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  • Business
    Bloomberg

    Nikola Founder Resigns as Chair Amid Allegations, SEC Probe

    (Bloomberg) -- Nikola Corp., the electric-vehicle startup that recently partnered with General Motors Co., said its founder stepped down as executive chairman, coming just days after the company was reported to be the focus of investigations by U.S. regulators following a highly-critical short-seller report.Trevor Milton, the social-media-savvy public face of the startup he founded in 2014, was replaced by board member Stephen Girsky, whose title will be chairman, Nikola said in a statement late Sunday.The shakeup comes less than two weeks after the Phoenix-based company found itself in the crosshairs of short seller Hindenburg Research, which said Nikola deceived investors about its business prospects -- claims that are now the subject of investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and, reportedly, the Department of Justice. On Sunday night, Milton said he planned to defend himself against “false allegations” in a statement issued via Twitter.“Nikola is truly in my blood and always will be, and the focus should be on the company and its world-changing mission, not me,” Milton was cited as saying in Nikola’s statement. “So I made the difficult decision to approach the board and step aside.”Nikola has faced a turbulent period in the aftermath of a short-lived share rally following GM’s surprise decision earlier this month to take a $2 billion stake and manufacture its new pickup truck. The Detroit-based automaker got a cash-free 11% equity position in its smaller partner in a bid to scale up and fast-track its own vehicle electrification efforts.Girsky, 58, is a former vice chairman of GM who helped lead the carmaker out of bankruptcy.Short Seller ‘Hit’Nikola’s shares have roller-coastered since the company went public on June 4 in a reverse merger, with Girsky’s blank-check company VectoIQ. At one point, they soared so high the startup’s market value exceeded Ford Motor Co. After the third day of trading, Milton -- who owns 35% of the company, based on regulatory filings -- was worth $9 billion, making him the world’s 188th richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His net worth is now valued at $4 billion.The stock tumbled then after Hindenburg Research questioned the validity of Nikola’s claims about its electric-vehicle technology, accusing Nikola of being “an intricate fraud built on dozens of lies.” That drew the attention of financial regulators.Milton countered, calling Hindenburg’s report a “hit job” in a tweet. He promised in a subsequent tweet to provide a detailed response to what he said were “one sided false claims.” He also posted videos on Instagram, including one laden with expletives, dismissing Hindenburg’s accusations.While Nikola officially pushed back on Sept. 14, some of the company’s responses were more counterarguments than rebuttals.The short-seller’s allegations aren’t the first time questions have been raised about Nikola. In June, Bloomberg reported that Milton exaggerated the capabilities of the company’s debut truck, Nikola One -- purportedly a fuel-cell vehicle it never produced or brought to market. The company has denied making misleading statements.Confusing MessageMilton, like Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, has relied on social media to promote his company. In February, he introduced the Badger truck via a tweet, calling it “the most advanced electric & hydrogen pickup, designed to take down the Ford Raptor.” On June 8 he tweeted that Nikola would start taking Badger reservations later in the month for “the most bad a-- zero emission truck.” Potential buyers paid deposits as high as $5,000 -- without even seeing a prototype of a vehicle that won’t go on sale until 2022.Investors have sometimes struggled to keep up with Milton’s messages, especially given the evolving list of projects Nikola is pursuing: battery-electric big rigs in Europe, fuel-cell-powered semis in the U.S., an electric pickup to be built by GM, becoming the preeminent supplier of hydrogen for fleets of vehicles and vague proposals to enter the market for high-performance sports cars.“It’s a bit confusing trying to follow Trevor on his various social-media outlets about the timing and cadence of communication of the different variables that you’re talking about,” Jeff Osborne, a Cowen & Co. analyst, told executives during Nikola’s first earnings call on Aug. 4.Nikola has had a co-development agreement with Germany’s Robert Bosch GmbH since 2017 to develop key components like fuel cells, motors and battery packs. It plans to build a battery electric semi-truck with CNH Industrial NV’s Iveco at a facility in Ulm, Germany, by the end of next year. A fuel-cell semi truck is planned for 2023 which will be built at Nikola’s factory in Coolidge, Arizona. GM will provide the fuel cells and battery packs.(Updates with Milton’s comments from third paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • World
    Yahoo News

    The CIA sent a team of 4 operators on a spy mission targeting China. None came back.

