Trump’s Tariffs on Solar Mark Biggest Blow to Renewables Yet

President Donald Trump dealt his biggest blow to the renewable energy industry yet.

On Monday, Trump approved duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made outside the U.S., a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. 

The tariffs are the latest action by Trump to undermine the economics of renewables. The administration already decided to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, sought to roll back Obama-era regulations on power plant-emissions and signed sweeping tax reforms that constrained financing for solar and wind. The import taxes are the most targeted strike on the industry yet and may have larger consequences for the energy world.

“We are inclined to view it as posing greater trade risk for all types of energy, particularly if other nations establish new trade barriers against U.S. products,” Washington-based research firm ClearView Energy Partners LLC said Monday.

Solar Surges

U.S. panel maker First Solar Inc. jumped as much as 9 percent to $75.20 in after-hours trading in New York. The Tempe, Arizona-based manufacturer stands to gain as costs for competing, foreign panels rise.

Just the threat of tariffs shook solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs. The Solar Energy Industries Association projected 23,000 job losses this year in a sector that employed 260,000.

Trump approved four years of tariffs that start at 30 percent in the first year and gradually drop to 15 percent. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells are exempt for each year.

The duties are lower than the 35 percent rate the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended in October after finding that imported panels were harming American manufacturers. The idea behind the tariffs is to raise the costs of cheap imports, particularly from Asia, and level the playing field for those who manufacture the parts domestically.

“This is not a goodbye for renewable energy in the U.S.,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “I don’t believe this decision will reverse the solar expansion in the U.S. The global solar industry will adjust. The penetration of solar in the U.S. will continue.”

First Solar is the largest of a handful of panel makers left in the U.S. after most of the industry migrated to China in the past decade. That means the major impact of the duties will be on panel installers, which get most of their supplies from Chinese companies.

Read More: Why Trump Is Taxing Solar Panels Imported by U.S.: QuickTake Q&A

Despite higher anticipated costs, American solar installers including Vivint Solar Inc. and Sunrun Inc. jumped in after-hours trading. “A 30 percent tariff in Year One is bad,” said Gordon Johnson, a New York-based analyst at the Vertical Group, but “it’s less than what the consensus was.”

Jigar Shah, co-founder of investor Generate Capital Inc. and an outspoken advocate for the solar industry, went as far as to describe the decision as “good news.” The tariffs are “exactly what the solar industry asked for behind closed doors” to prevent a negative impact on companies, he said.

Not Deterred

The duties won’t be entirely devastating for the U.S. solar industry, said Hugh Bromley, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. He estimated they’ll increase costs for large solar farms by less than 10 percent and for residential systems by about 3 percent.

The decision will “destruct some demand for new projects in the next two years,” Bromley said. “But they will likely prove insufficient in magnitude and duration to attract many new factories.”

For Trump, the tariffs represent a step toward making good on a campaign promise to get tough on the country that produces the most panels — China. Trump’s trade issues took a backseat in 2017 while the White House focused on tax reform, but it’s now coming back into the fore: The solar dispute is among several potential trade decisions that also involve washing machines, consumer electronics and steel.

Solar Threatened

Tariffs may curb U.S. solar investments that have already fallen in recent years

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

The decision comes almost nine months after Suniva Inc., a bankrupt U.S. module manufacturer with a Chinese majority owner, sought import duties on solar cells and panels. It asserted that it had suffered “serious injury” from a flood of cheap panels produced in Asia. A month later, the U.S. unit of German manufacturer SolarWorld AG signed on as a co-petitioner, adding heft to Suniva’s cause.

Suniva had sought import duties of 32 cents a watt for solar panels produced outside the U.S. and a floor price of 74 cents a watt. Trump’s tariffs translate to a charge of about 10 cents a watt, according to Bromley.

Read More: U.S. Solar Has a $1.5 Billion, Long-Shot Plan to End a Trade War

Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd., Suniva’s parent, was up 3.9 percent in Hong Kong after jumping as much as 5.2 percent earlier.

While Trump has broad authority on the size, scope and duration of duties, the dispute may shift to a different venue. China and neighbors including South Korea may opt to challenge the decision at the World Trade Organization — which has rebuffed prior U.S.-imposed tariffs.

