Connect with us

World

As Italy votes, Europe fears populist, euroskeptic gains

Published

on

Italians voted Sunday in one of the most uncertain elections in years and one that could determine if Italy will succumb to the populist, euroskeptic and far-right sentiment that has swept through Europe.

The campaign was marked by the prime-time airing of neofascist rhetoric and anti-migrant violence that culminated in a shooting spree last month against six Africans. While the center-right coalition that capitalized on the anti-migrant sentiment led the polls, analysts predict the likeliest outcome is a hung parliament.

That will necessitate days and weeks of back-room haggling and horse trading to come up with a coalition government that can win confidence votes in Parliament. Just which parties coalesce from among the three main blocs – the center-right coalition, center-left coalition and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement – will determine Italy’s course.

“Basically it is very likely that, at the end of the day, none of these three groups will have an absolute majority and they will be forced to start talking to each other and see how to put together a coalition government,” said Franco Pavoncello, dean of the John Cabot University in Rome.

More than 46 million Italians were eligible to vote from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (0600-2200 U.K. time), including Italians abroad who already mailed in ballots. Exit polls were expected after polls closed, projections sometime thereafter and consolidated results Monday.

Some polling stations remained closed in Palermo hours into election day because the wrong ballots were delivered and 200,000 new ones had to be reprinted overnight. The outgoing Senate president, Pietro Grasso, complained that such delays were “unacceptable” and that he hoped they wouldn’t discourage turnout.

In Rome, meanwhile, some early voters said the ballots were confusing and the process to cast them — which for the first time requires an anti-fraud check by polling authorities — too time consuming.

“You feel as if you have gone there prepared but it is not that clear,” complained Sister Vincenza as she cast her ballot on Rome’s Aventine hill before heading to Mass.

With unemployment at 10.8 percent and economic growth in the eurozone’s third-largest economy lagging the average, many Italians have all but given up hope for change. Polls indicated a third hadn’t decided or weren’t even sure they would vote.

“The situation is pretty bad,” said Paolo Mercorillo from Ragusa, Sicily, who said he had decided not to even bother casting a ballot. “There aren’t candidates who are valid enough.”

The 5-Star Movement hoped to capitalize on such disgust, particularly among Italy’s young, and polls indicated the grassroots movement launched in 2009 by comic Beppe Grillo with the mantra for Italy’s political establishment to “(expletive)-off” would be the largest vote-getter among any single party.

But the 5-Stars weren’t expected to win enough to govern on their own, and they have sworn off forming coalitions. The movement’s leader Luigi Di Maio has recently suggested he would be open to talking with potential allies, however.

Analysts predict the only coalition with a shot of reaching an absolute majority is the center-right coalition anchored by ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party. The coalition includes the anti-migrant League and the nationalistic, neofascist-rooted Brothers of Italy party.

Berlusconi, 81, can’t run for office because of a tax fraud conviction, but he has tapped European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, considered a pro-European moderate, as his pick if the center-right is asked to form a government.

League leader Matteo Salvini is gunning for the top job too though, and some pro-European analysts envision a possible “nightmare scenario” of an extremist alliance among the 5-Stars, the League and Brothers of Italy. The presence in Rome this weekend of Steve Bannon, right-wing populist architect of Donald Trump’s White House campaign, was an indication of the stakes.

Roberto D’Alimonte of Rome’s LUISS University said such an outcome would be “catastrophic” for the markets. But he said the 5-Stars will have to decide if they’re going to join the right or the left if they’re going to move from their longtime perch in the opposition to actually help govern.

“This will be the moment of truth,” he said.

With polls showing the center-left trailing, Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi and the current premier, Paolo Gentiloni spent the final days of the campaign warning that the only way to guard against a turn to populists and extremists was to vote for the Democrats. Because Renzi alienated so many in the coalition, Gentiloni has been cited as a possible candidate for premier who would even be acceptable to some in the center-right.

A new law passed last year, ostensibly to make Italy more governable, calls for a combination of direct and proportional voting for both the lower Chamber of deputies, which has 630 seats, and the Senate, which has 315 seats.

A few quirks could affect the outcome, particularly for the 5-Stars.

For starters, the names of about a dozen 5-Star candidates will appear on the ballot, but they no longer represent the party. After party lists were finalized, these 5-Stars were kicked out for a variety of sins. If they actually win, other parties can woo them away to beef up their own ranks.

