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Elon Musk’s Tweet Makes Indian States Clamour for Tesla Plant

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 17 January 2022

Indian politicians are clamouring for Elon Musk’s attention on Twitter, chasing the coveted right to host a Tesla factory, after the billionaire said government “challenges” were delaying his electric car company’s local launch.

Tesla’s hopes to sell its vehicles in one of the world’s biggest markets have been stalled by efforts to negotiate lower import duties, which can be as high as 100 percent.

After being quizzed about a potential launch date last week, Musk tweeted that his California-based company was “still working through a lot of challenges with the government”, without giving further details.

The comments have since prompted ministers from several Indian states to respond on Twitter with public overtures to the world’s wealthiest man – himself a prolific user of the social media platform.

“Hey Elon, I am the Industry & Commerce Minister of Telangana state in India,” KT Rama Rao tweeted in response to Musk on Friday.

“Our state is a champion in sustainability initiatives & a top notch business destination.”

Three other states put their own cases forward over the weekend.

West Bengal’s minority affairs minister said his corner of the country boasted the best infrastructure and “vision”.

In Mumbai the development minister touted his state’s “progressive” credentials.

And in Punjab, lawmaker and retired international cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu promised a commitment to green jobs and sustainable development.

Musk has tweeted numerous times since his “challenges” comment last week, but has so far not responded to any of his Indian entreaties.

New Delhi has introduced incentives for foreign carmakers to manufacture their vehicles locally but Musk has said he wants to gauge demand with imports first.

India imposes a 100 percent tax on imported electric vehicles worth more than $40,000 (roughly Rs. 30 lakh), and Tesla fears the steep duties will price them out of the cost-sensitive Indian market.

Electric cars accounted for only 1.3 percent of all vehicles sold in the country in 2020-21, according to research by digital consultancy Techarc.

The government’s target is for 30 percent of private cars to be electric by 2030 as part of a wider push to decarbonise the transport sector.

Social Networking

Snoop Dogg Quips to Buy Twitter as Elon Musk Puts the Deal on Hold, Announces Series of Changes

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By ANI | Updated: 16 May 2022

There’s no end to Twitter saga after billionaire Elon Musk’s dramatic entry to buy out the micro-blogging site, with rapper Snoop Dogg too throwing his hat in the ring after the news broke out that Tesla CEO’s deal is on hold.

Rapper Snoop Dogg tweeted that he “may have to buy Twitter”. This set off a fun trail on his timeline, with Musk joining in with a “fire” emoji.

While Musk’s buy out plan has already flooded his timeline on Twitter with ideas for the transformation of the microblogging site, the rapper too shared his vision.

As the boss of Twitter, the Rapper laid out a set of new rules for the company, which included replacing the board of directors, giving everyone a verified account and putting free internet on aeroplanes.

“Gonna replace the board of directors with Jimmy from my corner Fish Fry, Tommy Chung and that guy with the ponytail on CNBC. Everyone gets a blue checkmark. Even that bots with 10 letters in their name that hit you in DMs n just say “Hello”. Nah f**k those bots,” he said in a series of tweets.

Musk on Saturday (local time) said that Twitter’s legal team accused him of violating a non-disclosure agreement by revealing that the sample size for the social media platform’s checks on automated users was 100.

“Twitter legal just called to complain that I violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size is 100!” Musk tweeted.

Twitter recently agreed to an acquisition by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a deal worth $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,41,895 crore), although it is still subject to shareholder approval. However, Elon Musk declared that the $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,41,895 crore) takeover bid of the micro-blogging site is on hold.

Musk said earlier this week that Twitter’s decision to ban former US President Donald Trump was a mistake and he would reverse it if his acquisition of the social media company is successful.

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Mobiles

US, EU Said to Halt Subsidy Race to Encourage Chips Production, Move to Be Announced Soon

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By Reuters | Updated: 16 May 2022

The United States and European Union will announce a joint effort to avert a “subsidy race” as they scramble to boost production of scarce semiconductor chips, a senior Biden administration official said.

The move will be unveiled at the second meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), taking place on Sunday and Monday in Paris.

The TTC pledged at an inauguration conference last year in Pittsburgh to deepen transatlantic cooperation to strengthen chip supply chains, curb China’s non-market trade practices, and take a more unified approach to regulating big, global technology firms.

“You’ll see us announce… a transatlantic approach to semiconductor investments aimed at ensuring security of supply,” a senior administration official told reporters in a call Friday previewing the meeting.

Both Washington and Brussels want to encourage chip investment, and to “do so in a coordinated fashion and don’t simply encourage a subsidy race,” the official added.

A persistent industry-wide shortage of chips has disrupted production in the automotive and electronics industries, forcing some firms to scale back production. But US legislation that would grant chipmakers $52 billion (roughly Rs. 4,03,970 crore) in funding to expand output has been stuck in Congress.

The official said an early warning system to pinpoint and address semiconductor supply chain disruptions would also be announced as part of the meeting, which will be headlined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Department Secretary Gina Raimondo, and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis and EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager will also participate, the official said.

The Council will also announce a new cooperation scheme which the official said was intended to combat disinformation online, such as false Russian claims related to its invasion of Ukraine. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Social Networking

Elon Musk Says Twitter’s Legal Team Accused Him of NDA Violation for Revealing Company’s Sample Size

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By Reuters | Updated: 16 May 2022

Elon Musk on Saturday tweeted that Twitter’s legal team accused him of violating a nondisclosure agreement by revealing that the sample size for the social media platform’s checks on automated users was 100.

“Twitter legal just called to complain that I violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size is 100!” tweeted Musk, chief executive of electric car maker Tesla.

Musk on Friday tweeted that his $44-billion (roughly Rs. 3,41,910 crore) cash deal to take the company private was “temporarily on hold” while he awaited data on the proportion of its fake accounts.

He said his team would test “a random sample of 100 followers” on Twitter to identify the bots. His response to a question prompted Twitter’s accusation.

When a user asked Musk to “elaborate on process of filtering bot accounts,” he replied: “I picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate <5 percent fake/spam/duplicate.”

Musk tweeted during the early hours of Sunday that he is yet to see “any” analysis that shows that the social media company has fake accounts less than 5 percent.

He later said that “There is some chance it might be over 90 percent of daily active users.”

Meanwhile, Musk, who has made weeding out fake Twitter accounts and spam bots the central theme of his takeover plan, said if he buys the social-media platform he “will defeat the spam bots or die trying”. He has constantly blamed the company’s over-reliance on advertising for the relentless spread of spam bots.

Twitter, like other social media companies, has been battling spam bots over the past few years through software that spots and blocks them. Spam bots or fake accounts are designed to manipulate or artificially boost activity on social media platforms such as Twitter.

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Science

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Launches 53 Starlink Satellites From California

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A SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule, lifts off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday. David J. Phillip/AP
By Associated Press | Updated: 14 May 2022

A SpaceX rocket carried 53 satellites for the Starlink internet constellation into orbit Friday after blasting off from California.

The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 3:07pm., and minutes later the first stage landed on a droneship in the Pacific Ocean while the second stage continued toward low Earth orbit.

SpaceX later tweeted that the satellites were successfully deployed.

Starlink is a space-based system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world.

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has hundreds of Starlink satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 340 miles (550 kilometers).

SpaceX recently announced that its Starlink Internet service will now be available in 32 new countries. It shared an availability map for the service, which showed countries marked under different segments such as Available, Waitlist, and Coming Soon. Most countries in Europe and North America are listed under Available, while some regions in South America are under waitlist, which means that the Starlink service is read to ship in these regions. Most of the newly added countries fall under the coming soon category, including all of Africa, South America, and South and Southeast Asia.

The Starlink Internet service will expand to more countries, including India. However, in India, the service still hasn’t received commercial licences. SpaceX had originally planned to launch the service in India and provide full coverage by the end of 2021. The new availability map does not reveal any timelines for the countries where the Internet service is said to launch.

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Technology

Delhi Government Approves 1,500 Electric Buses for Public Transport Fleet

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 14 May 2022

The Delhi government on Friday approved the induction of 1,500 low-floor electric buses in its public transportation fleet, an official statement said. The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) also decided to allocate 10 sites to various agencies for setting up Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations and battery swapping stations under Delhi EV Policy 2020, it said.

The city government also gave its approval to run 75 inter-state buses along 11 routes across five states and a Union Territory.

The DTC board also decided to enhance the stipend paid to women during training for engagement to the post of drivers on contract basis from Rs 6,000 to Rs 12,000 per month with HMV driving licence.

The board had already dropped the condition of holding an HMV driving licence for at least three years for women seeking employment as bus drivers in its fleet, the statement said.

The 10 sites which have been allocated to various service providers for establishing EV charging and battery swapping stations are Ambedkar Nagar Depot, Jal Vihar Terminal, Dilshad Garden Terminal, Karawal Nagar Terminal, Shadipur Depot, Mayapuri Depot, Bindpur Terminal, East Vinod Nagar, Punjabi Bagh, and Rohini Depot-I. Delhi Transco Limited (DTL) has identified four service providers through a competitive bidding process who will soon sign an agreement with DTC for setting up the EV charging/battery swapping stations in these locations. The DTC Board also resolved to provide in-principle approval for procurement of 75 (38 non-AC and 37 AC) CNG standard floor buses for inter-state operations, it said.

These buses will ply on 11 routes across five states (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab) and Chandigarh — between Delhi-Rishikesh, Delhi-Haridwar, Delhi-Dehradun, Delhi-Haldwani, Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Bareilly, Delhi-Lucknow, Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Panipat, and Delhi-Patiala, the statement said.

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Internet

Facebook, Twitter, Google, Other Tech Firms Ask US Supreme Court to Block Texas Social Media Law

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By Reuters | Updated: 14 May 2022

Lobbying groups representing Facebook, Twitter, Google and other tech companies filed an emergency request with the US Supreme Court on Friday, seeking to block a Texas law that prohibits large social media platforms from banning users based on their political views.

The Texas law went into effect on Wednesday when the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request for a stay of a district judge’s injunction blocking the law.

The law forbids social media companies with more than 50 million active users per month from banning members based on their political views and requires them to publicly disclose how they moderate content.

It was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, in September.

Internet lobbying groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed a lawsuit against the measure, and US District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin, Texas, issued a preliminary injunction in December.

Pitman had found that the law would harm social media companies’ free speech rights under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

The tech groups, in their emergency request, asked the Supreme Court to “allow the District Court’s careful reasoning to remain in effect while an orderly appellate process plays out.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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