Here’s what people are saying about the tariffs:

  • Suniva thanked Trump for “holding China and its proxies accountable” and said it looked forward to global settlement negotiations. Trump said in his statement that the U.S. Trade Representative will discuss resolving a separate trade dispute that resulted in duties imposed on Chinese solar products and U.S. polysilicon.
  • SolarWorld said it “appreciates the hard work of” Trump and is “hopeful” the tariffs will be enough to rebuild solar manufacturing in the U.S.
  • Sunrun said that while the decision lifts “a cloud of uncertainty,” it runs counter to “consumers, bipartisan elected officials, many military personnel, and the 99 percent of American solar workers whom this tariff will harm in the coming years.” It called for the administration to clarify which countries won’t be subject to the tariffs. (The U.S. Trade Representative said Mexico and Canada will be subject to the duties, despite previous reports that they may be spared.)
  • Rooftop solar installer Sunnova Energy Corp. said the tariffs will not deter the industry. Vivint said it was “disappointed” but would continue to “provide consumers with a better way to create energy.”
  • China’s JinkoSolar Holding Co. said the tariffs were “better than expected” and that it wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of building a plant in the U.S. Taiwan’s Neo Solar Power Corp. similarly said it would study the feasibility of establishing assembly lines in the U.S.
  • South Korea’s Hanwha Q Cells Co. plans to diversify sales to avoid the U.S. tariffs and look for other markets
  • Regardless of the tariffs, solar installer Tesla Inc. said it’s “committed to expanding its domestic manufacturing,” citing a “gigafactory” it opened in Buffalo, New York.
  • Bill Waren, senior trade analyst at Friends of the Earth, called the decision “recklessly irresponsible and a thinly veiled attack on clean energy.”
  • ClearView Energy Partners LLC estimated a roughly 6 percent increase in the costs of commercial solar projects and a 4 percent rise in residential rooftop solar expenses. Large, utility-scale projects may bear the brunt, with a 10 percent increase.
  • The Solar Energy Industries Association warned the tariffs will delay or kill billions of dollars of solar investments.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/trump-taxes-solar-imports-in-biggest-blow-to-clean-energy-yet

    Add Historical Weather Data to Your Weather Dashboard

    Do you have a personal weather station running already that you’d really love to compare to what Wunderground said the weather was that day? Did you just start streaming from Wunderground, but wish you could add last month’s weather to your dashboard? We’re here to help! Wunderground’s historical API makes accessing old weather data super easy. Combine that with your Initial State weather dashboard, and it can make for some interesting discoveries! Take this data I gathered from my own weather station for instance: You can see that my air temperature was coming in at about 10 degrees (F) higher than what Wunderground was reporting. My soil temperature, however, was almost an exact match! Historical weather data is good for more than just verification – you could create your own “almanac dashboard” for weather. Or plot weather patterns around certain major events like hurricanes or tornadoes. The possibilities are endless! For instructions on creating this script and dashboard, head on over to our tutorial: This tutorial is part of the series, “Learning How to Build Real IoT Applications” >>
    The post Add Historical Weather Data to Your Weather Dashboard appeared first on .

    Thanks to Initialstate.com for these Posts and details

    GOP unveils final $1.5T tax reform bill ’31 years in the making’

    Congressional Republicans unveiled the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code in three decades Friday evening with an eye toward final passage next week after two key GOP senators endorsed the legislation.

    “This is happening. Tax reform under Republican control of Washington is happening,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told rank-and-file members in a conference call. “Most critics out there didn’t think it could happen. … And now we’re on the doorstep of something truly historic.”

    The final version of the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act keeps seven tax brackets, but reduces rates for five of them. The new rates start at 10 percent and rise to 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 37 percent. The corporate tax rate is reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent and the bill provides sweeping tax deductions to other businesses, lowering their top effective tax rate to about 30 percent instead of 39.6 percent.

    The standard deduction — used by around two-thirds of households — would be nearly doubled to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. But deductions for state and local taxes are scaled back, allowing families to deduct only up to a total of $10,000 in property and income taxes. The deduction is especially important to residents of high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California.

    The final package would also double the basic per-child tax credit for families making up to $400,000 a year from $1,000 to $2,000. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was expected to vote for the bill after winning a late concession that would make up to $1,400 of the credit available as a tax refund to lower- and middle-income families with relatively small tax bills.

