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UK to ban most hybrid cars, including Prius, from 2040



Hybrid cars that rely on traditional engines, such as the Toyota Prius, would be banned by 2040 under plans being drawn up by the UK government that would outlaw up to 98 per cent of the vehicles currently on the road.

Vehicles such as the Prius — the best-selling hybrid car in Britain — will no longer be classified as “environmentally friendly” enough to be sold, according to three people briefed on the government’s plans to tackle emissions and air quality.

The exact wording is still under consultation between several government departments, with the transport, environment and business departments all feeding into the final document.

The plans are backed by Michael Gove, environment secretary, and Greg Clark, business secretary. But Chris Grayling, transport secretary, who has Toyota’s UK headquarters in his constituency, has resisted the plans.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “It is categorically untrue that government is planning to ban the sale of hybrid cars in the UK by 2040.”

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Last July, the government outlined plans to ban the sale of “conventional” cars from 2040.

The vague wording caused considerable confusion among carmakers, because it was unclear whether cars that use both batteries and traditional engines would be permitted.

The new document aims to clarify the government’s position, and outline how it intends to grow public demand for electric vehicles in the interim years.

Three people involved in the decision said only vehicles that can travel at least 50 miles using only electric power will be permitted under the new rules.

The change in rules will outlaw more than 98 per cent of the vehicles currently sold in Britain and will require manufacturers to switch to vehicles predominantly driven by batteries, though they may have petrol engines for back-up or support.

Plug-in cars that have both large batteries and a traditional engine will also be permitted, although the exact wording is yet to be clarified, according to four people briefed on the government’s plans.

There are several types of hybrid vehicles, from Toyota Prius cars, which use electric power and petrol simultaneously, to plug-in vehicles that can travel for significant distances on battery power alone.

New car sales in Britain have fallen 8.8 per cent so far this year, a decline that has led to hundreds of job cuts at Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan, as well as lost work for hundreds of dealerships.

The industry lays the blame for the decline in part on public confusion over the government’s policy around future vehicle bans.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of industry body the SMMT, said: “We cannot support ambition levels which do not appreciate how industry, the consumer or the market operate and which are based neither on fact nor substance.

“Unrealistic targets and misleading messaging on bans will only undermine our efforts to realise this future, confusing consumers and wreaking havoc on the new car market and the thousands of jobs it supports.”

He added: “Vehicle manufacturers will increasingly offer electrified versions of their vehicles giving consumers ever more choice but industry cannot dictate the pace of change nor levels of consumer demand.

“If government wants the UK to be a global leader in zero emission transport it must provide a world class package of incentives and support to make this a credible policy.”

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Dr. Fauci says Covid vaccines appear to be less effective against some new strains



New data shows that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective in guarding against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday.

A handful of new strains of the coronavirus have emerged overseas that have given scientists some cause for concern. Some variants that have been identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil appear to be more transmissible than previous strains but not necessarily more deadly.

While it’s no surprise the virus is mutating, researchers are quickly trying to determine what the changes might mean for recently developed lifesaving vaccines and therapeutics against the disease.

Some early findings that were published in the preprint server bioRxiv, which have yet to be peer reviewed, indicate that the variant identified in South Africa can evade the antibodies provided by some coronavirus treatments, and may reduce the efficacy of the current line of available vaccines.

However, even if the drugs are less effective, they will still likely provide enough protection to make the vaccines worth getting, Fauci said. Both vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have proven to be highly effective, creating a “cushion effect” that would allow for some dip in their effectiveness.

A dip in the vaccines’ effectiveness would be “all the more reason why we should be vaccinating as many people as you possibly can.” Mutations occur when the virus spreads and replicates itself, which can be suppressed if enough people are inoculated against the disease to build so-called herd immunity.

“Bottom line: We’re paying very close attention to it. There are alternative plans if we ever have to modify the vaccine. That’s not something that is a very onerous thing, we can do that given the platforms we have,” Fauci said during the White House press briefing.