    In 2008, CIA operative Stephen Stanek faced a decision: cancel the operation he was running or go forward with it — as a tropical storm barreled through the Philippines with a projection to veer north and miss his team's area of operation.

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  • Sports
    Rumble

    Golden Retriever puppies settle down for a nap in big, fluffy pile

    Golden retriever puppies are among the cutest creatures on earth. These puppies are 8 weeks old and they have been playing and climbing on each other for several hours. They are now exhausted and it is nap time. They have all settled into the corner in their enclosure to make the most adorable pile of cuteness imaginable. Sleep has found some of them while others struggle to stay awake a little longer. A few restless ones are climbing on the others, looking for a comfortable position to lie in to have a rest. In about an hour they will spring to life and start playing all over again. Aside from playing and climbing on each other, these puppies also get excited for meal times. When their mother comes in to check on them, they will swarm her and try to latch on fro a drink of milk.

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  • Health
    Best Life

    Dr. Fauci Says These 3 Places Must Close to Avoid More COVID Surges

    Throughout the COVID pandemic, it's become increasingly clear that certain types of businesses in particular can pose a serious COVID risk: those that are indoors with poor ventilation where people tend to gather close together. And while most states have now reopened the majority of businesses, Anthony Fauci, MD, the nation's leading immunologist, is warning that three specific businesses should stay closed amid COVID.During an appearance on MSNBC's All In on Sept. 17, host Chris Hayes pointed out that Arizona, Texas, and New York benefitted from closing certain establishments. And Fauci said, "I totally agree" with that tactic."In fact, the CDC just came out—if you go on their website—with a figure that's really telling. It shows the odds of risk of different types of situations that give you a higher risk of transmissibility," he explained. The CDC study Fauci was referencing examined COVID cases across 11 U.S. health care facilities and looked at the ratio of patients who received negative versus positive COVID test results and where they'd been in the past two weeks. Read on to find out the three businesses that create the most COVID risk, according to the CDC and Fauci. And for more risky behavior to avoid, check out 24 Things You're Doing Every Day That Put You at COVID Risk. 1 GymsFauci pointed out that one of the three riskiest places to go are gyms, where people tend to breathe heavily, expelling more potentially contaminated droplets, and where there isn't outdoor air filtering in.Among the patients studied by the CDC, 7.8 percent of people who tested positive had been to the gym in the past two weeks, while just 6.3 percent of those who tested negative had. And for more on COVID and gyms, check out This Is The Absolute Worst Place to Go in Your Gym During Coronavirus. 2 Bars"You've gotta look very carefully at things like bars, [which] are a really important place of spreading of infection. There's no doubt about that," Fauci told Hayes. "And that becomes particularly important if you happen to be in an area where there's a high degree of community spread."In the CDC study, 8.5 percent of people whose tests came back positive had been to a bar in the two weeks prior, compared to 5 percent of patients with negative test results. 3 RestaurantsThe CDC found that the biggest disparity between where positive COVID patients had gone versus negative COVID patients was restaurants: 40.9 percent of patients with COVID had dined out two weeks prior compared to just 27.7 percent of those who tested negative."When you have restaurants indoors in a situation where you have a high degree of infection in the community, you're not wearing masks, that's a problem," Fauci said. "So those are things that are crystal clear." And for more COVID updates, sign up for our daily newsletter. 4 Religious gatheringsWhile Fauci didn't call these out himself, the CDC report he referenced noted a marked different between the percent of people with positive COVID tests that had gone to church or another religious gathering (7.8 percent) and the percent of people with negative COVID tests that had (5 percent). And for more on this study, check out These Are the 4 Places People Went Before They Got COVID, Study Says.

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  • World
    AFP

    China launches sanctions regime after US moves on TikTok, WeChat

    China on Saturday launched a mechanism that would allow it to sanction foreign companies, upping the ante in a tech war with the United States a day after Washington moved to curb popular Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat.

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  • Health
    LA Times

    CDC says coronavirus spreads mainly in the air, through respiratory aerosols and droplets

    In new guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the coronavirus spreads mainly through respiratory aerosols, small particles that apparently can remain suspended in the air and inhaled.

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