    Another GOP holdout, Bob Corker of Tennessee, said Friday that he would endorse the bill, describing it as an opportunity “to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive [and] one we should not miss.”

    “I realize this is a bet on our country’s enterprising spirit,” Corker added, “and that is a bet I am willing to make.”

    Senate Republicans passed their original tax bill by a vote of 51-49 — with Rubio’s support. Corker was the only Republican to vote against the original bill out of concerns about its effect on the federal deficit.

    Republicans, who hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, can only afford to lose two votes before the bill is defeated. Vice President Mike Pence would have to break a tie if required.

    The House is expected to vote on the final bill Tuesday, with a Senate vote to follow later in the week. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is at a Washington-area military hospital being treated for the side effects of brain cancer treatment, and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., had a non-melanoma lesion removed from his nose earlier this week. GOP leaders are hopeful they will be available next week.

    The White House said Trump “looks forward to fulfilling the promise he made to the American people to give them a tax cut by the end of the year.”

    Republicans have promised the bill would provide needed tax relief to Americans at all income levels.

    “Americans deserve a new tax code for a new era of American prosperity,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said Friday. “I’m very excited about this moment. It has been 31 years in the making … Everyone’s life will be better off under tax reform.”

    Democrats disagree, arguing that the legislation would help wealthy Americans and big business at the expense of the poor and middle class.

    “Under this bill the working class, middle class and upper middle class get skewered while the rich and wealthy corporations make out like bandits,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “It is just the opposite of what America needs, and Republicans will rue the day they pass this.”

    Business owners who report business income on their personal tax returns would be able to deduct 20 percent of that income.

    The agreement also calls for repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate, a major step toward the ultimate GOP goal of unraveling the law. It retains a deduction for medical expenses and an exemption for graduate school tuition waivers.

    The business tax cuts would be permanent, but reductions for individuals would expire in 2026 — saving money to comply with Senate budget rules. In all, the bill would cut taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, adding billions to the nation’s mounting debt.

    The legislation also contains a provision that would open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, a longtime Republican priority that is fiercely opposed by Democrats and environmental groups.

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., and other Republicans say drilling in the 19.6-million-acre refuge can be done safely with new technology, while ensuring a steady energy supply for West Coast refineries.

    Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/15/gop-unveils-final-1-5t-tax-reform-bill-31-years-in-making.html

    Oprah Winfrey: one of the world’s best neoliberal capitalist thinkers

    Oprah is appealing because her stories hide the role of political, economic and social structures in our lives. They make the American dream seem attainable

    In Oprah Winfrey lore, one particular story is repeated over and over. When Oprah was 17, she won the Miss Fire Prevention Contest in Nashville, Tennessee. Until that year every winner had had a mane of red hair, but Oprah would prove to be a game changer.

    The contest was the first of many successes for Oprah. She has won numerous Emmys, has been nominated for an Oscar, and appears on lists like Times 100 Most Influential People. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She founded the Oprah Book Club, which is often credited with reviving Americans interest in reading. Her generosity and philanthropic spirit are legendary.

    Oprah has legions of obsessive, devoted fans who write her letters and follow her into public restrooms. Oprah basks in their love: I know people really, really, really love me, love me. And she loves them right back. Its part of her higher calling. She believes that she was put on this earth to lift people up, to help them live their best life. She encourages people to love themselves, believe in themselves, and follow their dreams.

    Oprah is one of a new group of elite storytellers who present practical solutions to societys problems that can be found within the logic of existing profit-driven structures of production and consumption. They promote market-based solutions to the problems of corporate power, technology, gender divides, environmental degradation, alienation and inequality.

    Oprahs popularity stems in part from her message of empathy, support, and love in an increasingly stressful, alienating society. Three decades of companies restructuring their operations by eliminating jobs (through attrition, technology, and outsourcing) and dismantling both organized labor and the welfare state have left workers in an extremely precarious situation.