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.

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Democrats file ethics complaint against Cruz, Hawley



Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., attend the Senate Judiciary Committee markup on judicial nominations and the Online Content Policy Modernization Act, in Dirksen Building on Thursday, December 10, 2020.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Seven Democratic senators filed a formal complaint Thursday urging the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley’s efforts to overturn the presidential election results.

The complaint comes over two weeks after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol led by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

“Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley lent legitimacy to President Trump’s false statements about election fraud by announcing that they would object to the certification of electors on January 6,” the senators wrote in a letter to Senate Ethics Committee leaders Chris Coons, D-Del., and James Lankford, R-Okla.

Cruz, a Republican from Texas, signed a written objection to certifying Arizona’s votes toward the beginning of the joint session to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, prompting a debate in both chambers. Then, pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building and lawmakers evacuated.

After the Capitol was secured and lawmakers resumed the session, Cruz and Hawley along with other Senate Republicans voted against Arizona’s Electoral College results, even as others who had planned to object decided to vote for the certification following the deadly attack.

Hawley, of Missouri, also continued with his previously announced plan to sign a written objection to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. Cruz and Hawley voted against accepting Pennsylvania’s election results.

“By proceeding with their objections to the electors after the violent attack, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely,” the senators said in the letter.

The letter is signed by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

In the letter, the senators ask Coons and Lankford to investigate whether the actions of Cruz and Hawley constitute “improper conduct” or otherwise violate the Senate code of ethics.

The offices of Cruz, Hawley, Coons and Lankford did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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IBM earnings Q4 2020



SVP and Director at IBM Research Arvind Krishna speaks on stage during the 2016 Wired Business Conference in New York on June 16, 2016.

Brian Ach | Getty Images

IBM shares moved 6% lower in extended trading on Wednesday after the company reported fourth-quarter revenue that fell short of analysts’ expectations.

Here’s how IBM performed:

  • Earnings: $2.07 per share, adjusted, vs. $1.79 per share as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $20.37 billion, vs. $20.67 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.

Revenue fell 6% on an annualized basis, the fourth consecutive quarter of declines, according to a statement. Revenue had not fallen so sharply in five years. The company has sought to go bigger in cloud computing and artificial intelligence under new CEO Arvind Krishna, but revenue declines also rankled his predecessor, Ginni Rometty.

IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software segment that includes Red Hat produced $6.84 billion in revenue, down about 5% year over year. That’s lower than the FactSet consensus estimate of $7.18 billion.

The Global Technology Services unit came up with $6.57 billion in revenue, which was down 6% and below the $6.92 billion FactSet consensus.

Global Business Services, which includes consulting, contributed $4.17 billion, down about 3% and more than the $4.08 billion consensus.

Systems revenue of $2.50 billion, from sales of mainframe computers and other hardware, was down by 18% and under the $2.26 billion consensus estimate. The company is comparing against a period when Systems revenue rose from a new mainframe.

The company did not issue formal earnings guidance but did say it expects revenue growth in 2021, along with $11 billion to $12 billion in free cash flow.

The company’s earnings per share fell 66%, the sharpest decline in three years, partly because of a $2.04 billion pre-tax charge for structural actions in the quarter. The hit was less than expected; in October the company had said it would be around $2.3 billion.

The charge relates to the plan IBM announced in October to spin off its Managed Infrastructure Services division, which offers hosting for web sites and web-based software, into a separate public company by the end of 2021. The spin-off amounted to the first major shift for IBM since Krishna replaced Rometty as CEO in April. That division currently sits within Global Technology Services.

Also in the quarter IBM said it had agreed to buy cloud consulting services provider Nordcloud for an undisclosed sum.

Excluding the after-hours move, IBM stock is up about 5% since the start of 2021, while the S&P 500 is up around 3% over the same period.

Executives will discuss the results with analysts on a conference call starting at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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