigation into its company culture, NBC News reported Thursday. While no specifics about the forthcoming article have been revealed, Netflix evidently expects something similar to The New York Times' 2015 investigation into Amazon, which described a "bruising" and "punishing" workplace where employees openly weep on a regular basis and are encouraged to sabotage one another.

The Times' exposé on Amazon also alleged that some workers dealing with illnesses or personal tragedies were "edged out" and not given any recovery time. One woman said that while fighting breast cancer, she became in danger of being fired and was put on a performance review plan. Unsurprisingly, the company dealt with substantial fallout following the article's publication.

Now, Netflix employees have reportedly been told to brace for a "critical" article about its culture apparently along those lines. The article will arrive at a time when the streaming giant has been enjoying some great press and growth. The company earlier this week announced that it beat its subscriber estimate in the third quarter of 2018, sending its stock soaring after a disappointing second quarter, per CNN.

But depending on the contents of the article, it remains to be seen how long-lasting any effects might actually be. As NBC News points out, three years after that New York Times investigation into Amazon, LinkedIn still ranks it as the #1 most desirable company in America. Brendan Morrow

September 18, 2018

A new poll has the Republican National Committee very concerned about the upcoming midterms.

The internal RNC poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies shows that about half of Republicans, and 57 percent of Trump supporters, don't believe Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives, Bloomberg reports. According to the report, the RNC is worried this complacency will lead GOP voters to stay home, and subsequently hand the House to the Democrats.

The Democrats' prospects of winning at least 23 additional seats in the November midterms and thus retaking the House have been steadily climbing in recent months. FiveThirtyEight puts the chances at about 82 percent. Even in the RNC poll, 71 percent of overall voters said it was likely to happen. The report notes that Republicans must now make it their mission to clearly communicate to voters that the midterms matter, adding that Trump supporters don't seem to think "there is anything at stake in this election."

One reason for this false sense of security might be President Trump's utter confidence that Republicans could actually end up with an even bigger majority than before the midterms. GOP strategists told Axios in August that they feared Trump's prediction of a "red wave," in combination with Trump voters' tendency to dismiss anything negative about the president as "fake news," might suppress turnout and spell real trouble.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 by speaking to 800 registered voters over the phone. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. Read more at Bloomberg. Brendan Morrow

April 28, 2018

Less than a month after a fatal fire broke out in New York City's Trump Tower, another high rise linked to President Trump's real estate empire has caught fire.

This time the blaze is in a 33-floor building that was to be known as the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. Trump ended his licensing agreement with the property after winning the 2016 election in as part of an effort to reduce possible conflicts of interest. The tower is still under construction.

The cause of the fire is at present unclear and under investigation. Local sources report about two dozen firefighters got the fire under control within several hours. Bonnie Kristian

February 20, 2018

Press coverage of President Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has often taken the form of a study in contrasts. Kelly is disciplined, orderly, no-nonsense. Trump is impetuous, chaotic, and often nonsensical. Kelly is portrayed not as a Trump enthusiast like policy adviser Stephen Miller, but as a "studiously apolitical" career soldier shouldering the grim duty of taming Trump.

But what if that's not true? This is the proposal of Perry Bacon Jr. in a new analysis today at FiveThirtyEight. "Kelly seems to have deeply-held views, particularly on immigration," Bacon writes, recently suggesting "undocumented immigrants who had not yet signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were 'lazy.'"

And like Trump, Kelly's first instinct was to defend former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter when he was accused of abuse by his two ex-wives. In these and other ways, Bacon argues, Kelly differs from Trump in style, but in substance he is not "a kind of anti-Trump."

As for how the press "bungled the John Kelly story," Bacon presents five ideas for what went wrong, including insider journalism and insufficient knowledge of Kelly's political views. See Bacon's list here, and read The Week's Matthew Walther for the case that Kelly wasn't always this way. Bonnie Kristian

February 9, 2017

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday emphasized the importance of his daily briefings when it comes to expressing President Trump's message, in response to a question about the president's tweets. "I think Sean Spicer just said that what he says from the press briefing podium is more important than what President Trump himself tweets," marveled The Boston Globe's Matt Viser on Twitter.

Spicer's comments came in response to a question from SiriusXM's Jared Rizzi about why President Trump has time to tweet-shame Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's clothing line, but remained silent after six people were killed in a mosque shooting in Quebec City in late January.

Spicer answered that he had opened a subsequent press briefing after the shooting with Trump's condolences. "You're equating me addressing the nation here with a tweet? That's the silliest thing I've ever heard," Spicer said.

Of course, what goes unacknowledged is it's not just a tweet — it's a tweet from the president of the United States. Watch the tense exchange below. Jeva Lange

February 4, 2017

Documents obtained by The New York Times show President Trump's business empire, held in a trust managed by his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, can be put back under the president's direct control "at any time" of his choosing. The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is linked to President Trump's Social Security number alone for federal tax purposes, and its assets are held for his "exclusive benefit."

Given these terms, it is unclear whether the Trump Organization will be able to retain occupancy on the Old Post Office building in Washington, the site of the latest Trump hotel, because the lease prohibits the building's rental by an elected official.

Trump has been urged to sell his namesake businesses and place the proceeds in a blind trust, an option he has refused to pursue, citing his lack of legal obligation. "After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!" he tweeted Saturday morning after the Times article published. Bonnie Kristian

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