    Oprah
    Oprah in the early days of the show. Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex

    Today, new working-class jobs are primarily low-wage service jobs, and the perks that once went along with middle-of-the-road white-collar jobs have disappeared. Flexible, project-oriented, contingent work has become the norm, enabling companies to ratchet up their requirements for all workers except those at the very top. Meanwhile, the costs of education, housing, childcare, and health care have skyrocketed, making it yet more difficult for individuals and households to get by, never mind prosper.

    In this climate of stress and uncertainty, Oprah tells us the stories of her life to help us understand our feelings, cope with difficulty and improve our lives. She presents her personal journey and metamorphosis from poor little girl in rural Mississippi to billionaire prophet as a model for overcoming adversity and finding a sweet life.

    Oprahs biographical tale has been managed, mulled over, and mauled in the public gaze for 30 years. She used her precocious intelligence and wit to channel the pain of abuse and poverty into building an empire. She was on television by the age of 19 and had her own show within a decade.

    The 1970s feminist movement opened the door to the domestic, private sphere, and the show walked in a decade later, breaking new ground as a public space to discuss personal troubles affecting Americans, particularly women. Oprah broached topics (divorce, depression, alcoholism, child abuse, adultery, incest) that had never before been discussed with such candor and empathy on television.

    The shows evolution over the decades mirrored the evolution of Oprahs own life. In its early years the show followed a recovery model in which guests and viewers were encouraged to overcome their problems through self-esteem building and learning to love themselves.

    Barack
    US President Barack Obama presents broadcast journalist Oprah Winfrey with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    But as copycat shows and criticisms of trash talk increased in the early 1990s, Oprah changed the shows format. In 1994, Oprah declared that she was done with victimization and negativity: It s time to move on from We are dysfunctional to What are we going to do about it? Oprah credited her decision to her own personal evolution: People must grow and change or they will shrivel up and their souls will shrink.

    In an appearance on Larry King Live, Oprah acknowledged that she had become concerned about the message of her show and so had decided to embark on a new mission to lift people up. Themes of spirituality and empowerment displaced themes of personal pathology. For Oprah, the transformation was total: Today I try to do well and be well with everyone I reach or encounter. I make sure to use my life for that which can be of goodwill. Yes, this has brought me great wealth. More important, it has fortified me spiritually and emotionally.

    A stream of self-help gurus have spent time on Oprahs stage over the past decade and a half, all with the same message. You have choices in life. External conditions dont determine your life. You do. It s all inside you, in your head, in your wishes and desires. Thoughts are destiny, so thinking positive thoughts will enable positive things to happen.

    When bad things happen to us, its because were drawing them toward us with unhealthy thinking and behaviors. Dont complain about what you dont have. Use what youve got. To do less than your best is a sin. Every single one of us has the power for greatness because greatness is determined by serviceto yourself and others. If we listen to that quiet whisper and fine-tune our internal, moral, emotional GPS, we too can learn the secret of success.

    Janice Peck, in her work as professor of journalism and communication studies, has studied Oprah for years. She argues that to understand the Oprah phenomenon we must return to the ideas swirling around in the Gilded Age. Peck sees strong parallels in the mind-cure movement of the Gilded Age and Oprahs evolving enterprise in the New Gilded Age, the era of neoliberalism. She argues that Oprahs enterprise reinforces the neoliberal focus on the self: Oprahs enterprise [is] an ensemble of ideological practices that help legitimize a world of growing inequality and shrinking possibilities by promoting and embodying a configuration of self compatible with that world.

    Nothing captures this ensemble of ideological practices better than O Magazine, whose aim is to help women see every experience and challenge as an opportunity to grow and discover their best self. To convince women that the real goal is becoming more of who they really are. To embrace their life. O Magazine implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, identifies a range of problems in neoliberal capitalism and suggests ways for readers to adapt themselves to mitigate or overcome these problems.

    Does your 60 hour-a-week desk job make your back hurt and leave you emotionally exhausted and stressed? Of course it does. Studies show that death by office job is real: people who sit at a desk all day are more likely to be obese, depressed, or just dead for no discernible reason. But you can dull these effects and improve your wellness with these O-approved strategies: Become more of an out-of-the-box thinker because creative people are healthier. Bring photos, posters, and kitschy figurines to decorate your workspace: Youll feel less emotionally exhausted and reduce burnout. Write down three positive things that happened during your workday every night before leaving the office to reduce stress and physical pain from work.

    In December 2013, O devoted a whole issue to anxiety and worry. The issue conquers a lifetime s worth of anxieties and apprehensions, an apt subject given rising levels of anxiety across the age spectrum.

    In the issue, bibliotherapists Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin present a list of books for the anxious, prescribing them instead of a trip to the pharmacy. Feeling claustrophobic because youre too poor to move out of your parents house? Read Little House on the Prairie. Feeling stressed because your current project at work is ending and you dont have another lined up? Read The Man Who Planted Trees. Worried that you wont be able to pay the rent because you just lost your job? Read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. Instead of feeling depressed, follow the lead hero Toru Okada, who, while jobless, embarks on a fantastic liberating journey that changes the way he thinks.

    Oprah recognizes the pervasiveness of anxiety and alienation in our society. But instead of examining the economic or political basis of these feelings, she advises us to turn our gaze inward and reconfigure ourselves to become more adaptable to the vagaries and stresses of the neoliberal moment.

    Oprah is appealing precisely because her stories hide the role of political, economic, and social structures. In doing so, they make the American Dream seem attainable. If we just fix ourselves, we can achieve our goals. For some people, the American dream is attainable, but to understand the chances for everyone, we need to look dispassionately at the factors that shape success.

    Oprah
    Oprah Winfrey gestures during the taping of Oprahs Surprise Spectacular in Chicago May 17, 2011. Photograph: John Gress/Reuters

    The current incarnation of the American Dream narrative holds that if you acquire enough cultural capital (skills and education) and social capital (connections, access to networks), you will be able to translate that capital into both economic capital (cash) and happiness. Cultural capital and social capital are seen as there for the taking (particularly with advances in internet technology), so the only additional necessary ingredients are pluck, passion, and persistence all attributes that allegedly come from inside us.

    The American dream is premised on the assumption that if you work hard, economic opportunity will present itself, and financial stability will follow, but the role of cultural and social capital in paving the road to wealth and fulfilment, or blocking it, may be just as important as economic capital. Some people are able to translate their skills, knowledge, and connections into economic opportunity and financial stability, and some are noteither because their skills, knowledge, and connections dont seem to work as well, or they cant acquire them in the first place because theyre too poor.

    Today, the centrality of social and cultural capital is obscured (sometimes deliberately), as demonstrated in the implicit and explicit message of Oprah and her ideological colleagues. In their stories, and many others like them, cultural and social capital are easy to acquire. They tell us to get an education. Too poor? Take an online course. Go to Khan Academy. They tell us to meet people, build up our network. Dont have any connected family members? Join LinkedIn.

    Its simple. Anyone can become anything. Theres no distinction between the quality and productivity of different peoples social and cultural capital. Were all building our skills. Were all networking.

    This is a fiction. If all or most forms of social and cultural capital were equally valuable and accessible, we should see the effects of this in increased upward mobility and wealth created anew by new people in each generation rather than passed down and expanded from one generation to the next. The data do not demonstrate this upward mobility.

    The US, in a sample of 13 wealthy countries, ranks highest in inequality and lowest in intergenerational earnings mobility. Wealth isnt earned fresh in each new generation by plucky go-getters. It is passed down, preserved, and expanded through generous tax laws and the assiduous transmission of social and cultural capital.

    The way Oprah tells us to get through it all and realize our dreams is always to adapt ourselves to the changing world, not to change the world we live in. We demand little or nothing from the system, from the collective apparatus of powerful people and institutions. We only make demands of ourselves.

    We are the perfect, depoliticized, complacent neoliberal subjects.

    And yet were not. The popularity of strategies for alleviating alienation rests on our deep, collective desire for meaning and creativity. Literary critic and political theorist Fredric Jameson would say that the Oprah stories, and others like them, are able to manage our desires only because they appeal to deep fantasies about how we want to live our lives. This, after all, is what the American dream narrative is about not necessarily a description of life lived, but a vision of how life should be lived.

    When the stories that manage our desires break their promises over and over, the stories themselves become fuel for change and open a space for new, radical stories. These new stories must feature collective demands that provide a critical perspective on the real limits to success in our society and foster a vision of life that does fulfill the desire for self-actualization.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/may/09/oprah-winfrey-neoliberal-capitalist-thinkers

    Suzanne Somers Says She’s ‘Happy’ About Trump

    Suzanne Somers praised President Donald Trump on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. 

    Somers, 71, told TMZ over the weekend that she was satisfied with the way the president had done his job. 

    “I’m happy that the economy’s doing so much better,” she said, as seen in the video above. “And now my career is over,” she joked, acknowledging that conservative viewpoints are “very rare” in Hollywood.

    The “Three’s Company” star told HuffPost in 2012 that her politics were a “very personal” issue.  

    “I am an independent and vote the candidate, never the party,” she said at the time. “I am also an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs made America the most exceptional and wealthiest country in the world, excelling in technology, science, medicine, physics, literature and, most of all, self-reliance and unbridled imagination.”

    Two years later, she criticized then-President Barack Obama’s administration. 

    “This has been the most divisive of all the administrations that I’ve ever experienced in my life, and it’s become divisive in the industry that if you are not part of the group, you probably should keep your thoughts to yourself,” she said in an interview with Fox Business. “I’ve never felt anything like this before.” 

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/suzanne-somers-donald-trump_us_5a666801e4b002283005d308

    There’s One Tiny Problem With The New Self-Driving Ride-Sharing Vehicles Announced This Week

    On Monday, Toyota announced that they’re creating autonomous pizza vehicles, designed to deliver pizzas for Pizza Hut without the need for humans. Everyone, other than sci-fi-horror Black Mirror fans, appears to be on board with the idea.

    They’ve even thought up other neat little ideas for their design, such as a portable shoe shop that comes to your home when you need new shoes.

    So far, so awesome.

    Yesterday, however, Toyota announced another concept for the vehicle, but people don’t appear to have taken to it as much. The car giant has announced they’re teaming up with Uber in an attempt to create a vehicle that can be used for sharing rides.

    Like the pizza delivery trucks, this system is intended to be fully-electric and has some cool plus-sides, such as being better for the environment.

    Unfortunately, everyone can’t get over the fact that Uber and Toyota are essentially attempting to invent a bus.

    Some were more outraged than others.

    Even a company that basically just advises people on which tube routes to take got in on the action.

    They are sort of right, it is essentially a bus. Nevertheless, it’s a bus with some pretty neat features. The e-Palette, which Toyota showed off at CES on Monday, is electric, will be fully-autonomous and could fit a range of purposes. 

    The concept is actually pretty far along, and will be debuted at the Tokyo Olympic games in 2020.

    The company said at CES that the vehicle could be used as a fully-transportable autonomous shop.

    “It is an open, flexible platform easily adapted to suit a range of uses, including ride-sharing, delivery, and retail,” CNBC reports. “Today you have to travel to the store. In the future, the store will travel to you.”

    The company said that they were responding to a competitive market that was looking more and more towards self-driving technology.

    “Our competitors no longer just make cars. Companies like Google, Apple, and even Facebook are what I think about at night, because, after all, we didn’t start off making cars either,” company president Akio Toyoda said.

    “Technology is changing quickly in our industry, and the race is on.”

    In that race, Toyota will be using a bus.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/toyota-reveals-ridesharing-vehicle-plan-and-everyone-is-pointing-out-the-same-thing/

    What Happens When Professional Artists Recreate Kids Monster Doodles In Their Own Unique Style

    Lots of children these days are so much into technology that they have no interest to pick up a pencil once in a while anymore. The Monster Project, which was featured on Bored Panda before, aims to change that. It is based out of Texas and brings together elementary students and more than 100 professional artists that work together “to help children recognize the power of their own imaginations and to encourage them to pursue their creative potential.” Inspired by children’s doodles, artists recreate them in their own unique way, making it fun not only for the kids, but also for themselves.

    “With a decreasing emphasis on arts in schools, many children don’t have the opportunity for creative exploration they deserve. That’s a monstrous trend we would like to destroy,” reads their website. “By collaborating with the students and finding inspiration from their imaginings, we hope to help them recognize the value of their ideas and make them feel excited about the potential of their own minds. Creativity comes in many forms, and we hope to encourage their exploration of their own unique perceptions of the world we share.”

    Scroll down to see the adorable results of children and artists collaboration from the last year for yourself!