Analysts have also warned that the ballot itself might confuse voters and result in a higher-than-usual percentage of invalid votes.

While European capitals and Brussels were watching the outcome for its effects on policy and markets, some in Italy had more at stake personally. Even the three-time premier Berlusconi vowed in the heat of the campaign to repatriate 600,000 migrants if the center-right wins.

“Yes indeed I fear these results because I have arrived here with all my thoughts and dreams,” said Musab Badur, an asylum seeker from Sudan who is living in a Milan shelter. “And I never thought that one day maybe I would have to go back or anything like that.”

Source link

World

Crew cupola window view in orbit

Published

on

The first look at the crew in orbit, from left: Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor.

Inspiration4

Inspiration4, which launched with Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Wednesday evening, shared the first photos from day one in orbit and gave an up-close look at the expansive views of Earth from the spacecraft’s “cupola” window.

The crew spent its first day in orbit floating in zero gravity inside the capsule, taking photos from the Crew Dragon window and spoke to patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, answering questions from space.

The historic private mission — which includes commander Jared Isaacman, pilot Sian Proctor, medical officer Hayley Arceneaux and mission specialist Chris Sembroski — is orbiting the planet at an altitude of 585 kilometers (363.5 miles), which is above the International Space Station and the highest altitude humans have traveled in years.

Inspiration4, which is expected to return to Earth and splash down this weekend, was paid for by Isaacman for an undisclosed amount, with the main goal of the spaceflight to raise $200 million for St. Jude.

Hayley Arceneaux takes in the view of Earth from the Crew Dragon cupola window.

Inspiration4

SpaceX modified the top of Crew Dragon capsule Resilience to add a massive window for the astronauts, replacing the docking hatch that is under the spacecraft’s nose cone with the cupola.

Spacecraft commander Jared Isaacman speaks into a microphone as he peers out the cupola window.

Inspiration4

The cupola is the largest window by surface area ever put in space.

Mission specialist Chris Sembroski is seen taking a photo through the cupola, from an exterior camera on Crew Dragon.

Inspiration4

Isaacman is the third billionaire to fly to space this year, following Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos in July. But the latter two — flying with their respective companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin — spent only a couple of minutes each in space, as those companies’ rockets fly on what are known as suborbital trips. In contrast, Inspiration4 is an orbital mission, with the crew spending multiple days in space and going around the Earth as many as 15 times in day.

Musk, among those who saw them off before launch, tweeted that he spoke to the Inspiration4 crew Thursday and that “all is well.”

“Missions like Inspiration4 help advance spaceflight to enable ultimately anyone to go to orbit & beyond,” Musk wrote in another tweet.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk poses with the crew before launch on September 15, 2021.

John Kraus / Inspiration4

The Inspiration4 crew is making history in ways beyond becoming the first group of nonprofessional astronauts in orbit: Proctor is the first Black female to pilot a spacecraft, and Arceneaux is the youngest American and first person with a prosthesis to fly in space.

Check out more photos from launch day at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida:

Medical officer Hayley Arceneaux points to the camera as she and pilot Sian Proctor board the Tesla Model X after suiting up before the launch on September 15, 2021.

John Kraus / Inspiration4

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off carrying Crew Dragon spacecraft Resilience on September 15, 2021.

John Kraus / Inspiration4

The view inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft about 30 seconds after liftoff as the Falcon 9 rocket accelerated away from Earth on September 15, 2021.

SpaceX

The shimmering exhaust plume of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launching into the dusk sky above Florida on September 15, 2021.

John Kraus / Inspiration4

Become a smarter investor with CNBC Pro.
Get stock picks, analyst calls, exclusive interviews and access to CNBC TV. 
Sign up to start a free trial today.

Source link

Continue Reading

World

Tesla to reverse solar price hike for some customers: legal filing

Published

on

Smith Collection/Gado | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Tesla is trying to placate some solar customers who say they faced sudden price hikes earlier this year, according to new filings with the U.S. district court in San Jose, California.

In a Thursday filing, customers’ attorneys wrote, “Tesla informed counsel for Plaintiffs that Tesla had recently launched a program for customers who signed Solar Roof contracts before the April 2021 price changes to return those customers to their original pricing (if they were subject to a price increase in April 2021).”