    Apparently Trump is morally against childbirth


    Another day, another gaffe.
    Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock

    Wow, Donald Trump might have just become the most anti-life President of all time… because he seems to be against, um, childbirth itself.

    While speaking at the “March for Life” anti-abortion rally at the National Mall on Friday, Trump said, “right now, in a number of states, the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month. It is wrong, it has to change.”

    Um, hopefully the law would allow that? Because having a baby in the 9th month is just called CHILDBIRTH?

    Here’s the clip.

    Trump was probably trying to criticize abortions initiated after the first trimester. Maybe he meant to say “torn” instead of “born from the womb”? It wouldn’t be uncharacteristic for him to have yet another verbal slip-up, after all.

    But this kind of railing is par for the course for Trump. During a presidential debate, he criticized Hillary Clinton’s support of abortion rights, saying “you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day.” 

    Hillary obviously schooled Donald at the time, saying “well that is not what happens in these cases, and using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate,” and went on to show a depth of understanding about the thought and consideration that women go through when making these medical decisions. Sob.

    In fact, according to Planned Parenthood and the CDC, less than 1.4 percent of all abortions take place after 21 weeks. Most occur because of medical complications, financial restrictions, and lack of access to or knowledge about pregnancy and abortion during early stages. Hmm, wonder if comprehensive women’s medical care could make that better? Too bad Trump is trying to undermine that.

    Regarding Trump’s anti-birth stance in general, the internet is collectively smacking its forehead. But many are still outraged at Trump’s appearance at the rally — his supposed championing of “Christian values”— given recent allegations about his affair with a porn star months after Melania gave birth to Barron. 

    No word yet on when the official “end childbirth now” campaign goes into effect.

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/19/trump-march-for-life-childbirth/

    China Is Now The World’s Biggest Publisher Of Scientific Articles, Overtaking The United States

    China’s meteoric rise to scientific prominence is continuing unabated. For the first time ever, China is now publishing more scientific articles than the United States, firmly staking its claim to being the world leader in research and development (R&D).

    This overshadowing has been a long time coming. The statistics formed part of the US National Science Foundation’s (NSF) biennial Science & Engineering Indicators report and, depending on how you look at it, shows that China is on the verge of becoming – or already has become – the planet’s scientific superpower.

    Previous reports from the NSF have been tracking China’s rise in science and technology for a while now. In 2010 the agency said that they saw “no end in sight” for their scientific investments, while in 2012 the report talked about the creation of an Asian science zone, with China sitting firmly at the center.

    The latest news, therefore, might not come as that much of a surprise to many, but China’s rapid rise over the last two decades has been something to behold. The amount of money that China invests in R&D has increased by 18 percent annually, while the number of people graduating with a science bachelor’s degree has risen from 359,000 to 1.65 million between 2000 and 2014, compared to 483,000 to 742,000 in the US.

    The overall message of the latest report is a pretty simple one: “The US global share of [science and technology] activities is declining as other nations – especially China – continue to rise,” NSF officials said on the release of the report.

    But it is important to note that this does not mean that the US has lost its importance or influence in scientific research. While China might now be producing more research overall, the US still wracks up more citations, behind only Sweden and Switzerland, and above the EU, which is followed by China. This could reflect that the work being carried out in the US involves more fundamental questions.

    When it comes to how much money is invested yearly in research and development, the United States is still on top. In 2015, for example, the US invested $500 billion, accounting for 26 percent of the global total, compared to China’s $400 billion. But while that figure has flatlined in the US over recent years, in China it has been growing, and will likely surpass the US in the not too distant future.

    What this means depends really on who you are asking. The pursuit of knowledge in general benefits all of us, but many in the US might be a little worried about the rise of China. The military, for example, is warning that the nation’s development of weapons and satellites could become a threat, while economists are concerned that one of the major pillars of the US’ economy is being rapidly eroded.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/china-is-now-the-worlds-biggest-publisher-of-scientific-articles-overtaking-the-united-states/

    Apple, Returning Overseas Cash, to Pay $38 Billion Tax Bill

    Apple Inc. said it will bring hundreds of billions of overseas dollars back to the U.S., pay about $38 billion in taxes on the money and spend tens of billions on domestic jobs, manufacturing and data centers in the coming years.

    The iPhone maker plans capital expenditures of $30 billion in the U.S. over five years and will create 20,000 new jobs at existing sites and a new campus it intends to open. The Cupertino, California-based company’s shares rose 1.7 percent to a record closing price of $179.10.

    “We are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in a statement Wednesday, which also alluded to unspecified plans by the company to accelerate education programs.

    Apple also told employees Wednesday that it’s issuing stock-based bonuses worth $2,500 each following the new U.S. tax law, according to people familiar with the matter.

    In its December approval of the most extensive tax-code revisions since 1986, Congress scrapped the previous international tax system for corporations — an unusual arrangement that allowed companies to defer U.S. income taxes on foreign earnings until they returned the income to the U.S. That “deferral” provision led companies to stockpile an estimated $3.1 trillion offshore and many were criticized for the moves, including Apple.

    By switching to a new system that’s designed to focus on domestic economic activity, congressional tax writers also imposed a two-tiered levy on that accumulated foreign income: Cash will be taxed at 15.5 percent, less liquid assets at 8 percent. Companies can pay over eight years.

    New Jobs

    Apple is the first major U.S. technology company to act on the new tax law and it joins others, such as Intel Corp., in responding to criticism by President Donald Trump and others that corporations have been ignoring American workers and manufacturing. Job creation was a key pillar of Trump’s election campaign. That means the new positions created by Apple are likely to have a more significant political impact than its $38 billion tax payment, according to Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

    “The thrust here is American jobs, jobs on American soil, build manufacturing here, don’t build everything in China,” Gordon said. “You can’t have an announcement of a million jobs. But you can have companies like Apple saying that we’re going to have 20,000 new jobs here. If other companies say they’re going to have new jobs too, it does add up.”

    For more on Apple, check out the podcast:

    Later Wednesday, Trump tweeted a response lauding Apple’s announcement. “I promised that my policies would allow companies like Apple to bring massive amounts of money back to the United States,” he wrote. “Great to see Apple follow through as a result of TAX CUTS. Huge win for American workers and the USA!”

    Apple has the largest offshore cash reserves of any U.S. company, with about $252 billion at the end of September, the most recently reported fiscal quarter. The tax rate indicates that Apple is likely bringing back a majority of its overseas cash back to the U.S., leaving only a small portion for international investments like retail stores.

    “They’re going to have well over $200 billion by the end of this year that will be available for incremental investments, capital returns and M&A,” said Matthew Kanterman, a New York-based Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. The new tax law lets U.S. companies bring overseas cash reserves back home in one year and pay the resulting tax bill over eight years. “And Apple hasn’t historically done big M&A,” he said.

    Five-Year Spending Plan

    The $30 billion in capital expenditures will come as part of $350 billion that Apple expects to spend in the U.S. over the next five years. The 20,000 new jobs include additional Apple employees at its campuses, data centers, and retail stores, but not third-party developers for iPhone and Mac apps, an economy Apple has touted in the past.

    Apple said that part of the $30 billion in capital expenditures will go toward a new U.S.-based campus, new data centers and additional supplier investments. The company, which opened a new headquarters in Cupertino last year, said its new U.S. site initially will be focused on employees who provide technical support to Apple product users. The new location, which Apple said it will announce later this year, will be similar to the company’s existing campus in Austin, Texas, for supply-chain and technical-support employees.

    Can This Tax Proposal Lure Companies and Cash Home?: QuickTake

    Apple said it will increase its local manufacturing fund, announced last year, from $1 billion to $5 billion, indicating that it will be sourcing more components for its products domestically. As part of the original fund, Apple invested in Corning Inc. and Finisar Corp., companies that make components for iPhone glass screens and lasers for Face ID and AirPods, respectively.

    “These are probably many capital expenditure initiatives and new site build-outs that Apple was already planning on doing regardless of repatriation,” said Michael Olson, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, who has the equivalent of a buy rating on the stock.

    “What’s not said in this release is that there is more potential for increased buybacks for shareholders and acquisitions that might not have taken place if it were not for the cash influx from overseas,” Olson said. Apple typically provides updates on its share buyback program when it announces second quarter earnings.

      Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-17/apple-expects-38-billion-tax-bill-on-overseas-repatriated-cash