As of Friday afternoon, further details of this program were not apparent on Tesla’s solar websites nor the Engage website for customers and advocates of the company. CNBC reached out to plaintiffs’ attorneys and Tesla to get further details about the program. They did not immediately respond.

This spring, frustrated Tesla solar customers sued the company after experiencing surprise price increases.

Filings in three separate lawsuits alleged that Tesla solar customers had already signed contracts with Elon Musk’s electric vehicle and renewable energy venture, and even prepared to have solar photovoltaics installed at their homes, when they were surprised by sudden price hikes that required additional payments to move ahead with their installations.

The price hikes were not trivial. For example, plaintiff Matthew Amans’ solar roof price shot up from around $72,000 per his original contract to around $146,000, according to lawsuit filings.

Those lawsuits were later consolidated into Amans v Tesla, Inc.

Tesla hiked prices for its solar installations at least twice early this year, and made it a requirement for customers ordering solar panels or roof tiles to order the Powerwall home energy storage system as well. Later, CEO Elon Musk revealed that the company would not be able to make enough Powerwalls to keep up with demand this year because of the ongoing microchip shortage.

Overall, solar remains a fairly small part of Tesla’s business. Tesla reported energy generation and storage revenue of $801 million in the second quarter of 2021, with a cost of revenue of $781 million for that division. The company does not break out revenue from solar on its own — the unit includes revenue from its lithium-ion battery energy storage systems, which range from home backup batteries to giant, utility-scale systems.

By way of comparison, Tesla booked $10.2 billion in automotive sales during the quarter.

Here’s the legal filing.

Source link

Continue Reading

World

Elizabeth Holmes pushed faster Theranos Walgreens rollout: Testimony

Published

on

Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, attends a panel discussion during the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York, September 29, 2015.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – A former Theranos scientist testified Friday that Elizabeth Holmes pressured her to validate blood test results from the company’s Edison machine to speed up a rollout in Walgreens despite problems with the device’s accuracy.

Surekha Gangakhedkar, a senior scientist at Theranos for eight years who reported directly to Holmes, testified that she returned from a vacation in August 2013 and discovered that Theranos was about to launch its Edison blood-testing devices in Walgreens stores.

“I was very stressed and unhappy and concerned with the way the launch was going” Gangakhedkar said. “I was not comfortable with the plans that they had in place so I made a decision to resign and not continue working there.”

Gangakhedkar recalled meeting with Holmes in September 2013 about the issues that prompted her resignation.

“At that time she mentioned that she has promised to deliver to the customers and didn’t have much of a choice then to go ahead with the launch,” Gangakhedkar said becoming emotional on the stand.

“Ms. Holmes said she didn’t have much of a choice?” asked Robert Leach, an assistant U.S. attorney.

“Yes,” she replied.

Despite signing a non-disclosure agreement, Gangakhedkar said she printed some documents and took them home when she quit because she was “worried about the launch, I was actually scared that if things do not go well I would be blamed.”

Gangakhedkar was granted immunity from criminal charges in exchange for her testimony.

She testified that in August 2013 she didn’t think the Edison 3.0 and 3.5 were ready to be used for patient testing, adding “there were problems with getting consistent results.” However, Gangakhedkar recalled that Holmes was pressuring the team to validate the tests even though “in my opinion she was aware,” of the accuracy issues.

Holmes is fighting 12 charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and has pleaded not guilty. In opening statements, her defense attorney told jurors that Holmes was an ambitious young woman who made mistakes but didn’t commit a crime.

Earlier in the day, Erika Cheung, a former lab associated turned whistleblower, concluded her testimony after three days on the stand. Cheung recalled that frequent quality control failures in the lab created substantial delays in test results for patients.

“We had people sleeping in their cars because it was just taking too long,” Cheung testified. “Every few days we were having to run samples over and over again.”

Cheung, who quit Theranos six months after joining as a college graduate, said she “became concerned probably a month in with the Vitamin D samples.”

Gangakhedkar’s testimony continues on Tuesday. Among the insiders the government plans to call to testify next is Daniel Edlin, a project manager who reported directly to Holmes and worked on the Walgreens partnership. Edlin was also friends with Holmes’ brother, Christian.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending